Saturday, December 28, 2013

I Have a Testimony of Wendy's

December 23, 2013

So, I feel really bad.

I've been typing up long e-mails each week, and I found out I've been sending them to the wrong e-mail address! So now you get FOUR weeks of e-mails, in just this week! Merry Christmas to you, this is my present from me! [=

We wanted to have a tree for Christmas, so last P-day I bought a string of light and we shaped it into a little ghetto Christmas tree on our wall! It kept on falling, (and it was really embarrassing when maintenance came and saw it) so we decided to put it across our patio doors instead.  

Our pathetic Christmas Tree
Monday was a very eventful day. We are advised to have an appointment after P-day, which is from 10am-6pm. Sister Jarman and I taught these three younger women about the Plan of Salvation in a kinda sorta sketch place, and ended the lesson around 8 pm, so it was already dark. We assured them that we were about to get on a bus so we'd be safe. Well, we missed the bus by literally 30 seconds. We ran after it but admitted defeat. We started off on our trek to a semi safe bus stop. Sister Jarman and I had to walk at least a mile to get to a bus stop that had a light and a bench. We figured that the bus would be coming soon, so we waited, and waited--and waited. We called Sister Bird and Walton and told them that we missed our bus, but they were in an appointment. Long story short, we got on a bus around 9pm, just as the sisters were saying that they'd come pick us up. But we didn't want to stay at that station any longer because we didn't feel safe, so we got on the bus. That bus then took us to Metro Transitional Center, aka jail. We were going to wait for the sisters to pick us up but a police officer said we couldn't stay there because there were inmates around the corner. So we got back on the bus, and we thought it was going to take us to Civic Center station, but as of last Saturday, the bus routes and times have completely changed, and they didn't update the route papers. So the bus driver took us to Five Points (which is once again a complete sketch area). We were on that bus going to Five Points for at least an hour and twenty minutes. Since it was P-day we didn't eat much. We usually eat around 8 pm for dinner. I was hungry, exhausted, dehydrated, you name it. I was even getting sick because of the way the bus driver was driving. All in all, we got home around 10:30pm and we were completely shaken up. We vowed that we'd never get on a bus ever again. (But of course we've been on bus ever since).

Also, we were going to drop LaWanda, but we found out that she was very, very sick to the point that she couldn't do anything. She finally answered her door and she's back and ready to learn! So we're hoping she'll get baptized on the 11th of January. Sophia keeps on cancelling her appointments so who knows if she'll further progress or not.

I went on exchanges with Sister Walton, and I was in the other sisters' area. We taught some amazing lessons, and I'll try to share some of them if I have time. But we went to Wendy's and there were these two men Cedric and Larry, teaching these four boys how to play chess. We watched them and talked to them about chess and how we are missionaries, and then got our food. After, they motioned us over and said that they'll teach us how to play. Sister Walton and I told them that they could teach us, as long as we could teach them something. I started to teach them about the Restoration, and Joseph Smith and the First Vision. Larry was just completely engrossed in what I was saying, and the spirit was so strong. Cedric was telling the little boys that they needed to pay attention, because they needed to learn some knowledge. We gave them Sister Walton's contact information, and all of the little boys were talking about how we were so cute, "especially that one" pointing at me. One of the little boys actually gave me and Sister Walton a hug and it was pretty hilarious that 12 year old boys and younger had crushes on us.

At church yesterday, Cedric came to church by himself! I don't know if Sister Walton contacted him or not.  I greeted him at the door and I sat by our investigator, Loren. Now they're going to teach him and he seemed pretty interested in the church. I really wish I could teach him!

Sunday night, we had inspiration to go on the #162 bus, wanting to go to Natalie and Barney’s car—that is where they currently live. We ended up missing our stop because we started to talk to a woman named Shamel. She is amazing and we really hope that she wants to meet with us. We gave her a Book of Mormon and gave her a pamphlet on the Restoration. We also met Estella who has met with the missionaries before, and she really wants to meet with missionaries again so we got her contact information. We also met a woman and two little kids, and they said that they would try to come to church because they love going to other churches to see what they are like. Sister Jarman and I feel like there's a lot of potential in those people, so we're excited to see what happens. It was so sad because we talked to the bus driver when it was only us on a bus, but we forgot to give him a Restoration pamphlet! But he said that he's always there on the weekends and we should come visit him again so we plan on it.

I am so excited for this Christmas week! I know that so many great things will happen if we have Jesus Christ on our mind. I challenge all of you to have that missionary moment this week, and tell people about our church. Pray to have missionary moments, and have faith that the spirit will guide you on what to say. What I learned this week was to have faith is 'to act'. If you don't act, then you really have no faith. So that's what I'm going to try and work on this week. I love you all very much, and I hope you have a very Merry Christmas. Remember what Christmas is all about, and spend as much time with your families!

-Sister Sudweeks

"Jesus Didn't Do Dishes!"

December 16, 2013

I really need to figure out how to start these letters,

As my parents know, I was able to participate in making candy trains again this year! I was so bummed out thinking I was unable to make one this year (to the point where I was contemplating buying candy last week, but something told me not to), that I was overjoyed when I got a package a few hours later with all of the candy to make two! Be surprised, but my train is actually NORMAL this year. I'm hoping my parents will upload those pictures on Facebook with all of the rest so tradition will continue!
Sister Sudweeks' First Missionary Candy Train
Sister Jarman's First Candy Train

As I was reading one of the talks that was included in that package, I got a prompting to write a sticky note to our neighbor across the hallway. It read something along the lines of, "Whenever we get home, we get so excited when we see your Christmas lights on. Thank you for spreading holiday cheer, and Merry Christmas! Your neighbors #1327". Then when we got back home that night, we had a note on our door! "Thank you so much for your note, I really needed that this morning as I was headed out to work. Merry Christmas! Your neighbor #1323" So, I'm glad I followed that prompting. We're going to leave a little Christmas goodie bag when it's closer to Christmas. We're not entirely sure who they are, but we're not home at the same time.

From Sunday to Wednesday, I haven't slept well, and it really got to me. I had to get a priesthood blessing in hopes I'd be able to sleep. Since I'm trying to be so focused during the day on how I can be a better missionary, my mind runs wild at night since I believe I can think about whatever I want. Sometimes I would be up till 1am at night wide awake. I tried to write it out and say I won't forget, but it never worked. I'm slowly learning on how to shut down my brain at night. 

