Monday, September 29, 2014

We Lost Sister Sullivan!

Happy Monday!

We've been working with a lot of part member families. I don't want to jinx anything so I'm going to knock on wood, and let y'all know when we're teaching them. We're going to start teaching a less active's fiancee, and I have a strong feeling that he'll become active once she starts investigating the church. She came to the General Women's Conference and loved it. An. told me that she 'wanted to be a part of this.' The field is white, all ready to harvest!

I'm so happy to announce that J.doesn't have cancer! (She's the one that had the powerful Priesthood blessing last week.) Satan has been hitting her really hard ever since that blessing, but she refuses to give in. She's had many trials recently which prevented us meeting with her. As we were talking to someone else, she called and I stepped away to answer the phone. J. told me that she's been reading and studying, and how grateful she is to have had that blessing because she's drawn strength from it. As she was speaking part of her blessing came to my mind, "J., you will be healed from this sickness- whether it's from medicine, or from this blessing."

Le and her family abruptly moved to one of their family members home's in Fairburn because of the bad relationship with her landlord. (This is the family where three individuals were baptized about three weeks ago.) One of their pipes burst, and that was the last straw for them. They're going to move back once they find a place to live that they can afford in Fayetteville, and we're going to ask permission to see them so they won't go less active. We were once again on a split and we lost Sister Sullivan! There's two doors to get to their house, and we didn't even think to go on the back porch to see if they were there. We were calling and texting her, but no response. The elders were helping them move and told us that they were on the back porch. Blonde moment... But how was I supposed to know she was teaching Le's neighbor? :(

We got back in contact with R., (the man who broke his knee and was in rehab) and he's now walking! He's finally reading the Book of Mormon, and we'll be teaching him tomorrow. We have SO many appointments with new investigators that I found with Sister Huntsman (one of the traveling sisters) on our exchange on Wednesday. One of them is a guy from England- English accent and everything! :D I am so excited to teach D!

We've taught many, many people, and I don't even know who to talk about, ahh! We've gone on splits every day so we could reach our maximum potential. Sister Sullivan went to teach the former wrestler with the great mustache  and we found out that they are one of the founding families of the Lutheran Prince of Peace church in Fayetteville. They asked the loaded question, "what makes your church any different from ours?" before they told her that she could come back because they forgot we were coming over. They were planning for a party so we finally got their number (we couldn't call to confirm) so we can tell them why our church is different from theirs. Exciting stuff!

One of the other sister's investigators, A. absolutely loved hearing about the Plan of Salvation while I was on exchanges with her. She asked us about what would happen to her Mom, and we taught her more about baptisms for the dead, and temple work. She's SO close to having a baptismal date, it's crazy!

How do you love our artistic ability? 

It was a happy Sunday- we found out that we had Ward Council last minute but we had a lesson with Ja. before church. (She's the Beehive aged girl whose mother and younger brother joined the church earlier.)  I was inspired to ask Sister Parks to come out with us, and we'd drop off Sister Sullivan at her house so they could visit Ja.. We texted M. to see if we could see his family before church, and he said that he'd be available. (I'm guessing La. and D', his wife and daughter were getting ready for church) M. was very close to accepting a baptismal date, but he doesn't want to make a covenant with God until he's quit smoking, and consistently coming to church. All three of them came, and it was fabulous! We got La.'s number and they're fine with us teaching them separately because M. is gone so much from being a truck driver. Another M. also came to church, and we plan on teaching her this week.

We had a funny story happen while we were on splits. Apparently G. and I. hadn't been telling their Dad/husband that they've been meeting with us. He came in at the very end, so Sister Sullivan and Sister Perkins (a neighbor who is a member) taught him the Restoration. We thought he was going to come to church too, since he's trying to act all aloof and mysterious. We have another appointment with him again on Tuesday, and we're hoping to have a member from another ward sit with G.'s Mom during church so the entire family can come and experience church for themselves!
I'm getting kicked off the computer due to many missionaries trying to get on, but the quote I loved this week was, "It's easier for Satan to get to us if we're by ourselves." There's really strength in numbers!

-Sister Sudweeks


Monday, September 22, 2014

Dynamic Duo? More Like Triple Threat! >:)

Happy Monday!

This week was just full of curve balls and surprises! So I've realized that I've failed to mention a lot of investigators that we've been working with for a while, but they haven't been our main priority because they haven't been on baptismal date. Oops! :X

We got a referral from a member back when I was with Sister Warner named M. We taught her the Restoration a month ago, and this week we read the Book of Mormon with her. Since she's been out of work for two years, we asked if there was anything we could do for her, and she asked if we could do some yard work. We planned on doing that Thursday morning after we switched back from our exchange with Sister Freeman and Sister Alofipo.

