Monday, July 22, 2013

Salina Zone!! First zone meeting with Pres & Sis Bell of the
new Kansas Wichita Mission!!  Whoowhoo!!

Interesting day tracting in the rain ha!  I haven't even met
any Koreans here yet...

Other than the chiggers, I love this place. I love the people, I love the ward, and I love my mission.

This morning I was reading this story Sis Castellano (2nd comp) gave me. It goes along with Malachi 3:2-3. "A group of LDS women were studying Malachi. One offered to find out about the process of refining silver. So she went to watch a silver smith at work without mentioning the reason for her interest. As she watched the silver smith, he held a piece of silver over the fire and let it heat up. He explained that in refining silver, one needed to hold the silver in the middle of the fire where the flames were hottest as to burn away all the impurities. She asked the silver smith if it were true that he had to sit there in front of the fire the whole time the silver was being refined. The man answered yes, he not only had to sit there holding the silver, but he had to keep his eye to the silver the entire time it was on the fire. If the silver was left even a moment too long in the flames it would be destroyed. The woman was silent for a moment. Then she asked the silver smith, "How do you know when the silver is fully refined?" He smiled at her and answered, "Oh that's easy- when I see my image in it."

Sometimes we are placed in fires or trials that really burn and hurt. Sometimes we wonder why we have to go through that and it's hard to understand the purpose at the time. But I know that God doesn't give us anything we can't handle and I know that the trials He gives us are truly for our benefit. I am constantly reminded of my experiences serving at the Liberty Jail. That is something even a prophet of God needed to realize- that our trials will be just for a small moment. And we can get through them if we turn to Him. He is ALWAYS watching over us and gives us these experiences to help us to grow.

Meeting people out here and growing to love them so much is a lot harder than I expected. Watching them go through trials or even make choices that I know God is aching over, breaks my heart! I feel like my heart is going to explode as a missionary. I don't know how much more it can grow and be stretched as I watch people that I love go through all that they do. 

Felix and Serenity are still doing great! They were able to come to sacrament meeting yesterday :) He was ignoring all of his calls during the meeting but afterwards he had some pretty upset people that were calling him into work. But at least they were able to come to the first hour! Serenity loooves church, it is adorable. She was so excited to show us her new dress and shoes that her daddy bought her. She loves stealing my water bottle every time we see her. And she loves to draw pictures of us which I add to my Serenity collection haha. Felix asked to meet with the bishop last week which was so awesome!! So we set that up and they had a nice chat he said. We still haven't set a date with him but I know he is ready to do so. Please keep him in your prayers! Our appointments with them are hilarious.. soooo A.D.D. as soon as we get there. But we have so much fun and the Spirit is always so strong. I feel like they're family. Last visit Serenity started really crying in the middle, like sobbing, and we were all so confused. Felix picks her up and she starts talking about how much she misses her grandpa who passed away. It was the saddest thing.. But watching him comfort her and tell her about heaven and that he is in a peaceful place, the mood immediately changed. The Spirit bore testimony of the Plan of Salvation again. I am so grateful for our knowledge that we will see our loved ones again. It hurt so bad to watch her hurt! But I know that as they continue to learn more and more, the more peace and joy they will have from the gospel. Even among their trials they are going through..

Apryl is an older black lady that we've visited quite a few times but only truly taught once because they've been so busy. But she is SO so awesome. She came to church with us yesterday and loved it. She is hilarious and sooo outgoing- just ran around talking to everyone at church and cracking jokes right and left. We love her and are excited to keep teaching her.

We're back in contact with Shawn!! We are continuing to help her move and man it is hard work ha. I am always so sore because Sis Stewart says she can't lift over 10 pounds and Shawn can't lift anything so they leave it up to Sparkles... But it's been so good to see her again. It is still so frustrating to see Satan work so hard on her and to twist her answers that she has received. One thing that was cool was a lesson we had with her the other day. We had planned to finish up lesson 3 but while we were there talking to her I felt very strongly that she needed the word of wisdom right then. I kept debating with myself and was scared picturing how she might react. But I bucked up the courage and strayed from the lesson we had planned. (2 Tim. 1:7 "For God hath not given us the Spirit of fear but of power and of love and of a sound mind") I go to that scripture often when I'm scared.. because that fear or doubt truly is coming from Satan and blocks the promptings we receive from the Spirit! So anyways, we ended up teaching her the word of wisdom and surprisingly it went so well. After the lesson she just sat there pondering for awhile and said "Well maybe this IS something that's holding me back...." She didn't commit to live it but she said she would pray about it, which is progress. 