This week has been rough, I'm not going to lie. Every single one of our appointments either cancelled, didn't show up, or rescheduled. I feel like I haven't taught an actual lesson in a long time. LaWanda, the woman that was supposed to get baptized this Saturday, hasn't talked to us in over a week. Her sisters claim that she's not home when we go by for our scheduled appointments (Tues, Thurs, Sat, at 3pm), but her little kids say that she's in her room. So we have no idea what's going on, but it's not looking good because she's ignoring our calls and texts, too. But I guess this is just a trial of patience.

We believe that Sophie isn't entirely committed to be baptized. It's hard to get in contact with her because she only has a home phone and she's not home much. She went to 'her church' last Sunday because they needed her to sing in the choir, and she said she would come to 'our church' next week. We're going to try and change our appointment times and dates to days so she won't have something come up and cancel on us. 

Sometimes I get real discouraged when it comes to our investigators. I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to others and their agency. But I know that if I just continue to be patient, pray for them by name, and do what He asks of us it will all come together. I know that He knows what's going to happen in the future, and I just need to align my will with His. Sometimes I wonder if I'm doing something wrong which makes them not want to talk to us anymore. 

We had zone conference on Saturday and I had the privilege of doing a duet with Sister Walton. We sang "He Sent His Son" from the Primary songbook because there was at least a dozen other musical numbers to be sung and we didn't want a repeat. I had a few solos during that short 2 minute song, and I got one of the sisters from another district to record it. For those who are unaware, I've never done a solo in my life, much less a duet. I'm afraid to listen to it, but from the remarks of the other elders, I suppose I did pretty good. Elder Kallon said, "I didn't know you could sing like that! Can you sing to me on my birthday? (January 1st). So I'm going to sing his favorite hymn on transfers. Then Elder Obeng told me that I sounded like that one girl from Hercules (Meg) and it sounded beautiful. There were some other remarks so my goal by the end of my mission is to be able to sing an entire solo by myself so I can sing during Sacrament Meeting or wherever else.

This week we got fed a lot. The same sister that fed us veal, collared greens, and the works, fed us again last Wednesday. It was a lot better this week if I do say so myself. This time she fed us cheese and crackers, sparking grape juice, a glass of fruit, all for the appetizer! Then she continued on with a salad with artichokes, red pepper, and basically everything that I didn't like. But I ate it all, I'm so proud! I've also officially eaten gumbo- full of crab meat, rice, red pepper, and full of spices that made my mouth burn. Once again, I ate it all. Sister Jarman looked at me sympathetically because she knew I'm not a fan of spicy food and she knew it was hot. She then proceeded to feed us steak, Parmesan potatoes, cooked broccoli, and I don't even remember what else. Then she finished it off with lemon cheesecake (I was so sad it was lemon, because I'm not a fan of lemon desserts.) But I ate it all, or asked for a plate for leftovers and she was happy to oblige. When we offered to help with dishes, she replied, "No, no, no! You're missionaries!" We said that it's our job to serve and we're representatives of Christ. She then exclaimed, "Jesus Didn't Do Dishes!" and we laughed and said okay.

We also got fed by a less active named Darrin. His entire family is active but him, and he married a woman named Meg from Bulgaria. Her mom was also there. They fed us a salad that was straight parsley, tomatoes, bleu cheese, and other vegetables I wasn't fond of. I was surprised I actually liked those tomatoes. They also fed us Brussels sprouts, and my gosh, I couldn't handle those. I ate everything else like the sweet potato casserole; rice, green beans, and beef dish; pesto chicken and this apple-y dessert, but I could NOT eat those Brussels sprouts. I was gagging just smelling them on my plate and I felt so bad not being able to eat them, but I had three bites! I tried! While they were making dessert, the fire alarm went off and his sister in law was trying to fix the ice machine since it was frozen closed. They joked and told us to watch the Fire and Ice Show, and want to feed us again in the future.  If you want to remember me in your prayers that I will learn to love all this southern food that would be appreciated! 

Sister Brown is out of the hospital and didn't need her surgery, and Brother Brown’s surgery went great. He's already walking a ton, and they're both doing better than before. I know it's because of all of the fasting and praying that they are as active as they are today. I know it was a great testimony builder for the both of them, so I'm glad we are able to continue teaching them this week as they're quickly recovering.

On Sunday, Peggy (one of the less actives we taught) went to church with two of her kids, and one of her in-law's daughters. She mentioned in Relief Society that she wants to come back to the church and get to know everyone. I'm so glad that she wasn't afraid of not knowing anyone besides Sister Jarman and I! So I know that she's going to continually progress as she makes the effort.

So I wanted to quote something from, "Hastening the Lord's Game Plan" by Elder S Gifford Nielson. It says, 

 "This is the most remarkable era in the history of the Church. This is something that ranks with the great events that have happened in past history, like the First Vision, like the gift of the Book of Mormon, like the Restoration of the gospel, like all of the things that build the foundation for us to go forward and teach in our Father in Heaven's kingdom. Do you know what that great event is? It's the event that the missionary age has changed, and so many have answered the call to hasten the work."

I've realized more and more as I'm out here that this is the best decision I've ever made in my life. I had no idea how much I would have changed since I've been out here. My testimony has grown so much, and I have no doubt in my mind that this is the true church here on Earth. 

I also encourage all of you to read Families and Friends Forever on page 4 in the December 2013 Ensign. It's everything in a nut shell, and it's so true.

So all in all, I have ups and downs when it comes to missionary work just like the rest of the missionaries. I pray for all of you back home and hope that you can feel that I love all of you. I hope you are all having a great holiday season!

-Sister Sudweeks

Friday, December 27, 2013

There Once Was a Nut

December 9, 2013

Hey all!

So I had my first taste of collared greens last Monday. Oh boy, those are NOT my favorite. A less active who shall not be named, made us shrimp (gag), veal, collared greens (not cleaned well enough so Sister Jarman and I both got sick for the next 24 hours), baked potato (with sour cream which I do not like), clams (once again, bleh), and chocolate cake with ice cream (wooo!) So this sister is in her 80s, and her taste buds aren't like what they used to be. She was once a bartender so she really cares about the ambiance. Sister Jarman warned me that she would serve us huge portions and boy was she right. I was praying the entire time I would just be able to eat and not be phased by what I'm eating. I was praying that I wouldn't gag, and that if I did no one noticed. (Side note, no one noticed.) I was sneaky, sneaky and told her back in California, members would put their leftovers on a paper plate so they would be able to feed us for not one but TWO meals. She LOVED that idea so she quickly put the untouched portion onto a paper plate. But I did eat or attempted to eat EVERYTHING. You should be so proud of me, since I am one of the pickiest eaters alive. 

