Monday, November 29, 2010

Another transfer...just not me!

Sounds like everybody had a great Thanksgiving in Mesa. It was really great here in Richmond! We went to Misty Gholson's house with her and her 5 kids. I will have to email pics later...running short on time. Her kids are 13, 9, 6, 5, and 2. It was soooo fun! We had some different foods for Thanksgiving than I am used to and it was all really good. We had collard greens, mac & cheese, macaroni salad, lil smokies, sweet potato pie and then a lot of the traditional foods. In the evening we went to the Thompson's house and they had over the elders and a bunch of other young families who didn't go home for Thanksgiving. We had banana pudding there...they had a lot of food left by the time we got there. We went late just for games! The banana pudding sucked me in. It's so good. How did I never have it before VA?!?! And then after that we went to Sis. Campbell's with the elders and we watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. It was another P-Day, so I took a nap! Thanksgiving was a lot of fun and my VA family took good care of us!

So yep, transfer calls last night. I am staying in Richmond and Sis. Stoehr (steer) is coming here. She has been with Sis. Dickson in the Manchester Ward the last few transfers. She has been out 9 months. Sis. Adaniya is replacing elders in Charlottesville with Sis. Cooper. That should be a lot of fun! I don't really know much about Sis. Stoehr, but everytime I see her she is really positive and upbeat and I do know she is a hard worker. That is so good because Richmond needs a serious overhaul, so it's good that we are both new to the area and have no bias about members or areas of the city. She was trained by Sis. Cox during her last 2 transfers in the mission.

We have recently been talking a lot in meetings about how important the Sacrament is.  Getting people to church in the areas I have served has been a struggle, but it is "the most important meeting to the salvation of our souls."  I can't remember where that quote came from, but I like it.  What I've learned in a nutshell about the Sacrament on my mission: The sacrament itself is more than just remembering Christ.  We should remember Him always as we covenant to do.  The important part about sacrament is receiving the remission of our sins.  It's like we are being rebaptized each Sunday.  The remembering is just a fraction.  We should think throughout the sacrament about the covenants we made at baptism and repent and think of how we can be more like Christ.  It's in D&C 20:77 and Moroni 4:3 where we can read the prayer for the bread where the covenants we make are listed.  It's the renewing of our covenants (done in mind and heart) which makes the sacrament so important...more important than even General Conference.  As we promise to keep those covenants each Sunday, the Lord promises us a remission of our sins and His Spirit.  So it really is like baptism! 

We had a really funny experience last week. We were tracting on this street and one lady comes up to the door and says "one minute" and she was on the phone. And suddenly she says on the phone, "let's pray". So she starts with the Lord's Prayer and then keeps going on. After a minute or two she starts getting louder and her voice has a rythm to it and then she started stomping eventually and raising her arm. She was getting really into it. At close to 10 minutes of us waiting and laughing (inside and out! we couldn't help it!-she had her back to us!) I said "ma'am" and got no response. She was so into her prayer! We finally had to leave for a lesson and so we just left a card. I wanted to talk to her so bad! It really puts into perspective what Christ means when He says to pray in our closets and secret places. Hahaha we are still laughing about her. Here are some quotes: "And we pray for those in the institutions. We know you died for them too." "And we love everyone, even if they're gay." I would have to say this was the highlight of last week because it was so unreal and soooo funny. I love Virginia! Oh and Sis. Ibrahim made us some good African food too. She made this spicy spinach tilapia dish with mashed white yams and fried plantains. I love my life!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hey from Richmond, Monday, Nov. 22

Hi family! Sounds like Ashlyn's baptism was really nice. I'm sad I missed it, but I am so happy that she made the decision to be baptized.