As Sister Alofipo was in my area on Wednesday (the first time that I've been the driver in Fayetteville) we had a really cool experience where I was pretending that I knew where I was going. (Who wants to need to use the GPS when one has been in the area since May?) One of the commitments that we've been working on is to hit the standard to invite two to three to baptism, so our commitment was to invite two to baptism before lunch. So I was driving around close to home because we were getting a titch 'hangry', and ended up in a neighborhood that was in my plans anyway. We got out and met a guy named St. who was the first person that we saw. It was so amazing because he accepted a Book of Mormon, said he'd be baptized, and he's pretty interested in learning more. St. told us to give him two weeks to read the Book of Mormon, and then we could come back. Miracles! :)

We had another lesson with G. and I., but unfortunately they didn't read the Book of Mormon. G. did read the entire Restoration pamphlet that week, and she was reading about the restoration of the priesthood. She told us that since she read the pamphlet, she has a greater desire to read the Book of Mormon now. We were planning on watching the Restoration DVD with them, but they didn't have a DVD player! So I had to quickly think on my feet to read 1st Nephi Ch 1 with them instead, and they seemed to enjoy it. They both committed to reading every day as A. P. (Isaac's age, who also goes to the same high school) talked about seminary, and how reading the scriptures really benefited her every day life.  I LOVE when members are present!  :) 

So Thursday morning we ended up getting a call from President Harding, asking if Sister Alofipo could pack up her stuff and move. CURVEBALL! There was a sister from Hong Kong that just arrived in the field two weeks ago who has been really sick, and has gone on two ambulance rides the first week. She was being sent home that day, and Sister Alofipo was asked to take her place in the Twin Oaks Ward (just east of the Atlanta ward!). It was a shock since then President asked if Sister Sullivan and I would become a trio with Sister Freeman. The Three Musketeers! We've come up with our name- Sudfreevan, or Freesullweeks. :D

Sister Freeman and I.  Don't you love our matching looks?
So, instead of Sister Sullivan and I going to do yard work at M.'s, I stayed and helped both of them pack, and Sister Sullivan asked a sister in our ward to be her companion, since Sister Alofipo was going to leave before Sister Sullivan was getting back. (She had three hours notice.) It was amazing because we called a lot of sisters asking if they could do service with us, but Sister Sultan was the one who could do it. We found out that Sister Sultan's kids actually grew up with M.'s, and she knows her really well! M. was meaning to ask if we knew Sister Sultan, but always forgot. We feel like she's really going to progress now that she has a solid friend in the gospel. :)

Another investigator that we've been working with for a long time (before I even came here) is J., who reminds me a lot of K. from Atlanta. She is such an amazing woman, and is very in tune with the spirit. She already knows that the Book of Mormon is true (just like K.) but she has a really hard time with the priesthood (ditto), and doesn't want to get baptized a third time. J. has been really busy with schoolwork, and she got sick recently so we haven't had a sit down lesson with her in about three weeks. She told us that she was going to the doctors tomorrow, since they haven't been able to figure out what's wrong with her, but the spirit revealed to her that it's cancer. I've been recommending to her that she needed a priesthood blessing for a while now, but finally she agreed to it after we explained it a bit more!

We went to her house later that evening, and it was so miraculous. J. told us that she prayed twenty minutes before we arrived that if our message wasn't true, that God would prevent us from coming this evening. She waited and thought, "Well, that's that." and then we rung the doorbell. Whoa! She continued to talk more about her story to catch the priesthood holders up to speed, and J. had a beautiful blessing. It warned her about how she needs to censor what she reads, watches, and listens to because Satan is trying to find a chink in her armor, and once he's found it he's going to do significant damage. She was blessed that she would completely heal from this illness of hers, it's only temporary, and that it won't take her away from this life. The hair on my arms were standing straight up because the spirit was so strong in that room. (Just like K.'s.) After the blessing she told us that she was in awe, and that God sent to her that blessing. We talked more about prophets, and she doesn't comprehend that if people baptized her in the name of Jesus Christ, then why does she need to be baptized again if there is no greater authority than Christ? My next plan of action is to re-create the same lesson that Elder Newman taught K. about the priesthood. Not just from Jesus Christ, but from the very beginning including the New Testament, and the 5th Article of Faith.