We had our zone meeting this past week as well! So we met President and Sister Bell. They are great. She is a sweetheart and they are both gun-ho about the work. (still got the MTC fire) It still isn't easy for me when I remember the Keyes or my friends back in the other mission.. but the Spirit does testify to me that this is where I am needed.

Sister Pacada is our amazing relief society president in the ward and she is sooo awesome!! She had this grand idea to have the sisters start bringing cookies around to our investigators that we're teaching. So they've started doing that! And also, Sister Swan (less active lady that has theeee biggest heart) made Felix and his fam a meal last week. I love our church and the fact that it is our Savior's church. Even just the organization and the service that goes on is enough to solidify that for me.

Many of our investigators, we have had to give to the University branch sisters and the new elders.. which has been pretty rough! So we are pretty pumped to keep FINDING. This never-ending cycle of missionary work ha. We tracted a lot more this past week than we ever did last transfer. One of the days it was raining so it was quite the adventure. We met many crazies and had some interesting times. This one guy we met had his goddess tattooed to his back and told us allll about how he can cast love spells..... That was just one of many haha. Sister Stewart is so funny. She says that she can't talk when tracting because she gets too mad and has to bite her tongue.. so we are working on being patient and learning to let the Spirit speak through us and answer how Christ would.

There are MANY many Spanish-speaking investigators around here which has been a way cool experience. But it's also been quite a problem and we are realizing that some Spanish missionaries would be very helpful around here. So we might start studying up on our Spanish if they don't send some soon..haha. 

I love being a missionary! There are hard days and days that definitely stretch me but when it comes down to it, I am sooooo grateful to have this time to serve the Lord and to only focus on the gospel. It is amazing not having to worry about the world. I love this church. I love my Savior and am so indeed grateful for the Atonement. I am grateful to be able to repent and to turn to Him to help me.. because I need it!

I'm so grateful for all the love and support. I have the best family in the world. Hope you all have a fantastic week!


PS Funny story. We were teaching Sandra (from Puerto Rico) and she straight up fell asleep while we were watching the Restoration....I could not stop laughing after I heard her snore.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Wizard of Oz Museum in Wamego, KS

Sisters Walker & Call - off to see the Wizard...

All four Manhattan sistas

Dorothy following the yellow brick road -
ruby slippers and all


and Toto

Sisters Stewart, Call and Dorothy

Little Apple!

Elder Willet from Mesa, AZ - went to Mt View HS too!
Go Toros!!

Ralph...SO Creepy!!  

Well hey! This past week was pretty good. Not our best week here in Manhattan but that's alright. There is a new week ahead and miracles to be seen. Last P day we went to Wamego to the Wizard of Oz Museum. Sister Call and I dressed up like Dorothy and played on the yellow brick road and took pictures. We are basically the same person and have so much fun laughing our heads off.

So the new elders arrived and that has been interesting! They were literally thrown into the area- no car, no phone, no bikes. They pretty much just have an outdated map and are wandering around town for now.... Makes me wonder what missionaries even did without all these new advancements.. haha. They didn't even have copies of the Book of Mormon to start out with so we gave them some of ours and sent them on their way. And we have been helping them all week trying to set them dinner appointments and give them referrals to keep them busy. It has been a headache and a half trying to keep track of all of our appointments as well as theirs! But we are going to get work DONE in Manhattan First and we are all so excited to work together. The day of transfers we realized last minute that the elders wouldn't have a way to get to our dinner appointment we set up so we decided that our ride could pick them up and we would bike there.. a lobster sunburn and an hour bike ride later... We didn't realize how far of a ride it was!!! Hahahah so that was an adventure.. The house was wayyy across town and there were five thousand hills in between us. But we had great fun.