I spent 4 days last week at the Leadership Training Meeting. It was so awesome! We were trained on how to not just teach lessons or just invite people to do things, but how to teach to the people and their needs and how to help them keep committments. We've had trainings on those things my whole mission, but it is a new training program that will begin at the MTC in May. Our mission is one of those that is trying the new program out to fix any kinks. I think it's great. We've been having Zone and District trainings on it since Pres. Perry got here and it's really helped us a lot. In the evenings I was with Sis. Niemela and Sis. Butterfield in the Gayton area. We had a Thanksgiving dinner with one of the Gayton members. I love pumpkin pie! Feel free to send pumpkin goodies my way this holiday season. The member here in Richmond that we are having Thanksgiving with doesn't like pumpkin pie, so I won't get any on Thanksgiving. But we'll probably make some rounds to find some :) We are eating Thanksgiving dinner with Misty and her 5 kids. Her daughters Joyce and Ashley are recent converts and she has started to come back to church since their baptism. They are such a fun little family. They have a lot of trials in their lives, but they find a lot of happiness in the gospel. It's refreshing to see families/individuals like this who literally see the change in their lives when they let Christ back in. I read somewhere, probably PMG, a line that goes something like, we don't truly have faith in Christ until we start living the principles and ordinances of the gospel.

We had a fun FHE last week with the kids from the projects. We meet with them every week along with the elders. We usually meet at the park, but now because it's so dark we are meeting at the Ibrahim's house. They live in the Gilpin Court projects. The elders make us call them when we enter the area and they wait for us outside and walk us in. It's kind of funny, but really nice. The Ibrahim's are the best. They are from Nigeria and she is a great cook. She had dinner for us last week and we are going again on Wednesday for dinner too. She pulls out a regular dinner plate and fills the whole thing with rice and then slaps on fish, beef, and the best fried chicken ever. We passed those over to the elders and offered to help dish our own. The elders must have been so full, because those plates were loaded. Haha. She is a really good cook! We are teaching the lesson tonight and I hope she has food again :) We are having a charades activity and it's going to be so funny. We are bringing props for bonus points. We have randomly collected a drum and a trumpet and some other various items recently, so we thought it would be perfect to use them tonight. We've wondered what to do with them and now we know. Haha

So yesterday the 5 of us missionaries and Sis. Naylor (senior couple sister) sang in sacrament meeting. I thought I was going to pass out. We sang a song called Servants of Our God. Sis. Campell in the ward wrote and composed it and a few weeks ago walked up to us and said you're singing in church in 3 weeks. It's a good thing she told us, otherwise I might have politely declined. I don't know how it sounded, but I hope okay. Haha. Never again, never again.

Have a great Thanksgiving!!!!!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Weekly News from Richmond

We had the Primary Program yesterday. It was really good. We have a pretty small Primary, but pretty much all of the kids sang and sang good! Because of being in Singles for a long time, I have missed out on lots of Primary programs. But I've had 2 in the last 6 weeks!

This last Wednesday the whole mission had a car fast. So no car from 10am-5pm. No big deal for most elders who aren't even in a car and they also all have bikes. Long day for sisters who have feet as the alternate mode of transportation. We had to move a lesson because we couldn't get anyone to come with us and it was really far away! I like the idea of a car fast, but 7 hours is long! If we had small areas like they do in South America it wouldn't be a big deal. Our area is surprisingly large. We will be doing it the 2nd Wednesday of every month, so we'll plan better next time. More advance notice.

I found out on Saturday night that this upcoming Tue-Fri I will be attending a Leadership Training in another area along with a few other sisters and all the DL's and ZL's. They do it every couple of months and I'm up now. So we've been last minute trying to figure out what Sis. Adaniya is going to do. She will be with Hermana Law and in the evenings I think I will be in the Gayton area with another sister who serves there that is also going to the training. It's kind of a mess. Normally they just have all the sisters stay at the mission home, but the 3 of us going from the Richmond Zone have to come back to Richmond. So we'll miss out on the fun sister stuff. Unless of course we talk to Sis. Perry and she lets us join in ;)

We taught quite a few lessons this week with most of them being recent coverts and less active members. There are a lot in the Branch! This area is just so different from my others. Hardly any of our new investigators keep their appointments, which in Norfolk most of the people kept their appointments! It's weird because we really don't teach that many investigator lessons throughout the week. I don't really like that! I can't figure out why either. I really feel like there is a family that we are supposed to find that we haven't found yet. I like Richmond and the Branch is really diverse, but I have really missed Norfolk this week. I hope to see Sis. Vawdrey at the training, but I don't know if she gets to come or not. David Payne is supposed to be getting baptized this Saturday, so I hope that's still happening!!!

