Sunday, May 31, 2015

Homecoming Talk for Morgan Hill

Man it’s been a good minute since I’ve seen all y’all, or for some I’ve never meet y’all. But that’s okay! I remember way back yonder a year and a half ago I started my farewell talk about how I absolutely despised Southern accents, and I remember telling people time and time again that I would REFUSE to say the word y’all. It would always remind me of the show ‘Hannah Montana’ when she would say “Hey Y’ALL” and it absolutely drove me insane. Then it happened halfway through the mission where I embraced the word y’all because it says in the white handbook we must use the proper ‘you’ where you’re serving, so I never looked back.  Now surprisingly enough I wish I had come back with an adorable Southern accent as I was serving in Atlanta, Georgia. But I wasn’t even close to the boonies, except my last 6 months I was dedicating my life to serving the Lord.  It wasn’t all hunky dory with unicorns’ frolicking right and left; I went through some experiences that have changed my life completely that I will never forget. Obama accepted my Book of Mormon in Atlanta and I met Justin Bieber in Fayetteville. Okay okay, not really! They were just cardboard cutouts.

Some of the things that I first learned very quickly as a missionary in the Missionary Training Center is that one cannot convert someone past one’s own conversion. A testimony is not enough to stay in the church-- you must be fully converted to God.  I remember very well each time we got to teach part of a lesson to one of our teachers who was pretending to be someone who they themselves taught on their missions, and the spirit in the room was absolutely astounding. Oh my stars, I may have lost my appetite, freaked out right before we would role play, sweat like a sinner at church, and pray my heart out that I wouldn’t make a fool out of myself in front of my companion and teacher. Good thing I was able to mess up a lot in the MTC so I didn’t have to as much in the real world!

One of the most powerful experiences that I had in the MTC was that as I was teaching the spirit would confirm to me and to those in the room that the things I were testifying about were true. One’s testimony grows every time we bear it, because the feelings you get as you do are undeniable, and that’s what helped me through when I didn’t think that I could go on. I soon realized that the most important thing about being a Representative of Jesus Christ is that we must first have our own conversion, testimony, and relationship with God and Jesus Christ, before we invite others to come closer unto Christ themselves. In Doctrine and Covenants 18:10, 15 it states,” Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; […] And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father” I know that if there was a missionary who had never baptized their entire mission but they were able to convert themselves, Heavenly Father would be so pleased with that missionary because of their effort to gain a testimony continually. We must continue on to convert ourselves because having one spiritual experience isn’t enough, we must press forward to always have a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father.

Having a testimony of the restored gospel is not enough, as missionaries we didn’t study just once a week, then go out and teach. We must constantly learn through the spirit so we can never plateau and have our testimonies grow every day. In Doctrine and Covenants Section 11:21 reads, ‘Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain my word, and then shall your tongue be loosed; then, if you desire, you shall have my Spirit and my word, yea, the power of God unto the convincing of men.’ At first I was so worried on what to say to these people, but then I realized that I didn’t need to fret. If one knows the fundamentals of what Christ teaches, then it will be easier to share the gospel with those around us. We need not worry for what one will say, for it shall be given unto us. One of the best parts of missionary work is that it’s not our work, it’s the Lord's. God knows each and every one of us individually, and He knows what each person in the world needs to hear to accept the fullness of the gospel. It’s not what I know that will help them change; it’s what God knows that will help them change. Our job is to be worthy to speak by the Spirit and to love them for who they are unconditionally. I know before I became a missionary, I was always worried that I wouldn’t be able to answer every question that someone had. But to be honest, after being a missionary for 18 months I still don’t know every single question to their answers. People were more than okay with me telling them, “I don’t really know the exact answer to that question, could I  study it a bit more, and then get back to you?” or y’all can just refer the local missionaries to them, they can help!

The beautiful thing about the restored gospel is that I am still considered a missionary- more specifically a member missionary. A reassuring promise from M Russell Ballard is that, “every person has a different contribution, a different testimony to share. No one is destined to fail if one is on the Lord’s errand.” I was invited by my mission president to carry a Book of Mormon everywhere I go because that’s what we did as full time missionaries. You can ask my family and they’ll tell you I would take it to Target, Kohls, wherever. You’re considered a missionary –pointing- and so are you –pointing- and you, and you. In Preach My Gospel, Brigham Young proclaims, “There is neither man or woman in this Church who is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life.” If any of y’all are feeling overwhelmed from that statement, don’t worry. Elder Bednar put my anxieties at ease as a missionary when he said, "You have been called for what you will become in the future, and not for what you've done in the past." There’s no limit to one’s potential, and we can grow and become the best we can be by not being casual with our obedience, and having lukewarm commitments. We must strive and seek to have His presence with us daily in order to touch the lives of those that Heavenly Father is preparing for us. One has to get out of one’s comfort zone for the Comforter to work within us. Your miracle zone is when one isn’t comfortable, and believe me, I know all about that!

There was this family that I had the privilege to serve with when I was in Fayetteville—the Raymond family. The grandma and grandkids had simple testimonies, and the happiness that the restored gospel brought to their lives was sweet and apparent. The oldest son, Bryan looked up to his grandfather Ironce Raymond, and wanted to share the gospel with him. He was out of his comfort zone because he was about to give his first talk during Sacrament Meeting. Bless his heart! Seeing as Ironce had been to church once before when his wife and grandkids were receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, he was willing to come to church a second time. As Ironce was able to feel the spirit, he had a strong desire to be baptized that upcoming Saturday. Heavens to Betsy, it was a whirlwind of a week seeing as we were already teaching a family of three to be baptized that Saturday as well- a grandmother, mother, and daughter. The wonderful realization is when a family comes together in a situation like that is remembering that that one family is not just one. There are families before and after that will be affected from their continual conversion day by day. We will never know how deeply others salvation will be impacted because we decided to share the gospel with someone and it’s all up to us. When need meets willing, the Lord will create miracles. There are people in each of our lives that we alone can impact with our testimonies. The gospel is for everyone, and I mean absolutely everyone. You never know who may be searching for the fullness of the gospel. There are billions of people are on this ship of life, but they don’t know who the captain is, or where they’re going- we must help them understand their purpose in life.

One of the stories that I consider to be a miracle is a man named Christopher, who is one of my recent converts when I was serving in my first area in Atlanta. We were on the MARTA train when I first met Christopher absolutely drunk. I was really surprised that he remembered us when I called him the next day to confirm the appointment. It was a joy teaching Christopher every day or every other day. He would always take what we taught him to the Lord, something we need to do every day as we read the scriptures daily and as a family to gain a stronger testimony. What we didn’t know until after he was baptized three weeks later was that he was praying for the spirit’s guidance, and he valiantly followed the promptings he received before he met us. He felt like he came to a plateau in his own life, and he wanted God to show him the path that he needed to be on. He promised to God that if it would be revealed it him, he wouldn’t back out with what God wanted him to have. The day after we taught Christopher the first lesson in a member’s home -something we should ALL strive for!- He had read 40 pages of the Book of Mormon- the first 35 pages, and then the last 5 because he wanted to know how the story ended. It’s just as important to be friends to those around us that the missionaries are teaching, and showing support to the missionaries in our own congregation. Throughout those three weeks before his baptism, he humbled himself by giving up his drinking and smoking habits with the support of those around him in the church. Without them, I strongly believe he wouldn’t be where he is now.

