Wowzers. This past week has literally been insane! Such a rollercoaster.
Let's start with our little field trip to Wichita. We spent the night there and Tuesday morning we got to tour the new mission office and the new mission home. President Keyes and Sister Keyes and all the new missionaries of the new Kansas Wichita Mission were there. It was the best and worst zone conference in the history of mankind. It was incredible, as always, to be with the Keyes. I love them so much. They got special permission from Salt Lake for this zone conference and to be together one last time. Then we loaded up onto busses and traveled back to my stomping grounds in Missouruh.
Going to the temple was MUCH needed and such a blessing. They divided us up and I got to go through with President and Sister Keyes through a session. It was amazing being with them and many missionaries that I love! It was also one of the saddest experiences ever.. Everyone was BAWLING throughout the entire thing.. Being greeted by President and Sister Keyes in the celestial room and have them both sob and tell me how much they love me was an amazing and terrible feeling. I am really going to miss them, but I will always cherish these last four months that I have been able to serve with them and learn from their powerful spirits. It was something I will never forget. The celestial room was PACKED. (more people in there than they have ever had and all missionaries) It was amazing. As we were all bawling our eyes out, the only thing that kept coming back to mind and that was getting me through it, was to think of Shawn and Felix and those that we are teaching right now. I was reminded that I am in Manhattan right now for them, not for me, and I need to suck up this hard change and transition and remember the people that we have been called to. I couldn't stop picturing them and think how happy they will be from receiving all the blessings Heavenly Father has in store for them. It was a difficult but comforting realization I had in the temple.
After the temple, we had our meeting in the church building right next door (the one that we would go to weekly in my first area!) Walking through the doors I was greeted by Sister Stevenson. She was one of the amazing senior couples that I served with at the Liberty Jail. I ran up to her and gave her a big hug and she told me she was only there waiting for me! Which duh made me cry more. She told me how much they all missed me at the jail and it was really hard remembering all of those memories and made me really miss it but feel very blessed. Then walking into the chapel for the meeting, on the stand was a choir full of many of the sisters and best friends that I served with at the jail and some friends that serve in Independence. Oh my goodness I was a mess. Not knowing they would be there- it was so hard! The Spirit was SO strong there and they sang the new mission song for the Kansas Wichita Mission. And of course ended with God Be With You Til We Meet Again. President and Sister Keyes bore testimony to us, told us how much they loved us. And the thing that I was not mentally prepared for, was them bawling as well!! You would have thought someone died looking around that room. But to have people that you love that much is just amazing. President asked us to do one thing and that was to love President and Sister Bell. And I will, but honestly, right now it is for the Lord and because President Keyes asked me to. I will always remember President Keyes' testimony as he testified of the reality of our Savior and that He lives. Whenever he bears testimony, you just know he knows and the Spirit confirms what he is saying is true. Always. Through his sobs, he told us that this is one of the hardest things he has ever done and that if this is anything like being released, he is NOT interested. Haha. I love that man.
After that brutal and blessed day, we loaded up on the busses and headed back to work. Swollen eyes, headache and all :) The very next morning was pretty rough. We had an appointment that we were super stoked for! When we got there to teach Kat, she told us that being Mormon is not for her. It broke our hearts. She told us "I know this must be pretty upsetting for you but it has nothing to do with you ladies because I have loved meeting you." I said "You know Kat, the only thing that makes it 'upsetting' is knowing how much we love you and how much the Lord loves you and the blessings that you are missing out on. We know that our message comes from God." She was almost in tears and I know that the Spirit has testified to her that our message is true, which makes it that much harder knowing she is rejecting it. That same day we met Angell but let's take one "l" off and just call her Angel. Because she made our day!! Her and her mom April have met the missionaries in the past and are excited to be taught again. We will see them Tuesday.
On Friday, we were able to teach Jonathan. We read with him in 3 Nephi and we all learned so much through the Spirit as we studied together. I know he feels it. We were able to meet his friend Robert! Who is a member from Ecuador and didn't know where to go to church, so running into him was a tender mercy. We were able to find him a ride to the baptism the next day and also to church and he is now being fellowshipped by the ward :) But Jonathan is going to be taught now by the Single's ward sisters which is a bummer but not. They will take good care of him.