Let's talk about Felix!!! He is the one person keeping us going around here. We saw so many miracles with him last week. We saw him Wednesday and Saturday and heard from him almost every day! One night he texted us saying "Good night sisters!! Wanted both of you to know that I read and reread 1 Nephi chapter 11 and thought of both of you. My special verse is 22.. "And I answered him, saying: Yea it is the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things.'" He is reading the Book of Mormon every morning AND every night. Ahhh he is so awesome! He told us that he would start reading in the mornings because he has been so tired at nights after working all day. After he started reading in the mornings he has noticed it helps him sooo much to start out his day with peace and helps him to have a better day. But then he said he has weird dreams unless he reads before going to bed too! So basically he is amazing and has such great faith. He also studies on the church websites often and found some courtesy for investigators page? No clue where he came across that but he decided that he needs to start feeding us and he like studies all of the rules to follow to help us missionaries out. Haha he is unreal. He made us sopapias? I know I am butchering the spelling but they were delicious. Also, his birthday was this past week! We sneakily decorated his door with the University Sisters before he headed off to work. He knew it was us and texted us saying how that MADE his day. Then Saturday we had him and Serenity come over to the Brady's house for a lesson and surprised him with a birthday cake!! He was so happy. The Spirit is always so strong whenever teaching Felix and he has a very powerful spirit about him. He wants to be baptized but is just praying about the date still. We feel that he is sooo ready and that's why we felt that July 27th would be the golden day. But as I was praying specifically for him it didn't feel right for some reason and August 3rd kept coming to my mind. I shared that with Sister Stewart and she felt the same way. We are going to ask Felix to fast and pray with us about August 3rd and help him to be ready!! Oh and also, he shared a dream that he had after praying about baptism and he was in the water and it was all peaceful and white around him... so cool! We will see him tonight and he said that he had a dream Saturday night that he NEEDS to tell us so we are so excited to hear it :) I love them soooo much it hurts. This past week we cried almost every night for them. Our sweet little Serenity has had so many trials in her life recently and so many changes and it is just hard for her. It is hurting Felix to watch her and it breaks my heart! But he is an amazing dad and loves his kids so much.

We have some new investigators that we are teaching as well. Most are progressing slowly. Chenea is one that has met with elders in the past and she said she felt before that the elders were there to just hang out and she was fine learning but she wasn't "planning on becoming Mormon". But cool story! She was praying for the first time in a long time and asked God for a sign to help her know what to do next and the next day we showed up! She is starting to read the Book of Mormon again which is so awesome. We are still teaching Roggar from Ecuador and he has been reading but is super busy with studies and isn't super committed. Carlos (our big black teddy bear) is leaving in a couple weeks which is sad... but we got his information to send missionaries to him in Ecuador! Also, we taught Pedro a couple times and are going to have the elders start teaching him. He is from Africa and knows like 10 languages. I mentioned that my dad speaks Portuguese and he wants you to call him dad hahahah.

We have also still been teaching Sister Rodger who is less active. She is a super awesome lady and it is so cool to be a part of her journey back into activity. Their goal is to start preparing for the temple! But she wanted all the lessons over again to help her remember the basics :) Also, we have been teaching this guy named Andrew and his roommates. They all wanted copies of the Book of Mormon and seem pretty interested... even though they go to MCC (Manhattan Christian College). Sister Stewart was nervous that it was for like a school assignment...hahah but they have been reading so we shall see. And another problem, they tried asking us on a date. Awkwaard. The University Sisters are going to start teaching them though.

We weren't able to see Shawn this past week :( But that was because she fell at work and hurt her hip... so sad! And we weren't able to get in touch with her. Then she called us and left messages saying how much she missed us and so we set up two appointments for this week! Keep Shawn in your prayers.

This week our goal is to FIND new investigators through the members. We are going to pray extra hard for referrals. We both feel that there are people waiting and we need to find them. The ward is super helpful but just need a little push so keep them in your prayers! Being a missionary is hard but the best thing in the world and I love it. I can't imagine not being a missionary anymore. I love this work! I love you all and hope you have a splendid week.


Sparkles in the Little Apple

PS I had nightmares about spiders this past week. Such a problem.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Froyo with Sisters Walker, Stewart and Hall :)

Mesa!!!! Home sweet home!

Frat house across the street from our apartment!

Our awesome district!! Sisters Stewart, Call, Walker and
Elders Ives, Moyle, Cottle, Holt

I love living in the Little Apple!!

I am staying in Manhattan!!!!!! Ahhhhh I could not be happier right now. They switched things up and called last night to tell us that we would find out transfers through email this morning. I was hyperventilating to say the least. But Sister Stewart and I will be staying here in the Manhattan First Ward and elders are also being put into our ward.