We have one investigator with a baptismal date, Jessica. I think I mentioned her before. She's the one who was a member until her mom had her name removed when she was younger. She wasn't able to come to church again yesterday, so we might need to move her baptismal date back another week or two. She is doing well, but still needs to be taught a lot. We have had a few sisters in the ward come to the lessons and that is really helpful for her. She really likes everyone she meets! Her concerns are more social and cultural that doctrinal. Whenever we teach her doctrine she has her doctrinal questions answered without having to ask them, which is great. But she has concerns about not wanting to take out her piercings and she has tattoos and things like that. Lots of people have those concerns, but that is small potatoes compared to gaining a spiritual witness of Christ's church.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Another Week in Richmond

Richmond is just so different and it's great! There are a lot more opportunities for "creative finding" around here. Just like Phoenix does First Friday, so does Richmond. Friday night we set up a free hot cocoa stand on Broad St. and between us and the elders we passed out anything we could to whoever would listen. We were able to set up some lessons and get some phone numbers. It was really cool and not traditional finding which was so nice! There were a lot of people who didn't want to listen, but we planted many seeds! The missionaries who serve in the singles ward also were there and we heard they found a family. Since they are in the singles, I'm hoping that family will get passed to us...hoping they live in our area of course. Last night we did some finding at the MCV hospital and found out some information for coming to volunteer. There is a big cancer center, so I hope we can volunteer there! While there I saw Sis. Augustine from the Newport News 2nd Ward. I forgot that she worked there and commuted. So it was great to see her. She is having her 2nd c-section in 9 days from now! She is pretty much the exact same story as Neely with trying forever to get pregnant and all the stuff that goes along with it and she also has a 5 year old, but she has girls.

We've been able to have some great lessons with some of the young families in the ward this last week. They are all so excited about the Branch and love everyone in it. It really is a family here in Richmond. We met with the Shafer family last night. They are here for dental school. They live out of the area and were assigned to come to the Branch. They are awesome!!!! They both served missions and are still interested in sharing the gospel and helping to fellowship and teach! She's been out with us twice and has a powerful testimony. We talked to them about how it's inspired of the Lord for them to be where they are and that if they continue to go about doing good the Lord will lead them to people who are prepared to hear the restored gospel. I love Ch.9 in PMG! We read with them "Find Them That Will Receive You" and parts from "Go About Doing Good". It is a promise to all that if we seek to do the Lord's will then He will allow us opportunities to invite others to come unto Christ. It doesn't mean those opportunities will necessarily result in a baptism, but surely cultivating a seed for future acceptance. I hope that in your families you have made a goal to pray and seek for missionary opportunities. I love this quote from I think Elder Uchtdorf, "When our wagon gets stuck in the mud, God is much more likely to assist the man who gets out to push than the man who merely raises his voice in prayer." I know that prayer is only part of it. We have to seek for opportunities and have faith in the Lord that He will help us to know what to say and what to do. Sharing the gospel doesn't have to be big and grand. It can be a simple declaration of our belief, it can be sharing a pass along card to the checker at the store, or it can be inviting someone over to teach them about FHE. Missionary work brings more joy into our lives! Read the First Presidency message at the beginning of PMG for some really sweet promised blessings.

Yesterday we taught our investigator Jessica and brought Sis. Derricott with us. Sis. Derricott was baptized on October 9th and has a really solid testimony of the Restoration and of Joseph Smith and is excited about learning more through the Book of Mormon. Her excitement is really catching and Jessica LOVED her and loved being able to ask her questions about her conversion and how she has been able to overcome opposition in her life. Jessica is getting baptized on Nov. 28th and it is going to be a great day for her. She was baptized at 13 and then a few years later without her knowledge her mother had her name removed from the records. She recently was put back into contact with missionaries and after a whole ordeal the sisters discovered the whole story and now she is preparing to be rebaptized. I had never heard of anything like this before. What an opportunity to be baptized again! Her daughter is almost 5 and is soooo smart. When we taught Jessica on Friday Rosie was combing and playing with my hair during the whole lesson. It was really therapuetic. I need one of those copper head things that are amazing. I don't know what they are called. Does anyone know what I am talking about?