We went over for dinner at Lo's house and it happened to be her birthday (she didn't tell us) and it was awesome because she's the only member in her household. As we were waiting for dinner we were able to hold their cat Bart who is SUPER fluffy! :D D., her son is kitten sitting and Tina looks like my old cat, Trixie when she was a little kitten! I didn't get a good picture with her, oh well. :) During dinner, we were being ourselves and getting to know them because her husband isn't a fan of the church. The night before I re-enacted my Gollum impersonation for Sister Sullivan and Freeman, and they begged me to sing Happy Birthday to Lo. in Gollum's voice. It was so EMBARRASSING. But it made the entire table crack up, and it was a great bonding experience for all of us. As we left, we asked D. if he wanted to take the missionary discussions since he's been coming to church, and he said yes! He told us that he's been in contact with the Bishop, which is also a good sign.

So it was a sad day when the member from Cleftones wasn't at his home when we stopped by for his appointment. But this week we met I. S., who was a famous wrestler but who's now retired. (He has a WICKED mustache.) He was overthrown by the famous Hulk Hogan, and we're meeting with his family this Thursday. Cross our fingers it happens!

Sudfreevan went to a store named Bloom, and we were able to do some service and clean up their toy room. It's where orphans can come, and shop around for free (they're given a set amount) and can choose to buy things from clothes to toys to school supplies. So when the orphans come in, everything is all neat and tidy. Our first service project as a trio! :)

Sudfreevan in action at Bloom!

Since we had stake conference yesterday, we had to see the R. family at a different time this week, so W. wasn't there. (W. was the one that told us last week that she wants cake when she goes to church for the first time!)   W.'s daughter, Tr. (she was baptized in June and is a very sweet teenager) told us about how she was learning about the commandments, and she took "Honor thy mother and father" to a new level that made the three of us think differently. She told us that she wanted to improve her mother's life, so she would talk about the church whenever she was around. They're best friends so W. told her that she has a desire to change her schedule so she can come to church with us on Sundays, and that she would be baptized. It's so amazing the faith that this wonderful family has! W. has been reading the Book of Mormon, and I feel so blessed to be working with this family. :)

As we had stake conference, we watched this video which was so amazing. I testify that God is REAL. :)
-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  As we cleaned Bloom, The Triple Threat HAD to try this awesome Sumo wrestler thumb war game from Japan. Thumb wars never got so intense!

Who won?  I'll never tell!  :) 

Monday, September 15, 2014

Thirteen Years!

Happy Monday!

Last Monday was so much fun as Sisters Sullivan, Freeman, Alofipo, and I had a paint war and for those who are familiar with Princess Diaries, attempted to create canvas art by popping paint balloons. Except it didn't work out the way we planned, so we finger painted instead, WOO! Then to top it all off, we poured ice water on ourselves for the famous YouTube challenge that was going around. Who says that missionaries don't have fun on their missions?!
That was fun!
One of the new rules now is that we're allowed to stay out till 9:30pm and we don't have a district accountability call anymore (we used to have one every night to report our day) and it's so weird to me since the last ten months I've been out we've always had a 9:30pm call, it's just changed here and there. But it's a good thing now because some people we want to teach get home late, so now we can teach them! :)

T. prayed for us the first time this week, and there's always that something special when you first hear an investigator pray. He filled out his baptismal record and it was shocking because we told everyone that he was in his late 50s, and he was born in 1939. We even asked Elder Anderson because we thought that he heard him wrong because he does not look 75! Oldest recent convert I've had? I think so!

The Perkins are one of the members that we're on the Journey with, and they referred us to their neighbor who just moved in a few months ago. We've stopped by briefly a couple times to see G., and her 16 year old son I. (He's 6'4"!) in the last month.  Last week we had the first lesson with them and taught them the Restoration with Sister Perkins, and it went well! They agreed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, so we'll see where it goes from there! We have a set appointment each week, and Sister Perkins said she'll be there. :)

We had a Missionary Mall during zone conference, and it felt like Christmas! I got a few things here and there, and I'm so thankful for the Fayetteville Stake for putting it on for us, we greatly appreciated it!
Missionary Mall:  It's Christmas in September! 
We taught Ja. and her family about repentance and prayer this week by reading the story of Enos. She's been doing well, and since she was able to receive a priesthood blessing a few weeks ago she's progressing. She wanted to go to the baptism this past Saturday, but due to Satan and his awfulness, she made it late and arrived after the actual baptism took place. We'll be teaching her tomorrow, so we'll talk more about it then.

The Okonkwo's is another family that had their Journey date come up, and I admire and respect them so much! They were out of town all of August, and before they left they set their date for September 15th. Friday and Sunday were the only nights they were available, and we told them Sunday we were booked. Tuesday afternoon we had a lesson with them and they tried their faith and committed to have someone in their home for dinner and a lesson on Friday. Heavenly Father delivers! K. and Ty. go to World Changers, but they agreed to have the first discussion. It was a lot longer than it was meant to be, and we'll see where it goes. K. said that if Sister Okonkwo cooks again, he'll come back. I don't really know how to explain the discussion, but there were a few tangents.