I was able to have a really cool experience with a family which only the husband was a member. Rowan wasn’t active for over ten years, and he knew that the church was true, but he decided to let anyone religious in his home. The Catholics, Lutherans, Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, you name it. Rowan knew that eventually that the missionaries would come along and knock on their door. Things fell into place, and the Mom and 10 year old daughter got baptized before I became a trio, and started to serve in two wards at once, oh Bessie! I had the privilege to teach the two teenagers- Maria and Josh. They had been taking the lessons along with the rest of the family, but they didn’t feel worthy enough to be baptized, and that they felt like they needed to learn more, or have their testimony be stronger. As childish as it may seem, we were able to relate Pok√©mon references no less to help them understand why we get baptized, and they did the next week after. Since those two sister missionaries just asked if they could come back and share more of our message of Jesus Christ, that family will be sealed for all time and eternity in ten months because of the love that the missionaries had for them. There are those who are wanting to come back, they just need to have a reason or invitation to do so.

In Elder Bednar’s talk, "Come and See", he recounts a story of his two younger sons playing outside.  The younger brother was injured slightly in a small accident. Instead of coming to their rescue they watched from a near distance. The older brother carefully went back into the kitchen with his younger brother, and gently washed the scratch on his younger brother’s arm to remove the dirt. The reaction of the little brother to this procedure can only be described accurately using language from the holy scriptures: “And they shall have cause to howl, and weep, and wail, and gnash their teeth” And did that little boy howl!

After the washing was finished, the arm was dried with a towel as the screaming ceased. The older brother continued to climb and found a new tube of medicated ointment in the cabinet. Although the scratches weren’t serious in any way, he applied almost all of the ointment in the tube to the entire injured arm. The older brother returned to the cabinet and found a box of bandages which is generously applied to his brother’s arm—from the wrist to the elbow. With the emergency resolved, and with soap bubbles, ointment, and wrappers all over the kitchen, the two little boys hopped down from the chair with bright smiles and happy faces.

The most important part of this story is that the injured brother gathered up what was left of the ointment and bandages, and went back outside. He desired to share the relief that he received to his injured friends with sincerity and enthusiasm. The reason why? The love that he had for his friends made him wish to give the very thing that helped him when he was hurt. The little boy didn’t have to be told, but his yearning to share was the natural consequence of a helpful and beneficial personal experience. Many of us members of Christ’s Church have that same desire to share the restored gospel when it has helped us through hard times in our lives. We personally have seen the positive changes that it has made for us personally, so naturally we want to share it with others. When we invite someone who is not of our faith to hear the restored truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, it’s not an attempt to diminish your religious traditions or life experience. We want to give additional enlightenment to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and it’s up to them to study, ponder, pray, and come to know for themselves if the things we are sharing with them are true.

Brothers and sisters, I can testify to you that the gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored on the Earth once again today. Missionary work is the lifeblood of the Church, and we are the future of the church. If we want to increase or keep what we learned in the gospel, we must share it with those around us. We as members must unite with the missionaries to help hasten the work of salvation. The full time missionaries are there simply to assist the members in their missionary efforts. I leave one last question with the members of Christ’s Church- if the Savior was here, what would he ask you to do to help hasten the work? I can testify that there are people in each of our lives that Heavenly Father wants us to touch with our simple testimony of the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that this is the beginning of the Second Coming, and it is our responsibility to warn our neighbor of the dire consequences if we don't accept the gospel and desire to become more like our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that it's so important that we read the scriptures as a family because it helps build a foundation of Christ at a young age, and we're never too old to read it as a family. Elder Zwick from the Seventy came to one of my stake conferences, and he told us that Heavenly Father isn't trying to make it hard for us to come home to His presence. If we have Family Home Evening, family prayer, and family scripture reading, we will have the strength to endure to the end. I testify that I have seen a difference in the families that I visit who do and don't do those things. The spirit is evident. I know God lives, and that He loves us so very much, and desires to help us come back to Him. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Homecoming Talk for Stockton

Hey y’all! It’s been a good minute since I’ve last seen all y’all, and I’m fixing to tell y’all various stories like helping baptize a guy I met drunk, someone I taught all of the lessons in one week and he got baptized, and my first experience knocking door to door. One of the stories that I am personally most grateful for was when I was serving in my first area in Atlanta when I was at the church for the Addiction Recovery Program with one of my recent converts. It was dark and my investigator asked us if the other set of sisters were going to pick us up from the church. We remarked no, and she insisted on us asking for a ride. But they said no, and she was very disappointed and told us to be careful. After ARP finished, the senior couple- The Newman’s remarked how badly they wish they could drop us off at home, but they didn’t have any room. We were walking towards the MARTA train station as Elder Newman stopped us, and decided to leave a blessing of safety with us, and told us to be aware of our surroundings. After the blessing occurred my trainer and I began to freak out instantly, and we started to hurry our way home. It seemed like we were waiting at every single corner to cross the street, and we couldn’t hurry fast enough home, As we were approaching our final street to cross, we noticed that a car had ran a red light to turn left, and had hit the barrier in between the two lanes. The spirit confirmed to me that if we hadn’t been stopped so many times during that journey home, our paths would have crossed with that car and we would have been hit, killed instantly.

But before I get I get ahead of myself, I have to back up on how I decided to go on a mission to serve the Lord for a year and a half approximately two years ago.

The funny part was in the beginning I decided that I wasn’t going to go on one, even though the age change occurred. I thought it wasn’t for me. In my patriarchal blessing it mentioned that I would go on a mission and I just told myself that it was going to happen with my husband once I retired. I didn’t want to follow the crowd and there were many obstacles put in front of me that was dissuading me from going such as my Dad losing his job, and other financial problems. I kept entertaining the thought on whether or not I should go on a mission, but I wasn’t really doing a whole lot of acting to see whether it was God’s will or not.  I went to my cousin Chelsie’s farewell talk and that stood out to me more than anyone else’s. She mentioned how she was reluctant to get an answer on whether she should go on a mission, and that’s exactly how I was feeling. I was praying and asking whether I should go on a mission, but I never bothered to wait for an answer because I was too scared of what that answer may be. But I decided that I was done wondering, and I desired to obtain an answer so I could stop wondering what Heavenly Father had in store for me. I started to do things that would help me be worthy to receive the answer that could very possibly change the entire direction of my life for the next couple years. One day I prayed in my room for an answer I was ready to hear. While I was waiting for my answer, my Mom came in and wanted to tell me something that my Uncle Daniel mentioned to her, “Emily should not worry about the money if she’s supposed to go on a mission. Finances will not be an issue because everything will work out in the end.” Right when those words were spoken, I recognized that the spirit overcame me as strong as I’ve ever felt in my life. I started to bawl like a baby, and I exaggerate not when I say I continued to cry for a good twenty minutes. I recognized I received personal revelation and got my answer- I was going on a mission.

