Monday, August 25, 2014

Lil' M, Kidnapped?

Happy Monday!

Well, I suppose last Monday wasn't the happiest of Mondays for us because of one specific event. V. (our wonderful 70 + year old investigator) called us last Monday and told me that since the sister from California (me) is in Barnesville and the sister from Washington (Sister Warner) is in Los Mountain, she was only going to let us come by until they were both gone. Our theologies are different, and she doesn't want us to come by anymore. I tried to tell her that I was the sister from California, but she hung up on us.

I wasn't going to give up on her that easily, so we went on a blitz in our area with the traveling sisters- Sister Huntsman (one of the sisters that lived with me in Atlanta with Sister Jarman!) and Sister Burkle. Sister Burkle and I knocked on her door and she didn't open the door although her truck was there. I called her and she didn't answer, so I left a message. Fast forward a few days to Friday, Sister Sullivan and I went by again and she opened the door. I waved at her grinning, and then she closed the door just as fast saying goodbye in a bitter tone. I'm pretty sad since I know that Satan was working on her hard. I just know that she got an answer to her prayer that the Book of Mormon is true, which scared her because she's been Methodist for 70+ years.

Sister Burkle and I found an amazing new investigator named J. at the very end of the night that V. ignored us! Diligence is my saving grace, all the time!  J. loves learning about religions since she took a religion class recently, and one of the class projects was to learn about a specific religion that interested her. She knows a lot about us, but she didn't know much about the Book of Mormon. The reason why she chose ours is because one of her good friends converted to Baptist because his wife was Baptist, and it was putting a strain on their marriage. She thought to herself, "What's the difference between the two if they're both Christian?" We had her read Moroni 10:3-5, and most people just read it without much thought, but she was really dissecting it and pondering on what it meant to her. She even works for a LDS jewelry company Origami Owl, and we are seeing her tomorrow! :)

I went on another exchange on Wednesday with Sister Freeman, and we were stuck at Pep Boys for three hours as we got our oil changed, tires rotated, and then they told us we needed new tires because they were dangerous. We got Taco Bell and made weird faces as we were getting brain freezes from the slushies that we got there, it was a happy hour. :) 
Nothing like a "brain freeze" on a hot, humid Georgia day!
Not to mention we have matching shirts! :D We tracted in the pouring rain which was fun, but no one wanted to talk to us except another J., who knew V.
Love our matching shirts and love going out with Sister Freeman!

Remember T. K.? :) He's someone who was a former investigator, but I noticed that he came to church multiple times so I HAD to try to set up a lesson with him back when I was companions with Sister Warner. He's an on call therapist, and the first lesson I had with him, we talked about the church's twelve step Addiction Recovery Program. He's been to church a few times since then, and the last lesson we had with him was a mixture of the Plan of Salvation, and the Restoration because his mother in law passed away recently. Finally this week we were able to teach him the entire Restoration in the Camps home. Before we began teaching, he talked about how much he loved the church, but how he's not going to wear a white shirt and tie because he wore it way too much back in the old days. At the end of the lesson, we invited him to be baptized and he said that it wasn't a problem. Sister Camp chimed in and asked, "So when are we going to baptize you?" We all laughed and T. told Brother Camp, "Take me to your man cave!" and we all laughed again. Then we said, "In all seriousness, we're holding a baptismal service on September 13th, will you prepare yourself for that date?" T. remarks, "I don't see a problem with that!" and he whips out his calendar on his phone to make sure that he isn't working that day. MIRACLES. So exciting!

We noticed that M. and B. (our sweet couple)  were pretty distant this week, and we weren't entirely sure why. Apparently when they were at the church for the tour, B. had a feeling that if they went to church, Lil' M. would get kidnapped in nursery. She's had feelings like this before, and sometimes they come true and sometimes they don't. We tried to console her as she cried and told us about an experience when it did come true about her papa dying. Sister Wood, (a member of our ward) was with us and she has a child in nursery as well. She explained to her that Lil' M. doesn't have to go to nursery, he could stay with her for all three hours. We asked her to pray about it to see if this feeling is from God, or from Satan. She agreed to do that on Friday, but they didn't come to church yet once again. We asked if we could come again this week to make sure that they weren't dropping us, and they aren't thankfully. We'll just have to help her realize that Lil' M. won't be in danger at church.

L. (the mother of T) and Ta. (the daughter of T who accepted the baptismal invitation on her front porch the first night we met) came to church this week, so if L. comes to church again this week, they're all on track to be baptized on the 6th of September! It's been great teaching them because I feel that they are so pure, and they've been so prepared to hear the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.