The extra hour of sleep for daylight savings killed me. I was so tired yesterday! And I woke up early today, but luckily went back to sleep. My body is on such a system right now. It's weird. I wonder what I'll be like when I get home. Are my days of sleeping in over? Nah, probably not :)

I love each and every one of you! It is always great to hear how you are doing and of course see how you are doing in pictures. I hope you are doing well and that you are all happy because of the gospel!

Bishop Cluff and his family

My farewell to the sisters at Book Club...definitely their idea :)

Talbot Hall St. in Norfolk

Halloween with the elders in Richmond Branch

Pretty fall leaves!

Monday, November 1, 2010

I'm Coming Home February 22nd

Halloween was fun.  We dressed up like elders for the Friday night Trunk or Treat.  We carried our backpacks around and borrowed some ties from a member.  It was funny and everyone guessed what we were.  I think the elders were jealous because they didn't dress up.  Haha.  A lot of the members brought friends and/or relatives that were either less active or not members, so we have a lot of good referrals to follow up on!  This last week was a pretty cool week.

I have decided to come home on February 22nd. I decided that those 6 weeks would be great to stay on the mission, but I think I want to do what Pres. Millburn would suggest and that would be to go home when the prophet originally called me to. Extending would be cool and I would probably have really awesome experiences, but what I can do back home during those 6 weeks will also be very important to me. I want to go to the mission reunion in SLC during General Conference and we also wanted to come back to visit my mission too. I prayed hard about it and asked the Lord to just help me feel good about a decision because I really had no idea. And as I pondered about it I just decided that staying in the mission an extra 6 weeks will cause me to miss out on some other things I really want to do. So that was that and I'll be home in less than 4 months.

Richmond is so pretty! The fall here is so pretty.  The trees are so pretty and they line the streets. The spring is really pretty too. The houses are very historic and a lot of them built in the early 20th century. Lots of history and things to do, but I probably won't do a whole lot of them, so we'll be busy when we come back. Richmond is sooo different than my other areas in so many ways.  There are a lot of professional working people as well as a lot of VCU students. It's a really cool diversity.  I love all of my areas! I really have served in the best areas! 

Sis. Adaniya and I have a lot of fun and we eat really good food. She knows how to cook all the Japanese food, so I am loving life. She is happy to have a companion that appreciates it!

The Branch is so fun and full of returned missionaries. A lot of RM sisters! Because it's small and a lot of people work, we don't really get many opportunities for them to come out with us...yet. I am all about doing what we need to so we can have member involvement. There is a much higher success rate in retention when members are involved. So we are going to try and start working on refining that and in the process seeking for referrals. I don't think referrals will be a problem coming from this Branch. I am back having 7 missionaries in one ward/branch. We also serve with the zone leaders and they are a trio and we have this new proselyting senior couple in the branch too. The Naylors! The first thing they say to me is Christy says hi. I was so confused until he said he was from Ephraim. I guess he is the neighbor of Christy's parents there in Ephraim. Haha, how cool! What a small world!

Last week was a test of our faith for sure. We set a goal to find 9 new investigators and when we went out Saturday morning we still had a big fat 0. We kept our spirits up all week as much as we could and knew the Lord inspired our goal of 9 new investigators. All of our lessons cancelled on Saturday, so by the time it was time to leave the house Saturday morning, we were just really enthused for the day. Yes, sort of sarcastic. We knew the Lord would provide us with the Spirit to show us what to do and we prayed for angels to help the people we met feel the Spirit. So at the end of the day, the Lord blessed us with 9 new investigators! And it was so awesome! I am out of time, so I cannot really finish explaining my story. Just know the Lord answers prayers and will alway give us ways to strenghten our faith!

Pictures! from Norfolk

My favorite mermaid in Norfolk!

Bro. Corry and some of his relatives/friends. He always has random people show up at his house during our lessons. Haha

Elder Carter and Elder Beus were the tall companionship in Norfolk and we were the short companionship.

David Payne...getting baptized in Norfolk Nov. 20th

The Drake family...they know Craig and Christina from Philadelphia