Sister Stewart's bike was broken so we were on foot. And let's just say I have never looked so good. Bahahah. We were sooooooo sweaty, oh my goodness. We had to walk across town and man it was so hot outside. We ended up teaching Julius and it was amazing! He told us he really wanted to be baptized. And then.......the next day we find out his mom is not okay with it and he can't meet with us anymore..... He will be 18 in December though and I believe he will be prepared to accept the gospel later. That was such a bummer! He told us how he just reaaally wants to be better and make good changes in his life. We were able to bear testimony that through Jesus Christ and repenting, then being baptized, his sins could be completely washed away. Hearing that made him so so happy.
We were able to see Amissa Self, who is 15, a lot this week. Her mom and other family members have been super busy and she is the only one that has been reachable.. But she is amazing!! Such a sweet spirit. She really wants to the baptized!!! We are praying and trying to decide what would be best for her and her family. Because she is ready but her family was also wanting to learn so we are trying to decide if we should wait to set a date for her or not.. Keep the Self family in your prayers please! Oh and Amissa came with us to a baptism on Saturday, which was so so good. And she was able to meet more members of the ward and make some friends. Felix and his daughter Serenity also came to the baptism!! It was so awesome! They loved it and definitely felt the Spirit there. We are meeting with them tonight and I KNOW Felix is so ready to prepare for baptism. Keep us in your prayers as we see them tonight.
We saw Shawn on Saturday night. It was a POWERFUL visit with her, holy cow. We had Sister Spurlin come with us, who is an amazing lady and a convert to the church. Shawn had many questions for her and was able to see a new perspective. We ended up talking about taking leaps of faith and acting on our answers we receive. We know that Shawn is receiving some very direct and powerful answers and it breaks our heart when Satan tries to twist them. I shared with Shawn about how hard it was for us as missionaries leaving the other mission and saying bye to President. But that the one thing that is getting me through it was thinking of her! We were all in tears and the Spirit bore testimony of the importance of our message that we are sharing with her. She just kept saying "Wow Sparkles and Lil Sis. Wow." I love Shawn and want soooo badly for her to accept the restored gospel and receive the blessings from doing so.
The missionary broadcast last night was amazing! It was so cool to receive direct guidance/advice straight from our prophets about this work. We are going to work even harder and in new ways in Manhattan. This is an amazing area, an amazing ward, and most importantly, the gospel is true. Jesus Christ is our Savior and He lives. I love being a missionary.
Okay so my apologies if this email is spazzy, I don't have much time today. HAPPY LATE FATHER'S DAY!!! I love you so much dad. Wish I could've been there to help spoil you.. but just know how much I love you and am grateful to have seriously the best dad in the world. Couldn't be more blessed.
Last week we had an interesting evening where we went to contact a referral and they were NOT interested, to say the least. May have slammed the door in our faces hah. But we felt that we had gone there that night for a reason. We were kind of lost on what to do. After much praying in the car and wondering what to do next.. this man walked up to our car and motioned for us to come out. Basically he was trying to preach to us and said that he felt drawn to us. He ended up inviting us in and we taught him and his mom. Although he was still trying to "prove" his religion (Apostolic Pentecostal) they accepted a Book of Mormon. I don't know what will come from it but we were there for a reason. And it was kind of interesting listening to his method of teaching.. I had just read that day in Jacob 7 about Sherem, an antichrist. And he used flattery and was basically sneaky as he taught. Which summed up our appointment with Mark. But it was cool to think back on how we are to teach people as missionaries and that is only through the Spirit, allowing them to feel of it and be converted. It isn't about manipulating or deceiving people.. kind of a cool connection.
We saw Joyce again this past week! (the sweetest older deaf lady). She LOVED our visit. It is extremely hard to communicate with her so we have a teamup this week with someone that knows more than the abc's in sign haha. The Spirit was incredibly strong with Joyce, bearing testimony of God's love for her and that He has a plan for her and all His children.
Zone training on Tuesday was way awesome! We went to Topeka and the entire training was on the Atonement. It was amazing. Our zone leaders, Elder Moyle and Elder Holt are both so great and the Spirit was so strong! I felt so rejuvenated and like pumped to be a missionary pretty much. Although Elder Moyle did give me some interesting advice ha- "Spider bites build character"..... referring to our army of spiders in our apartment. Thanks Elder.