T.'s baptism was a bit hectic as we were setting up. There was a baptism previously at 1 and 2pm, and the 2pm baptism pulled the font plug! Thankfully we were able to catch it in time so we were able to start on time at 3pm. Sister Sullivan and I sung, 'I Feel My Savior's Love" afterward, and gave him a journal that we wrote in so he can write about Saturday and how he felt. After we gave him the journal we kept on seeing him sneaking some glances and reading what we wrote over and over again.  We asked him how he felt.  He laughed and said, "overwhelmed, but it's a good feeling." None of his family members came to support him, but he's been integrating into the ward just like his own family.
September 13, 2014-A special day for T and Sister Sullivan and I.  
We taught Brother R's family the first new member lesson (he was man who was baptized last Saturday whose wife and grandchildren joined the church earlier) and Brother R. invited his daughter W. to join us. She agreed and we started to teach the Restoration to her. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she started to read it as we were talking about Joseph Smith, and B. (one of her sons) recited the First Vision because he's learning Doctrine and Covenants in seminary this year. She mentioned she works on Sunday (she takes her Mom's shift [Bro R's wife] so Ju. can go to church. But when she doesn't have to work, she'll surprise us and she'll expect cake haha! W. agreed to participate in the future discussions, as we also have a set appointment every week with this family. Good things are happening!

We taught Bo. by himself because Bi. was at the hospital with one of his family members. Brother Turner has experience with Jehovah's Witnesses, and he relates well because he's a convert, too. Bo. was studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses last year, and we found out the majority of the family is JW besides them. I had a pretty big realization as Bo. said that Jeremiah 1:5 doesn't convince him that there was a pre-mortal existence. I don't have to convince people anything, I just present the information and they ask Heavenly Father whether it's true. I haven't been trying to convince people anything, besides Bi. and Bo. I asked Bo. if he's prayed about the things that we've taught him, and he said no. Due to that, we invited him to pray about it, and he said he will. We taught so united and I'm really excited to go back again.

T. received the gift of the Holy Ghost, and it made me smile that his blessing talked a lot about the temple. His passion for family history is going to make a big impact in the church. T. talked about how he spent three hours journaling Saturday night. We were surprised, but he talked about how he wrote in the journal we gave him, and also has a voice journal. T. doesn't journal a whole lot, unless it's something really special, such as a grandchild or great grandchild being born, or being baptized. He started from the very beginning, when two elders knocked on his door in 2001 in Maryland, and went from there. His journey took thirteen years to complete, and now he has another one unfolding right in front of him. I am so grateful for those two elders who biked up that hill and planted that seed, and I feel so privileged to be the missionaries who got to see him enter into the waters of baptism. They probably will never know what seed they planted until the after life! So all in all, plant as many seeds as you possibly can, you never know when they'll bloom! 
One of my favorite scriptures that I've found recently is 1st Nephi 9:6: "  But the Lord knoweth all things from the beginning; wherefore, he prepareth a way to accomplish all his works among the children of men; for behold, he hath all power unto the fulfilling of all his words. And thus it is. Amen."

If you could just imagine how powerful and all knowing that our Heavenly Father is, and comprehend that we are his children. Everything that he wants to accomplish will be fulfilled, through his power and our works. He is an astounding Being, and we're the offspring of Him so we can also do extraordinary things like He has. If one ever feels worthless, or anything like that we can always remember that we are literal children of the most Supernal Creator. If that doesn't give me self-worth, I don't know what would!

- Sister Sudweeks

P.S. I met a member from the band Cleftones who were popular in the 60s or so. T. said that he's heard of them. Has anyone else heard of them? We're teaching him this Friday! :)

P.P.S. We got a picture of Lily the dog that Sister Sullivan accidently stepped on.  She didn't know how to hold her so Lily was being feisty and we were laughing SO hard!

Lily-the miracle dog!

Monday, September 8, 2014

Decapitation by Journal!

Happy Monday!

