Monday, December 29, 2014

We Baptized a Cat?

Happy Monday!

So much happened this week but there is so little time to write!

It was great that the Relief Society President referred us to a part member family where the Mom was inactive.  She needed help with some cleaning because she just had knee surgery. We went by on Christmas Eve, and cleaned for a few hours to help her get ready for Christmas. Sister V. opened up more, and she mentioned how she wants to raise her children in righteousness, and come back to church. When the President and one of her counselors were over to put up the tree, she wasn't too interested in coming back, but was okay with her children going. Before we left she told us that we could come back anytime, and we're hoping that we can start teaching her kids because they haven't been baptized yet. :)

Later on Christmas Eve, we went out with the senior couple, the Lamph's- and went Christmas caroling to many less actives, investigators, and part member families. The Lamph's are returning home in February, and they wanted us to meet many of them so we could gradually gain their trust and visit them after they go home. There were many tears as we sung, and some families told us it was exactly what they needed on Christmas Eve. Our voices were tired as we sung to a dozen or so families, but it was worth it. 

On Christmas Day we had brunch with Ap. and her entire family. It was chaotic with all of the kids running around, but it was great being able to teach the Restoration to the entire family. We realized that Da. came halfway through when we were teaching the Restoration to Ap., so she never learned the beginning part of it! It was a good review for the entire family, and it was one of my favorite Christmas mornings ever. :)

I also got to Skype with my beautiful family, and I loved seeing all of their faces, and seeing how much my nieces, Kayla and Marie have grown! It was such a sight to see, and it was fun seeing the pictures that my Dad took as we were Skyping each other.

On Christmas evening, we felt prompted to go to M.'s house. M. was the potential where we prayed with him, and the next day he got a job promotion and recognized that it was because of the blessing we left on his home. The last time we talked to him, we accidentally woke him up because his work schedule got switched from day to night. He told us in a voice mail that he'd call us so we didn't catch each other at the wrong time. We realized that we probably should have responded to him with that, but we didn't want to call him and wake him up. (We missed his call because we were giving service.) M. may have thought we got offended, but we didn't! So when we went to his house M. was sleeping, yet we met his wife L. We sung Silent Night that brought the spirit in, and gave her a "He Is The Gift" card. She told us that M. mentioned us to her, and she'll tell him we stopped by. We really hope that he calls us so we can teach both of them.

We were out tracting this neighborhood, and this ravenous dog was charging right at us and we instantly were paralyzed with fear. Sister Stewart TOTALLY ran behind me, and I was two milliseconds away from running away in absolute terror. I'm so grateful that the dog had an invisible fence so he couldn't get off the property, since I seriously thought we were going to get attacked from that rottweiler. Another interesting experience we had tracting was this old man said that we could talk to him after we found out what the thieves names were that were crucified with Jesus Christ. I remembered Barnabas was released, so I thought that the names of the thieves were in there SOMEWHERE. Unfortunately not, we had the masters of the Bible check for us, and there is no reference anywhere to their names. He just wanted us gone, how rude! :(
Sometimes as we tract we find other interesting creatures.  Here's Phillip the Armadillo.
So here's a funny story. At the beginning of this month, Sister Stewart and I were talking about how we didn't care what we had to do, we were going to baptize this month. Sister Turberville's daughter Gracie just previously had tried to baptize her pet cat Scooter, in the toilet. We even remarked, "I don't care what we have to do, we'll even baptize a cat if we have to!" So I suppose I was lying, because we didn't baptize a cat. (Although we really wanted to give our cat earrings to Da. to wear on her baptism so we could say we baptized a cat.) But Da. was baptized on Saturday! It was a beautiful baptism, and Ca. is getting baptized this Saturday as well. The spirit was there, and Da. received a beautiful blessing as she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It talked about how she needs to continue her education, receive her endowment, marry in the temple, be an example to her family, and having such a sweet spirit. I'm surprised I didn't get teary eyed. :') 
Da.'s Baptism Day-December 27, 2014
Shortly before Da. was baptized. 
Da. and a few of the family members that supported her.

It's pretty exciting since we're tracting into member's relatives, and friends. Na. E. was one of them, and now we've tracted into a recent convert's Mom/grandma, and a less actives cousin who needs rides to church (her cousin has a car and could definitely pick her up.) So we're very excited for this upcoming week! Instant friends! :D
This is the Nativity that Na. E. gave to us.  We love her thoughtful gift.  The pictures on the wall are the ones Da. drew for us.  We love those, also! 
It was such a sad tale, Sister Stewart was strongly prompted to go to go to this one house, and we met this girl named H. Right when we asked if we could pray with her, she began to tear up and say yes. I was prompted to pray about how Heavenly Father loves her, He watches over her continually, about how the Atonement is real. We could hear her cry during the prayer, and the spirit was so strong as we were talking to her, and testifying to her about the restored gospel. She told us that she was most definitely going to watch the He Is The Gift video, and we could just tell that she needed the gospel. Right when I was going to describe more about the Book of Mormon, someone came from her house and dragged her away, taking her inside. She was remarking, "But... but... but.... Have a great day." and waved at us. We were so upset, and it makes me sad that her friend didn't want H. to partake of the gospel.

One of the things that I've loved recently is that I've been reading Jesus The Christ, and I've really been able to learn more about his life, and have been able to have my relationship with him grow stronger because of it. I invite y'all to really study our Savior's life, and to always remember that He has felt what we're going through, and to draw strength from Him and His Atonement.

-Sister Sudweeks
P.S.  We got a huge amount of candy and sweets for Christmas!  Let's just say, we're sharing the wealth!  Thanks everyone for making our Christmas "extra-sweet!"  