Personal revelation is communication from God to His children. In the Bible Dictionary, it quotes that divine revelation is one of the grandest concepts and principles of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for without it; man could not know of the things of God and could not be saved with any degree of salvation in the eternities. The principle of gaining knowledge by revelation is the principle of salvation. It is the making known of divine truth by communication with the heavens and consists not only of revelation of the plan of Salvation to the Lord’s prophets but also a confirmation in the hearts of the believers that the revelation to the prophets is true.

There are multiple steps that we must do in order to receive personal revelation from Heavenly Father The three that I want to focus on are how to obtain revelation, being worthy to receive it, and to recognize the revelation that Heavenly Father wants to give each and every one of us.

When I first was thinking about whether or not I should go on a mission, I did not have a yearning to obtain it, much less have a desire to seek God’s will because I knew it would be hard to leave my friends and family for a year and a half. Apostle Dallin H. Oaks stated, “Going forward with our service and work is an important way to qualify for revelation. In my study of the scriptures I have noted that most revelation to the children of God comes when they are on the move, not when they are sitting back in their habitations waiting for the Lord to tell them the first step to take.” If one isn’t doing anything to try to receive revelation, then Heavenly Father isn’t going to feel inclined to give us the revelation we want. In D&C 42:61, it reads, “If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries and peaceable things—that which bringeth joy, that which bringeth life eternal.” One of the people I had the privilege to teach was a man named Ironce Raymond who was from Haiti. His wife and their grandkids had been baptized earlier that year, and one of his grandsons Bryan, invited him to come to church for the second time because he was speaking in sacrament meeting. We had just started teaching the first lesson the day before, and after church was over Brother Raymond told us that he wanted to get baptized that very Saturday. He desired to receive the revelation that Heavenly Father had for him because he did everything in his power to receive all of the five lessons within that one week. He left work early so we could teach him every evening, and he made a constant priority to read the Book of Mormon and to ask God whether it was true. In True to the Faith, it states “According to your faithfulness, you can receive revelation to help you with your specific needs, responsibilities, and questions to help you strengthen your testimony.” Brother Raymond had amazing faith, and he knew that this was God’s will for him. He was able to ponder the things that we were teaching him, and studying out in his mind to find out if what we were teaching him was true to receive his answer.

One of the things that I learned when I first went out into the mission field was that we cannot force spiritual things. D&C 88:68 read, “Therefore, sanctify yourselves that your minds become single to God, and the days will come that you shall see him; for he will unveil his face unto you, and it shall be in his own time, and in his own way, and according to his own will”. When I had my first day of knocking on doors, I really freaked out because I didn’t want to waste the Lord’s time by knocking on doors that would reject us. I would refuse to choose what door to knock on because I didn’t know what the spirit was telling me. It’s amusing now to think that I would pray whether or not I should knock on a door and I wouldn’t get an answer. So I went for it, but no one answered. I quickly learned this statement in Preach My Gospel by Elder Dallin H. Oaks, “Heavenly Father leaves many decisions for our personal growth. Personal decision making is one of the sources of growth we are meant to experience in mortality. Persons who try to shift all decision making to the Lord and plead for revelation in every choice will soon find circumstances in which they pray for guidance and don’t receive it. For example, this is likely to occur in those numerous circumstances in which the choices are trivial or either choice is acceptable.” I learned that Heavenly Father didn’t care whether or not I got rejected at the door; He was just pleased with me that I was serving Him and having a desire to share the gospel with those in Georgia.

As you have a desire to obtain revelation, one will change and start doing the things necessary to be worthy to receive revelation. One of the stories that pop into my mind when it comes to receive personal revelation is in Alma 37. When Lehi and his family were in the wilderness, they relied on the Liahona to guide them so they would be able to make it in their journey, just as we need personal revelation in our own lives. Verses 40-41 say, “And it did work for them according to their faith in God; therefore, if they had faith to believe that God could cause that those spindles should point the way they should go, behold, it was done; therefore they had this miracle, and also many other miracles wrought by the power of God, day by day. 41 Nevertheless, because those miracles were worked by small means it did show unto them marvelous works. They were slothful, and forgot to exercise their faith and diligence and then those marvelous works ceased, and they did not progress in their journey;” Unfortunately if we don’t exercise our faith and diligence, we won’t be able to receive the progress just as Lehi and his family did for that period of time. In order to be worthy we must be reverent, obey the commandments, pray often, continually come to church, fast if needed, and study our patriarchal blessing.

Christopher was one of my recent converts when I was serving in my first area in Atlanta. We were on the MARTA train when I met Christopher when he was drunk, and I was really surprised that he remembered us when I followed up with him the next day to confirm the appointment we set at the church for the upcoming Saturday. It was a joy teaching Christopher because he was truly repenting and changing himself to be worthy to receive revelation from Heavenly Father. One of the general authorities serving in Atlanta, Elder Parker asked us in zone conference, “Am I teachable?” We must be meek and lowly of heart to be open to have personal revelation revealed to us. When we taught Christopher every day or every other day, he would always take what we taught him to the Lord. What we didn’t know until after he was baptized three weeks later was that he was praying for the spirit’s guidance, and he valiantly followed the promptings he received. He felt like he came to a plateau in his own life, and he wanted God to show him the path that he needed to be on. He promised to God that if it would be revealed it him, he wouldn’t back out with what God wanted him to have. Christopher had the faith that he would be able to receive personal revelation to guide him.  The day after we taught Christopher the first lesson, he had read 40 pages of the Book of Mormon- the first 35 pages, and then the last 5 because he wanted to know how the story ended. We all must study the scriptures every day so we can apply them to our own personal life. We communicate to God through prayer, and God communicates to us through the scriptures. Throughout those three weeks before his baptism, he humbled himself by giving up his drinking and smoking habits so he could be worthy to receive the many great blessings of baptism. Those who humble themselves are able to acknowledge and to understand the Lord answers to their prayers.