R. B. (our awesome investigator who sadly broke his knee) is being released from rehab this week, but he won't be able to put weight on his leg until October, so we'll have to push back his baptism. I don't know if I'll see him baptized, but I know he's solid! He's already inviting his family to the appointments we have with him, such as his cousin B., who has been an ordained minister for four years. Sister Sullivan and I were worried that this could have gone downhill pretty quickly, but we were planning on teaching him baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It went really well, and B. actually had the elders come over once, but when she prayed about it, she thought it wasn't for her. The spirit was there, and it seems like B. isn't going to try and stop R. from being baptized, since he was talking about the entire time about how excited he was and how it's a necessity.

Sister Stanton did an AMAZING job with her seminar on the History of Christianity. We had Bi. and Bo. (the two brothers) come, and boy did she deliver!  My testimony of the apostasy really grew as I learned about how the Christian beliefs were so distorted after all of the apostles were killed off because of the wickedness IN the church, and not just the people outside of the church. We have a couple in our ward that owns a printing press so I helped make flyers last week so we could pass them out to everyone. We had a few non members come (not entirely sure how many because multiple wards came) and Sister Stanton invited one of the workers at Target who she always buys popcorn from.  He came and now wants to take the lessons. J. lives in Atlanta, but I know the Atlanta missionaries will take care of him since he is super interested in learning more!
At District Meeting we were all waiting for our turns for interviews with President. Elder Talbot said something awesomely profound, and it makes my heart sing. "We use obedience to increase our faith, but Satan uses our imperfections to discourage us." Like whoa.. It made me feel so much better, and then when President told me that I was a great success, and that Heavenly Father is very pleased with me, I wanted to cry with happiness because the spirit testified to me that it was true. He mentioned I can roll with the punches, go with the flow, and that's what a leader needs. So now I will always remember that when I emphasize my imperfections, it's what Satan is trying to do to discourage me, and I won't let him!

I hope everyone will have a fabulous last week of August! Can you believe it's almost September? I can't!

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S. You know you're in the South when you have Bible verses in your eggs.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Getting Hit On in Rehab! Fail!!!

Happy Monday!

What a crazy, stressful, happy, successful, tiring week!

R. (this is the man who broke his knee) is doing great, he's going to be such an awesome member because he wants us to teach all of his friends, and he wants us to teach them in their home so he can help teach the lessons as well. He's still on track for baptism, and his therapy seems to be going well.

We were able to have a church tour with B. and M. this week, (this is the couple with the greatest
Southern accent) and they're continued reading and listening to the Book of Mormon. B. has read up to 1st Nephi 17 which is pretty exciting, and M. is on the 2nd CD because we haven't been able to find anyone to teach him how to read yet. Satan is trying really hard to keep them out of church, so they haven't been able to go because of sickness.

It was really exciting because Alma 32- which talks a lot about faith has been our go to scripture for this week. We were reading it with multiple people that helped them realize that they need to experiment upon the words and make the effort to learn. Ja (she's the teenage daughter of a recent convert that recently moved to Fayetteville)  finally prayed in front of us, and she was paying attention as we were reading it so that was a miracle. She too was able to come to church since none of her family members were sick this week.

As we were tracting a few days ago, we were walking up to a door and I felt this most awful pain in my back on the right side. I knew that I had just got stung and I was flipping out! Apparently there was a red hornet's nest in the bush that we had walked on by, and I had made it mad somehow. We had to go home because I'll admit I was crying since I've never been stung by anything before, and it was pretty painful. It was pretty bad when we looked at it, and it's still inflamed and I have no idea how to make it go down.

We belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!

It was so awesome because I was able to see a friendly face as I was on exchanges with the Barnesville sisters! Sister Watts! Now there's a picture you can put up at the church building back home of us two :) Except the sun was in our eyes, blah. She was a little piece of home for 24 hours, and we had quite a few crazy adventures that included getting cussed out for being on someone's porch as they opened the door, seeing a little kid accidentally having his hand slammed in the car door from his Dad, one of their recent converts talked about how we were bringing Jesus to the hood, an investigator almost throwing up in front of us because she was sick, and my favorite one of them all? We were seeing one of their investigators that put himself into rehab so he could quit drinking because he really wants to be baptized. As we were reading the scriptures with him there was another guy who was trying to seduce us by moving his eyebrows up and down while putting on spray deodorant. So enticing, really. Haha! He knew we were reading scriptures with G. so he talked to us as we were leaving, "God is good! I am so blessed! Be blessed!" and all that jazz. Oh man.