Monday, December 22, 2014

Temporary Epedemic in Covington!

Happy Monday!

I absolutely loved going to the temple this past week, and having a Christmas devotional with half of the mission dedicated to the birth of Our Savior, Jesus Christ. There was beautiful musical numbers (Sister Stewart included because I was getting sick) and videos that pierced my heart. One of my favorite lines from the video, "Reasons Behind Christmas" was, "We put the Christ in Christmas when we give gifts that He would want us to give." I started to reflect on what I wanted to give Christ this year, and I've been able to make some of my New Year Resolutions for myself as a missionary, and myself when I go home next year.

They fed us a delicious Christmas lunch as part of our Christmas Devotional    
 
I love my companion!
 
We were able to have another lesson with Sab. and her two little girls, and they were absolutely precious. Since Sab. and the entire family has gotten the flu on steroids, they weren't able to read the Book of Mormon since we've last seen them, so we read the first chapter with them. The spirit is strong in their household, and I love how the girls were paying attention the entire time. After we read Sab. asked them to recite chapters of the Bible. These six and seven year olds were quoting the entire chapter of Psalms 100, and other chapters! We met Sab.'s two teenaged daughters as we were leaving, and we're teaching them tomorrow the Restoration. I can't wait to see the progression of this family!

Na. E. introduced us to her daughter, N., and she is such a sweetheart! We had a great dinner with them, and Na. even made us a cute little nativity that I'll have to take a picture of next week. She gave it to us because everyone needs a nativity for their apartment apparently! :) She asked a lot of questions about missionary life, and the younger N. took a religion comparative class her first semester of college. She admitted that she was going to read her notes before she came over, but she really couldn't remember anything that we believed besides Joseph Smith finding the gold plates. They both went to a Relief Society activity after dinner, and they loved spending time with us that evening. We're hoping to teach them a real lesson in the near future when they're available next.

We've continued teaching Da., Ap., and Ca., and we're praying for a White Christmas! The details aren't set yet, but Da. walked out of her baptismal interview and waved her baptism record in the air rejoicing, "totally crushed it." It was so precious because Da. drew us three pages of pictures for us, and we already have them on our apartment wall to admire them whenever we sit down. :) Ca. is close to getting there, and I'll be sure to tell my family what the verdict is when I Skype with them on Christmas Day! Ap. is going to take a little while longer, but I know that she'll be baptized eventually. Da. and Ca. went to a baptism last Saturday, and I loved seeing the look in their eyes and the smiles on their faces as they witnessed a baptism. I have loved seeing their conversion from the very beginning, and who knew that we would baptize someone that we've met at Waffle House?
 
Best church sign ever? Fall in love with Jesus? Don't you mean, Love Jesus? :D
A lot of our investigators have been sick the past few weeks, and it's taking a toll on teaching them! At least half a dozen of our investigators have gotten sick this week, and I've also been one of them. Hopefully the body aches and migraines aren't a sign that I'm getting the 10 day long flu, since who wants to be sick on Christmas?! As that lovely sign says, I hope y'all have a country Christmas! :)
 
 

Sorry that it's a short email, but I hope that everyone has a great Christ filled Christmas! What are you going to give the Savior this year?

-Sister Sudweeks
 
P.S.  Look!  It's my Root Beer! 


 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Hot Mess Express, Literally.

Happy Monday!

So this week was an interesting week, that's for sure! It's crazy that another Christmas is here as a missionary. My last one, unless I go on a mission with my future husband decades from now! :D
 
We arrived home to our apartment and there was a "roaring" fire waiting for us.   Of course, that meant we needed to roast some marshmallows! 
So we had some pretty funny experiences tracting this week.. One of them is that we were tracting around 7pm so it was dark, and a little girl peeked through the blinds. She ended up locking the door, running away, turning off the TV, and all of the lights. We just started to laugh and we're guessing she was home alone! Another experience in that same neighborhood is this little seven year old boy answered the door, thinking we were his Mom. He squealed and ran away really fast because he was only wear a shirt and his boxers. You'd think he'd look before answering the door haha!

We've been getting into this routine of store contacting, and tracting, so we went to Mutual with everyone and sang Christmas Carols at a nursing home, and at the Square. It was so cold, and no one was really at the Square, but it was fun getting to know the youth and youth leaders better because they're not in 2nd or 3rd hour of church with us.

We're a bit stressed because our miles were cut by 200 for this month due to it being the last month of the year and of course many missionaries go over their miles... We were already over miles even before they were cut. AHH
 
My district before the last transfer. 

Ap., Ca., and Da. are doing well. We taught a few of them individually due to work, but we went over to their house a total of four times this last week. We watched a talk from President Monson with Ca. and Da. so they can gain a testimony of the prophet, but Ap. will still busy at work. We were able to teach them the Law of Chastity, and that was an interesting lesson to talk to them considering certain circumstances. Ca. doesn't want anymore kids (he has two toddlers) so he's willing to keep it. It was precious because he pulled down a poster that he bought a few days ago (a male anime character) and he wanted to make sure it was appropriate. Nothing wrong with it! Ca. was relieved and happy that he didn't waste money on it. They're on date for the 27th of December, but it's just a goal (as every baptismal date) and we'd really appreciate prayers that it'll all work out and they'll be able to make their date.