Okay this past week was so incredibly awesome. Hence why I was hyperventilating about transfers. I am just not finished in this area and there is so much work to be done! And miracles to be seen. Let's start out with yesterday!! Our fasts and prayers were worth it and we had four investigators at church! It was amazing. Felix came with Serenity and they LOVED it. Ahhhh it was thee greatest, being able to sit by them and feel of the Spirit and watch Felix as he was amazed by the unity of this ward and by the fullness that is in our church. The testimony meeting was so awesome and there were many powerful testimonies born that I know helped to strengthen Felix's testimony. We had met with him on Friday and taught the gospel of Jesus Christ. He said that he has been thinking a lot about baptism and really thinks that is what is in store for him. He is praying about July 27th!! I love these people so much it is unreal. He was pretty worried when we were talking about dates because he knew we might get transferred soon and so he asked if we would be able to come back for the baptism. He told us that he feels so close to us and that it would feel wrong if we weren't there... ahhhh I love being a missionary!

Last week we also got to see Joyce again! :) And we taught the Plan of Salvation. It was very powerful to be able to testify to her of the Resurrection and that although she is deaf in this life, her body WILL be perfected, because Jesus Christ overcame physical death. She loves everything we teach her and is so open to learning. And she came to church also!! Sister Kroll is awesome and is so willing to help us teach and translate. Joyce was so happy at church and loved it.

Carlos is this big teddy bear of a guy from Ecuador. He is black and sooo awesome. We have just recently started teaching him because the sisters had to pass him over to us since he has a family back home. No complaints here. But we had Kabu (a lost sheep that just started coming back to church and is a PERFECT fellowship for Carlos) pick him up for church. Carlos was so outgoing and looooved church and all the people he met.

The ward was super stoked to say the least. There were investigators and less actives that attended yesterday and the ward was so welcoming and everyone was having a grand ole time. Gospel principles usually only consists of a couple people but yesterday it was PACKED and there wasn't even enough chairs ha. And lucky us, Sister Stewart and I were asked to teach that day. No lie, it was pretty intimidating teaching a room crammed full of adults, older and smarter than me. There were also some obstacles (translating for Joyce, language barrier with Carlos, and technological difficulties).. But it went well and the Spirit was definitely present.

So member how my new name is "Sparkles" according to Shawn? Well Mihoko bore her testimony yesterday about how missionaries have "sparkles" in their eyes. Just like Shawn describes. Shawn always tells us that we have this sparkle in our eyes that we know something she doesn't and she wants that more than anything. That is when we bear testimony to her that she CAN have what we have. And that is why she keeps meeting with us. But last week we had people say that phrase a couple times in one day and it really struck hard to me. Shawn was talking about the "sparkles" again and then we were walking home and ran into Tracy (recent convert in the single's ward who is majorly struggling). But we run into him ALL the time, no coincidence. He was talking about how hard it has been for him to follow all the commandments and asked us why we are always so happy and have a "dang twinkle in our eyes". We couldn't help but laugh and think of Shawn. But it is crazy how we don't even notice how much we stand out to other people! Anyone who accepts the restored gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ can have that complete peace and joy in their lives. And can have a "sparkle" in their eyes hah.

The Fourth of July here was crazy! Just a reminder, Manhattan is a college town AND a military town. They went wild. Fireworks alll week! And supposedly there are laws here too but no one abides by them. People were chucking fireworks around all day long. It was kinda scary riding our bikes and dodging them hahah.

We visited this less active lady that I talked about a couple weeks ago. Sister Crump is 93 and we ran into her outside one day and got talking, come to find out she is a member! She is hilarious!! But so lonely and lives all by herself.. It seriously broke my heart as we visited her because she just cried and cried when it was time for us to leave. She tells us that we are her babies and she loves us so much. Oh and she is literally like one of those grandmas in the movies. Aka smothers you with hugs/kisses and PINCHES YOUR CHEEKS. Real life.

We are also still teaching Roggar and Maria, two other students from Ecuador. We don't teach them together but they are both slowly progressing. Reading, praying, and we are working on the church thing..

I seriously love being a missionary! I have never been happier. It reminds me of this quote from the District- an elder says "I don't get why I'm so happy, like all the time... kinda weirds me out. Cause I am TIRED." Hahaha never been more tired but never been happier. My mission has been the greatest adventure already and we are so blessed to share what we know to be true. Jesus Christ truly does lead and guide this church today.

I love you all!


Monday, July 1, 2013

Manhattan, KS

Found Thurston Street! For my bff Sis. Thurston
who I miss dearly at the Liberty Jail.

Manhattan is beautiful!!

Tornado of a week - almost!

This week has been a tornado. Not literally. But like almost.

