Monday, January 26, 2015

Danger, Moving, Alcohol, Death, and No Tracting?

Happy Monday!

Oh Bessie, not even a fortune teller could predict what happened to Sister Stewart and I this week! Everything that happened majorly, happened on a separate day this week. There were no boring days for us!

One of the members gave us a "dream catcher." 
But, we never dreamed what this week would bring!
V. and Sh. are doing well (heh, that rhymed) and I loved asking V. if she's prayed about the Book of Mormon and if the Church is true. She explained to us that she prayed for guidance, and if this is the right path that He wants her to take. Ever since she's started to meet with us, her life has been going up and up and up. But we found out that they applied for housing in Atlanta, and they could be moving away from a couple weeks, to a few months. We're so bummed because Ap. (the mom in the family) is getting her own place, and we don't know where she's going to end up either. We're not sure if Ca. (our most recent convert) will be able to afford his own place either, but everyone is going their separate ways! :(  A lot of the family has been sick, so we haven't been able to see them as often as we'd like.

Where to even start? I suppose I'll start from an earlier foggy Monday evening with one of our members. She told us that she had a really bad feeling, and that we shouldn't go tracting because it was too dangerous. Our appointment fell through, and we were at loss on what to do. We prayed and asked for guidance, and we intently started to look at the GPS to see where all of the members were around us. I spotted De. on the map, and I knew instantly that's where we were supposed to go. She's been on my mind for the past 3-4 weeks, and I knew she needed us to pray with her. De. was so excited to see us, and she told us repeatedly that she needed us to come by, and she was so happy that we were sister missionaries. De. mentioned she'd love to feed us dinner with her fiance sometime, but we told her we wanted to come by even if she wasn't feeding us! We set a return appointment but that one fell through because she had surgery the day before (she thought she'd feel better for company), so we set an appointment to see her this past Wednesday.

Well, this past Wednesday we were prompted not to confirm because many less active members cancel on us. We drive up to her house and there was half a dozen people around her front door. We asked if De. was there, and Gl. her fiance told us that she passed away in her sleep yesterday. We all looked at each other, and we weren't sure if they were kidding and wanted us to go away, but the Spirit confirmed to us that it was true. Gl. told us it wasn't a good time, but I piped up and asked if we could pray with them. They gave their names individually, and I knew that it was me who needed to leave the Savior's peace and a blessing upon them and De.'s family. I took a long pause before I opened my mouth, and I was praying in my head that I would say the words that would comfort this family. I don't remember what I prayed for as I was choking back tears, and in the end the Spirit was guiding the prayer. Afterward I started to talk about the Plan of Salvation, and Gl. agreed that we could come back in a couple weeks after he recomposes himself. He mentioned that he's had a long list of questions the last two days for his pastor, and we're keen to answer some of them as well. I think that experience was one of the most powerful experiences I've had concerning praying for others. There were tears everywhere, and the spirit was so strong during that short interaction. It really just showed to me that missionaries are literally set apart from the world, and that we DO have the power and authority from God to preach the gospel to the world.

We're officially moving into the apartment that we've been going over and doing service for on February 20th, the day before Se. and D. are getting baptized! This week we were helping the Belleville's up in their attic, where some of the flooring isn't completely stable. I felt a sense of danger as we hopped from piece to piece on the floor that was safe so we wouldn't fall through the attic. It was scary as Brother Belle was helping us with some of the wiring, and he fell because he didn't realize where he stepped had no flooring! He didn't fall through, nor break anything, but I'm sure he received a few bruises on where he hit some of the wood. We've had some close encounters where Sister Stewart has slipped off the chair trying to get something above the fridge, and I thought she was going to hit her head on the couch armrest or tile. Good thing missionaries are kept safe!