I was really happy because we were making an appointment with Sab. for their appointment on Sunday, she was talking to her husband Ant. on when we could come over! (This is the couple where she told me that a lot of churches "wanted him" but he's hard.  Yet, I felt prompted to give him a Restoration pamphlet.)  She wanted to make sure everyone would be there for the lesson. Sadly we confirmed with them, and they forget company was coming into town Sunday morning, so we had to reschedule for Wednesday. But there's still interested in us coming!

I don't think I mentioned Na. E. in my Thanksgiving email, but Sister Stewart and I tracted into Na. E. after we made a fail of store contacting Thanksgiving evening. We knocked on two doors, and the last door we knocked on was Na. E.'s at 9:10. She's an elderly lady who's a 'nice Catholic girl' but let us right in as she was wearing her bathrobe! :D Nan. offered us soda and leftover pie, and talked to us for a little while. Come to find out she took the missionary discussions with her now deceased husband 45 years ago! The elders came over every Tuesday for cookies and juice, and she fed them Christmas Eve. She knows Sister Traina, who we live with, and she actually goes to a gardening club with her! We invited her to the Christmas party on Friday, and she absolutely loved it. She even called us back asking what she could bring, and we told her it was an all deserts social, so she did! 
Na. is so cute, and she's having us over for dinner on Thursday, and we're hoping to invite her to another Relief Society activity that night. She's also inviting her granddaughter that's 22 to dinner because she'll find us 'interesting' and we're really excited to see where it's heading. She apparently loves our church because it's so industrious, and wants to learn more who we are.
 
There were three tables loaded with desserts which Sister Stewart and I replenished frequently.  I think I gained five pounds just LOOKING at the food!
We were so excited to be able to make candy trains this year, but we didn't have any shortening to make the frosting so we borrowed some from the Traina's upstairs. She didn't have any that wasn't expired, but we figured we never eat the frosting so it'd be okay. Then we realized we only have almond milk, and we didn't have any measuring spoons to measure everything out. The frosting turned out interesting, and it most definitely didn't stick as well! Oh well, we just have to make sure that we don't eat the frosting for sure. Despicable Behavior Train was mine, 
 
Christmas 2014 Candy Train--Despicable Behavior

A Closeup of my Candy Train
 
and Sister Stewart had the awesome idea to make a Hot Mess Express, I'm sure Sister Sullivan would be proud, considering we used that phrase all the time in Fayetteville! :D
 
Sister Stewart's Candy Train
 
Time is running out fast, but Merry Christmas everyone, and always remember the true meaning of Christmas!

-Sister Sudweeks
 
P.S.  I wish I was an Oscar Meyer Weiner!  
 












 



Wednesday, December 10, 2014

If Only They Were High on Life...

Happy Monday!

Man, this week 'packed a wallop!" (Name that movie, first winner gets a Christmas postcard from us.)

So much happened this week, and I'm so excited for the rest of this transfer! The next few transfers in Covington are going to ROCK.
 
We live by alpacas so I HAD to take a picture!
So unfortunately Ro. cancelled on Monday, and we haven't seen her since. Her husband is back in town (they're separated) and he doesn't like 'lessons' as she told us. We're thinking he's probably feeding her anti so we're worried about that. We're hoping she'll be able to come to the Christmas party this Friday with Ka.

We now teach Ca., Ap., and Da. every Tuesday and Wednesday (or until Ap.'s schedule changes) but we didn't teach Da. until Thursday because she was going to be in the Christmas Parade at the Square on Saturday. But on Tuesday we only taught Ap., and she opened up to us about some of her concerns, and we were able to resolve them, and read 2nd Nephi 31 with her. It's so amazing to see how much she's changed since we first met her. She's just so grateful for us, and the prayers she gives are so sincere. Ap. cries because she feels the spirit so easily, and I know that she's been able to gain a testimony of what we teach her.

It was pretty cool since Sister Stewart was prompted to drive to Sister Belleville's house a different way where we were going to do service. We passed a car on the side of the road that needed help. We looked at each other and I had to turn around to see what they needed. We met Ro. and Vi., and they ran out of gas so we called Sister Belleville because she has a lot of knowledge about cars, too. We ended up talking about the Restoration while we were waiting, and they considered coming to church because it's closer to them. We got their number and we gave them a pamphlet, and they were on their way to pick up their son from school. It was so sad because we thought they genuinely seemed interested, but they gave us a wrong number. Sad! We're trying to give them the benefit of the doubt and say that their phone got turned off or something- we'll call again later.

Later on Wednesday we taught Ca. and Ap. the Word of Wisdom with Sister Belleville after we completed our service, and they committed to follow it. We get to follow up with them about that tomorrow, and we're pretty confident that it won't be an issue for them. :)

We were so excited, since Sister Trust surprised us with a live Christmas Tree! She gave us ornaments and everything, and now I can say that my first live tree was on the mission! She's the sweetest woman ever, and she and her husband are the couple we have the Cottage Meetings at, if we ever get an investigator there! We're crossing our fingers for this week. Sister Trust made us brownie waffles for dessert and they were SO good. Yes, put brownie batter in a waffle maker, it's super good. Find it on Pinterest haha! She came with us to teach Da. later on that evening, and Da. doesn't get a lot of sleep because she's in ROTC. But she's amazing because after she was reading the blessings from keeping the Word of Wisdom she perked up and proclaimed, "I can keep this!" We were able to testify to her about how she'll be able to have the strength and energy through praying with faith.
 