So for those who remember Belinda, a woman I taught in the MTC- we have an investigator who is EXACTLY like Belinda. A friend referred her to us through Salt Lake headquarters. As we were walking to her apartment because we didn't know what stop to get off at the bus, Sister Jarman and I started to sing, "Pioneer Children Sang As They Walked" (and walked, and walked, andddd walked.) It was funny and we now sing that a lot. This new investigator is from Iran and has been in America for 5 years. She told us we could come by and talk to us, but she refuses to be converted (she said that multiple times in fact). But she loves the Mormons because we're 'safe' and we have good standards. We were there for over two hours just answering her questions, and we're meeting her again on Friday I believe.

On Monday, we went to our church building because Salt Lake Headquarters have been going all around the world interviewing sisters about the age change and how it's hastened the work, and our opinion on things. I was able to see Sister Burrows, my companion from the MTC again and it made me happy!

While we were on a MARTA bus on Wednesday going to Leon's house (a recent convert), an old lady got off for no apparent reason and sat on a bench. Come to find out she was having a heart attack so the bus driver (remember how I wanted to be one when I was younger?) had to call 911 and the paramedics came. We were stranded there for over 15 minutes, and because MARTA had to file a report we had to wait for another bus to come. Sister Jarman and I kept thinking to ourselves, "Someone really doesn't want us to go to Leon's house." I hope the lady is OK. 

We finally made it to Leon's and we met Leon’s friend who I’ll call Sophie. She's been trying to stop drinking and we're hoping to get her to go to the Addiction Recovery Program. We taught her about faith and the Book of Mormon. Her favorite scripture is Alma 7:15 (I think) which talks about baptism. Because Sister Jarman and I were prompted to ask her about being committed to baptism, we did, and she accepted! She'll be baptized on the 28th, and she's SO excited! She was able to come to church last week, and she loved it. 

We had our hurrahs, and Leon gave us some pecans.  We had to cook them, crack them open with a can opener, de-shell them, and it was just a LOT of work.

But that's not all, Sister Jarman was making us dinner one day and she was baking them with cinnamon sugar, and burned them to BITS! We smelled something burning and we mourned because it took us a LONG time to crack and de-shell all of those pecans! 

But we tried once more with the rest of our pecans and were successful. Sister Jarman watched the oven VERY carefully.

We put the candied pecans on our ice cream, and we found itty bitty pieces of shells in our ice cream. IT WAS AWFUL.

We had to sort them out of our ice cream and the rest of our pecans and once again, it was a lot of work.

I honestly don't think it was worth it, and I'm never going to crack pecans again. I have a LOT more appreciation for whole pecans because I only cracked maybe one whole pecan the entire time we were cracking pecans. So, the next time you eat pecans, be grateful haha!

Speaking of pecans, the day ALL of our appointments fell through, we were eating pecan bars from a member as we rode on MARTA. We were going back and forth trying to decide if we wanted to eat Oreos, or pecan bars, but we decided on pecan bars. A woman sat down and asked what we were eating so we told her and offered her one. She accepted and she went on and on about how much she loves pecans. We ended up telling her about the Plan of Salvation and invited her to church. Who knew eating pecans could have struck up a conversation? Inspired to eat pecan bars? I think so!

We've continued to visit Sister Brown at the hospital. Her husband Brother Brown went into surgery at 6 am today and we've been continually praying for him all day today. Sister Brown has been transferred to the ICU when we went to see her on Saturday. It's so cute because whenever nurses check up on her, she says, "These are the sister missionaries from my church. Sister Jarman and Sister Sedwick. They're the sweetest girls ever from the Mormon church!" She just makes me smile so big. Her health has been going back and forth from being on liquids, to solids, not going into surgery, maybe going home, not going home. It's just ridiculous. But she MAY be going home today if health permits. Sister Jarman and I may be with her our entire P-day at home if she does go home, so we'll be calling her later on today.

We met with Peggy, who hasn't been to church in over 6 years. She had a wake up call and wanted to meet with us again, and so we taught her the Restoration. The spirit was so strong there were tears all around the room. I've been struggling to not plan on what to say next, which causes me not to listen as much as I should to what the investigator/less active is really saying. But I learned to just listen, and I'll know what to say next. It's been hard for me to do that, but I know if I constantly remind myself (I even have a sticky note that says 'just listen' about my desk) to just listen, I'll be okay. She came to church with her two little boys, and the less active that fed us took her to church. So two less actives for the price of one! Apparently it's a feat to get people to church, and we got two investigators and two less actives to go to church, woohoo! 

I love you all so very much, I appreciate all the e-mails, but to those who do e-mail me, send me your home address! It's so hard to get to everyone in just one hour, I'd love to send some snail mail your way.

-Sister Sudweeks

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I Met Jesus on MARTA...No Big Deal

On Sunday, December 22nd, Sister Sudweeks' called to set up a time to Skype for Christmas.  She mentioned an investigator she's teaching and when I said I had never heard that name before she was surprised because she had mentioned her in a couple of letters.  It turns out she was emailing all of her long letters about her missionary experiences to the wrong email address!  So, it's catch up time.  Here's the letter that was written December 2nd.  

December 2, 2013

Hello, hello, hello!

So I failed to mention that I went to the Georgia Aquarium last P-day and that's how I touched a shark. So if I confused any of you all, that's why. I promise I didn't break any rules and go into running water haha! But we went to the dolphin show and it was so much fun! All five of us sisters went, and we were like a bunch of five year old's clapping for the dolphins. 

Sister Sudweeks Sister Frietas, and Sister Jarman and the other two sister missionaries in her District on their Preparation Day as they visited the aquarium.  
I had a bit of a struggle when it came to believing that I would be able to know what to say to people when in reality I know nothing about them. In my personal study I stumbled across a quote. This quote hit me in the MTC and boosted me up during my last breakdown, but once again it really helped me last week as well. "Your confidence and faith should be in Christ, not yourself." I realized that I am the mouthpiece of God. I am a representative of Jesus Christ, and technically, I am not Emily Sudweeks anymore. I am Sister Sudweeks. So Emily may be shy to strangers and not really know what to say, but now I am striving to be more confident and outgoing, and not be afraid to be rejected.

Apparently in our area, there are people that are dressing up as missionaries, name tags and all. After they are able to get someone to open their door, they rob their house and so people are afraid of opening their doors for missionaries. We now have to show our white handbook and certificate verifying that we are indeed actual missionaries. I find that to be so low.

Thanksgiving was good. We went over to someone's apartment complex and had dinner with a bunch of families at 2 pm. They have a bunch of little kids and it was so cute because they wanted to wear Sister Jarman and my nametags, carry our Book of Mormons and planners. They would go around saying, "I'm Sister Olivia. I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, can I make an appointment with you?" I never really realized how much little kids look up to missionaries, even though I was one of those kids back in the days. It makes me smile!