How fun is this?  Two sisters serving in the same mission and in the same zone from the same home ward?  
T., (the woman who we met and accepted a baptismal commitment as we were visiting on her front porch the first time we met) Ta (her daughter)  and Le (her mom). are still doing well. They told me that they missed me as I was on exchanges, and gave me a huge hug. They loved hearing about the Plan of Salvation, and T. and Ta. were at church. Since they were so full of gratitude the first week that they were there about how happy they were being there, everyone knows who they are so they're making a lot of friends. Fayetteville Ward rocks!

I was able to see Sister Stephens again as we were in their area on Friday, my MTC Mom! We were able to catch up, and help them find more investigators since they are brand new to the ward. We both couldn't believe that it's been nine months already.

Sister Stephens--My MTC Mission "Mom"

Bi. and Bo. (the two brothers--Bi used to be an elder in the Jehovah's Witnesses)  are doing well, and Bi. has been reading the Book of Mormon. We're thinking that we'll have to have their  lessons separate because they're on such different levels when it comes to learning and knowledge about what we believe.

One thing that made me think this week was Heavenly Father literally gives us everything, but the only thing that He wants us in return is our will. One of the reasons why He wants our will is because His purpose and plan for us is what will make us the happiest in the end.

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  Now I can say I've met Justin Bieber! First Obama, now Bieber!  I look somewhat sick in this picture, but I promise I'm not!

He doesn't seem nearly as excited to meet me! 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Polygamy is NOT the Answer!

Happy Monday!

Sorry if this one is short, reporting as a STL (Sister Training Leader) on exchanges to President takes a lot longer than I thought it would!

This week was just full of miracles, and I know that so many of you are praying for Sister Sullivan and I to find solid investigators- because those prayers are being answered!

I never knew how heart pounding it would be to train during Zone Training. I didn't think it would be a huge deal but then I realized the President and Sister Harding would be there including the Assistants to the President. But we did well and one of the sisters who just arrived here in the mission told us that Sister Sullivan and I are like the dynamic duo. Woo! I actually know what I'm doing nine months into the mission! The temple was also just amazing!  For those who haven't gone recently, you should. :)

Sister Sullivan and I in front of one of my FAVORITE places in Georgia--the Temple

We had such an awesome lesson with M. and B. on Wednesday (Hump Day!) and it was the funniest thing. My email cannot do justice on what they told us because they have the cutest Southern accents. We finished the Restoration with them (repetitiveness is key) and they both want to be baptized. Sister Sullivan had a bad previous experience with teaching a couple that wasn't married yet so we brought out Law of Chastity right away. We've been focusing on families every since we met them, so it wasn't a huge leap. They both want to get married to each other, but M. is married to another woman but doesn't have the money to get the divorce, although his wife would agree to sign the papers. B. said, "I know that we're living in, what do you call it.. adultery." Then Mitch piped in, "And I know that if I went to Jesus he would tell me, 'You shouldn't be living in adultery.' and I would tell him, 'I didn't have the money to get the divorce.' and Jesus would tell me 'well you shouldn't have gotten with the other woman!' (Please please please envision this in the best southern accent you got. Even put it in a southern accent reader that you could find on Google somewhere.) They didn't justify what they were doing at all, so I'm glad they know that polygamy is not the answer haha! The divorce 'may' cost $82 so I'm pretty sure we'll be able to take care of it. They're not on date but I'm sure they will be soon!
Happy Hump Day!  Do you get the animal cookie camel symbolism?

Sister Sullivan and I celebrating my half way mark!

It's so sad because L. cancelled on us so we weren't able to teach her and her family. (This is the woman we tracted out last week that recently moved to Fayetteville and invited us to teach her entire family last Wednesday night.)   How sad!

I feel like missionaries are the last group of people to know about things. Apparently there's an Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leon? Say what? Well, we found out Wednesday because at least two elders got reassigned to our mission and got emergency SOSed out of there. One of them is staying in our ward and the other one went to the YSA ward in our building. Now we have two sets of elders and sisters in our ward and once again, our ward is as confused as ever. Elder Vernon and Anderson were once companions, but now they split and both have new companions. Gotta love confusing the ward! :)

It was pretty embarrassing, a family invited us in to their home so we could leave the Savior's Peace and Blessings upon their home since it was super hot. After the prayer we go into our spiel about the Restoration and they bluntly told us that they've met with missionaries before. They gave us some ice water and we continued to talk. Sister Sullivan grabs to get one of our cards and she spilled her ice water all over the floor! Oops! They were totally okay with it since they mentioned to us a lot worse stuff has been dropped on their floor. Then once we left Sister Sullivan told me that I mixed up the daughters names and what they wanted us to pray for. Oops again! It's the thought that counts, right?