My First "Live" Christmas Tree  

 
It's a true missionary Christmas Tree--Notice the Pass-along Cards!
We also saw Ci. with Sister Trust! (She's the sweet woman who is susceptible to pneumonia.) She hasn't been reading unfortunately, but we were able to get the gospel library on her tablet so hopefully that will help. She has decked out Christmas decorations just as she had Halloween decorations. Ci. was also in the parade, so we were going to go to it so we could pass out "He is the Gift" cards. Did y'all see it on YouTube yesterday? :) Best 2:47 minute long video ever! Such a tearjerker, we've been passing them out since Thanksgiving. She told us to call her so we can see her again this week. When the weather got cold she was worried about us and made sure that we had warm coats. Ci. is so sweet!
 
So although I've been out for 13 months (AHH!) I have never actually taught someone that was high before, much less four of them at the same time. It was an interesting scenario because Sister Turberville met a less active who wants to come back to church, and she wants us to teach her son and daughter. We popped in on them without warning, and Sister Turberville asked if we could teach all of them the Plan of Salvation, knowing that all four of the guys including the son, were high. The daughter L., wasn't, so we taught all five of them at the table. It was kind of an eye opening experience because I remember asking them what they thought their purpose in life was, and none of them could give me an answer. All of them were 16 years old or older and some have already graduated college.  They asked so many questions about it. They really trusted us with their questions that they've been wondering about for a minute. At the end Sister Turberville asked if we could come back, and all of them said yes. All of them either took a Restoration pamphlet, Book of Mormon, or downloaded the gospel library app onto their phones. D. and L. already had a Book of Mormon (the kids.) I loved teaching them because it was promised to me that I would be able to teach others about their purpose, and to help them understand the Plan of Salvation. 

We were really sad because we thought the parade that Ci. and Da. were in started at 11am, not 10am. (We heard wrong) so we ended up trying to chase the parade down so we could try to find Ci. and Da. since we promised, but failed. We ended up walking a LONG time, but hey, we burned off the Thanksgiving calories! :D Silver lining!
 
We were so disappointed! We missed the Christmas parade despite huffing and puffing trying to catch up!
Covington Square all decked out for Christmas.  This is where part of the parade took place.

Sad side note, we're thinking La.'s wife doesn't like us (or Satan got to them), so he called us right after we confirmed with him for the second time, saying thanks but no thanks. :( I guess they just weren't ready yet for the fullness of the gospel!

Remember Phillip the Lizard?  Well, meet Phillip the Scorpion!

Of course, he's dead. I almost accidentally stepped on him barefoot when I was doing laundry in the garage.. Nasty!

Best part of Sunday? Ca., Ap., and Da. came to church! Ap.l might be getting a better job because one of our members knows there's job openings where he works, so we're excited! We asked Ap. if she's been praying about baptism, and Ap. told us that she thinks it's stepping in the right direction. We invited her to pray about the 20th or the 27th, so we'll also follow up with them about that tomorrow too. :) The Church is true!

It was awesome because we also taught Car. and Sab., someone we met on Tuesday. It was hilarious since when we first met them they asked if we were with the Harmony Baptist Church, "No" Jehovah's Witness? "No" Well, then who are you? "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. "Ohh MORMONS! Come right on in!" We found out 20 years ago they took the discussions in Atlanta, but lost contact when they moved. They haven't seen us since! We did the cup lesson with them since they don't remember anything about the Restoration. It was so cute because we were also teaching Sa.'s two youngest kids who are 6 and 7, and they were so engaged in the lesson. They both said that they'd be baptized if they knew it was true, and how they want to really start reading the Book of Mormon again. Sa. wants us to teach them again when her older daughter is home, and she asked us to pray for her husband. Apparently "a lot of the churches want him, but he's hard." Us: "Even if we bring cookies?" "Oh yes!" The spirit was so strong during that lesson, and her husband An. came in halfway to grab something off the table, and leave. But when we were about to say the closing prayer, he came in and asked if he could join us. After the prayer I gave him a Restoration pamphlet because I was prompted to, so I hope he reads it. We're teaching them again this week :)

We only taught D. on Sunday because L. was studying, (these are the kids in the group that were high earlier) and we were able to teach him the Restoration. It was great because he has a great desire to change for the better, and he was mostly sober. He told us how eye opening this all was, and how he's learning so much. He wants to go back to college and play basketball, and clean up his life. We were really able to focus on the Atonement and how through the Atonement we can be healed and cleansed through Jesus Christ. When we were just talking about baptism, he told us that he wanted to. We're teaching him again on Wednesday and we're pretty excited. :) He almost came to the Christmas devotional with us, but he decided to spend time with his sister. We're hoping that he shares what he learned with her, so they'll be able to be baptized together. I can most definitely see D. being a good example to all of his friends.

I'm so grateful for the gospel, and for the additional enlightenment it gives to us. Never take it for granted!

-Sister Sudweeks
 
P.S.  We discovered that we don't actually have to go OUTSIDE to unload the trunk of our car.  So convenient on cold days!  :)  Unfortunately, Sister Stewart got her hair stuck again!  Last week in the car door, this week in the trunk of the car. 
 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Tornado Heading for Home!

Happy Monday!

This week was just a crazy week, and I didn't realize how little time I had left to write this email! Darn submitting my BYU application to take up so much of my time! Oh well, all is good. :)

So many of our appointments fell through because of everyone getting sick, such as J. who had the red hornet come into his house as he slammed the door in our face (kinda).
 
Sister Sudweeks' third area and she found her third street sign celebrating her mission!
 
We had another lesson with Ro. on Monday with Sister Turberville, and we thought it was going well until she fell asleep on us at the very end because she's been waking up at 3:15 for the past few weeks in preparation for Thanksgiving. We taught her and Ka. the Restoration with the cups, and we thought she was understanding it until Sister Turberville mentioned to us that she most likely thinks we're just a Protestant church. We're not entirely sure what to teach her considering this is the 3rd time the sisters have taught her the Restoration, and she's even watched the Restoration DVD.