I'm sure everyone is just DYING to know whether or not the lesson with P. (a Jehovah Witness) went well, and it did! Remember how P. asked us to pray for the world and how the people around them needed to better their life? Well, the day after we did, his 'homie' moved into his house with his family, and he invited To. to join us in the lesson. It was a heart wrencher when P's Mom drove into the driveway (we were meeting outside) and she saw us on the front porch with our Books of Mormon in hand. All she did was say hi to us, and walked inside. P. explained to us that they gave him religious freedom when he turned 18, and now he's been searching ever since. We taught To. and P. the Restoration, and it was the best lesson I've ever had outside! (Perfect temperature too.) They both told us that they'd be baptized if they found out Christ's Church was restored on the Earth again, and that they'd go to church every week! (Except for the fact they didn't come to church this week, but we won't talk about that haha!) We're seeing them again on Tuesday, and now we'll be able to answer some of the questions that we had to hold off on for tomorrow. :)

We saw the V family again this week, and these kids are just too cute! (They are the ones getting baptized February 21.) They're cherishing the Books of Mormon that we've given them, and their prayers are just journal worthy. Se. loves to pray for those around her, and she never fails to mention how grateful she is for us coming over and teaching them, and how much she loves Jesus Christ. We taught them the Ten Commandments with hand actions so they could remember, and they already knew what most of them already were. :) 

Seriously...the skies in Georgia are GORGEOUS!

Just get slightly jealous of the Georgia skies :D
So remember how I mentioned that Ap's family has been sick? Welp, I got sick on Saturday really bad. I had this insane sinus/migraine headache that wouldn't go away, but we HAD to get DQ 1/2 off. A small Reeses blizzard for $1.75? Heck yeah we're going! We met a member there so we could go out and see her visiting teachee, and some of our investigators afterward. While we were visiting her VTee, she asked if we wanted anything to drink. Sister Stewart got to try this drink that looked really questionable called Malta, but she tried it to be polite. Our member pointed out that it was a 'non-alcoholic drink' but it actually had less than 5% of alcohol in it! Sister Stewart had no idea that it did, and the VTee felt so bad for what happened! She's actually allergic to alcohol (she was a convert) so she's glad that she found that out because she's been sick because of her recently moving here.

We had ward conference yesterday, and we've been given specific instructions on what to do with the members, and President Harding has given us the assignment to contact every single member that's assigned to us, and see them weekly. We're stepping up the notch and we're no longer allowed to tract for days on end. We're supposed to see the members all day every day, and find around them. We've been trying to unite with the members for so long now, and our stake hasn't been giving us referrals. It's practically a plea for help to the members that we'll find solid investigators that will be a blessing to the ward. The entire Conyer's zone is getting special training (it might be the entire mission too) from President Harding in three Thursdays about it all, and it's going to be big!

I hope that y'all have a wonderful last week of January!

-Sister Sudweeks


Sunday, January 25, 2015

Invite a Jehovah Witness to Baptism?

Happy Tuesday!

So I'm apologizing in advanced, because I have no idea how long I'm allowed to email until someone kicks me off this computer. We had to do P-day differently today because of the lack of miles. We have the same amount as last month, except the fact we had to drive to the temple ourselves a few weeks ago, which ate up over 110. We were supposed to have car clean checks, but since it was so cold, they were unable to do so which made us really upset because we could have gotten a ride from the Lamphs. We have to drive ourselves to the temple again in February, and I have no idea how we're going to make it this time.

At least gas prices are low!

Cute Gracie--the one that wanted to baptize her cat!
Since it was the first week of the transfer, we went to District Meeting and we were really surprised that none of our district got transferred. Our District Leader Elder Wood told us that our district is leading the mission in performance. We were really shocked since we've all felt that we could do better, as we never want to be in a standstill. Always keep moving forward! I found out that Elder Anderson (my District Leader from Fayetteville) is my zone leader in Conyers, and I did a fangirl scream when I found out. This is going to be a GREAT transfer!

Remember Do. and Le., the part member family that we taught when Do. and his friends were high? Well, their Mom Sh. came to church two weeks ago, and we saw her twice the past week. She wanted to have the lessons taught to her again, and she asked us so many good questions. We love her so much, and we're so happy that she's deciding to get back into the church again! We're hoping that we'll be able to continue to teach Do., but Le. wasn't too interested.