            One of the most important things about personal revelation is being able to recognize what Heavenly Father is trying to tell you. I was one of the pros of overthinking personal revelation, since learning how the Holy Spirit speaks to you is a constant process. I remember in the very beginning of my mission I thought that I would be guided simply to each of the doors that I needed to knock on, and I wouldn’t question what Heavenly Father would have me do. But in reality if we did that, we wouldn’t be able to act on faith. But the longer I was out, I understood the concept that all things which are good comes from God, and the things that are evil comes from Satan. So if we receive a prompting to do something good, then it’s from Heavenly Father. There are many fruits of the spirit that we can feel to help determine whether the Holy Spirit is testifying of truth- love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. One of my favorite scriptures that explains the holy spirit is in Helaman 5:30, “And it came to pass when they heard this voice, and beheld that it was not a voice of thunder, neither was it a voice of a great tumultuous noise, but behold, it was a still voice of perfect mildness, as if it had been a whisper, and it did pierce even to the very soul—”

            As I was deciding to figure out what college I should go to, and what transfer I should go home at, I felt like Joseph Smith in some cases because he was trying to decide which doctrine was right. Unlike Joseph Smith, I was able to attend the temple monthly, and I continued to find what was right through fasting and prayer. I took a question to General Conference in faith that it would be answered. Just as I had a question, Joseph Smith had a question for Heavenly Father that he wanted answered. If y’all wouldn’t mind, I would love for all y’all to close your eyes, but don’t fall asleep! If you’re not sure on how the spirit speaks to you, I invite you to pay attention to how you feel as I recite what Joseph Smith went through when he went to the grove of trees.

“I saw a pillar of light exactly over my head, above the brightness of the sun, which descended gradually until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name and said, pointing to the other—This is My Beloved Son. Hear Him!”


 I want y’all to pause for a few moments to pay attention on how you can recognize the Holy Spirit.


 Brothers and sisters, I can just testify to you that I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he speaks to us through chosen prophets to receive revelation on our behalf so we can return to live with him again through the gospel of Jesus Christ. They have that power to baptize, perform miracles, and to preach the gospel. I know that Christ did establish his church through the foundation of apostles and prophets. He gave them authority to continue building His Church, although it didn't happen that way. As the patterns of the prophets have repeated itself time and time again, God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet of God, and promised us that we will never again have Christ's Church be taken from the Earth. I testify this to be true with all my heart, and that I know that the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. Many plain and precious truths were lost during that time where there wasn't a prophet to guide the people after the apostles' death. But through the Book of Mormon many plain and precious truths have been restored for us. I invite everyone to pray and read the Book of Mormon every day, especially as a family. I remember when Elder Zwick came to my last area and he was telling us that making it to the Celestial Kingdom isn't rocket science. He asks us to do three simple things. Small and simple things bring great things come to pass. Heavenly Father loves us, and all that he wants us to do as a family is to pray and read scriptures as a family, and have Family Home Evening. I have seen the differences between various families that I've served with that do and don't do those three things. They have the spirit in their home. I admonish you that if you aren't doing those three things, start now. I know through Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer. Through the Atonement when can be made whole, and that he has felt everything that we have felt. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

This is a Story of How I Died (as a missionary)

Name that movie.

It all started when we were at the mission home, about to start our journey to the airport. Originally they had told us to be ready by 7am for breakfast, and then to leave by 8am for the airport.

Well, it didn't entirely work that way. One of the drivers that was planning on driving some of us to the airport accidentally locked her keys inside her car, and some of the missionaries didn't have everything packed up so we ended up leaving around 8:40ish instead. AHH!

But wait, it gets better.

We pack into the car like sardines, and we coast to a stop behind all of this traffic. I started freaking out a little bit due to the fact that we were supposed to get there no later on 9:55am because our flight was at 10:55am, and it was going to start boarding at 10:35am. I knew that there was going to be traffic from serving in Atlanta for six months, and I also knew for a fact that there was no way that we were going to make it in time. I was looking at where we were in conjunction to the MARTA exits, and how far away we were. This is a time to panic!

There were two highways I-85 and 1-285 running parallel alongside one another, and they were both creeping along. It was really funny to see a white car illegally off roading on the grass so they could get on the highway that was going faster (not ours).

As we were inching along, we were able to approach the scene of the accident, which I later learned that looked something like this:

The SUV fell 15 feet off I-285 which ended into a fatal accident. We immediately pick up the speed, and then missed our exit because it was blocked off due to the accident. As we finally got to the airport around 10:20am we had to practically throw off our luggage and clip them together to get our bags checked in.

In that process of time I happened to painfully break a nail while the employees at the airport told us to come with them because we were so late to make our flights. There became an issue on whether or not our luggage was already paid for, which shortened the time we had to get screened and to run to our gate.

I was lucky and got a nice man who believed our story that they were already pay for, so I started to run for security, although I felt so bad for leaving Sister Stone behind since we were going to be on the same flight.

As I got to the security checkpoint, I showed a woman my ticket where I was supposed to go, and she told me that was my baggage claim ticket. I got really confused and I wasn't sure if the man who helped me gave me my ticket or not, because the AP's were giving out ticket information to the missionaries, although I had never gotten mine. I started to turn back and saw Sister Stone running, so we asked the woman again. Turns out it was the baggage claim PLUS the ticket, so we ran to expedited screening since they knew we were short for time. I didn't have any room for my Book of Mormon in my purse, so I gave it to Sister Stone to stash it in her purse for a mere moment.

But of course, I was chosen to be tested for every single thing under the book. They swabbed the palm of my hands to check for explosives. (A sister missionary looks SO threatening to the TSA.) Originally you wouldn't have had to remove anything, but one of the TSA employee was telling me that she didn't think my shoes belt, watch, or lastly, my name tag would pass the screening. I was feeling flustered as I went into the full body screening, and after I got out I grabbed my accessories and liquids from the conveyor belt.

As we were running toward the tram, I kept hitting myself with my suitcase because I was doing a half rolling, half carrying feat with my suitcase. I later found out over half a dozen bruises because of the hurrying to get on our flight. When we got onto the tram to make it to A-25, it was approximately 10:45am (10 minutes till take-off). I was still putting everything back on, and I was missing my name tag and I was struggling to put my liquids back into my suitcase. We were sweating like sinners at church as the tram came to a stop, and we started booking it toward A-25.

Sister Stone and I finally get to the gate around 10:53am telling them that we're sorry we're late, we got stuck in traffic. She called and told us that there was only seat left, and we had to chose who would go. Sister Stone and I looked at each other, and agreed that she would go because her layover was only 30 minutes, whilst mine was 2 hours longer than hers. I then realized that Sister Stone had the Book of Mormon that I put into her purse, and I felt naked not carrying anything around with me.

I was directed to a desk that would help me get on another flight, and I was asked to pick up a phone to explain what happened and why I missed my flight. The airport was so loud, the phone was so quiet, and I couldn't understand the woman's accent. I found out that there was no other flight that could get me to San Jose around 4pm (my original time to arrive), but a direct flight leaving at 7:30pm. I was shocked and I teared up wanting to cry because that meant I had to wait 8 hours to get on a flight that was an additional 5 hours. She asked me what my email address was so she could send the ticket information to me, but I told her I didn't have access to one. After that she said something incomprehensible, and hung up the phone on me.