So some of the members told us that the Missouri protesting is continuing on, and there was a huge protest in Atlanta. There was actually a small group of teenagers protesting on a street corner as we were heading towards the Church. We had no idea what they were protesting for until the day after a member told us. Hopefully nothing else happens here in Covington!

We were able to get in contact with Ca., Ap., and Da., and we had a marvelous lesson with them on the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week with Sister Belleville. The spirit was so strong because Ap. and Sister Belleville have had similar backgrounds and they were able to relate with one another. Ap. mentioned that she knew that the things we were teaching were true (like the Book of Mormon) because of how she feels whenever we are there. She also committed for baptism on December 13th, and we were so excited! We taught Car. to pray, and it was one of the sweetest prayers I've heard here in Covington. He gave a prayer of thanks about how much God has done in his life, how he's grateful he was able to meet us, and go to church amongst other things. But since Ap. was working Saturday night at 7pm, to 7am Sunday morning, she was too tired to come to church, so we have to push their baptismal date back because we're figuring all of them want to be baptized together as a family.

Thanksgiving was just amazing because we found La. who's 26 before we had Thanksgiving dinner at 1:30. We originally prayed with her Mom, and then she saw Lauren peering to see who was at the door, so she shoved La. outside and closed the door. It was pretty funny, but I'm so glad she did! La. was intrigued about what we believe, and she even thought we split from the Jehovah's Witnesses. We talked to her for a good thirty minutes to clear up some of the anti she has heard from the past. She's visiting home for Thanksgiving, but she said she'd call us after she read the Restoration pamphlet with any questions that she had. After dinner she did, and we were so excited! We ended up teaching her and her friend Mel. on Friday, but originally she wanted to take us out to dinner at a restaurant of her choice. It was pretty intense Friday night because we found out she was Southern Baptist, and she has a lot of hangups since she's really well versed when it comes to the Bible. 

Saturday morning they invited us over for eggs and bacon for breakfast, so La., Mel., and us just talked about our testimonies, and we answered a lot of questions that they had. I'm really grateful we didn't Bible bash this time, but there was a lot of questions they had that I couldn't completely answer. Their definition of grace is different from ours, and they asked all of these hard questions I've been asked previously, but usually my companion would always answer them for me. Sister Stewart told me after that I did really well, but I know that it was the spirit completely guiding me on what to say to them. Mel. seemed very open about reading the Book of Mormon because if there's more out there, she doesn't want to be ignorant. We found out later that La. actually works for the church she goes to, and so we're thinking there's a lesser chance that she'll read it, but I gave her my copy of, "Our Search For Happiness" by M. Russell Ballard because it explain the Church simply and clearly. Both of them don't live in our mission boundaries, so we're got their addresses and we'll send missionaries to them.

Thanksgiving dinner was amazing, and it was fun to see the difference between a West coast Thanksgiving dinner, and a Southern Thanksgiving dinner. I got to have an eggnog toast (not entirely sure if I like eggnog or not), sweet baked potatoes, corn casserole, turkey of course, Yorkshire Pudding, red hot applesauce (so good, I'm bringing that recipe home), sweet potato souffle, pumpkin creme and pecan pie, amongst other things! We had dinner with the Traina's, so we literally just had to go upstairs. We found out from Sister Traina that when we had a tornado warning last Sunday (not yesterday) the Traina's turned on the news, and it was tracking where the tornado was going to hit. They found out that it was heading straight towards our street and it was moving fast! Right before it hit, a cold gust of wind hit the tornado, so it broke it up and it was gone. Sister Traina replied that it's a great protection to have missionaries live in your basement! We didn't think much of the tornado warning and where it would hit last Sunday. We had to stop tracting and we went to a member's home when we got the text alert, but it's crazy that it almost hit our home!

Thanksgiving night we wanted to go store contacting to see if we could find new investigators, and Walmart was SO packed! I've never seen it so busy before, and we retreated because everyone was on a mission to get great sales! Haha, so we went tracting instead and met N., who knows Sister Traina as well! She and her deceased husband took the missionary discussions 45 years ago. N. told us she's a nice Catholic girl, but she told us that we could come back. My testimony of night tracting grew exceedingly. If an older woman can let us in at 9:15pm at night, anyone can!
 
Sister Sudweeks broke down and bought what she calls an ugly Christmas sweater. 

On Sunday we had a fast with our zone family to find families that we could teach in December, and I must say, Heavenly Father delivered! We found some really amazing people that we're going to be able to teach this Saturday, and next Saturday that live in the same neighborhood. One of them was La., where we had to pant all the way up the driveway hill, and he agreed to pray with us and for his dinner. Apparently his family hasn't gone to church in a while because their work schedules are so hectic, but they try to 'have church' in the home, and include their daughter. We talked to him about what it would mean to him if his family could be a together family, and if Christ's Church was back on the Earth once again. He exclaimed that it would mean a lot to him! We invited him to baptism, and he said that he would have to do more research and study, but it's something that he and his family would be interested in. We're so excited to teach his entire family on Sunday!