We were able to finish the Plan of Salvation with V. and Sh., and I love this couple SO much! They had so many questions about what would happen if they died tomorrow, and if they'd still be able to get to the Celestial Kingdom, or how ensure themselves a spot in the Celestial Kingdom. Sh. was telling us that he went to church when he was younger, and he still had questions for his minister. But now that he's been taught the Plan of Salvation, life makes so much more sense to him because he's never been materialistic and all that jazz. We saw them another time last week and we asked them how their Book of Mormon reading was, and both of them told us that they've been reading it together. They've read the first four chapters at least 3-5 times to make sure that they were comprehending it. Sister Stewart and I swooned on the inside, and tried to hide our excitement as they asked about Laban, and what did 'casting lots' meant. Did I forget to mention I love this couple?!

An. (the nine year old) was being very sassy when we stopped by and had to teach her the last few principles of the discussions. For some reason she found a certain TV show really fascinating. We told her that it'd be a short lesson, and she replied, "Here's the lesson: Hallelujah! Amen!" and then walked away. Finally after it was over, we said out loud so her Mom could hear that she's finished all of the lessons so she could get baptized (nonchalantly of course) and her Mom didn't bite. We're not sure if she'll get baptized this transfer as their family didn't come to church this week, but we're not going to give up!

Way back when I got really sick after my birthday, and Sister Stewart was really sick of making all of those phone calls!

We've been tracting a lot this week next to the church building where they have a lot of nice homes, and we've been running into a LOT of pastors! Someone told us that there was six pastors total in their neighborhood, and two Jehovah Witness families. It was funny because I felt prompted to go to this neighborhood, although I didn't even know it existed. We thought it was just a place to go running. We knocked on every single door this weekend, minus a few of them. The Jehovah Witness's came to that neighborhood last Saturday and left some of their brochures. We had to leave cards so the people who lived there could have something to choose from. :) Well, we knocked into three pastors, and both Jehovah Witness families, and one of them became one of our new investigators!

We knocked on this one door who had rap music blaring inside the house, and he didn't hear us the first time we knocked. We knocked again even though we wanted to leave due to the rap music. Pa. opened the door, and he agreed to let us pray with him because the world is so crazy right now, and people need to get their act together. We ended up finding out that he's a Jehovah's Witness, but he only goes once every two months because he doesn't like it. He has wondered why there's so many Christian denominations, and he agreed that he'd be baptized if comes to find out it's true! We're teaching him tomorrow afternoon, and we're really glad that he's our age, otherwise his family would never give him permission.

We taught Da. and Se. again the Plan of Salvation, and they were so cute playing with the pictures. We continued to help clean, and I got some footie pajamas out of it! Sister Va. told us that because we're coming over practically as strangers, her husband's heart is softening. He was asking her all of these questions about the cup lesson, and wanting to figure out what each cup represented, and why we were making a tower. We hope that he'll accept to listen to the Spanish missionaries when they come around.

Sister Va. gave me these footie Eeyore P.J.'s.  Love Them!
I was reading the General Conference edition of the Ensign, and this is one of my favorite quotes of the week:

"When these trials come, the adversary’s minions begin broadcasting that you did something wrong, that this is a punishment, a sign that Heavenly Father does not love you. Ignore that! Instead, try to force a smile, gaze heavenward, and say, “I understand, Lord. I know what this is. A time to prove myself, isn’t it?” Then partner with Him to endure well to the end. Spiritual confidence increases when you accept that “often trials and tribulations are allowed to come into [your life] because of what [you] are doing right”

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S. They brought back my favorite cereal from the 90s. French Toast Crunch! Sister Stewart and I had to buy our own box because we didn't want to share. :P

Monday, January 12, 2015

We Lost Our Phone!

Happy Monday!