Friday was a great day, and I knew it would be a great day! Sister Jarman and I are getting colds, but we didn’t let it prevent us from doing His work. We even saw a ladybug on Sister Jarman's coat while we were waiting for the bus to see an investigator I’ll call LeWanda.  LeWanda is a woman who we've been teaching since Labor Day. She has 7 kids and she re-committed to be baptized on December 21st! We're meeting with her 3 times a week and just seeing the excitement in her eyes makes me love being out here!

Another investigator we're teaching is Sister Brown. Her husband, Brother Brown is already a member, and she doesn't want to get baptized until he's well enough to baptize her himself. He's going in for back surgery on December 9th, and we don't know how long it'll take for him to heal. But plot twist, Sister Brown went to the emergency room the day after Thanksgiving. She has an infected gallbladder so we've gone by and seen her twice. They were originally going to do surgery on her on Sunday, but because of her health circumstances it's now the last resort. She's on a blood thinner and to undergo surgery they'd have to take her off that. If they take her off the blood thinner she could develop blood clots and that could be fatal. But if they don't take her off the blood thinner, they could cut her and she could bleed to death. There were other circumstances which I don't have time to mention so we're really worried for her. We've been fasting and praying for that entire family, so if you want to join in too that would be appreciated. This elderly couple is who I consider to be my parents here. They've fed us dinner (nothing weird, sorry guys. Just chicken, potatoes, and pumpkin pie), call us daily to see how we're doing, and consider us their own kids. Because of the Browns, I know what it's really like to love your investigators.

On Sunday, we had to leave by 7:30 am to get to LeWanda's house and ride MARTA with her to get to church by 10am. She lives far away from everyone else, and the members who live in her area either don't have a car, or have no desire to go to church. It was a very long day, and it's a miracle that we got to church on time. A saying that Sister Jarman and I say is, "He loves us!" every time we don't have to wait for a train to come. Or if something we want to buy is on sale we say, "Heavenly Father loves us!" We say it so often, I consider it our motto. So remember, Heavenly Father loves you!

Since Sister Jarman and I are on MARTA all the time, we tend to run into some very interesting people. One of the people we met while going to an investigator's house, told us to read the last 2 verses of Revelations. He then claimed that he was Jesus. He was a bit of a creep, and he said that he's going to be on America's Got Talent on Valentines Day 2014. So guys help a sister out and see if he's actually on there! He can 'read people's minds'. He would tell us to pick a number and do an equation, then the end number would be the number he said. Sadly enough he wasn't even right at times. Another guy that we saw on Marta was singing songs really loudly (no, he wasn't drunk, just very into the music) and dancing. It was quite entertaining, but Sister Jarman and I were saying, "This is apostate music!" We met another guy and talked a little bit about our Thanksgiving plans. He loved the idea that we are missionaries and that we are Jesus people. He said that we were cool, and if anything were to happen at this bus stop he'd protect us.

Two other people I’ll call Natalie and Barney are another couple that we're teaching. Barney was in jail because he didn't realize he had an expired driver’s license. But he's back! He came to church with Natalie for a little bit, but didn't stay long. 

So, that's how my week has gone. I just want to leave a few quotes with you all because I LOVE quotes. If any of you don't know what to write me, just send me your favorite inspirational/missionary quotes and I'll be able to put them up above my desk.

"There is no limit to your potential."

"The field is ready to HARVEST, not be planted."

I love you all and have a great week!

-Sister Emily Sudweeks

Monday, December 16, 2013

All I Want for Christmas is My Two Front Teeth?

This blog post is from a letter Sister Sudweeks sent her parents....
I figured I’d answer all of the questions I failed to answer last week.  Once again I had only twenty minutes but I wrote way more people.  This time I actually wrote down what I wanted to talk about last night.  I’ll get the hang of this whole email in an hour. 
We have another set of sister missionaries in our district and more in our zone, but they don’t live with us.  There’s only two in our apartment since Sister Freitas flew back to the Temple Square mission.  Half of this entire mission is Sister Missionaries so it’s pretty cool.
My typical P-day is exercise, get ready, be at the library by 10 am (7 am your time), get groceries, clean the apartment, do our laundry, go on adventures like the aquarium and thrift store, and have appointments after 6 pm. 
On Sundays, we get ready, have a 9 am Correlation meeting, 10 am church, teach investigators after church if they come, have lunch and then it varies from there. 
We have district meetings once a week, and zone conferences once a transfer.
Sister Jarman and I check for packages in the morning because the apartment office is closed by the time we get home around 9 pm.  So it was hilarious last week because we were talking about Christmas traditions and I was so sad about not making a candy train!  Then lo and behold, that package arrived and I was giddy with joy!  We made the candy trains for our last P-day while listening to David Archuleta’s Christmas CD.  BEST P-Day EVER!  Thank you so much!  I love you a lot a lot!
Mom, to answer your question about how you can give out a Book of Mormon, I suggest you carry a copy of the Book of Mormon with you everywhere. Ask people if they've ever read it and if not, tell them about it and a little bit about the Restoration, and ask if they want to read it. "Do you like to read?" is a good break the ice question.
For Christmas I simply want family photos, inspirational missionary quotes, and snail mail letters.  If anyone asks what I want for Christmas just tell them to help the missionaries in their area because I’m learning member involvement is SO important.  (Also they can write me if they want.) 
Thank you so much for all the encouragement and support you’ve given me this last month.  I’ve come to the conclusion that serving a mission is one of the best decisions I’ve made.  I know I’ve learned a lot and I know I’ll continue to learn and grow. 
I love you and pray for you daily!
Sister Sudweeks

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cold Nose, Frozen Toes, and Bitten Ankles

 What a great looking group of missionaries that arrived in Atlanta, Georgia on November 19th.

My area is Downtown Atlanta and there are some sketchy areas.  But I know if Sister Jarman and I use our common sense we’ll be fine.  I failed to mention how we were getting around Atlanta due to lack of time.  The three of us got around thanks to Lawrence and Glozell:  our car and GPS.  But Sister Bird and Sister Walton in our district have the car as of today because Sister Bird is the district leader.

Today was my first encounter with MARTA.  We were supposed to have interviews with President Harding today, but nothing happened. He canceled them and we don’t know why.  Our schedule opened up and we weren’t prepared with gloves or scarves.  So Sister Jarman and I were freezing.  But we survived. 

