Monday, December 17, 2012

A Christmas Gift

Dear Family,

This week has been wonderful! We have had some ups and downs, but I know the Lord is watching over us so closely, and when one bad thing happens, we are given so much more. Here is what has happened this week and how we were given so much:

First, some sad news. Our investigator, Amy, decided to forgo learning about the Church because of a misunderstanding with tithing. She just can't accept that the Bishop needs to "keep tabs" on what members tithe. She loves that we give, but doesn't understand how those who don't have can give. We are praying for her and hope that we can see her with a member of the bishopric this week to better explain tithing and accountability. It is so hard explaining tithing sometimes, so I want to study that more so this doesn't happen again. It reminds me a lot of the misunderstanding Angela had with spirit prison. The difference is that she was still willing to learn from us and try the Lord (her being baptized and having the gift of the Holy Ghost helped I think). The Lord knows when His child is ready to accept the gospel. I know one day Amy will. It's not so much that I am sad she rejected us, but that she is rejecting the most amazing gift she could ever receive: eternal life and the gospel of Jesus Christ. why wouldn't someone want this?

We were so blessed, though, with hearing from one of our investigators, Tabatha, that she read AND prayed!! Her text came to us right after the drop text from Amy. Jody also is doing great. She is going through a lot of personal trials right now, but we all felt it was right to postpone her baptismal date until January so that she and her son Marshall can be baptized together. Marshall just needs his dad's permission, and we are all praying and fasting for that. Jody is so committed though, and she has a lot of friends in the ward. I love how this ward is so friendly and willing to fellowship. The rest of the week just seemed to fly by with meeting a lot of people, and meeting some harder goals. We have 5 new investigators to add to our teaching pool!!!!!!!!! I've never had that before and oh, just knowing the hard work is showing forth some fruit is such a blessing. Some of those new investigators were totally led by the Lord and not planned by us. For example, at dinner on Wednesday, the less active woman we eat with has 2 foreign exchange students and they wanted to make cookies for dessert. So we changed our plans and made cookies with Solongo (Mongolia) and Laura (from Spain). While we baked, we taught them the Restoration, and they understood it and were so willing to read The Book of Mormon. AND THEY HAVE!!! We probably can't baptize them, but the seed is being planted. I'm becoming an excellent seed planter :D So teaching and cooking made for a perfect Wednesday evening. Solongo and Laura are very sweet and smart. They are exchanging for the year. Laura is a sophomore, and Solongo is a senior. I forgot to bring my camera hook up, but there will be a Christmas card coming your way, and a picture of all of us is on that card :)

We had a wonderful lesson with Elsa and her two children, Hazel and Victoria. Hazel is the way we even got to know this family, because he told us to come back. He ate up what we talked about from the Book of Mormon. His mom seems interested, but he definitely is. When we asked if he would like his own Book of Mormon, he practically grabbed it out of our hands! Kids are just so wonderful. He's ten and very happy and a quick learner, and observant. The Lord is truly preparing him.

On Sunday, we were blessed in 3 main ways. 

The first was a wonderful lesson on the Restoration with a former and now new investigator for us--Juanita. As we talked about the truth of the gospel, we asked her if she could believe there was only one true church on the earth, and she said "of course." that there should be only one. We testified that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that church, and how she can know for herself. She asked us how to pray so she could do it on her own. It was an awesome, spirit-filled and open lesson. She seems really open and very spiritual. She knows the nature of God well and wants to please Him. 

The second way we were blessed was seeing Ashley, a recent convert and her husband being friendshipped by two other couples in the ward. We had a lesson at the Larson's (yep, the family with the son in the Mendoza mission that Jackson may know), and openly talked about the priesthood and our testimonies. I didn't know Ashley before she converted, but she has such a sweet spirit about her, and a strong testimony of the gospel. As she shared some of it last night, tears welled her eyes, and we all felt strengthened. Brother Larson is right, she is a special woman of God. It is wonderful to know they are in good hands. 