This week felt so long, yet so short. It feels like I was emailing y'all just three days ago. I have less than three months until I'll be back in reality. Two transfers left to consecrate all that I have completely to the Lord! Time flies when you're preaching the gospel! :P
One of the members in our ward has this AWESOME chair!
We had a very successful lesson teaching Ca.'s sister V., and her boyfriend Sh. We taught the entire family the Restoration with the cups on Christmas Day, and V. remembered a lot of it which was exciting. Da., the 17 year old sister helps us teach every time we go over there, and V. and Sh. ask really good questions. They both had the gospel library app downloaded before we even started to teach them because we told them about it at Ca's baptism. They wanted all of the books on their phone just like Ap., Da., and Ca. :) They want to get married because Ca. told them that they should get married in the temple so it can be for time and eternity, and not just for this life. 

Af. (our investigator who wasn't raised Christian) was so sweet and asked if she could say the opening prayer. She wrote down what she was going to say in English, so she wouldn't have to worry about translating it into English while praying. Af. first said it in her language, and then in English. We went over the testimonies of the three and eight witnesses, and of Joseph Smith. We were able to answer some more of her questions about Joseph Smith and how he translated the Book of Mormon, and we're going to continue to help her gain a stronger testimony of the Book of Mormon.

It was a pretty funny encounter. Sister Stewart and I both had the prompting to go to the exact same street where we met T. and his golf cart. We sat in the car making calls, nervous that T. was going to make an appearance in my rear-view mirror on his golf cart. We finally got out of the car, and we saw a vehicle coming towards us with a white ceiling, and almost had a heart attack! Thankfully, it was just a white car and not a white golf cart, and we went on our way. As we were walking we decided it was way too cold for him to be out and about because it was below freezing a lot this week. Sister Stewart had the prompting to go to the very last house on the street, and we met J! He has a family and did some deep soul searching when he was 18 or 19 and read the Book of Mormon. J. has issues about the church of man, and how many churches are becoming more like businesses. We were supposed to teach him yesterday, but he had to cancel. 
We continued on about our day, and we realized that the phone was missing. We were far from J. and K's street, so we tore up our car and purses multiple times, and asked a member that was at the church to call it for us. Sister Stewart felt prompted that it fell out when she got out of the car to walk toward J.'s home, so we had to drive all the way back there (*cries* miles *cries*) to search for it at 8pm at night. It was so cold and we drove around, and no luck. There were a few people out and about walking their dogs, and they hadn't seen it. We got out of the car and had to walk around and PRAISE we found it! (Praise is my new phrase whenever something good happens. I'm going to say such Southern phrases when I get home.) It was the scariest thing ever because we had over 500 contacts on that phone! Never again!
Zone training was fabulous, and we were able to learn more about the Cycle of Faith. When Elder Kopischke came and had the first half of the mission, he taught it to them. But since we weren't there, we talked more about Alma 32:27-28 more in depth.

27 But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.

 28 Now, we will compare the word unto a seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.

The cycle of faith discussed in Alma 32.  This was one of the BEST Zone Trainings I've attended!
A part of Zone Training was discussing the importance of Family History.  This Elder's response about family history had us all smiling. 
It was just amazing, so amazing we read the last half of Alma 32 with V. and Sh., and they were so focused and paid attention! We were taught that there are actions that people must do, in order to gain a perfect knowledge of things. Give priority to the word of God, don't cast out what you're learning with unbelief, have an inkling of a desire, and you'll receive certain results such as swelling, enlightenment, and good fruit. Sh. and V. know what they need to do to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon, and they're making those steps to receive one! I asked Sh. if he's felt any of those words in verse 28, and he told us that we've been over a lot and he wasn't always included in the lesson because he was busy, but he felt something different whenever we were there. Now that he's been taking the lessons just for a week, he feels a lot more calm because of it. They're amazing! They have to find better jobs first so they can move out of the house, and then they want to get married, and then get baptized. They have a goal to get married by June, so it's weird thinking I won't even be in Georgia when they get baptized.