Let's see.. for starters, the weather here is INSANE. On Wednesday we went on exchanges. So I was with Sister Walker in the University Branch. Lucky us, on bikes for thee hottest day ever haha. But really.. it was like 103 degrees out except it wasn't like my lovely az heat.. It was like a sauna out. I honestly don't think I have ever sweated so much in my life. Our first appointment was way far out and they had the wrong address.... so we may or may not have biked up and down this beastly hill like four times. And come to find out, his sister wasn't home so we had to bike all the way back to meet him at the institute.. But we just kept laughing all day long. Many of the appointments that were set up fell through so we were only let inside like once.. And yes, by the end of the day we were so delirious from the sun that we were just laughing our heads off. I think it was Sister Hinckley that said something along the lines of "Life is hard and we can choose to either laugh or cry. I choose to laugh because crying gives me a headache". Haha yeah I may have just butchered that awesome quote but you get the idea. And hey at the end of the night we met this Buddhist. It was sooo interesting learning about his beliefs. He told us about how they believe they will be "re-born" (basically reincarnation). And that they will become animals if they weren't good in this life.. It was very interesting and truly just strengthened my testimony. But we bore testimony to him and he accepted a Plan of Salvation pamphlet :)

Again in regards to the weather.. Thursday was the scariest storm I have ever been in!!!! We had gone to the Bradfield's (part member family who we are starting to teach) and we had the most awesome sister in the ward with us! Sister Spurlin, who is a convert and so so sweet. She has the cutest little boy too! But anyways, she was driving us back because we were pretty far out there. The Bradfield's live closer to Fort Riley because he is in the military. The sky was crazyyyy looking like pitch black but we thought we could make it to our next appointment before it hit. As we were driving it just DOWN POURED. We couldn't see anything outside and lightning was striking so close to us. We were all seriously just praying and almost shaking because it was so scary.. Our street sign by our apartment got struck by lightning and it was all messed up and bent after.. crazy! It finally passed and we made it back safely. The sky after that storm was wild! It was around 9 pm and the sky was all red, then brown. And half of the sky got super bright like it was the middle of the day! I thought for sure the Savior was going to appear.

We are teaching the most amazing people here. I love them so so much. We were able to meet with Felix, even though Satan has been trying super hard to keep us from doing so. The storm caused us to reschedule, one night he got called into work last minute, and just other annoying situations. But we were finally able to meet with him!! With the Pacada's in the ward, who are from Hawaii and awesome. Felix shared that ever since he has started reading the Book of Mormon, he has seen such a huge difference in his life. And in himself. I got the chills when he shared that. He had to take Jacob to KC Sunday morning so he wasn't able to come to church but he really wants to and is so ready. He also asked us to text him daily assignments. HE asked US. Like what? He is so cool.

We are still helping Shawn move, she is still reading the Book of Mormon, but she says she doesn't see the need to change right now.. but we had Mihoko (Japanese convert) come with us and she shared her conversion story which was soooo powerful holy cow. The Spirit was incredibly strong and I think it was just perfect for Shawn to hear that.

We have been praying constantly and super hard for our friends to be able to come to church. And we fasted for them. The Self family gave us permission to wake them up Sunday morning so at 8 am we came knocking on the door. Which may have turned into pounding. But hey, they gave us permission. Natasha finally came out after awhile and was like "Oh sorry, we will be ready in 30 minutes." So we were so excited and were going to come back in 30 with the ride we found them! But she texted us 10 minutes later asking to "reschedule" for next week.. If you really wanna break a missionary's heart just bail on church! But next week our ward will start meeting at 1 pm which we are soooooo stoked for. No more excuses for our friends :)

I was reading in Mathew the other day and one thing really stood out to me. So I remember in chapter 25 verse 40 about how when we are serving others we are really serving God and have always loved that. But this time it meant so much more to me and has meant so much more to me since I have been out on my mission. And not only that, but in verse 45, when it talks about when we are NOT serving others, we are NOT serving God. Wow that really hit me. I am going to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength out here because I know it is really for God and I will forever be indebted to Him.

I love being a missionary, it is the greatest thing ever. I know I've only been out for four months but I already know I don't ever want it to be over. These adventures and trials have been so much fun and have already strengthened me so much. I love it! Hope you all have a good week! Especially my mamacita who will be 25 years old tomorrow. I love you so much mom! Glad you got my letter. And happy birthday to Jen on Sunday! Miss you guys.


Sister Smartt (Sparkles)