I was dumbfounded, so I talked to the woman at the desk about what had happened, so she printed out the ticket for me.

 I asked where the payphones were at and she told me that there wasn't any. I moped until she told me that I could use one of Delta's phones. She told me to press 9 first, and then to dial the number. I did as she told me, and prayed that I would remember my Mom's cell phone number because it's been so long since I've used it. I kept getting beeping noises as I tried to dial the entire number. We switched phones, and I asked her again. Apparently I forgot the '1' in the phone number, and I felt really dumb for forgetting. (Later I found out that me not dialing correctly that many times gave my Mom time to walk into the room that had her cell phone in. If I had done it perfectly the first time, I would have missed her.)

I dialed the number and I hoped that she would pick up because she was at work. As it rang a few times, I heard her say 'Hello?' and I started to cry pitifully saying, "Mommmm, I missed my flight." After I reassured her I had money for both lunch and dinner (thank you Cindy!) we got off the phone, and I started go back to the security checkpoint because I wanted my name tag back! Little did I know, I had to get rechecked all over again, so I started to go through multiple stores and people watched before I had to start the process all over again. But I found my name tag! Hallelujer!

As I got back to terminal A, I realized that I served in Atlanta but I never bought myself a Famous Frosted Orange Shake from the Varsity, I got me one of those while I was waiting for my flight.

I people watched as I was waiting at my gate, and it was adorable seeing the little toddlers interact with one another. I was able to catch up on part of my journal, and watch the planes go by. As I was waiting I noticed Elder Marriott wait for his flight to Arizona, so it was good not being lonely for a minute. Going from a companion for 1 1/2 years to none was a bit shocking. His flight to Arizona was one of the four flights that departed from my gate- Florida, South Carolina, and I dozed off during the fourth one. It was nice to have a friendly face for 10 minutes or so until I had to face many many hours ahead of me.

Around 5pm I started to get hungry again because all I really had for breakfast was some fruit and bacon, and then a frosted orange for lunch (thank you body for being lactose intolerant). I don't really get all that hungry because everything has dairy in it. I started to traverse the airport from terminal to terminal trying to see what would look good for me to eat. I stared at every menu possible in sight, but nothing sounded appetizing, and I shuddered at the thought of how expensive things were going to be. So I ended up buying a cup of fruit that wasn't even good, not worth the price I paid.

I sat back down waiting, dozing off every now and then, and I was amused by this:

Since I'm proud myself to have been able to call Atlanta home for 6 months as well! :)

Finally we started to board around 6:45pm, and I was sitting in between two guys (my missionary bubble!) who wouldn't have been my two top picks. As we were waiting for takeoff, there was some difficulties in fueling up the plane, so instead of taking off at 7:15pm, we took off at 8:15pm.

As I was bored out of my mind, I noticed a sweet smell coming from somewhere. The guy sitting to the right of me has been acting unusual for quite some time, until I realized that he was smoking hookah. It didn't help that he kept ordering coffee time and time again which made me feel sick.

I was very grateful for the fact to get off of that plane, it was approximately 9:50pm when I landed, almost 5 hours later than originally!

After I got off the plane, I happened to make a little vlog right before I met my family. :)

Right after I got done with my vlog, I started to run so I could finally embrace my parents once again!

(Ignore the awful quality of this photo, I was running)

Reunited at last! <3 

Of course, it doesn't end there. We had to drive all the way home, and we didn't arrive until 12:30am Friday. So I left Thursday morning for the airport, and arrived home Friday. Not many people who served in the states, and lived in the states could say it took them that long to get home!

Total time being awake? 23 hours. I woke up 5am on Thursday, and I didn't go to bed until 4:20am Georgia time.

Monday, April 6, 2015

The Best!

Happy Monday! ♥

What a surreal moment.  I never thought this day would come (I want to be a missionary forever, why would I want to type up my last email as a full time missionary?) But I figure the more I procrastinate writing this email, the less meaningful and more short it would be, so I suppose I should start writing it now.

I'll briefly talk about what happened this week, and then go from there. Flo. was able to receive a priesthood blessing for her knee surgery, and now the Relief Society is taking her meals so her recovery won't be so stressful. The blessing was so powerful, and she was bawling the entire time. We were able to teach her more about the Godhead with Brother Montana, and I love Flo.'s faith so much. She originally believed that they were just one being, but after discussion and bringing up a few scriptures such as Christ's baptism, she believed it instantly. She's doing well, and we're going to talk to her about her baptismal date due to the fact we don't know how quickly it'll be due to her recovery.

Ci. was able to take us out for Japanese food (the first time that I had it) and she came to the first session of General Conference! If you don't remember who Ci. was, I don't blame you. She was one of the first people I ever met here in Covington all the way back in October. Sister Stewart and I went out tracting as we parked the car at the church. Ci. and > were the last doors we knocked on, and they drove us back to the church because it was getting dark, and we were unaware that we walked through a not so safe neighborhood. We've been in contact with Ci. this entire time, but she's been really sick because she's gone through chemo and radiation. But since it was warm enough she absolutely loved conference, and how we emphasize the importance of families so much. We gave her a church tour after, and she was so impressed on the fact that we have seminary Mon-Fri for the high schoolers. Ci. told me she's practically already a Mormon because she voted for one, but there's just a few things holding her back (tea and coffee). I told her to pray about it, so I'm really hoping she'll get baptized after I leave.

Today we found out that Covington is no longer going to have sisters for a brief period of time because of the lack of sister missionaries currently serving. They'll open it up again eventually, but for now Sister Buhler and Sister Ramirez are going to remain in Conyers, and they'll become STLs. I'm so excited for them because I predicted that to happen. I guess the spirit told me! ;) I'm really worried what's going to happen with all of our investigators and some of our less active sisters, mainly because the elders can't really go to them without a member. But I know God's timing is perfect, and it'll all work out for the better!