We taught this guy Pedro that has met with missionaries in the past. He was the coolest guy ever!! He is from Africa and is pretty much genius. He knows like 10 languages and has his masters and is studying something here at the University. (I don't even know what comes after a masters so basically that's how smart he is) But pretty much he told us that he is too busy right now.. even after we bore testimony that IF he makes time for God and takes that step of faith, he will be so blessed! He did tell us that "he will be Mormon someday".. hah so this genius of a man who is also hilarious will come around.
We found this magical apartment complex. It is FULL of students from Ecuador and they are all soooo nice. We met a couple new friends there that we will start teaching, except one falls under the Single's ward age so they will teach him.
Shawn is still doing well and reading/praying. I honestly feel like she is one of the main reasons why I am here in Kansas. I have no doubt she will accept the gospel. Whether that be next week or in a couple years or in the Spirit World.. I just KNOW she will. She has such strong faith in our Savior and we always have the best heart to hearts with her and the Spirit is incredible whenever with her. Funny story. She refuses to call us Sister Smartt and Sister Stewart. She feels that we are too close of friends to refer to each other as last names.. so my new name she came up with is "Sparkles" and she refers to Sister Stewart as "Lil Sis"... Hahahah she is so awesome. I think I mentioned this previously but one huge struggle of hers is accepting that there is more than just the Bible. Well something amazing happened in one of our visits this past week! She said "Well Sparkes and Lil Sis, I was talking to Father last night and He revealed something to me. He told me that the Book of Mormon is just like another book. Like the book of Mathew or the book of John." And she continued on about how it clicked that it is just MORE scripture that has been revealed. She is awesome, I love Shawn so much! We visited her yesterday and brought her cookies for her birthday. Please keep her in your prayers :)
Last night we were also able to see Felix!! He is AWESOME. I love him and his kids so much. I talked about Serenity last week and she is still as cute as ever. Now his 17 year old and 15 year old and then his 14 year old, Jacob, moved in with him. We were able to teach the Plan of Salvation with a team up that was perfect! The older two weren't home but Felix, Jacob, and Serenity were there and it was awesome. I think my favorite part was being able to help Serenity understand who she really is. A daughter of God. Wanna hear something kind of funny/not really. So they sort of bailed on coming to church but his excuse was the best I have heard yet. He texted us Sunday and said "Sorry sisters! We really wanted to come but I stayed up late watching the Joseph move.." Hahah so I don't know if we should call bs or not on that one, but either way he is taking initiative and is very sincere in studying/learning and praying. He watched the Joseph Smith Movie all on his own and has been reading tons. Which is awesome. And they are all coming to a baptism with us this Saturday! And will be at church next week :)
Today we are basically going on a field trip. We are meeting up in Junction City, then driving to Wichita and having a sleepover there at some sister's apartment.. And then it is off to Kansas City Temple tomorrow!! (my old stomping grounds and I am so excited!!!!) I am excited to meet President and Sister Bell and to be with many of the missionaries in the new mission. It will be hard saying bye to President and Sister Keyes.. But I know this is the Lord's work and according to His plans, so here we go.
I hope you are all doing well and I miss you lots. Have a good week!
First off, a huge shout out to my little bro who just got called to the El Salvador San Salvador East Mission!!! Ahhh I could not be happier for you Bug. I can't even wait for you to join me out in the mission field, it is the most amazing experience ever. And another shoutout to Mitch, happy birthday!!
This past week flew by and it was a good one for sure. It was an amazing feeling last night to realize we exceeded all of our goals we had set and that it was a week of hard work. Arriving in this area, we were told that there hasn't been much success lately and that it was a "dead area" but we didn't let that get to us. And we have already seen so many miracles! I know for a fact Heavenly Father is helping us out. (I think He is especially blessing us since we are both new to the work hahah)..