Sister Jarman is amazing!  She’s literally one of the sweetest, most caring people I’ve met on my mission so far.  She’s from Utah and she wants to be a dental hygienist.   It’s perfect because she cooks and I clean the dishes afterward.  She’s a very good trainer and communicates her feelings and testimony very eloquently.  It’s crazy to think I’ve only known her for a week.  Sister Freitas left for Temple Square this morning and I miss her already.

I did inherit quite a few of Sister Freitas things which I’m grateful for--including a towel and finally have a desk of my own instead of the dinner table.  Yay!

I’ve been invited over for dinner twice, and that was Monday and Tuesday.  Monday we were served a delicious dinner of chicken, potatoes, beans, rolls, and pumpkin pie.  They have a dog and she LOVES to chew on your shoes and bite your bare ankles underneath the table.  It wasn’t a lovely experience.

We had dinner with another family on Tuesday.  He’s the assistant ward mission leader.  We had Italian and they treated us to Dairy Queen for chocolate dipped ice cream cones.  They have a little girl and she’s the brunette version of Kayla, only older.  She’s the cutest little thing!

So considering there are seven sets of missionaries, we don’t attend ward council.  This ward is just getting on board with helping the missionaries.  They want to help, but they don’t know how.  A lot of members aren’t aware of what we’re doing when it comes to visiting the less actives and shrinking their visiting and home teaching lists.  The ones that are aware appreciate the hard work we’re doing and give us referrals in return.  So we’re really in the planning stage of missionary work.  Beforehand, the missionaries here would be baptizing so many people but the ward didn’t know how to help the converts so they’d go inactive.  The game plan is to reactive those we can, transfer records for those who moved, and then really focusing on referrals.

Numbers really aren’t everything.  I knew that before I left, but I really know it now.  We have key indicators that our planner has and some days we don’t reach our goal.  But I honestly believe this ward is special. We may not have reached our Key Indicators, but we have been able to accomplish a lot when it comes to the ward member list, so I don’t mind.

I love you very much and I’m so happy that I’m out on a mission.  I know I need to overcome my fear of being shy and rejected.  But I know that admitting it is one of the steps to conquer it.  I am the Lord’s mouthpiece and I’ll say whatever He wants me to say.  

Sister Emily Sudweeks

P.S. I went to the Georgia aquarium on my first P-day and that’s how I touched a shark.  Kinda forgot to explain that.  Oops!  J

Monday, November 25, 2013

I Touched a Shark!

Emily "touching a shark" on her first Preparation Day in Georgia!  Exciting!  Thrilling!  Dangerous? 

Hey you! [=
So I only have 20 minutes to type up this letter versus an hour because I was so busy reading all of your letters! I loved hearing from each and every one of you!  I've loved the encouragement but I'd appreciate it even more in a hard copy because I'll actually be able to ponder and read it more in depth when I don't have a time bomb blinking at me every second. :)  My new address here in Georgia (At least for the next six weeks) is: 
Sister Emily Sudweeks
240 North Ave NE #1327
Atlanta, GA 30308
So once again I had a breakdown on Thursday at the MTC (surprise, surprise) but this one was even worse than the previous week.  I was able to get a priesthood blessing and I felt better the next day. I'm proud to announce that last Thursday (the week I couldn't write) I did NOT have a breakdown on Thursday. So the pattern of having breakdowns on Thursdays has been broken, yeah me!
So if you remember Belinda from TRC, we actually committed her to baptism! She read the entire Book of Mormon in 2 days and she believed it and prayed about it. We were completely awestruck considering our past sisters said that they were the only sisters successful in getting her to pray. We told our teachers Sister Looney, Brother Adjei, and Brother Ahkahihifo and they didn't believe us, but we did it!
On Saturday it was the most amazing experience ever. We did a role-play where for example, I taught Elder Olsen, but he was pretending to be me. So in reality we switched off and we taught ourselves. All of us had to be so vulnerable and so willing to let each other know our insecurities to be able to teach properly. There wasn't a dry eye in the room, and we were able to put our weaknesses behind us after the lesson was complete, since the spirit was so strong telling us we didn't need to be afraid of our weaknesses.
When we went to the Provo Temple on Sunday, there was a protestor there spewing off blasphemies. Some of the missionaries actually went over there to try to talk to him, but his mind was already made up and wouldn't budge from his opinion. 
When I got here in Georgia it was so surreal, there are SO many trees! The flight was somewhat awful because it was really turbulent. It didn't help that most of us got up no later than 3 am. The sisters didn't sleep at the mission home that evening, but at some member's homes. I was asleep by 9 pm while the rest of the sisters (Burrows, Jackman, and Stephen) stayed up until 10:30 pm, but I was exhausted.
On my first night in Georgia, I accidentally had a missionary moment! President Harding says we should ALWAYS carry a Book of Mormon with us. We went to Walmart and I bought some things at the self checkout, and I forgot my Book of Mormon there. An employee picked it up and as we were leaving. I realized I forgot it so we headed back. I talked to her and she actually wanted to keep it, and she said she would try to come to church. But she didn't, but I don't blame her since she doesn't even live in our area. She said she may go to our church nearer to her house, so I hope that's what she did.
Emily and her two wonderful companions--Sister Freitas (on left) and Sister Jarman (middle)
So I have TWO companions, I'm in a trio! Sister Freitas is actually a Temple Square sister and she's leaving Wednesday morning. Sister Jarman is going to Brazil but is waiting on her visa so who knows when she'll be leaving for Brazil. They're great and the ward is great. I'm in the Atlanta West area, and it makes me sad to see all of the poverty in the area. A lot of members have to take the MARTA (like Bart for you California people) to church, walk, or get a ride from someone else. Not many people have cars in our ward.
Speaking of my ward, we have over NINE HUNDRED people in our ward. But we only have 200 or so active. Our main goal as missionaries in this ward is not to baptize, but to re-active those 700. We go to a lot of less active houses to see if they've moved or are still around. Most of the time they don't live there so we have to do the paperwork to let our leaders know they’ve moved. We do tract around their homes but we haven't been successful much. According to my companions we're going through a dry spell when it comes to teaching, but I somewhat prefer that for my first week. I think I would have freaked out in having to teach lesson after lesson. I feel like I need to ease into this mission and I'll be just fine after another week. 
Don’t worry about Thanksgiving, all of the members are taking care of the 7 (yes seven) companionship's in our ward. They may not have much, but they try their best when it comes to the holidays.
When it comes to accents, I cannot understand any of them one bit. It's so embarrassing because one of our investigators, Joyce (her husband Billy is a member) asked me if I liked tuna, and I thought she asked me if I was eighteen. I was so embarrassed because when I look back, there's NOTHING in common when it comes to those two questions. But I haven't gotten the drawl yet. It seems to me that none of the missionaries get the accent here, which makes me kinda sad.
I have 54 seconds left! I must get going! I love you all and I am so happy to be here in Georgia! I hope you're all doing well and the church is true! (Man, I never thought I'd be one of THOSE missionaries at the end of an e-mail.)
Sister Emily Sudweeks

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

So I'm Engaged...