This has been an amazing journey- a journey that I could have never thought to imagine for myself, with the priceless stories, spiritual filled experiences, and trials of faith and patience. I am so grateful for the opportunity I had to be able to serve the Lord with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength. My testimony of the Son of God, our Savior Jesus Christ has been strengthened one hundred fold, and I cannot doubt my testimony of what I know.
I love my Savior, Jesus Christ!  I am so glad I could teach his gospel full time in the Georgia Atlanta Mission!
One of the things that I was able to learn from the very beginning is gaining a true and strong testimony that the Christ's Church has been restored to the Earth once again, along with the power and authority of God. I know that God is our loving Heavenly Father, and that he speaks to us through chosen prophets to receive revelation on our behalf so we can return to live with him again. They have that power to baptize, perform miracles, and to preach the gospel. I know that Christ did establish his church through the foundation of apostles and prophets, He gave them authority to continue on His Church, although it didn't happen that way. As the patterns of the prophets have repeated itself time and time again, God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet of God, and promised us that we will never again have Christ's Church be taken from the Earth. I testify this to be true with all my heart, and that I know that the Book of Mormon to be the word of God. Many plain and precious truths were lost during that time where there wasn't a prophet to guide the people after the apostles' death. But through the Book of Mormon many plain and precious truths have been restored for us. I invite everyone to pray and read the Book of Mormon every day. I loved learning that the word 'Mormon' means 'more good'. If it truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, wouldn't everyone want to hear more good about our Savior Jesus Christ?

I've been able to learn so many different things as a missionary, especially to learn how to rely on Heavenly Father, and his timing and plan. Putting in my papers to serve a mission was a leap of faith, but I never really knew how much we as missionaries had to do that each and every day! I testify and know that God has a plan for each and every one of us, and although we may not always see the whole picture of why certain things had to occur, it is for our benefit and growth. I understand that this life is to be able to feel comfortable in God's presence, and that His commandments are for our physical and spiritual safety. He does not give us any commandments just to see us struggle- they are for our benefit entirely. Commandments are also not like toppings on a fudge sundae, you can't pick and choose what you will keep. If we love God, then we WILL keep His commandments. You only make a decision once, and it's up to you if you keep it.

As this phase of my life is coming to a close, I've loved listening to General Conference with the future in mind. I was really able to recognize the teachings of not becoming casual or lukewarm in the commitments and covenants that we have all made. We must live each day like Christ was coming tomorrow, because the Second Coming is at nigh. I was able to learn more about our Savior, Jesus Christ. I loved listening to many passages of scriptures intertwined throughout the talks, and being able to pinpoint where certain scriptures were. Without the mission, I wouldn't have been able to do that. The emphasis on families and why they are so important was such a huge part of conference. If we didn't have families, the world would be in greater calamity than it is today. I have a great desire to have a Christ centered home where the gospel is being taught throughout each and every day to strengthen my future family. I know that Christ lives, and that He died for us.

I figured that I would save 'THE BEST' subject title for last. :)

I love y'all so much!

See y'all on the other side. ♥

-Sister Sudweeks [for the last time (as a missionary)]
P.S. Here are just a few of the amazing people I've grown to love in Covington!  A piece of my heart will always stay here.  

Sister Traina, my previous 'landlord'. She took us out to Cracker Barrel for lunch last Tuesday, and bought us some goodies for home to share! 
The Trusts!  
Shelly Holmes :) 

This is part of the Reynold's family. Their kids remind of the daughters in Despicable Me :)

This is Bella, the Reynold's dog.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Drug Dealer, A Sticky Note, and a Part-Member Family

Happy Monday!

I was at dinner with the Hanson's yesterday, and it was the first time I was able to say that I was going home 'next week'. My stomach practically dropped to the floor, and it's really weird thinking that next week I'll be in California, say what?! This is my last full week in Georgia, and I'm slightly panicking, but only slightly. :P

We enjoyed banana splits at a member's home.
This week was wonderful as a trio, minus the fact that I got both of my sweet companions sick as well. Whoops! I got to chill with one of the Conyer's members and sleep at her apartment on Wednesday while my companions were tearing it up on Conyers and getting 10 lessons with members all in one day. Shoot dang, being in a trio is awesome because we're so effective! :)
On Tuesday we got a referral from the elders for a woman named Fl. who lives right by the church. It's so funny because I've tracted so much of that street, and I deemed it unfruitful because I never got a potential there in my entire time in being in Covington. She went to stake conference two weeks ago, and she absolutely loved it because she felt at home, and felt comfortable being there since we are modest. I've been so grateful to be studying the Bible recently because I was able to pull out multiple scriptures that explained how prophets were called, and about the Great Apostasy in greater depth. Such as Numbers 12:6-8 to explain that prophets are called by visions or dreams, being spoken to mouth to month. I especially love reading Acts and Ephesians because it's so clear to me that Christ established his church, and he didn't want it to end. Fl. had a lot of interesting beliefs that will be cleared up once she reads the Book of Mormon so certain doctrine won't be interpreted in different ways. Fl. was taking notes with all of the scripture references that I was using, which is so precious because I haven't had that happen to me in a LONG time. She accepted to be baptized on April 11th (really hard because that was the first baptismal date we extended which is after I'm home), and she said yes. But she's going into knee surgery on the 4th so we're not entirely sure if she'll be healed by then, it's more like the 18th.

Sadly enough, we were planning for Va. and Sha.s wedding and baptism, but it's not going to go through because they just don't have enough money to afford a wedding right now. It made me sad because I really felt that I was sent to Covington for this family to live the gospel 'as a family'. I wasn't entirely sure if this was Satan trying to dissuade them from going through with the wedding, but then again I'm not sure if this is God's Timing or not. But we're still going to continue to teach them, and to help Sha. get another job so they're not so tight on finances. It was fun because we were able to review the Gospel of Jesus Christ with them and we played Jeopardy, which is probably one of the funnest things to do as a missionary with a few investigators. :) They get so competitive haha!

We were able to go to C.'s baptism on Friday in Covington. She doesn't even live in this mission. We got special permission to baptize her in our ward because she was a member referral, and she's been so integrated into this ward. After the baptism I told her how I  remembered the first time I met her, and she replied that she remembers meeting me too. C. explained to me that because of me welcoming her right when she came in, she felt so welcome, with warm fuzzies all over, which made her start liking this church in the first place. That gave me warm fuzzies all over, and now we're back to where we began! She's such a strong member, and I love her for who she is. :)
This is C, who was baptized in Covington last Friday and a member of our ward--Brother Faulkner
So in Conyers we had a total of four baptisms for the entire ward. Jo. and Ma. was baptized, and so was a woman named Sa.. Sa. left a sticky note on the church door asking to learn more about the church, and the zone leaders baptized her less than 3 weeks later, which is insane! Talk about golden investigator. Then D. was also baptized, and he's a former drug dealer who decided to change his life around when he heard more about the gospel. Isn't it great what the restored gospel can do to a person? The baptism went amazing, and the spirit was just so strong. I love how Jo. and Ma. completed their family so they can be sealed as a forever family by Elder Zwick in just 10 months! It makes me giggle that we helped Jo. and Ma. have a desire to be baptized by relating the gospel to Pokemon. By being baptized and confirmed a member of the church, they get to evolve and level up as a person. :) Who says you can't relate the gospel to anything?
Ma and Jo on their baptism day.
The entire family are now members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints!  Elder Zwick said he would seal them in the temple in ten months.  That will be another red letter day! 