A couple weeks ago we met this woman named T., and she accepted to be baptized right there on the porch, but didn't set a baqptismal date. She cancelled our return appointment the next day, but we had the feeling to go over there on Saturday and we ended up meeting her Mom Le., and her daughter Ta. We taught them the Restoration as they fed us fried chicken, biscuits, and corn. (My first time having fried chicken and biscuits in Georgia, shocking.) They all accepted to be baptized on September 6th, and they are so excited about it! We gave T. a Book of Mormon when we first met her and she held it so lovingly in her arms as she and Ta. were at church yesterday. She was so grateful to be there, and she even calls us and the church members 'family' every time she would introduce herself. She is so humble and grateful that we invited her to church. Unfortunately, they're living in a bad area of Fayetteville so they can never leave the house unoccupied, which is why Le didn't come. We later found out why she cancelled that first appointment was because her Mom was in a car accident that totaled her car!

I had my first exchange with Sister Hendricks down in Locust Grove. We got completely drenched because I found out my umbrella has holes in it, or the rain gave it holes because it was so violent. She has only been out for 3 months, and we were able to find her three investigators, and some solid potentials. One of them is a family, and the Mom said that she would be baptized if she knew that the church was true. Sister Hendricks later told me that she's never set so many return appointments in one day. I thought bless her heart because we only found three investigators, and we were finding all day. I have felt inadequate when it came to being an STL because I feel like I always need to learn more and more, but I realized that I have gone through a lot of experience in the past nine months that other sisters can benefit from. The feelings of inadequacy isn't completely gone, but it's a start! We have another exchange this Wednesday in Thomaston (the deepest south of the mission), and on Friday we're going on a blitz (all four of us are there and we go out and find) in Griffin because they're whitewashing the area (that means they both are new and they have to start fresh) so that'll be fun! Sister Stephens is in Griffin, and she too was in my MTC district
This is a mailbox we saw in Locust Grove!  Love it!

R. is now in rehab to help heal his knee, and his baptismal date has been pushed back to September 13th because he didn't realize he had to go to church two times before he got baptized. So it'll be next transfer when that happens, drats! Oh well, all that matters is that he does get baptized. :) His family has been MIA since his daughter B. started school last Thursday, we haven't been able to connect with them since so that's been a bummer. But whenever we're visiting him (every day at 1pm) we always meet more friends and family of his which is great because we get to talk about the gospel with all of them. ;)

V. P. is doing well, but I don't know exactly how the last lesson went because it was when I was in Locust Grove. She's still reading the Book of Mormon but she hasn't prayed about it. (Last week I reported that she had gotten to the point where Laban was killed.) We still feel like she's afraid of change, but I don't blame her- 70+ years of being a Methodist, and she already has a feeling that the Mormons are true? I'd be nervous too!

It was the coolest thing because we taught a lesson to Bi. and Bo. They are both brothers who are very different. Bi. was once an elder in the Jehovahs Witness, and Bo. has a little knowledge with religion.  Bi. has been constantly searching for the truth, and knows a LOT about our beliefs. We literally talked about every single lesson in that first lesson, although we were trying to focus on the Restoration. Bi. has so many questions, and it's truly because he wants to know the answers to them all. I've realized that I really need to start studying my Bible a whole lot more if we start consistently teaching them on Saturday! It's so funny because Bo. is hard of hearing and the first time we talked on the phone he thought our name was Patricia. Every time we call him he says "Hey Patricia!" and even when we were there. I was able to correct him and tell him I'm Sister Sudweeks, but he didn't look at Sister Sullivan's nametag so he said, "Goodbye Patricia!" Oy.

One of my favorite quotes that I love that I heard this week is, "Treat everyone you meet like they're going through the worst day of their life." I'm going to try to apply that to my own life, and to see what little things I can do to brighten someone else's day.

Have an amazing week!

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  Now this is what I call a nasty temperature.  (Try saying THAT with a Southern accent!)

Monday, August 4, 2014

Neighborhood Drug Bust!

Happy Monday!

I am proud to announce that we didn't go over miles so we didn't have to walk everywhere in the hot, humid weather. That was a miracle and a half!

This Wednesday is my halfway point of the mission. It's funny because since the second week of July I was telling people that I was at nine months when in reality I was closer to eight. Psh, minor detail right?! I want to celebrate but I'm not entirely sure how, but I'll figure something out.