So this week was just intense with preparing three different families for baptism. It was so intense, Sister Sullivan and I decided to buy Bluebell Ice Cream, which is the epitome of best ice cream of the South. We were planning on going out for Brusters Ice Cream which is also very well known here, but we figured, if we're both going to spend three bucks on two scoops of ice cream, why not just buy a half gallon of really expensive, really good ice cream for six bucks? I love Sister Sullivan's thinking! We got Magic Cookie Bar as our flavor because it reminded me of home! :)

We had Mission Council the day after Labor Day, and I can't even comprehend on how we spent six hours just talking about our numbers as a mission, and so on. It really gave me an additional desire to really raise the vision of our mission. Our numbers have been going down because we've been focusing on the Journey to increase member missionary work, and that's been a partial success. We have 108 companionships in the mission. If a companionship could baptize at least ONE person in a transfer, we'd be able to have almost 108 baptisms in a month compared to the 40ish that we've been having recently. If Sister Sullivan and I can baptize four this transfer, and then have one this Saturday for the next transfer that starts on Wednesday, then missionaries can most definitely baptize every transfer! We just have to figure out how to show them that they CAN do it, and it's the Lord's work, not ours. 
We taught T. (our wonderful investigator who has shared that he will NOT wear a white shirt after he joins the church) The Gospel of Jesus Christ, and all of the commandments in one lesson. Crazy, but I kid you not. We started with faith, and how faith leads us to follow the commandments. We started with the Ten Commandments, and branched off the other commandments we had to teach him such as Follow the Prophet, Tithing, Word of Wisdom, Law of Chastity, and Obey and Honor the Law. He was okay with all of it, but he's sad he has to give up his coffee, although he said that he's willing to obey the Word of Wisdom to be baptized! T. is just an awesome guy, and I'm so excited that he's going to be baptized this Saturday at 3pm. :) There's a lot of meetings this upcoming Saturday for all of the leadership in the church up in Brockett which is north of Atlanta, so we're hoping that we'll have some turnout for him.

It was so disgusting, as the bug infestation continues! Sister Sullivan found a palmetto bug in her bathroom as she was brushing her teeth (those are literally giant cockroaches, at least 3 1/2 inches long). She ran and grabbed an empty mason jar from the kitchen to trap it, and boy was it a fast little bugger! I was keeping watch on where it was (I was outside of the bathroom) and it ran right towards my feet as she missed it, and I screamed like a little girl as it ran underneath her bed. We didn't know how to get it to move so Sister Sullivan saw her journal, and she slid it across the floor to scare the bug. Amazingly enough she hit the bug and it was a clean shot! She cut it's head perfectly off with her journal and there was no evidence on the journal. Success! We move her bed and the body was still straggling around and it was just disgusting. So disgusting we had to take a video of it. (There's going to be SO many videos of the mission once I come home haha.) It was funny since it actually woke us up pretty quick so I was able to exercise a lot more effectively that morning.

We went over to Ta., Le., and Tak.'s home right before Elder Anderson was going to come and give the baptismal interview, and Ta. told us that she didn't want to get baptized on Saturday, but to postpone it. Sister Sullivan and I were thinking that the work has been going too perfectly with them and Brother R., and that Satan would stir up trouble SOMEHOW. There it is! She expressed that her husband that she's been separated from for twelve years wasn't going to give her money so she could look presentable at her baptism because she wanted to look the part as a member. We had to discuss with her the reasoning of why being baptized is important, the blessings that come from it, and would she let her wet undone hair and clothes hold her back from all of those blessings? There was other things that we had to talk about, but I was able to realize why I bought so many clothes throughout the mission! :P Sister Sullivan and I went through our closets and brought some clothes over the night before the baptism that we don't wear anymore, and they were so grateful for it. It was so precious because they bought us little mini journals and pens that were absolutely blinged out so we could remember them. We also bought them journals so they could write down their feelings and thoughts on their baptism day. :)

We saw Bi. and Bo. (the brothers) again this week, and Bi.s big concern is the Fall, and if Heavenly Father really is loving, why would he force man to sin, to make good choices? and then it branches off from there. He also has concerns about God being all knowing, and the Atonement. Now we're just trying to go back to the basics, and have him gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon (he's already read half of it) and to accept the teachings of the lessons. We're not sure if his Jehovah's Witness habits will stick with him, or if he'll really be able to have his questions answered. He mentioned the more he reads, the more questions he gets, not less. We will see what happens!

The last lesson with Ja. we asked her to pray more, and she actually prayed more than usual. Yay! We came over for a lesson and Ja. didn't want to come down due to her tween years (we all went through that) so we just went upstairs and talked to her about how she has a science exam coming up, and how she loves to read fantasy books. She and I bonded over the fact that she's going to read a book by Chris Colfer, the actor who plays Kurt in Glee, and we both 'used' to watch Glee. (Does anyone have any good fantasy books that we can suggest to Ja? Ja just needed to know that she was loved by us, and that we're normal too. She came down and we talked about the faith that Nephi had in 1 Nephi 7- his faith was so great that the cords that bound him loosed by itself entirely. We asked when we could come over again, and she proclaimed, "Tomorrow!" Her Mom was surprised and told us to come over Saturday, but it didn't happen because we were still cleaning up from the baptism. She told us that the lesson was awesome, which was great because we were able to express to her that the Beehives in the ward need her, since she's a leader and very friendly. We have two new converts in the Beehive class, and then her as an investigator.