Let me tell you about Shawn!! We saw her THREE times this past week, it was awesome. She is so sincere about learning and truly desires to know, which is amazing! One of our appointments was to help her clean and move. But when we arrived in our service clothes, she instead wanted to ask questions and read from the scriptures and hey we were a-okay with that. It has been sooo cool because the questions she has had have been some hard ones. But we will end up in some scriptures that end up directly answering her questions, not intentionally. No doubt the Spirit has been our guide in helping her. We read from John 10:16 about the "other sheep" who Christ refers to and then we know in 3 Nephi that the Nephites were those other sheep. Her translation was that that scripture referred to the Gentiles and she brought that up. But reading in 3 Nephi it says directly in verse 22 that they will suppose it is the Gentiles. She had an AHA moment right then and was kind of freaking out. It was pretty awesome. She has had experiences like that reading from the Book of Mormon and the Bible together and will say "wow ladies, you just threw this bomb at me! I am going to have to do my homework." I know she is praying and reading and I KNOW she is receiving her answers. But Satan is working extra hard on her. It is extremely hard for her right now because she has been told that all she needs is the Bible and now she describes it as having this thrown at her and she is overwhelmed. We are trying to help her understand that Heavenly Father has soo much more in store for her and that we are not taking away from her faith, but adding TO. So please keep Shawn in your prayers! Oh and since we ended up just having a lesson that day, we went back on Saturday to help clean and it was quite the project, I battled like 10 spiders.
Speaking of battles, the squirrels here are insane. They attack us on our bikes and jump out from behind trees. It is madness. (Reminds me of Elf when Buddy goes to hug the squirrel and it pounces).. But anyways, riding bikes has been an adventure. I probably thought I was going to die by the second day. First off, member how beautiful these green hills were I talked about!? Yeah, I take it back. These hills are BRUTAL. But like it has still been fun and it feels good to be outside all day and talk to as many people as possible. People here probably judge me because I tied towels to the bike seat to cushion it, cause these boy bikes are like not that comfy on the tooshie. Oh and my leg is one giant bug bite so I will be purchasing some bug spray today :)
We are teaching this family of 4. There is a 15 year old daughter and an 11 year old son. (Amissa and Cazaiah) and they are awesome! They previously met with missionaries but just moved into the area. We met the mom, Natasha, and she is hysterical I was like peeing my pants with laughter. She had to work on Sunday so couldn't come to church, and the kids went to the gmas last minute so they weren't able to come but we will meet with them this week! Keep the Self family in your prayers, they are very interested.
Last night we met with Felix. He is a single dad raising his cutest daughter Serenity. She is 6 and reminds me of my Brynlee Bear. She is a little sass machine and is so stinking funny. We watched the Restoration DVD with them and the Spirit was very strong. We asked Felix to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and he said "I have been praying. There's no doubt in my mind that Joseph Smith was a prophet." He is reading from the Book of Mormon and is progressing but it hasn't clicked yet that if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is our Savior's Church, with the fullness of the gospel. But he is amazing and I love visiting them. He has a very strong Spirit. We have an appointment with them next Sunday (Father's Day) and are super stoked about it!
On Thursday night we got a call from our ward mission leader, telling us about an appointment that had been set up awhile ago for the next day. A less active brother in the ward had invited the missionaries to be at a dinner with his friends that aren't members. So we figured things out so that we could go! It was interesting.. it was in a trailer park in an area that we were told we should probably avoid.. and the friends weren't expecting us so it was possibly the most awkward situation I have ever been placed in but it ended up working out. We got them to realize we are normal people and they ended up taking a Restoration pamphlet at the end and are willing to have us come visit! Oh and they had a buttload of cats that were attacking the pizza so it was interesting eating a few hair balls....
Another cool experience we had was when we went to go meet a potential we felt like we should go see, and ended up meeting Joyce. She is a very sweet older lady who is deaf. We were able to communicate back and forth through the minimal sign language we know and through writing back and forth on a notebook. She is Baptist but was willing to have us come back and took a pamphlet from us.
Yesterday at church was ward conference so the stake leaders spoke/taught, Basically all on families and how important it is to teach children and help them to gain their own testimonies. It was pretty awesome. Our stake pres is a pretty awesome guy! He was a great teacher and was very engaged in what he was saying and helped everyone to feel involved. It got me thinking about our Savior and how He is the perfect teacher. Reading in the New Testament has taught me so much about how our Savior teaches through parables. He is our perfect example in every aspect of our journies and has set the way.
This is an awesome area and I am so thankful for Sister Stewart who wants to work hard but have fun. I love being a missionary!!
Hope you all have a fabulous week and I hope to hear from you soon.
Love you guys,
PS. "Regarding one's testimony, remember, that which one willingly shares he keeps, while that which he selfishly keeps he loses.. Teach and testify. There is no better combination."