We taught Da. and Ca. part of the Plan of Salvation again because they need their new member lessons, and V. and Sh. sat in as well even though it wasn't directed towards them. Ap. received a priesthood blessing from Brother Avery yesterday and we're hoping that'll help her in progressing in the gospel. But she's been listening to the Book of Mormon on CD and praying a lot.

We went back to the Val's home (where we cleaned their house on Christmas Eve because Sister Val. had knee surgery) and we taught their three kids the Restoration- D., Se., and Jo. D. and Se. are on date for February 21st, and it's exciting because Sister Val. has been inactive for a minute, but she helped us teach the lesson to her kids. Jo. is five but he was still good during the lesson. :)

It was so exciting, but An. and her entire family came to church this Sunday! It's been over 2 1/2 months since An.'s Mom has come to church, and we're praying that her heart has been softened so An. will be able to get baptized soon. (This is the nine year old who was supposed to be baptized when I first arrived in Covington and then her mom withheld permission.) We've been over to that house weekly to see how they've been doing, and I'm praying she'll be able to get baptized this transfer.

One of my favorite quotes of this week is, "No amount of sorrow can make things right, only the perfect love of God can." We had sisters zone p-day last week, and that was mentioned in the Emma Smith movie. :)
The sisters in my zone during last Monday's P-day activity

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S. I guess I should tell y'all that I'm not being transferred. I'm dying in Covington! :D

It's been really cold, but I was sick wearing my boots... So I wore my leggings underneath my skirt. They're both animal print! xD

Monday, January 5, 2015

"You Have Beautiful Eyes..."

Happy Monday! 

So last Monday some of the members in our ward treated us to get pedicures on P-day, and it was Sister Stewart and I's very first pedicure! I almost fell asleep while doing so, and we all laughed at each other when we got ticklish as they were pampering our feet (especially Sister Stewart, she's ticklish to the max.) We had dinner with them, and we taught their step kids the Restoration with cups, because they were visiting from Alabama for Christmas. It was a wonderful lesson, and they want to continue to read the Book of Mormon when they go back to their Mom's.
Got a haircut and she straightened it for me. I look like Hannah Montana wooo!
Exchanges were on Tuesday with the STLs, and Sister Stewart stayed in Covington and taught Ca. and Da. It was so funny because she told them that I was in Stockbridge, and they freaked out thinking that I got transferred. They were so upset until she told them it was only for a day. They perked up and wanted to call and prank Ap. their mom that I left. She too was upset, and got really mad at them when they told her that it was only for a day. Sister Stewart taught Ca. more about missionary work, and temples. He's excited to go to the temple (as well as Da.) and we're going to set a day for them to go with some of the ward members. When he heard about missionary work he told Da. that she needs to become a sister and be a missionary! As Ca. learned about temple marriage, he talked about how he can have his girlfriend take the missionary discussions. We have two new member missionaries ready to go here in Covington! :D

We stopped by and saw the Wesley family, who is a recent convert family of earlier last year. We met one of the Mom's friends as we were reviewing the first lesson with them. As we were teaching we asked what a prophet was, and Ch. told us that we're considered prophets in her eyes. I've been called a preacher, minister, and pastor before, but never a prophet! Sister Wesley is excited to go out with us and teach, we went to see An. yesterday and she was thrilled to come out with us. I love having recent converts teach with us!

Another lesson that Sister Stewart went to while we were on exchanges was to teach Sister Wesley's Mom, K. The lesson went really well, and it was full of the spirit as they talked about Joseph Smith restoring the fullness of the gospel. K. is really excited for us to come back this week and teach her family. There are always people coming in and out of that house, so we're praying that we'll be able to teach them all! Sister Stewart taught K.'s niece and nephew as well, and K. has already been to church with her daughter. 

