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!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

How Now, Brown Cow!

Happy Monday!

So I'm going to say my deepest of apologies, but this email is probably going to be very short, and it won't be very detailed because I was signing up for BYU CLASSES! :D I got accepted last week on Monday! I'm really excited to be starting school just 20 days after I get home hahaha, dun dun dun! :)

So remember the cool part when Va. and Sha. paid fast offerings? Well, we went by and saw Va. and Sha. this week, and Va. started to talk about how much of a change her life has been since she started to meet with us and listen to what we've had to say. She revealed to the entire family that the lights were about to go out, because she and her Mom couldn't afford to pay the bill. But the day before it was due, her tax return came and was put into her bank account that had the exact same amount to pay the bill. Va. has been wanting to pursue her education to get her dream job, so she applied to school. Well, she didn't have a way to get online because her laptop was coming two weeks too late, so they were going to drop her entirely. But since she put God first and came to church although she needed to go to work, her laptop came two weeks early, and she was able to sign on and do her classes. Her professor didn't drop her from school and it was a miracle. Va. hasn't had a desire to get any more piercings, which is such a difference from when I first met her. :) 

When we were having our stake missionary meeting, one of our leaders talked about Ether 12:12, 15, and 30. They read:  12 For if there be no faith among the children of men God can do no miracle among them; wherefore, he showed not himself until after their faith.15 Behold, it was the faith of Ammon and his brethren which wrought so great a miracle among the Lamanites.  30 For the brother of Jared said unto the mountain Zerin, Remove—and it was removed. And if he had not had faith it would not have moved; wherefore thou workest after men have faith.

This leader prayed to know what he should study this particular day to help those around him. He went to the church to meet with a man who had an addiction for 10-15 years. He asked this brother, 'Do you have faith?' (Yes) 'Do you want a miracle?' (Who wouldn't want a miracle?) 'Then President Johnson (our stake president) is going to give you a blessing, and your addiction will be removed from you.' He left and got President Johnson, and followed up with this brother a few weeks later. 'How are you doing?' (I haven't succumbed to the addiction since.) It's been a few months since that experience has occurred, and the brother is living a happy life addiction free. 

We shared this experience with Va. and Sha., and the spirit led us to tell them we would have a miracle, and that they would get married and baptized before I leave in April. They agreed that they would do everything in their power to do so because they don't feel that they're doing anything that would prevent them from receiving a miracle. We set a date for them to be baptized on April 4th, the day of General Conference. They're going to get married in the morning, and then baptized in between the two sessions of conference. We set a date that Sha. will be able to find a job by March 28th, and we're going to work toward those goals. It's going to be a huge miracle, and a huge blessing in their lives because they're increasing their faith that because they want to follow the steps toward eternal life, Heavenly Father will bless them to get married as soon as possible. Prayers would be greatly appreciated in helping Sha. find a job in 19 days! 

We helped Sister Denison with her goats, cows, and chickens again, and we were finally able to take pictures with Sweet Emily the goat, and Sister Denison named her new calf Lizzie March the 1st after Sister Buhler because she was just born. I got to take pictures with all of the farm animals, call me a country girl! (Okay not really, I hate getting my fingernails dirty, bleck!) But I got to take a picture with a brown cow! :D

How Now, Brown Cow!
Notice the awesome gloves?  They were a mission gift from my Aunt Pat!
Isn't Lizzie the sweetest thing ever?
My namesake--Emily the goat.  She has curly hair--just like me!
Sister Buhler loves her namesake!
How many sister missionaries can say that baby farm animals have been named after them? 
We were able to meet with Jo.'s parents at her home yesterday after church, and can I just say we were so nervous like we're trying to impress our future in laws or something... but worse! But it ended up going well, and her Dad is really funny. Her Dad has been going to church after church, and when he went the three times to his wife's church they only talked about money. That turned him off although that was the month that they pushed tithing (according to Jordan's Mom.) We taught them the Restoration with the cup lesson, and they asked a lot of questions. They expressed many concerns, and a lot of questions were answered. In the end, her Mom agreed that she would come to church with Jo. this upcoming week although it's stake conference, and not at our church building this time around. But they've still decided that Jo. can get baptized at 18 because they're worried that she's going to get interested in something else, although she's been to multiple churches before deciding this is where she wants to get baptized in. Throughout the entire lesson we focused on how we're not trying to take Jo. away from them (she's the only child) but this is for the entire family. We gave them copies of the Book of Mormon, and they agreed to listen to the Plan of Salvation as well.