It was an interesting experience as we talked to these two teenage boys that were sitting on the curb chain smoking. They've met other missionaries before us but they weren't too interested. In the end we were able to give them a Book of Mormon and they read the last two paragraphs. They told us that they were appreciative of the fact that we respected their agency, but there are consequences to everything. We may not be teaching them, but I have a firm belief in planting seeds in people who will run into the gospel later on in life.

It was such a miracle this week when we met this woman named L! We were tracting in the evening just envisioning a family to teach. She opened the door and she was so excited to see us and to pray with her. L. mentioned they had recently moved and just 'landed' in the Church of Christ. We talked all about families and how they're so important. Sister Sullivan and I asked if we could come back, and she made sure that her entire family would be home so we could teach all of them. She has two boys and twin girls, and we can't wait to teach them this Wednesday! :)

I had an awesome time being able to help with the wedding reception. I was able to do a lot of the floral centerpieces for the tables, and it felt awesome to be able to use these skills once again. I'm not so secretly hoping that there will be more weddings in my future as I'm here in Georgia.
I LOVE arranging flowers! Thanks Aunt Vicki for introducing me to this skill!

We were able to have another lesson with V., (she is the one that's read the Book of Mormon earlier and has visited Temple Square several times) and she's been reading the Book of Mormon more consistently so we're psyched about that. V. is up to the part when Laban was killed, but she wanted to get to the part where they're in America. It's so cool to see how far she's come from the very beginning.

Ja. (she's the young woman whose mother was recently baptized before they moved to Georgia) is still pretty firm on not being baptized, but we did have a great lesson with her about the Restoration with cups. We build Christ's church starting with Jesus Christ, then next to him is the 12 apostles. Then we stack 17 principles on top of the apostles making a tower, with the priesthood authority on top of it. When the apostasy happens and the authority is lost, all that is left is the principles. Then we restore the church to it's original form and the kids loved the visual. Ja's testimony of the Restoration grew because of that lesson, I just know it. We found out that Ja. has never done any of the reading that the previous elders asked her to do in New Jersey. We explained to her that when we ask her to commit to something, it's really Jesus Christ. She read two verses of 2nd Nephi 31, so that's progress!

As we were driving home on Saturday from a member that lived near us, we saw SO many police cars by our house! There was at least a dozen sheriff cars on this field, with hidden police cars in parking lots, in addition to ambulances, two fire trucks, and police cars in neighboring streets. We saw a police officer that was running into people's back yards, and I felt like I was in Atlanta all over again! It was pretty exciting, I wonder why the Special Operations police cars were there for. We tried to get a member to Google it for us, but no luck!

Police Cars, Fire Engines, Ambulances...Oh My! 
R. is back, but in the hospital! (He's the man that's so busy that although he committed to being baptized, is too busy to attend church or be taught.) He broke his knee so we were able to arrange for him to get a priesthood blessing. His family was there and the spirit was very strong there. We saw him yesterday and he said that Heavenly Father did this to him so he would slow down and get the spiritual healing that he and his family needed. He's back on date for September 6th to be baptized, and we're excited to start teaching his family.

We've taught a couple named B. and M. who recently moved here about a month ago. They're from middle Georgia, and they have SO many questions! They have a little three year old M. Junior, and I can see them getting baptized if they get married. I now really understand the phrase, "Questions of the Soul" because not everyone knows about the Plan of Salvation. They got sick on Sunday so they were unable to come this week, but they want to! T.  came and stayed for all three hours for church so that was happy. :)  (T's the man who said if he ever gets baptized that we won't get him in a white shirt and tie.  This is his second week in a row to attend church!) 

The last district meeting before a transfer is always the best- the same thing goes with Fast Sunday. :) It was a spiritual experience during district meeting because we talked about sanctifying, purifying, and consecrating our own lives. We were able to each go into our own door (next to our companions) and really ponder about the mission that we've had so far. What we've done good at, what we can improve, and what the Lord wants us to do. I've been pondering a lot about the last nine months since I've been at my halfway point. I'm sad that it's halfway over, but I'm also excited because that means I still have another half to grow more!
My last District!  How I miss them!

One of the quotes I enjoyed at church was, "Following Christ is not a  casual or occasional practice but a continuous commitment and way of life that applies at all times and in all places." -Elder Dallin H. Oaks

We must always be fully consecrated to the Lord, and to always try to improve and progress in our lives. The life we live is all about progression, so what could you do this week to improve and progress in the gospel?

-Sister Sudweeks
P.S. These two pictures were taken at the Mission Council Training last Friday!  I ran into Sister Jackman who was with me at the MTC!