Sister Sullivan is very proud at the fact that she has holes in almost every single pair of shoes she has. Well, it's been raining and pouring a whole lot this week (I'm ready for Fall) and a member gave her some of her daughter's shoes that she outgrew. We were about to go out for an appointment with a part member family, and the only shoes that she could wear were still in the car! I didn't have my umbrella with me so I got my rain jacket on, zipped it all the way up, and put the hood on. I looked absolutely ridiculous with all of my hair in my hood, and I really wish I had taken a picture of me in a rain jacket and a skirt. I run out there in the pouring rain, and I realized the flooding that was going on in the parking lot! Sister Sullivan is just watching me in awe, and was confused when she saw me turn around and retreat. I saw the huge puddles that would have gone up to my ankles, and I thought to myself, "Nope! Nope! Nope!" and ran back to safety. Sister Sullivan and I were laughing pretty hard, and we called to confirm the appointment that we were going to, and ended up rescheduling it. I'm grateful that we followed the prompting to stay and weekly plan, because we think lightning hit our parking lot as the storm continued.

It was so cool being able to teach Brother R. all of the lessons in one week. (He's the man whose wife and grandchildren joined the church in June.) I didn't think it was actually possible, but we succeeded! It was wonderful being able to hear his wisdom and knowledge on each lesson, before we even taught it to him. He has been taught by the Spirit throughout his life, and I am just amazed what he's gone through in his life up to this point. After we left each night before curfew, he kept calling us his angels, and how he can never repay us for what we have given him. On Sunday, Brother R. told us that we're part of his family, and that when we get married he's going to be there without a doubt. He's like my grandpa from Haiti! :)

So yes! The baptism did happen! All four of them were baptized on Saturday, and the Relief Society room was PACKED. It was standing room only, and we were worried that people wouldn't want to go since it was at 10am on a Saturday morning. We had some priests baptize them so they could have experience what it was like, and it was such a happy morning. The ward was so excited to have new members in the ward, and I was so thrilled to see Brother R. join the rest of the family as a member of the church. Brother R. and Ta. bore their testimonies on Sunday, and the blessings they received as they were given the Gift of the Holy Ghost were so intense. I love missionary work! I was able to have four baptisms on my ten month mark, how cool is that?!

September 6, 2014

Brother R, his sweet wife, and their family
It was Sister Freeman's birthday on Sunday, and we were able to decorate her room with Caution tape, amongst other things since this is her last transfer on the mission. She absolutely loved it, and today we're going to go out to lunch and have a paint war with all four of us sisters to celebrate. This is going to be good!
Sister Freeman--Our Birthday Girl! 
Decorating Sister Freeman's apartment

Brother R. mentioned something that I will always remember, "The Holy Ghost filled the hole in my heart that nothing else could fill." He was searching for the truth all his life, but the restored gospel was finally able to fill it 64 years later. It makes me want to be able to fill that hole for every person that I meet, and I hope that those who do have that hole filled, will have the desire to give it to their family and friends.

Have a miraculous week!

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S. Sister Sullivan and I aren't being transferred, we think I'm going to kill her off, woo! (Not literally.)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Ravaging Rottweilers?! Retreat!

Happy Tuesday!

Wow, what a pack loaded week! I prayed that I would have some interesting stories to tell y'all (Yes, I'm now accepting the word y'all, it only took me about 10 months to start saying it in my daily conversations) and boy, did Heavenly Father deliver! This is a really long email, I'm sorry that I'm not sorry. Tee-hee!

As we were driving back from the mission home on P-day (President wanted to give us a book to help us with Bi. and Bo.'s deep questions) we saw a farmers market that sold muscadines. For those who have no idea what those are, they're a Georgian fruit and since you're only on a mission once (as a young adult), Sister Sullivan and I just HAD to go buy some muscadines, and our first real white Georgia peaches! We got home, and boy I wish I had recorded us tasting our first muscadines, because they were NASTY. They're larger than a grape, have really thick skin, and have REALLY bitter seeds. Did we know that? Of course not! We later found out that they are used for jellies, and for making wine if my sources are correct. It was such a bummer, but of course what else are you going to do with a pound of muscadines? Give them to missionaries that have never tried them, and record their reactions as they bite down on the bitter seed for the first time! Good times!
We were so excited about our muscadines...
and then we ate one!  It was a bitter experience. 
So I've learned that I've been developing some certain fears on the mission, and I'll be sure to tell you them throughout this email. But the first one is the fear of flying insects. Ever since I got stung by a red hornet I want absolutely nothing to do with insects even though I'm doing nothing to provoke their angry tendencies. Sister Sullivan thinks it's kinda funny how I act now whenever bugs seem to get close to me.