And the final blessing, and probably the most shocking, was the gift from the ward Primary here. I guess a few weeks ago they started preparing a Christmas goody bag for the 2 missionaries who were coming. Little did they know I would be here, but they prepared it just the same. Well, we thought that we were going to get a bag of goodies each. No. The presidency had us sit up in the front, and bags after bags of gifts were given to us from the children. Overall we each got about 20 gifts each, if not more! I was so humbled by the generosity of these children and their families. These families are living in hard times, yet they gave up a lot and sacrificed their means to help us in our missionary efforts. It was truly one of the best Christmas presents I ever received. The kids had fun watching us open the gifts and hearing our reactions (ok, I was the loud and crazy one, being so animated, but that's what I do).

Did I mention how blessed I am? The Lord is so good to all of us, and even in our extremities He lets us know how much He loves us. It was horrible what happened this week in Connecticut, and the world all felt the pain. I pray for those families who lost their children to that brutality. We taught a less active woman who wondered if God really was there if such a horrible thing could happen. We promised her there was a God and he was mindful of these families, and we challenged her to ask God himself if he loved her. She did, and she got an answer. We have to talk with her more this week to find out what her answer was, and the experience she had, time :D

Dear President,


We had a really good week, but with the normal ups and downs. Sadly, one of our investigators who had a baptismal date for later in the month decided she doesn't want to investigate the church anymore because of her issue with tithing and accountability. And, she hasn't responded to us except to tell us why she decided to forgo her learning. The ward is really willing to help though, and for one of the members of the bishopric to help explain tithing and it's purpose better. I love this ward a lot, and they are so willing to help and meet the investigators that come to church. The friendliness of the ward is inspiring, and I know it is why our investigators, specifically Pat and Val loved church this week. Val is 12 and has a baptismal date for January and she seems really committed to learning and growing in the Church. The young women love her and she has some friends already that she sees at church and at school :) Yes! It was also really great for Pat to be welcomed and for the Bishop to come with us for our lesson with him. He opened up about his concerns, some we had no idea about, and now we can really counsel together with the Lord to help Pat the best.

This week was wonderful in that we got a spiritual confirmation with one of our investigators, that instead of being baptized this weekend as planned, she is going to wait til January so that she and her son can be baptized together. That would be so wonderful! Jody is a wonderful woman and is doing all she can to learn from the scriptures. she inspires me to be more committed. We have been so blessed with the people we are teaching, and we met one of the hardest goals I think there is to meet weekly--we found and taught 5 new investigators! Most seem very open and willing to learn more and progress towards baptism, especially the youth we are teaching. Two are foreign exchange students and can't be baptized here, but if this is the time for an introduction to the gospel, then so be it :) The Lord knows when and how each person in their spiritual journey should hear and decide about the gospel.

We have been working really hard, and Sister Bowen is so supportive. She is teaching me how to be a better follower and receive instruction graciously and how to set goals and make plans to improve myself. I've started doing that more, and I have been happier as I have seen the little improvements each day. Change is hard and so gradual, but with the Lord all things are possible. I learned that to be the 4th missionary, I must surrender my will to Him. In losing my life, I will find it. One of my goals was to find myself and love myself during my mission, and the answer is staring me in the face: get out there and serve, forget yourself, and discover. I am praying for inspiration about how to forget myself and I know the Lord is listening and answering my prayers, just as he does with our investigators. We just have to take that first step. One more story. Tabatha doesn't usually read, but the next day after our lesson when we texted her a follow up she replied with enthusiasm and happiness that she read and prayed! I could tell her countenance was different, even over text. The gospel does change us, if we let it.

Sister Allison Mills

(And some sections from her letter to me):

...My companion, Sister Bowen, is going to be done with her mission in 1 month and then is going home to Turkey. Her dad is in the air force, so she is an air force brat, and has lived all over (Germany, Ohio, and some other cool places I can't remember right now). So she is going to Turkey for a month until she goes back to Utah for school. She has one more year and will graduate with a chemical engineering degree. Very kind, smart, and athletic. She reminds me of Christina Nelson and Laurel Burrup. She plays the piano beautifully and is always the missionary we call on to accompany any choir (so I don't know what we are going to do when she leaves), and she played the oboe and some other instruments. Such a wonderful person and we are getting to know each other better each day.

...As for Christmas day, we can skype most likely. I still got to check with President. But with timing, Sister Bowen is talking with her family at 7 am since the time difference is so huge, so I will probably be calling you around 9 am. Would that work? Is that too early? Let me know.

(We can't wait until 9 am on Christmas Day!) 

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