One of the things that I've realized as my role of being a trainer comes to an end this Wednesday is how Heavenly Father has been preparing me to go home in 3 transfers. Throughout the mission I've relied on my companions (who have been older month wise on the mission) to confirm the decisions or promptings to follow for the past 11 months. I didn't have to talk a whole lot, or rely completely on the spirit because I relied on them, relying on the spirit. As senior companion and as a trainer, I've been able to completely rely on the Spirit, and sometimes I don't even realize I'm trusting in Heavenly Father. It's cool since although it's really draining to initiate conversations, talk during most of the lessons, it's teaching me that in the real world I can only rely on myself, and the Spirit in the future. I'm grateful that I'm having this year and a half to learn how the spirit speaks to me. Especially to continue to completely rely on God's Timing 24/7, and not when it's convenient to do the Lord's Will.


I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving!

-Sister Sudweeks
 
P.S.  Sister Stewart had an unfortunate mishap.  Her hair got stuck in the car door and this windblown creation is the result.  


 




Monday, December 1, 2014

Old Man Stripping While Tracting?!

Happy Monday!

Haha, I betcha can't wait for the explanation of the subject title eh? Well I guess you'll just have to wait. :)

FHE with Ro. and the Tuberville's went fabulously! We're having FHE again tonight at Ro.'s house, but we're going to be providing the lesson The last FHE was all about how we are a child of God, and we even made sugar cookie people and decorated them as each other. Sister Turberville made Ro., Ro. made me, and I made Sister Stewart! It was fun getting to see Ro. and the Turberville's making such a strong friendship. Ro. didn't come to church because she's making Thanksgiving dinner all by herself, and she's pretty stressed about it. We're sad because she hasn't been reading or listening to the Book of Mormon either. We're hoping to see her twice a week because we're not really teaching her Preach My Gospel lessons during FHE because the Turbervilles have a three year old Gracie, and Ro's granddaughter Ka. who's ten doesn't have a long attention span.

I am a Child of God Family Home Evening
 
We had a wonderful lesson with Ca., Ap., and Da. (whoops, found out we were spelling her name wrong) about the Plan of Salvation. We used visuals to explain it simply, and at the end we asked if they had any questions, and Ca. asked what we had to do to make it to the Celestial Kingdom. We told him that he needed to live the gospel of Jesus Christ-  Faith, Repentance, Baptism, Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End. He asked us when the next baptism was, and we had to explain to him that he had to be taught all of the lessons first, and to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. He then got his notebook out, and started to take notes about the gospel of Jesus Christ, it was so precious! Ap. (the mom) has already read part of the Book of Mormon although she works 12 hour shifts at night, and she told us she wants to read it more. She mentioned to us that she is really grateful for us coming over because she just went through a bad breakup, and looks forward to us coming because of how she feels. Ap. doesn't want to commit to a baptismal date yet because she's had a lot of bad experiences with other churches. She wants to come and feel the spirit, and then make her decision. We called them on Saturday to make sure that they were coming, but Ap. told us that her Mom was in town, and that she wanted to spend as much time with her as possible. We were so bummed because none of them came, and we don't think that Ap. will have Saturday night off again this week, or next week. There's only two more Sundays until the 13th, and Da, and Ap. have to come to church at least twice before they can get baptized. 

We were able to see J. again, the guy that slammed the door in our face because a red hornet got into his house. It was SUPER awkward because we parked across the street from his house, and we started to make calls and discuss a few things before we planned on going to see him. Then his Dad came up to our car, asking if we needed help. We said no, and asked if J. was home. He declined, and told us that he was a fixing to come home soon, and that he'd be back soon. We thanked him, and we were really unsure what to do because we wanted to see him because we were in the area, but we didn't want to go to any of the other doors around him. A few minutes later, he came home (and we didn't know) and J. walked up to our car. We set up a return appointment for tomorrow, and apparently he's taking a religion class this semester so he's interested to compare the two. So awkward, but at least we're teaching him tomorrow hey hey! :)

Elder Kopischke was absolutely amazing on Thursday, and so was his wife. She is so cute and adorable, and I loved how she quoted Disney! He invited us to think of a question that we wanted answered, and to write it down. Ponder about it, and then promised us that it would be answered by the time it was over. Then he invited us to do the same thing with our investigators when it came to church. Have them have a question in mind before church starts, and then promise them it would be answered. One of my favorite quotes that he quoted from Elder Bednar was, "You have been called for what you will become in the future, and not for what you've done in the past." It gave me so much comfort because now I know how much potential Heavenly Father sees with me in the future, and that He knows I can do great things in the Covington Ward. Da. was able to come to the fireside Thursday night, and she enjoyed it. It was a great reunion because it was mission wide, and I was able to see people from Atlanta, Fayetteville, and some of my favorite missionaries! I loved seeing Sister Sullivan, Burrows, Watts, and many others. :)
 
The Atlanta, Georgia Temple is stunning at night!
Af. (the Muslim woman we're teaching) was unable to come to the fireside, but she made it to church, and LOVED the talk that Sister Stewart gave about grace. We're not sure where to go with her, but we'll continue to work on increasing her faith in the Book of Mormon!

So we were out tracting on Saturday and we saw this old man with crazy tattoos check his mail and walk into a house that says, "Beware of Dog" on it. We stared at it and Sister Stewart said, "I really don't want to, but the Spirit is telling me really strongly that we need to go to that house." We knocked on a few doors along the way, and we finally knocked on the door we were scared to go to. We ended up meeting that old man St., and he was actually really nice! (Shocker, right? The Spirit tells us to do something, and it's only for good!) We found out that he was a three time cancer survivor, and he loves God will his whole heart and soul. All of the tattoos he has he got a few years ago, and they're all religious. He has tattoos all on his neck, his shoulders, chest, and then he took off his shirt to show the tattoo he has of Christ on his back. Lets just say.. our eyes were huge when he did that! He LOVED to talk, and he talked about how he was high on Christ and God's love. He accepted a Restoration pamphlet, and we briefly talked about the Restoration. Since it was the holidays this week, he didn't want to set a return appointment, but he promised to read and pray about the pamphlet we gave him. We got his number so we can call him to see how he liked it, and that we're welcome to come back anytime. He is one of my list that I'll never forget how I met him initially!