Ma. and Jo.'s Mom works at a bakery, so she made this just for the baptism. :) The  Doctrine of Christ -- whoop whoop!
Sister Buhler and I went to part of sacrament meeting in Conyers with Sister Ramirez so we could hear the confirmations, and then we jetted over to our own ward so we could be there for my last "real Sunday".... -cough---  Fl. was told incorrect directions on how to get there, so she was late to church as well as Ri.'s family in Conyers. Both of them landed up at the wrong church and we had to redirect them to where our church was. I'm so glad Fl. once again loved church, and the Primary sang Gethsamane in Sacrament Meeting. After it was over she wanted to know if they sung every week. :) It was absolutely precious! Fl. was planning on coming to the Cottage Meeting to talk more about the Godhead because she loves the Trinity, but she had to be in August at 6am this morning to make sure she was ready for her pre-op so she was unable to attend. But we're seeing her this Wednesday to see how she's doing. Ri.'s family didn't stay for long because they promised others that they would go to their church as well. Church hoppers :( Hopefully we're see them this week too.

I'm so excited for today's P-Day because Ci. bought us gift certificates to get a pedicure for all of us, how sweet is she?! She took us out to lunch again last week, and we're going to have Japanese food on Friday for lunch because we're now allowed to be in Conyers haha. She still doesn't really talk much about the gospel, but I'm really hoping I'll be able to bear my testimony to her before I leave, and that will help her progress in the gospel.

I enjoyed being able to go to General Women's Broadcast last Saturday after the baptism. It was comforting to know that we as sisters were all watching the same broadcast at the very same time, although in different time zones. :) I enjoyed the story where the grandma didn't know how many grandkids she had, because she's considered a grandma to everyone. Our circle of influence and love should exceed more than our immediate family and friends.

Love y'all!

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S.   Sister Ramirez now has a goat named after her as well! Alex! :) Except he's a boy, but minor detail :P


Thursday, March 26, 2015

Pinch Me, I'm in Another Trio?!

Happy Monday!

I couldn't have even predicted this week, even if I tried!

So it was really amusing as we stopped by this one family who was formerly taking the discussions. We were talking to the Mom for a good minute on the porch, and we brought up Galatians 5:22-23 about how you will feel when the spirit is testifying to truth to you. She asked, "Oh, is that in your Mormon Bible?" Sister Buhler and I paused and looked at each other because we thought that she was joking. Then we replied that it was right before Ephesians in the Holy Bible... It was a bit awkward, but she told us that she'd read more of the Book of Mormon, and that we can call her in a few weeks to see what she thinks about it so far.

We had dinner with the Reynold's family, and Brother Reynold's came by and they brought their GT Mustang convertible that's a 'California Special' because only 300 cars were made in the entire world. They thought it was going to be the 'boy missionaries' and they were slightly disappointed that we were girls. Little did they know that I L♥VE Ford Mustangs, and I absolutely fan girled when I saw the blinkers and all that jazz. They let us take a ride in it, and we told his Dad that we couldn't be in the car with a male, so Sister Reynolds got in the front and took pictures of us. It was the best ride of my life! The epitome of windblown hair.
Loved the ride, which made the hair so worthwhile!

Ya know that phrase, "I was born a (insert religion here), raised a (religion), and I'm going to die a (religion)?" Well, I guess since I'm a true Southerner, I was born a trio, raised a trio, and now I'm going to die a trio! I'm like a Utah missionary (sort of) because Utah missionaries are over stakes, but now we're over two wards- Covington and Conyers. It was crazy because when I was told that I was going to stay in Covington my last transfer, I kept having this feeling that certain people in another area needed my testimony to progress in the gospel, and now technically I have four areas. :)

Elder Savage (an AP) called us and asked if we were sitting down on St. Patrick's Day, because he had big news for us. Come to find out, Sister Ramirez's greenie, Sister Hill got her visa to Mongolia (the same mission that Elder Mulder is going to) and is leaving the next day. I took Sister Ramirez's place in Fayetteville, and now we get to go back and forth between the two areas. We have two apartments, two phones, two companions, and too much fun! There wasn't a sister that could take Sister Hill's place, so now we get to be a trio for the next three weeks and to see many mighty miracles, we're already seen a ton! :)
My two awesome companions-Sister Ramirez and Sister Buhler!
We got an air mattress from the APs, and I used it the first night and it felt like a water bed, except it wasn't. I probably got the worst night sleep my entire mission because of that deflated air mattress. Sister Buhler has been sleeping on the floor since! 
 So we got an air mattress from the APs... Except it really didn't work out too great.
So the coolest thing happened as we were weekly planning. A man named Chris called us who lived in Georgia five years ago, and referred us to his friend Ri. who's ready for the gospel. He gave us his number, and where he worked, so we called him right away. Ri. asked us to come to his work, and so we did 15 minutes later. All three of us taught briefly about the Restoration, and invited him to be baptized, and he accepted. We taught his entire family on Saturday, and his wife Mi. was a little more leary about the Book of Mormon, but they all accepted to be baptized if they knew it was true. I'm sad because they committed to come to stake conference yesterday, but didn't. We were hoping they'd be baptized before I left because they have three kids, but I guess they'll get baptized after I leave!

We stopped by J. when we were in Covington, and the spirit told us that she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it, and found out it was true. But the sad part was that she's afraid of change because she's been Methodist her entire life. J. asked us not to come over 'all the time' since we've done our job, and she knows where our church is located if she ever wants to check it out. I told her that I was leaving soon and if it was possible that we could visit before then. She agreed and said that we could come by every now and then, but not too often. Thankfully J. said that she was still going to continue to read the Book of Mormon, and we referred her to her neighbor who was a do not contact, because she majored in comparative religion, which is something J. is now interested in due to us coming over and teaching her.

Sister Ramirez has been working with this part member family since she's been in Conyers, and she helped baptize the Mom and the youngest daughter. We stopped by to see Jo. and Ma. which are teenagers to help resolve their concerns on why they aren't baptized yet. The parents weren't home because they were out on date night, so Jo. and Ma. were really able to open up to us about how they don't feel perfect enough to be baptized. They already answered all of the baptismal interview questions when the rest of the family got baptized, and they answered them all correctly. The spirit was really strong in the home as we testified about what the word perfect really meant, and how it's through grace and the Atonement we're made perfect through Christ. It was exciting because they're now on date to be baptized this Saturday, the 28th! The parents came home, and now the family is on board to help them feel like they're ready to be baptized, and to read the scriptures every night as a family. :) We went by last night to play Jeopardy with them about the first three lessons, and Team Burrito won (That's for you Uncle Daniel!) We went over the baptismal questions, and they're ready for their interview today! 