We taught Af., and Sister Buhler was bold as heck as she asked Af. if she would consider praying about Jesus Christ and if he's more than just a prophet. She told us that she knows with all her heart that he's not, and how it talks about in the Qu'ran that there is no other God besides Allah, and she was quoting various things that would prevent her from questioning who God is. So we're going to be going back to the basics and talk about prayer, the nature of the Godhead, and we're going to ask her to take the 30 Day Challenge with us. Do all of the things necessary to gain a testimony on whether it is true or not. We're going to promise her by the end of 30 days that she'll know whether it's all true, or not. So it'll be interesting to see what happens, and how she'll react to that! 

There's a lot more happened that I don't have time to talk about, such as that we met with J. again this week, and she was watching us on her swing in her front yard (the weather was BEAUTIFUL) and noticed that the member wasn't coming to the door, so we left a sticky note. We came over and she was doing more yard work, and then told us that she's ready for a break, and how we should sit with her. (She already had pulled up two chairs in front of the swing, and a table.) Jn had read part of the Book of Mormon, and we did the cup lesson with her because she was curious on how cups could teach the Restoration. She had a lot of good questions, and in the end she said, "I think there could be prophets today. I agree with everything you said, but I'm probably still going to stay Methodist." She's wary of true/false prophets, but we're seeing her again next Saturday. :)
Love the Georgia Sunsets! 
My favorite quote of the week is, "You have been called for what you will become in the future, and not for what you've done in the past." Elder David Bednar

I find that quote so comforting because sometimes as a missionary, you feel very overwhelmed because Heavenly Father expects you to represent Jesus Christ. But in reality, he knows our fullest potential, and he's chooses us to serve in various callings and positions to help us become who He knows we can develop for greatness!

Love y'all, see ya in a month!

-Sister Sudweeks
P.S.  Here are some pictures from March's Zone Conference.  

Saturday, March 7, 2015

I Miss Spongebob!

Happy Monday!

So this week was crazy, and I'm flabbergasted that I'm already writing y'all this week because it just seems like yesterday I got punched by Sister Stewart in the arm. :)

As always when someone leaves, we were saying goodbye to many people on Tuesday. My heart hurt for the first four days of the week- Sunday to Wednesday. We were able to see Af. and read Mosiah 15 with her, which was a perfect chapter to read because it talked all about Christ and His Atonement. She thought that we were going to finish the Plan of Salvation with all of the pictures, but we forgot to bring them. In the end we started to talk more about the spirit world, and Af. told us that in her religion, she doesn't know what happens between death and the resurrection. We got to a point where I asked if she thought it could be true. Af. thought it was possible, and so we invited her to pray to God for an answer on whether it's true or not. I was surprised when she told us that receiving an answer from God was a brand new concept to her, and she asked how she'd know. I whipped out Galatians 5:22-23 so fast, and it was a wonderful discussion on how we feel when we get answers to prayers. It really surprised me that since I'm the third set of sister missionaries that have taught Af., I never knew that she didn't know how to pray to get an answer! She came to church again last week, but mostly stayed in the nursery with her three year old son S., so she didn't learn about prayer in Gospel Principles, which would have been perfect for her!