The last thing that I really loved about seeing Elder Kopischke was when he showed us the Bible Video of Peter walking on water. When Peter looked away from the Savior, that's when he started to sink. So if we always look toward the Savior, we will not sink and will have enough faith to overcome any trials we're going through. It was also cool that Elder Kopischke and his wife sat at our table during lunch in between trainings. :)

Have a Happy Thanksgiving Y'all!

-Sister Sudweeks
 
P.S.  Sister Stewart is multitasking as she eats a quick snack and looks up where we need to go next.




One last birthday picture. 
 

Monday, November 17, 2014

Strep, Flu, Laryngytis, and Ear Infection-- Oh My!

Happy Monday!


So we had a lesson with Ro. on Monday, and she was able to feed us dinner- fried pork chops. (She's the one who came to church the previous Sunday along with her granddaughter after watching the Restoration DVD and loving it!) That's a new one for me, we're living in the South! She had just gotten a brand new printer where you could print pictures straight from your phone, and Ro. wanted to give me the very first picture from the printer.  So she took a picture of Sister Stewart and I, and voila! She signed it and everything. :) Ro. expressed to us that she enjoyed the service, but it didn't move her the way that she thought it would- it was unlike any church that she had gone to. I wasn't entirely sure if she was trying to drop us or not, because she said that we'd always be her girls, and that we still need to come back in the future. I testified my heart out to her about the Book of Mormon, and how I came to know it was true, and I honestly believe it made her think. We were able to read Alma 32 with her, and later on we found out that she talked to one of the members that we brought previously who really connected with her. Thankfully, we actually have FHE with her tonight at the Tuberville's home, and I'm really excited to see what happens!

We had exchanges on my birthday, and I felt so loved from the Tuberville's and other members when I told them it was my birthday. Every girl loves flowers on her birthday, and being a new missionary in the ward made it mean even more to me. During dessert they even put a birthday candle on my cinnamon roll and sang Happy Birthday to me. Good stuff!
I felt so loved by family, friends, and the members of the Covington Ward!
We were able to meet with C. (he's the guy we met at the Waffle House and when we taught him the first time, his mother also wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon) again this week on Wednesday, and we taught his sister Da., and his Mom A. the cup lesson. It was so sweet because when we got there, C's Book of Mormon, Bible, and Gospel Principles book was stacked up on the table ready to read. As we were teaching them C. would pipe up and say, "I remember hearing about him at church" or "I know this part" and he would explain to them part of the lesson. They really understood the lesson and we were able to put C. and Da. on date to be baptized on December 13th! A. said that she'd have to pray and read the Book of Mormon, but we'll see. It's hard because A. works 12 hour shirts from 7-7am, and she is going to try to come to church this week, along with Da.. C. came to church again this week, and so did Af.- a Muslim that the sisters have been working with for a few months. She absolutely loves the Book of Mormon (especially Mosiah with King Benjamin) and thinks it's the word of God. Except that she doesn't believe that Christ is the Son of God. Her husband knows that she's meeting with us, and she might even be going to the fireside with Elder Kopischke this Thursday. Sister Stewart and I felt so bad because one of the potentials we met as we were trying to find less actives, came to church with his son, and we didn't know he was there! We're meeting with him Tuesday. :)

We went by and saw An., and our worries were confirmed that her Mom got offended. She doesn't want to come to this ward anymore so An. won't be baptized until who knows when. It's so sad because it should be An.'s decision to get baptized, even though she's not 18. An. had the baptismal interview and everything and it was set. 
Weekly planning. Got the best candy right there! Sparkly jelly bellys?
So as I'm sure you could tell from the email title, I was very, very sick this week. I'm still getting over it as I still have to take antibiotics for two more days. It was awful because all we did was sleep, make calls, make the area book more manageable to use, clean, and repeat. It's been really cold for the last four days, and we tried to go out tracting on Saturday after we house cleaned for a member in the ward who just had surgery on her neck. But since it was so cold, and I wrapped up all warm and snug as my blessing told me to, the air just burned the back of my throat as I breathed, and I had immense pressure on my head so we had to head in. I know that losing my voice on Wednesday let Sister Stewart lead even more with Ca.l's lesson, so she could teach by the spirit more. I don't think it's coincidence that Sister Jarman also got sick when I was being trained, and I had to take over for a few days because she got sick. Except mine was much worse, and a lot more extreme.


But one of the fun things that I got to do while being sick was that I found a lizard in the garage where we live. Since we live in the basement of a members home, we have to walk around the back, enter into the garage where our washer and dryer is, and then enter into our apartment. Sister Stewart was doing some laundry so I put the lizard on the washer and waited for her to transfer her clothes from the washer to the dryer. I got it on film and her reaction was priceless! "Ruude." I got a picture with him, and his name is Phillip- Sister Stewart named him. :) He's like my old pet snake George in Fayetteville!


Phillip the Lizard--our new pet

So I got a pretty amazing email from one of my good friends, Franklin from BYU Idaho, and I just wanted to share a portion of what he shared with me, because I couldn't portray it the way he could.