So I got a little taste of Atlanta again this week when we had numerous teenage guys hitting on us as we were out street contacting. I had this prompting to go to a street near K.'s one day, and we met a guy named Tr. who was driving a golf cart. We were making a few calls before we were going to get out, and he walks up to us to see if we need any help. Thinking quick on our feet (because we weren't going to tell him we were going to knock on doors) we asked if he knew where K. lived. He started to lean over the partially opened window, and immediately POPPED my personal bubble for the remainder of the conversation. He asked us if we were nuns, and how old we were. He mentioned that he was 21 too, and that if we were dating, I could be his girlfriend. Awkward. So I started to talk about the Restoration, and I thought he was listening until he interrupted me mid sentence and told me, 'You have beautiful eyes.." I looked at him, said thanks, and continued to talk about Joseph Smith. Long story short, we gave him a Restoration pamphlet WITHOUT our phone number, and set a return appointment with him for the next day, instead of going to his house and teaching him on his driveway right there. We went to K.'s house and he followed us in his golf cart to make sure we were okay. K.'s family told us that they knew who we were talking about when we described Tr., and told us that he's not completely all there so it makes sense about his behavior. We didn't feel like it was a good idea to go to the appointment that day, so we gave him to the elders to teach to find out his true intentions.

It's been a while since we've been able to teach Af. due to sickness, and the holidays. One of our goals that we wanted to do this week was figure out which investigators had promise in progressing, and who wasn't really interested in learning more about the gospel. We weren't entirely sure what to do with Af. because she loves the Book of Mormon, but only believes that Jesus Christ was a prophet. We went over to Sister Blauser's home because that's where we always have the lessons, and she suggested that we watched the Restoration DVD with her. We though it was a brilliant idea because she believes that the Book of Mormon to be true, so we were able to testify that if the Book of Mormon is true, that means Joseph Smith is a prophet of God, and that everything we say is true. The spirit was strong in that lesson, and as we were reading the last two paragraphs of the introduction of the Book of Mormon she was contemplating what it was saying. It's probably been awhile since the first sister missionaries read the introduction with her! It was great because Af. didn't object to anything that we said, but took it all in. We went over time so she offered to say the closing prayer in her own language. She then explained to us what she prayed for. She prayed that if this was true, that her heart would be opened and softened, and that she'd gain a knowledge for herself. As we were walking out of the house Sister Blauser made eye contact with us and we were both shocked on what happened. We can't wait to see what happens next!

We were teaching Ca. the last lesson before his baptism, and his sister V. asked us questions about the church. We taught her and her boyfriend along with the entire family on Christmas morning, and we're going to be teaching them tonight! Her boyfriend Sh. talked about how they wanted to get back into church, and get married in the church, so they're thinking about getting married by the Bishop. They came to the baptism on Saturday, and Ap. was supposed to drive them to church on Sunday, but Ap. got home late from Atlanta so it didn't happen. It's exciting because V. was actually our waitress at Waffle House, and if she wasn't working that night, Ca. would have never had been there to stick around waiting for V.

So Ca. was baptized on Saturday, and it was pretty bad because right when Ca. stepped into the freezing cold water (the church's water heater doesn't work well in the wintertime) he yelled something that he probably shouldn't have, and everyone started to laugh. Well, everyone knows what his last mistake was before he got baptized! It was a great baptism, and the elders and ward mission leader took the initiative to buy him a white shirt, and gave him two ties so he could wear them to church. :) The picture of the baptism wasn't great because my camera was on the wrong setting
Ca and his family right before his baptism.
He had great family support!
One of my favorite quotes that I've heard this week was "Become a scholar of the scriptures- not to tear someone down, but to lift someone up." I remember when I was very early in the mission I wanted to know the perfect scriptures to make sure I had an answer for every objection that's given to us here in the Bible belt. But thankfully long ago I learned that scriptures are truly to lift others, not to tear someone down. We all believe in the same Jesus Christ, and that's one of the best similarities one could have with each other.

-Sister Sudweeks

P.S. Sorry the second picture is pretty dang old, it was from last year... Companions start to look similar after a while huh? Our last picture of 2014!