Hey y'all! (Note: That is the first time I've ever used that word ever since I got to the MTC, feel special.)

I survived a week at the MTC, which I'm somewhat surprised at considering I thought I wasn't going to survive Friday. I'm not going to lie, the structured 16 hour life of a missionary in the MTC is a LOT harder than I thought it would be.

Some of you asked what my life in the MTC is, so I'll just type it up here. If you don't really care, you can skip the next bit.

I wake up at 5:45 (willingly, mind you.) instead of 6:30 like what our schedule suggests. I take a shower and blow-dry my hair with a diffuser and get ready for the day. By 7am we're supposed to be in our classroom for personal study until 7:30. Then we have breakfast until 8am. Our schedule really varies on the day. Some days we have a 3 hour block of just studying, and it's REALLY hard to focus. Thankfully we learned the 25-5 minute rule. Study intensely for 25 minutes, and then have a break for 5 minutes. Then we usually have gym for 50 minutes and we have a fifteen minute prep before and after gym. Then I have lunch at 12:20 all the way till 1pm. Then a 1:05pm we have zone teaching for an hour. Afterward, we have a three hour block which tends to drive me insane. I would HAPPILY stand for 3 hours at Hobby Lobby instead of sitting for 3 hours. We have one or two 3 hour blocks depending on the day. Then we have dinner at 5:20, and then our second 3rd hour block from 6:05 to 9:05pm. Then we have daily planning session from 9-9:30pm. Between 9:30-10:30pm we have personal time. Funny story, one of my teachers Brother Adjei (Ah-jay) called me Sister Showers and my hair wasn't even covering my name tag. My entire district laughed and they call me Sister Showers sometimes. Depending on the day we also have devotionals, meetings, online portal time, choir practice, and service.  

So, my companion Sister Burrows is pretty much amazing. We tell each other that she's the brunette version of me, and visa versa. I am so glad that I get along with her considering I've seen some other companionships who are not so close knit as ours is. Funnily enough, we chose the same missionary scripture (D&C 121:7-8), same camera, same new missionary scriptures, the works. Except I'm the girly girl and she's not. I think she's pretty amazing and we teach our progressing investigators pretty well. We tend to blurt out in song whenever our elders (They're going to Canada) say something. We were singing hymn 246 Onward Christian Soldiers, and Sister Burrows and I said TWO FOUR SIX OH ONE! in sync. We burst out laughing and some people rolled their eyes at us, but we don't care. All of us sisters get along VERY well. I'm really blessed that they're such good examples to me. We also like to sing an assortment of Wicked, Disney, and any other popular songs that pop up into our head. Sister Burrows and I were singing Popular and Elder Heuer (Hoyer), Gibbs, and Olson came into the classroom and joined in instantaneously while dancing and moving their hips. It was probably one of my favorite moments in the MTC so far.

When I was leaving my classroom, I saw Elder Coltrin! He was in my zone and we were so excited to see each other! I had no idea if I was going to see him or not so it was pretty special that I knew someone when I had just gotten there. Not to mention that I also saw Sister Branvold and Elder Andrus in the MTC as well so we were able to wave crazily at each other when we walked by. 

Thursday was pretty hard.  I may or may not have had a breakdown Thursday night because I was under the impression that Sister Burrows and I were going to teach our 'investigator' Nathan a 15 minute lesson with everyone watching us. I talked to the other sisters in my room, (Sister Stephens and Sister Jackman) just today and apparently they all had a breakdown Thursday night as well. It didn't help that I got very little sleep Wednesday night, perhaps about 3 hours max.

I really didn't enjoy role playing when I first started to practice. I was so anxious and I didn't want to say something wrong. My stress level was probably on an 8 or 9 even when I just had to say the phrase, "Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized from someone holding the priesthood authority?" That's all I had to say, I didn't have to build up to it or anything. I've now made progress to say a short little lesson.  It’s  no problem at all.

During the weekend, I was feeling a little sick. Let’s just say that I'm already sick of the food, and I don't have much of an appetite at all. I don't think it's from stress, considering I'm not as stressed the longer I'm here with some few minor exceptions. We were able to go to the Temple, and we took SO many pictures. Depending on how much time I have left before I have to get off, I'll try to attach a few.

On Sunday my Branch President told us that 1 in 10 converts know that our church is true right when they see the missionaries. We talked about how neither the Book of Mormon, nor temple is our logo. Missionaries are- we are literal representatives of Jesus Christ and I think that is so amazing. I just think to myself that I need to be as professional as possible, but still having fun of course. So when I say that I'm engaged, I really meant that I'm engaged to do the Lord's work. 

My birthday was in fact, very memorable. To start it all off, I didn't realize I forgot to bring my towels until AFTER I had finished my shower. I contemplated shouting, "SISTER BURROWSSS!" although I already knew that she was in our room already. Thankfully, I had my bathrobe with me so I had to put it on sopping wet. I wasn't a fan of that. Later during personal exercise all of the sisters in our room were on a sugar high and we were doing the craziest things. Now that I think about it, it wasn't really funny at all. I attempted to do a hand stand so I started to walk up the wall to get into the desired position. BAD IDEA. My feet were in the air and my arms couldn't support the weight so I fell and landed on my chin. No one was paying attention and I was rolling on the floor and all of them were joking when I told them I wanted to go to the medical clinic. I dislocated my jaw once before, and it somewhat felt like that. In the end we went, and I have a contusion on both sides of my jaw, and on my chin. My chin is bruised and I wasn't allowed to speak or sing for a day. It still hurts to eat, and my bruise is still there. But I'm a tough cookie!

I got quite a few letters and packages on Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, and I feel SO loved. Thank you so much! I never really realized how much difference getting one letter each day compared to none. My district jokes about how I'm Ms. Popular because I got 9 letters and a package alone on Monday. They told me that they're going to email their families and how they want to beat how many letters I get. So, it's competition time! Although my birthday is over, I hope that the amount of letters I receive stays the same. -wink wink-  By the way those mint brownies were delicious Mom and Dad, thank you very much. [= 

Also, Sister Burrow's Mom sent me a surprise birthday package for me, and I was so surprised. They sent me balloons, streamers, Birthday Cake Oreos, and some other things. We completely decked out our room in streamers and we've decided it's going to stay up there until we leave.