"As you study throughout the day and allow God to fill your soul with light from the Scriptures, let him also fill you with the great light of His Son (the Light of Christ) that illuminates our understanding and allows us to see others as God sees them - children of great worth and potential, each one worthy of His Son's great sacrifice and a beloved child that He wants to embrace one day again in His arms. Let that light help you stumble through the dark passages of trials, and let that light warm your heart when the rest of the world is cold and indifferent to you.

Light up the darkness."

I know that the gospel helps that light shine, and I know that each of you have amazing testimonies and experiences that will help others see the light in the darkness of the world. We mean so much to Him personally, and He knows what we're going through. 

Love y'all!


-Sister Sudweeks
P.S.  I decided to get new inserts, look at those crazy differences!




Monday, November 10, 2014

Red Hornets Strike Again!

Happy Monday!

I'm just going to focus on the highlights of this week due to the lack of time I have because I've been trying to send pictures without a memory card reader or a camera cord. Technology these days, can't live with or without it!

We watched the Restoration DVD with R. on Monday, and she absolutely LOVED it. She wants to watch a full length DVD of Joseph Smith and his life. :) We brought a member with us and they really connected about their past lives. R. came to church along with her granddaughter Ka. I was asked to speak Friday about the Mormon Message 'Reclaimed' and I managed to write it in 50 minutes during personal study Saturday, and practice it Sunday morning. It was so cute because R. told me I should be a minster. Call me Minister Sudweeks! :P
 
Here is the link if you want to watch the video my talk was based on:
 
http://www.mormonchannel.org/video/mormon-messages/topics/atonement?v=1795507066001
 
It was cool because we went to Waffle House about two weeks ago, and this guy named C. came up to us asking what church we go to. We got his number, and we met with him on Saturday and taught him the Restoration. His Mom A. came home right before we were about to finish up, and she saw that we gave him a Book of Mormon. She took it from him saying that she needed this more than him, and so we gave her a copy of her own so they could each have one. As we were leaving she asked the member that came out with us if we had any additional Bible studies, and we told her about the cottage meetings we have every Sunday at 6pm. (It's where people come together at a member's home, and investigators and recent converts can ask any questions that they have.) A. was going to be in Atlanta on Sunday, but she said that she'd try to come next week, plus church since C. told us in the beginning that she was looking for a church, too. But he came to all three hours of church, and he had a LOT of questions. We're looking forward to teaching him more because he doesn't have a lot of knowledge about the basic principles, so it's refreshing to teach someone very simply.

Ci. has still been sick with her cold, and we're afraid that it's going to turn into pneumonia. Her husband L. still isn't back from hunting yet (he should be back this week) so we've been praying that she'll get well so she can meet with us again.

We had zone training and we were able to go to the temple, and have all of the stake presidents, bishops, and ward mission leaders for the very beginning of the training.
 
Atlanta, GA Temple, November 5, 2014
Taking notes at Zone Training 

 
Listening carefully to the instruction from our leaders
 Our stake needs to be focusing on reactivating and finding the YSA less actives in the stake, because we don't know if they've married, moved, or still here. We've been struggling to find investigators recently, and ever since we've been focusing on YSAs, we have been finding investigators. :)
 
Celebrating my year mark on November 6th!  Don't you love the family calendar my sisters put together? 
 

An. never got baptized last week, and it's a bit of a long story. We haven't gotten in contact with her Mom recently, and we're worried that her Mom may have gotten offended. We're going to continue to pray that we'll get in contact with her.

It was cool because we were going store contacting, and we went to a store and we just KNEW someone was there that needed to hear our message of the restored gospel. We walked in near the boots, and we met this woman named B.. She went on about how cute we were, and how God told her to stay till 8pm at work, and she was supposed to be off by 7pm. She had no idea why she was staying, until she met us. We started to teach her more about the Restoration, and she was so excited because (1) she just moved to Covington, (2) she has been looking for a church, (3) she wants her 16 year old son to get into church, and (4) she's been asking God for guidance. We were just flipping out as we were talking to her! She was the sweetest woman ever, and she told us that she knew that we were Godly people before she even saw what we were holding and our name tags. She didn't know her schedule yet for this upcoming week, but we got her number and she's so excited to meet with us!

We had an AMAZING lesson with D. and his family with the seminary teacher in our ward. She was explaining the Book of Mormon so enticing, and I was completely enthralled as we went over the Parable of the Ten Virgins. We have never seen them so focused in a lesson before. We're pretty upset though because they didn't come to church like they said they would, and they didn't come to the cottage meeting either. They're no longer on date to be baptized this Saturday because they haven't had all of the lessons, and they aren't keeping their commitments.

I had some pretty funny stories happen this week, and we'll see if I have time to mention them all! Long story short we met this guy named Ja. as we were tracting, and he respected us a lot for being missionaries. We talked to him more about the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon until we saw this red hornet starting to buzz around. He yelped, "I don't want that red hornet in my house!" as it was hovering by the edge of the door. James practically slammed the door, and yet the red hornet made it's way inside sneakily. We yelled through the door, "Can we come back another time?" and he yelled back, "Sure!" Man, those red hornets strike again!

One last one was that we were waiting for a left hand turn during commute traffic, and I let a car get into my lane because they were trying to turn into it. Then another car aggressively got in front of me without me wanting them to. The semi truck behind me got really mad and started to honk his horn at me over and over again as it turned green. I was trying to do a U turn but failed, so he proceeded to honk his horn every time he saw my brake lights go on. He was so mad at me, but thankfully I was able to pull into a parking lot and get away from him. Not so much funny, but I'm never going to forget that left hand turn lane for the rest of the time here in Covington!

Happy Fall Y'all! :)

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  This is the Mystic Grill from Vampire Diaries :) They film part of it in Covington in the Square