Anyhow, it was such a joy to teach T. the Plan of Salvation this week, I feel so appreciated because he's considered an 'eternigator' meaning, he's been investigating the church for FOREVER. He's had many missionaries, but he always says that he has the best missionaries. T. has been very excited to get baptized, and he even announced in church during Priesthood that he was getting baptized on the 13th of September. It'll be interesting teaching him the lessons so quickly, but he has a testimony of the Book of Mormon, he's already passed 2 Nephi 2!

Bi. and Bo. were unable to meet with us this week because they had to go to a niece's graduation, and a funeral, but next week! :)

We have met a lot of people this week, and we've been getting a bunch of referrals from members and investigators. One of our investigators gave us a referral to her neighbor who had just moved in. They were out in the country so we had to drive down their driveway through the forest to get to their house. As we were driving we noticed two Rottweilers sprinting towards us at top speed bearing their teeth at us. Sister Sullivan grabbed onto me and said, "Don't get out of the car!" and she started to reverse at snail speed while using our rear camera to get out of their driveway as the dogs continued to bark and growl at us. We finally got out of their driveway and we just started to laugh, and although we may have broken that rule to not have me back the car as she was in reverse, we didn't entirely feel bad because I would have rather kept my body in one piece that day. Referral contacted, we don't care what anyone else says! So, funnily enough I'm not afraid of dogs although I've had crazy stories about killer dogs.

We taught seminary one day this last week, and I have such an appreciation for all of my seminary teacher who had to endure the teenager stares early in the morning. It was my first time teaching, and I'm guessing it most certainly won't be the last!

T., Le., and Ta. are being baptized this Saturday, and they are the more pure, sweetest family I've ever met. We were teaching them about modesty and how we wear sleeves (something they don't do) and T. excused herself and brought back a dress. She asked us if the dress would only be appropriate if she wore a jacket over it. We told her yes, and she was happy that she knew the rules, and continued on. Another moment was when we were teaching them about tithing. T. mentioned that she will pay 20% of her income for tithing. We actually had to convince her that the prophet has told us to pay no more or no less than 10%. Usually missionaries have difficulties with people paying 10% of tithing, not the other way around! :) For the first time since we've met them, all three of them were able to come to church together. No one has broken into their apartment since, and I now have an even stronger testimony of the priesthood, and dedicating the home. T. was asked to be picked up 15 minutes after Le. and Ta. for a few reasons, and we had to frantically get her a ride. She told us that if we couldn't find her one, she'd walk to church if she had to. I find that T. has such great appreciation and diligence for going to church, considering church is over 7 miles away from where she lives! Thankfully, we got a ride for her so no walking was necessary. :D

Sister Sullivan and I have been getting bored with our music, so we decided to take drastic measures into our own hands. My MP3 player has some Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas music featuring David Archuleta. That's right, we are listening to Christmas music in August and September, I think I've even beat my Mom pulling out the Christmas music months before December! :) Am I right Mom? (Her mother's note:  I actually listened to it once in July, so I still have her beat!  But it sounds like she's listened to it more frequently than me--so she has me beat.  Let's just say it's a tie.)  The hymns that we have are just so simple, and we wanted some tunes that had complex chords and harmonies, we've been enjoying it greatly.

It was a really cool experience this week, there was a miscommunication with Le's family about having a lesson one evening, so we were in the parking lot talking to the member that was going to teach with us, asking her "Who do you know?" and a woman came up to us asking if she could talk to us when we were done. Sister Sullivan said that we would talk to her right now, and she ended up becoming a new investigator. She ended up returning all of her library books so she can just read the Book of Mormon. I was on a split to see M. and B. for their first lesson, but she and her husband are very sweet, and just live below them. :) It makes me smile when people notice that we represent Jesus Christ, and we have a message that they don't have but want.

I found out that M. and B. haven't been reading/listening to the Book of Mormon, nor praying the past week. They don't have a desire anymore to get married, and they haven't really been working on the divorce papers. Unfortunately they don't understand our purpose as missionaries, due to the fact that they invited us to Lil M's 3rd birthday party, but asked us to take off our name tags because their family members wouldn't like it. We told them we wouldn't because it was a sacred calling to represent Jesus Christ for eighteen months. They were out of town this weekend and still aren't home yet. But we didn't go to his birthday party on Saturday, so we'll see if they want to continue being taught.