Monday we did our service for the week and cleaned the bathrooms. May I just say that I got to use a real ACTUAL (foam) gun? Oh yes, be jealous!

Tuesday we had our first real 45 minute lesson (TRC) with Belinda Moey. We really didn't know much about her other than she questions God's existence and she doesn't have a Christian background. In the end, she was one of those philosophers who try to learn about EVERY religion. She kept going from question to question. By the time I was able to find a scripture for her she was already on the next subject. She agreed to read the Book of Mormon by the next time we saw her, but she refuses to pray because she believes that it wouldn't be fair to any of the other churches. Apparently no companionship has ever been able to get her to pray except two sisters in our zone that have already left for Virginia today. It feels so weird to be the oldies in the MTC although I've only been here for a week. I think time drags on, yet flies by here. 

Speaking about me leaving, I'm leaving for Georgia at 4:30am on Tuesday morning. I don't have to get up at 4:30am, I have to be READY by 4:30. I think I'm going to die. 

Today I was able to get my patriarchal blessing shrunk down to scripture size, do laundry, and get a haircut. 

Overall, life has been pretty amazing. It’s been really hard, but my testimony has grown SO much. Not to mention that we kneel to pray all the time so my knees have been getting creaky like Mom's. (I knew it was going to happen sooner or later.) I had more spiritual things to say but I left my notebook in the classroom and I don't want to take up even more time by having to drag Sister Burrows and get it. All in all, I know that I'm supposed to be here. Being here is one of the best things that have happened to me. I've been able to rely on the spirit so much to guide me on what to say when I'm role playing with an 'investigator'. Even though none of it is real (technically TRC may or may not have real investigators, they don't tell us), role playing is such an important aspect of learning on how to teach the gospel. When someone decides to go on a mission, we have NO idea on how much of an impact it will have in our eternal perspective. 

I love and miss you all, and I hope that you're doing well. 

-Sister Emily Sudweeks

Monday, October 28, 2013

Farewell Talk

For those who were unable to come to my missionary farewell, here's a copy of my talk.

Back when I was still living in Stockton, I had the opportunity to perform in my high school’s musical, “The Music Man” where I got to experience the Iowan accent. I was placed in the 1st soprano section of the ensemble and considering the closest thing I had to vocal training was church choir, I didn’t exactly know I was doing other than follow the lead of others. The more and more I tried to hit a high D in an assortment of songs, the more and more strained my voice became to the point where it hurt to breathe. To top it all off, I twisted my ankle not once, but twice before our opening night. Considering my Dad was living here in Morgan Hill during my junior year to provide for our family, I turned to my Uncle Gary for a priesthood blessing. I was so afraid that the show would not go on for me, as the understudy was replacing another cast member. I knew that if I had faith, the priesthood blessing that I received would help me perform to the best of my ability. After I got the blessing, I drove towards the theater to get ready for the show and wrap my ankle. I said a silent prayer backstage before the opening number considering my throat and ankle hurt more than ever. The curtains opened for me, and as I ran on stage the pain vanished immediately. I was able to sing and dance with ease just as I practiced for months beforehand. As each musical number was over and I was off stage, the pain returned just as bad as it was before. I knew that the pain vanishing and returning wasn’t just a coincidence, but a small miracle in my life that could not have been made possible if I didn’t have faith.

Faith, what is faith? The Bible Dictionary states that, “Faith is to hope for things which are not seen, but which are true. To have faith is to have confidence in something or someone. […] Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one’s faith. Faith is a principle of action and of power, and by it one can command the elements, heal the sick, and influence any number of circumstances when occasion warrants. [...] All true faith must be based upon correct knowledge or it cannot produce the desired results. [...] A lack of faith leads one to despair, which comes because of iniquity.”

In an April 2013 General Conference talk titled “This Is My Work and Glory” by M. Russell Ballard, he talks about a 7 year old granddaughter telling her grandfather how she was so excited to plant just one tomato seed. She knew that the seed would become a plant, and if the plant were cared for, it would grow into millions of tomatoes that would each have many seeds. But the granddaughter almost killed her plant because she left it in a dark room and forgot to water it. When she remembered the plant, it was all wilted and dead looking. She cried because she thought about all of the millions of the tomatoes that would never grow. Her Mom reassured her that the plant wasn’t dead; all that it needed was some water and light to bring it back to life. “Her small tomato plant, so full of potential but so weakened and wilted from unintentional neglect, was strengthened and revived through the simple ministration of water and light by the little girl’s loving and caring hands.” The tomato plant is like our faith, it needs constant attention, or it begins to weaken. Such as the plant, “we have unlimited, divine potential. But if we are not careful, we can become like the wilted tomato plant. If any of us feels like our faith is less than we know it should be, we should turn more fully to the Savior. We should let His light and His living water do for us and our family what little water and light did in bringing life back to the weakened tomato plant.”

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” A famous quote by Martin Luther King Jr. reads, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Faith is having courage to let God have control, he sees the whole picture unlike we do. He knows what obstacles we must face to become our greatest self. One of my favorite quotes about faith which I may or may not have gotten from Pinterest is, “There isn’t room in your mind for both worry and faith. You must decide which one will live there.” This quote really makes me think because if you have fear about what will happen in the future, I feel like that means you doubt God’s capabilities. 2nd Corinthians 5:7, says, “For we walk by faith, not by sight.”

Everyone has faith; faith that they’ll wake up in the morning, faith that the sun will rise the next day, and faith that their car will start. But how strong one’s faith varies on what they do to strengthen it. Although faith is a gift, it must be cultured and sought after until it grows from a tiny seed to a great tree. Luke 1:37 is a great scripture since it gives me faith in following Him. “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” It doesn’t mean that faith will make things easy, but it will make all things possible if it is God’s Will. We should trust in God’s Will, He knows us and what is best in all areas of our life and it will help us understand His plan for us. Having faith in God includes faith in His timing. “As your faith is strengthened you will find that you no longer the need to have a sense of control, that things will flow as they will, and that you will flow with them, to your great delight and benefit.” When God solves your problems, you have faith in his abilities. But when God doesn’t solve your problems, he has faith in your abilities. In the most recent General Conference, Bonnie L Oscarson talked about how one can gain and strengthen their testimony of tithing. It doesn’t come by praying that one will receive a testimony of tithing, but by testing one’s faith by paying it. Once one pays it, one will gain blessings and have their faith strengthened.