(Great advice from our prophet! For missionaries and for all who have a testimony to share. There are sooooooo many people out there that don't have that peace and knowledge.)
I am now in the Kansas Wichita Mission, living in Manhattan, Kansas. It is BEAUTIFUL here. I pictured flat and farms for Kansas and not much going on...ha. But the area we are in is sooo green, lots of hills, and a college town. We live right next to K State so it is a fun area! We are in the Manhattan First Ward and everyone has welcomed us warmly. Luckily it was fast and testimony meeting yesterday so we were able to bear out testimonies, introduce ourselves, and they also had us say the prayers in sacrament meeting.
Transfer day was literally insane. First off, I wasn't expecting this change.. but the Lord knows best! So I am putting my trust in Him...(Prov. 3:5-6) Wednesday I packed and we were also able to have an awesome lesson with Adakcin before I left. It was really hard leaving her and also leaving all those we were teaching. Especially since we just set 4 people on date to be baptized last week! But that's okay. I know that the missionaries there will take care of them and I can still pray for them.. That day was also my last day serving at the Liberty Jail which was a weird and hard feeling. I am going to miss it so much. Serving there has changed me and has changed my testimony, and I couldn't be more grateful for that opportunity I had to serve there. I can't wait to go back and visit someday, even though I will be on the audience side of the tour haha.
Thursday morning we awoke earlyyy and I finished packing, then the Simpers drove us down to Independence to transfer busses. Bid many many farewells, took lots of pictures, and hopped on the bus. I had to ride the bus from 8 am until 4 pm! But I made many friends. And it was good because the elders that were just serving in the Manhattan First Ward, were on the bus so they gave me some referrals and advice for the area. Come to find out, they just white washed our area and we are opening it for sisters.. I felt pretty overwhelmed. But having the chance to meet the elders that just served there was a tender mercy. A couple hours into the drive, Elder Jensen (an AP) just happened to mention to me that I was training! I thought he was crazy because I wasn't called to be a trainer and I didn't go to the meeting they have for the trainers.. but lo and behold, he's not so crazy after all.
Sister Stewart is my new companion and she is from South Jordan, Utah. She has a strong testimony of our Savior and we are going to get work done in Manhattan. And have fun while we are at it ha. But I honestly felt so overwhelmed knowing we were taking over an area that had been white washed, that I was "training", and that I was in a new mission with a new mission president and in a new state. I am really going to miss the Missouri Independence Mission a LOT and all the friends I made.. but I know the Lord knows what He is doing and I know I can't do this without Him. I was so nervous because I have never been in a full proselyting area yet (since I was in a visitor's center).. and now I am called to train in one.. but I know we can do it with the strength and help of the Lord and having the Spirit as our constant guide. We saw miracles this weekend.
This weekend was a blast being able to tract, contact potential investigators, and just bear testimony often. Cool story: we felt like we should go see this less active family but when we arrived we found Shawn. She told us that that family had moved (they were her cousins) but that the elders had stopped by not too long ago. She was given a Book Of Mormon and has read it from cover to cover. She said she doesn't feel like she "got her answer".. but we were able to visit with her for quite awhile. We bore testimony of the Book of Mormon asked her to read Alma 32 and pray about it while doing so. We were able to get to know her pretty well and bear testimony to her that Jesus Christ's Atonement can help her heal through her past and trials. She said she is willing to meet with us and we have two appointments this week! On Saturday, we actually helped her move two houses down and some members from the ward came to help which was so awesome. Please keep Shawn in your prayers! On Friday we met Ben outside and were able to give him a Book of Mormon and he said he would read it. Guess what!!! He just "happened" to be at Shawn's house on Saturday to help her move as well. No coincidence my friends. It is soooo so cool to see our Heavenly Father's hands work in miraculous ways.
This week will consist of finding new investigators, tracting, referrals, helping Sister Stewart learn the lessons, and having a grand ole time as missionaries. Oh and today will be my first time on a bike in a skirt so like pray for me because this will be interesting.
I LOVE YOU ALL!
PS. Happiest of birthdays to my sweet Elsie babe. Can't even believe she is already one.... I miss her so much. And happy birthday Devina!!! I love and miss you! Party hardy for me.
Not sure what the new mission address will be.. but