So shout out to my recent convert Brother P! Sister Sullivan and I have been getting pretty sick, and have been eating Tums like they're candy (slight exaggeration) and Sister Lake told me to buy some things before our next appointment. Kroger was the closest store, so I HAD to see if what Brother P. told me was true. The bar code on the back of a Book of Mormon is the equivalent to a Krogers Plus Card. I should have never questioned him, because it's true! We used a self scan checkout in case I would have made a fool of myself, but just imagine the conversation starter when we do check out with a cashier! "You can just scan this Book of Mormon for my card." "Oh why? Well, did you know one of the CEOs of Kroger's is LDS?" "Have you ever heard about our church?" "No? Oh well let me tell you!" and so on. :D
Scanning the Book of Mormon at our favorite local grocer!
Another amazing miracle that happened this week is that Brother R. is also getting baptized this Saturday! When Sister Sullivan and Freeman were companions, they taught a grandma and her grandkids, and they got baptized in June. Grandpa wants to get baptized this Saturday, but he hasn't even had all of the lessons! We started lesson one last Saturday, and he decided he was getting baptized on the 6th. We made a baptismal calendar for him where we have to meet with him at 8pm every night and go through all of the lessons in one week. Some baptismal calendar! You know you're a pro missionary when you teach one person everything in one week! His family is so ecstatic, because his wife Ju. really wants to be sealed in the temple for time and all eternity. :) Now we must teach the grandkid's Mom!
So I don't recall if I've mentioned that our apartment is infested with baby roaches, but they are. I've told Sister Sullivan one of my fears that I'm afraid that I'll wake up and walk to get ready to exercise, and I'll step on a live/dead bug barefoot. Unfortunately, that fear came true not two but three times this week. It's just the grossest thing ever, and Sister Sullivan told me about a time when she stepped on a mouse that got poisoned and killed it and how grossed out she was. Later that Saturday, we were at V. and D.'s to see how they were doing, and she accidentally stepped on their little teacup puppy Lily! Long story short, she was acting weird, but we had another appointment to go to so we prayed for her multiple times. We talked to one of the members and told us to tell V. to take her to the emergency vet clinic, turns out they were already there. Sister Sullivan paid for their x-rays since they couldn't afford it, but V. insisted on paying her back, and that if she could, she'd go to church. (We aren't going to turn down her coming to church, we've been trying to get her there!) Lily had some fluid in her lungs, but she'd be fine. Amazingly enough they weren't angry at all since it was an accident, and invited us over for dinner on Sunday for empanadas (My first ones ever, SO good) and Lily is doing great! Miracles!

Ja. is slowly but surely getting closer to baptism. (She's the teenage girl of the recent convert.) We taught them the Plan of Salvation, and we asked all of the kids to draw it out, and they were SO good, as good as any kids I've ever taught when it came to teaching a lesson. Ja. was answering questions, and I feel like she really understood the Plan of Salvation compared to when the elders taught her family. Ja. was even proud of her drawing and said that she'd keep it. Progression! :)

Sister Warner raved about this one potential that she met before I got to Fayetteville, and we FINALLY had the first lesson with M., and his wife Lak., and daughter D'! It was Sunday morning, and they are just an amazing family. I'm so grateful that she raved about them or I wouldn't have been so persistent with trying to set up an appointment with them because M. is a truck driver so he isn't home a whole lot. Sister Stanton convinced them to come to church although they had a LOT on their plate on Sunday. They said they'd come for the first hour, and ended up staying for two. D' came to Gospel Principles although she's 13, but it was the perfect lesson for her since her parents have been trying to teach her about being honest, and that was the subject. Lak. even asked if she could buy a gospel principle book, and beamed when we told them they could have it for free. They're coming back and staying all three hours next week, and we're teaching them again Sunday morning. :) We had nine investigators at church this week, and that's a new record! Heavenly Father is so good to Sister Sullivan and I!

I had an eye opening experience as I was reading in the New Testament this week about how Jesus Christ was trying to get the Pharisees to believe that he was the Savior of the World. He wanted people to believe and have faith so he could perform miracles for them. But since they didn't have faith, he couldn't convince them or show them the light. It made me think about how missionaries want to give people the gospel so badly, and saddens us when people shut the door on us because we know of the blessings that the restored gospel brings. It hit me on how much Christ wanted people to listen to him, and I almost just broke down in tears because I was able to feel just a little portion on how he felt. I realized that missionary work is hard, but it's nothing compared to what Christ went through. Now when I face something hard, I can think back to that experience and admit that what I'm going through is nothing compared to what Christ went though.

I hope everyone had a lovely Labor Day full of non-laborious activities, and I hope to let you all know next week that I'm NOT getting transferred! :)

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.  I love the church signs in Georgia!