My decision to go on a mission was a trial itself, but it helped me strengthen my faith greatly. I didn’t want to go with the crowd and put in my papers just because everyone was doing it, just like my two closest cousins Chelsie and Stacie. Sure, I thought it would be cool that the ‘Three Musketeers’ would all be out on missions at the same time. Not to mention I hated the thought that I would be the only cousin my age that wasn’t out on a mission, but I wanted to go on a mission for myself. In all honesty, when the age change occurred, I didn’t think about going on a mission because I never thought it was for me. Yet a few months later when I was going to all of my friend’s missionary farewells, that’s when it hit me. Except a few things were holding me back; the majority of guys start saving up for their mission ever since they were at a young age, how am I going to save up for a mission in just a few mere months? I had barely ended my second semester at BYU-I with barely $100 to my name. My Dad was told in December of 2012 that he was going to lose his job at the end of June, and he had been searching for a job since with no luck. I had started my job in the beginning of May, but my work told me that because of company policy, I wouldn’t get promoted to full time if I was going to leave not a few short months after. Financial troubles were really getting me down. How could I possibly raise enough money if my Dad doesn’t have a job, and I’m only working 20 hours a week?

Chelsie Faulk’s farewell talk stood out to me more than anyone else’s- probably because hers was on prayer. She mentioned on how she was reluctant to get an answer on whether she should go on a mission, and that’s exactly how I was feeling. I was praying and asking on whether I should go on a mission, but I never bothered to wait for an answer because I was too scared on what that answer may be. But I decided that I was done wondering, so I prayed in my room for an answer I was ready to hear. While I was waiting for my answer, my Mom came in and wanted to tell me something that my Uncle Daniel mentioned to her, “Emily should not worry about the money if she’s supposed to go on a mission. Finances will not be an issue because everything will work out in the end.” Right when those words were spoken, the spirit overcame me as strong as I’ve ever felt in my life. I started to bawl like a baby, and I exaggerate not when I say I continued to cry for a good twenty minutes. I realized I got my answer- I was going on a mission. After I composed myself, I walked out of my bedroom and into the kitchen announcing to my parents, “I’m, going on a mission?” It was more of a question than a statement, because I was still in unbelief. That was where I had to put my life into God’s Hands, and trust that He knew what He was doing with my life, because I had a much different path in my mind. A way to strengthen one’s faith is going through a trial that you know that you cannot do without God. My journey on preparing for my mission has been a trial indeed, but I know that God has called me to do His work, and everything will work out. If you know me at all, then you know that I like to plan my life. I did the calculations and I had absolutely no idea on how I was going to be able to make enough money with just 20 hours of work on top of taxes and tithing. But with the help of immediate and extended family members, odd jobs here and there, and a lot of willpower to save my money, I succeeded in what I thought was the impossible in the last five months of preparing for my mission. There were a lot of times when I was doubtful that everything was going to happen, but “Faith without works is dead.” I knew that I had to do my part for the Lord to do his. D&C 82:10 reads, “I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” We need to keep our faith in God no matter how dark it gets. All of the darkness in the world cannot extinguish light. Thomas S Monson said, “Your future is as bright as your faith.”

When it comes to gaining blessings from faith, I think that obedience and faith go hand in hand. “There is no faith where there is no obedience. There is true obedience only where there is faith…” I went to a Preach my Gospel class for missionary preparation in the Young Single Adult ward, and my teacher Brother Black told us a story about him and his companion went through during his mission. Brother Black went to a really dangerous mission; so dangerous that his mission president gave him and his companion a blessing before they went out into the mission field. The blessing promised that if they were exactly obedient that they would not face death on their mission. All of the missionaries in that area were warned that when they drove alongside the highway to be conscientious of their surroundings. The reason being was that drivers were known to scare missionaries by pretending or attempting to run them off the highway. One day as Brother Black was leading his companion alongside the highway, he noticed in his mirror that a semi-truck was getting faster and closer to his companion. He shouts and warns to his companion about the upcoming semi-truck, while stopping safely off the road. But it was too late for his companion. As Brother Black looked behind him, he sees his companion along with his bike being crushed by the semi-truck, with the bike shattering to bits and pieces. His companion rolls to a stop, and Brother Black rushes over to his companion, praying that he’s okay. He crouches down and sees that his eyes are closed, not moving a muscle. Suddenly, his companion opens his eyes, and stands right up, asking what just happened. Brother Black declares to him that he just got ran over by a semi-truck. Yet his companion was in disbelief, considering that there wasn’t a broken bone in his body. Brother Black turns his companion around, and shows him that he has a tire truck mark running across his back dirtying his white shirt. In remembrance, his companion framed the tire track marked shirt to always remember that being exactly obedient saved his life on his mission.

One can earn many blessings when it comes through faith. D&C 27:17 says “Taking the shield of faith wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked.” Satan is stronger than all of us, but if we have God on our side, we will be able to overcome all. Jeffrey R Holland, states, “If you have faith, nothing will be impossible to you. Don’t let questions get in the way of your faith. You have more faith than you think. Be not afraid, just believe.” Everyone should doubt their doubts, not their faith. Mosiah 3:17 proclaims, “And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent.” If we have faith and do what God says by keeping his commandments, we will obtain salvation and be able to live with Him again. The hymn ‘The Spirit of God’ in the 3rd verse reads, “That we through our faith may begin to inherit the visions and blessings and glories of God.”

Although I did not obtain my family from faith, I consider them one of the blessings from God. I wouldn't be standing here today if it wasn't for my family. They put up with me in these last few stressful months. I would go out shopping trying to find the PERFECT sales, and I would be wasting more gas than gaining successes. Words cannot express how much you mean to me, and I loved going to the temple as a family. Brothers and sisters, faith is and will always be an essential part of our daily lives. I also would not be standing here today if I did not have faith in God that He would make everything work out. For those who are waiting for a sign on whether you should go on a mission or not, this is it. If you’ve thought to yourself, “I don’t know if Heavenly Father wants me to go on a mission,” don’t. Why wouldn’t He want you to serve and hasten the work He has bestowed to the People of the Last Days? Even if you feel like that you shouldn’t go on a mission, you should still prepare yourself. You will benefit from having your testimony, and your faith grow from the result of it. If you feel like you are inadequate, God doesn’t call the qualified, He qualifies the called. I know that this church is true, and I would not be the person who I am today without it. I have a testimony of faith, and that God knows what He’s doing with each of our lives. God knows each and everyone one of us by name, and He loves us so much that He sent His only Begotten Son to die and atone for our sins. Joseph Smith is a true prophet of God, who re-established His church on Earth today. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.