We had stake conference in Jonesboro this week, and had a YSA conference at 8am before it started on Sunday. It was SO embarrassing because I forgot my name tag because it was raining, so I put on a cardigan before I left, but forgot to put it my name badge on! We met Elder Zwick of the Seventy, and I got to shake his head and tell him that I'm not Sister Ramirez, I had forgotten my name tag my first time ever my entire mission. He laughed and reassured me that my countenance shone brighter than any name tag. Best comment to make me feel better that my name tag said Sister Ramirez on it! Apparently he knows the Sudweeks family that works with a printing press (Jenny Sudweeks?), and he's friends with them. Elder Zwick talked about how the YSA age is the greatest rising generation that the world has ever seen, and then referred to the missionaries as young spiritual lions as he was speaking to the stake, and that's a pretty cool analogy to call missionaries as. :) Elder Zwick met with Jo. and Ma.'s family on Saturday, and he offered to seal them in the Atlanta Temple in 10 months from now. How sweet is he?! :D

Va. and Sha. came to conference, but apparently Sha.'s job at Waffle House doesn't fulfill the requirement for a job to get married, so we're still working on them getting married. Va. didn't get the yellow dress at Goodwill, and I'm pretty worried because apparently one of her cousin's friends is making her dress.. It's in two weeks and people can hardly make wedding dresses alone. Hopefully meeting with bishop this week will help the wedding planning come along smoother. We taught them the last bit of the lessons, and now we need to fast and pray that the wedding will go through!

One of the things that the Zwick's talked about during conference was, "Don't allow the world to get into your heart." and I've really been thinking about how I'm going to continue to have the spirit with me after I go home and adjust to being home. Satan's influences are in so many things, that we all need to be leery of what we're choosing to allow into our thoughts, lives, hearts, and actions. 

Love y'all!

-Sister Sudweeks
P.S.  Sister Hill and I. She's not allowed to wear her name tag and missionary clothes because of anti Mormon propaganda in Mongolia. She's an authorized English teacher

P.S.S. Random picture that Sister Buhler got. We ran after the guy and he became a new investigator. Sister Buhler had to park the car

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Unathorized Aura Reading!

Happy Monday!

It was sad because Jo. got sick yesterday, so she and her Mom were unable to make it to church yesterday. We haven't met with them at all this week due to An. (the Dad) working long hours during the weekdays, so we can only meet with them on weekends. This week is stake conference in Conyers, so maybe they'll go to that.

It was pretty amusing because we had to get our oil changed this week, and we were listened to the Singles Ward soundtrack (only the children songs and hymns) as we parked. We got to wait around for a while and when we got back into the car, the original song we were listening to was already finished. We realized that they had listened to Popcorn Popping, and I Belong to the Church, hey hey! Sister Buhler and I were doing missionary work even though we weren't trying! Pretty sure they thought we were crazy when they heard the Popcorn Popping song though... Oh well, what can you do? 

Sha. was rehired at Waffle House this week, but we're not entirely sure if that counts for him getting a job that meets Ap.'s approval. (Remember Ap.?  She's Va., Ca.'s and Da.'s mom who used to be an investigator.) He was told to reapply in 30 days with the other interview that he had, so hopefuly he'll get that job in a month. We went to the Goodwill in Conyers to see if they had any wedding dresses or yellow formal dresses for Va.. We found one but she has to try it on because there's a no return policy there. We can't afford to buy a dress if she doesn't like it. :( Maybe it'll still be there.  Conyers is a ways away for Va. since she doesn't have a car. Va. told us that she's gained a testimony that the Book of Mormon is true which is exciting. :)

We were able to stop by and see An. and her Mom this week. Her Mom knows that it's all on her on whether or not An. gets baptized. She feels like her family isn't as spiritually strong as it should be, and they all need to be strengthened before her son Yo. baptizes An. Hopefully An. will get baptized in the near future as they start developing and continuing good habits. I don't know if it'll be before I leave, but I sure hope so!

We were so excited because we were going to have Sister Bur. come out with us to see J. this week, but when we got there J. wasn't home! Earlier this week we stopped by J. to give her a General Conference edition of the Ensign, and she was so excited to have it! We asked if we could stop by on Friday instead of Saturday because Sister Bur. had her granddaughter come over, and J. said that'd be fine to bring her with us. We'll have to stop by another day. Overall this story is pretty miraculous because Sister Bur. was once considered a Do Not Contact. When the Lamph's (the senior couple that recently went home) started to work with her, her heart changed. At the Lamph's Farewell, they introduced her to us and Elder Lamph told her that he has the most trust in us that we'd take good care of her. She has a lot of health problems that prevent her from coming to church, but now she's willing to come teach with us (J. lives four doors down) and she's willing to be a visiting teacher as of yesterday! :)

So the crazy story of the week... We were on exchanges with Sister Edwards (she used to live with me and Sister Jarman when she was a greenie) and we knocked into a woman named Ru. She let us right in, gave us water, and told us a year ago she ran into the sisters. We talked a little bit about how she's spiritual, and not religious. Her entire family is a different denomination from Apostolic to Pentecostal, and one of her LDS relatives has a 3rd edition of the Book of Mormon. She mentioned to us that she was a body and energy reader, and Sister Edwards got curious if she could read auras. Oh man, that just opened a can of worms! She did this creepy inhale exhale breath with her eyes closed, shook a little bit, and stared at Sister Edwards. She told Sister Edwards that around her head was white, symbolizing purity and Christ and it was very bright. Then she mentioned the rest of her aura is pink, but she didn't remember what pink meant since it's not her forte. Then she moved to me and repeated the creepy inhale exhale shake thing again. After, she stared at me straight in the eyes like she was trying to read my soul. (I don't even know what the definition of what an aura is anyway) She remarked that part of my head aura is white but that the other part of my aura was an indescribable dark solid color that's not used in the real world. She asked me what I wanted in life, and I didn't have the guts to tell her that I wanted to get our of her house because we were late to our dinner appointment. She told me to close my eyes, so I did and I tried to talk, but she hushed me. I told her that I wanted others to learn about the restored gospel so they could have the joy that it brings. R. said that's what my brain thought, but it didn't connect with my heart. She invited me to truly think about what I wanted in life, and the whole situation gave me the heebie jeebies. We went to see if we had a record of the sister missionaries in the past meeting her, and we did! Apparently last February R. invited them in, and brought out her bongos chanting, and tried to read their spirits too. They told us to not contact her, but apparently I never read her description until after we knocked into her... Whoops!

"The time you decide to become more like Christ, expect to be treated like Christ." The world is ever changing to alter God's laws and standards, and we will often be shunned and rejected just like Christ was. But we must always remember who will win in the end, and that enduring our trials will make us stronger, and we'll receive blessings because of it.

-Sister Sudweeks
P.S. Low on pictures this week :(  But I accidentally burned a new kind of popcorn really bad (not the kind my parents sent, a different brand) 

Our apartment smells like it still!