We saw Va. and Sha. multiple times this week so we could say goodbye, introduce her to my new companion, Sister Buhler, and then to finish teaching them about tithing and fasting. When they said goodbye to Sister Stewart, Sha. was rocking back and forth (somewhat jokingly) in a corner, and Va. started to fake cry. It made my heart hurt so bad! I made the mistake of telling them that I was leaving in April, bad idea bad idea! 
Last picture with Sister Stewart before our transfer meeting.
Staying up late to pack, and getting up early to leave for transfers was hard, and there was actually a huge snow warning for the entire state of Georgia practically! Sister Stewart and I had to write in each others notebooks (I've had mine since the beginning of the mission) and I call her Spongebob, and she calls me Patrick. (Don't even ask, there's too many inside jokes and reasons behind it.) If you look closely at the Valentine's we gave each other, that's where it all started basically. I miss my Spongebob!
I miss Spongebob, I mean Sister Stewart!
Anyway, we went to transfers and I saw a bunch of old friends, and it was so weird seeing SO many of the sisters and elders that I served with in Atlanta go home, but I guess that makes sense.. I now have my last companion, Sister Buhler! She's been serving for 10 months, and we actually knew of each other when I was serving in Fayetteville. When I saw her in zone trainings and she was testifying as a greenie, I was amazed on how much power she had in her words. We were sitting right behind each other when our names were called. It was pretty cool that God chose us to be companions. because when I saw her back in Fayetteville, I told myself that I wanted to get to know her more, and here we are sitting next to each other as companions in the library! :) She's from Utah, but was living in Mexico when she came out on her mission. Sister Buhler is expecting "Bible Miracle Status" miracles, so it'll be exciting to see what happens these last 5 1/2 weeks!
...and my first picture with Sister Buhler!
We saw Va. and Sha., and the miracle that started off this transfer is that Va. and Sha. were finally able to come to church this Sunday! Sha. has to find a job really badly, or he's getting kicked out, and has nowhere else to go. So Sister Buhler and I taught them about tithing, fasting, and fast offerings. Sha. committed to fast from his phone and other things because of his type II diabetes, he can't fast from food. Va. fasted for the both of them, and they both paid fast offerings even though they aren't members. We committed them to pay tithing when they're members, but we all fasted that they would be able to get married and get a job in the next 6 weeks.

Another thing that Sister Buhler and I were fasting for was for Jo.'s parents. We were supposed to see her before Mutual but due to the snow warning it was cancelled, and we couldn't see her all this week except church. Apparently her parents aren't very open to the fact of her becoming a member, but they're allowing her to come to church. We talked about how she could fast yesterday, and invited her to study the index under fasting. She most definitely did as she texted us randomly about how she really liked Omni 1:26. :) We're not entirely sure if she's going to be baptized on Pi Day, but it's not looking likely. We're just hoping for this month on the 28th, and that we'll be able to all sit down together and have her parents voice their concerns. They've read the Restoration pamphlet, but we don't know what else they're going to bring up when we meet with them hopefully Wednesday.

Two weeks ago when I was on exchanges with Sister Iverson, we met this one woman named Ja. She didn't know a whole lot about the church, except what's she heard about us on the news. It was cool as I was able to learn how to express to those of other faiths that we don't take away anything that they believe, but we just want to give them additional enlightenment. Sister Iverson gave an example that when Ash Wednesday occurred last month, she saw someone who had a cross on their forehead in ashes. Instead of looking it up on the internet on what it meant or asking someone, she went straight to the source. The person she asked was appreciative because they then were able to explain what they believe, and that they weren't going to receive false doctrine. Just like how if you wanted to learn how to grow your hair, you wouldn't go to a plumber. So Ja. laughed and accepted a Restoration pamphlet so she'll learn what we believe right from the source. We came back a week later (and with a new companion) and she read the pamphlet, and later on in the discussion, she asked us how she could obtain a copy of the Book of Mormon, because she's never seen it at the bookstore. We gave her a copy and explained what the Book of Mormon was, and she was pretty curious on what it was about. We still don't have a return appointment with her, but considering we've told her that we're going to come by every Saturday, because we see a member every Saturday that lives 3 houses away from her. I'm excited to see where it goes!

One of my favorite quotes that I heard this week was, "If you stop mothers (and fathers) you stop generations." -Sister Traina

It made me want to have a sturdy foundation in Christ due to the fact that the Second Coming is happening SOON. I know that this life is going to get harder, but as we look toward our Heavenly Father and the Savior, we'll be able to overcome ANYTHING.

Love y'all!

-Sister Sudweeks