Tuesday, May 28, 2013

that they might be an instrument in the hands of God to bring, if it were possible, their brethren to the knowledge of the truth

Hey cutie cutes!
We've had a crazy week. Super full. SUPER full. On Monday night as we were teaching a lesson outside the institute building, Sister Senger (who is serving in Geiger Heights) pulled up with all her bags and just joined in on the lesson with us. We've yet to pry the details from Sister Senger because it's confidential stuff, I guess, but all we know is that her companion wanted to go home (it's her 3rd week and she was haaaating it) and so President Mullen paired her with some Senior Missionaries for a couple days and so Sister Senger was companion-less. So she joined us.
If there is one thing I've learned on my mission it is to not get too comfortable. Don't start loving everything too soon because the moment you do, the Lord will pull a fast one on ya. Sister Johnson and I were hitting our prime and getting in the groove and then the Lord decided to send us Sister Senger. Who is great. She is a hoot. She's 27 and she is also studying Art Education. But it's always different to adjust to a third person after you've gotten into routine and are finding your jive. My whole mission has been pretty fast paced. All of my companions like to go, go, go and work, work, work. And this week was preeeetttty slow. The work went well. We saw tons of miracles and have 4 new investigators! But I just felt like we were moving at a glacier pace and it was a strange adjustment for me and still is because I just want to move! I want to go and find and teach!
But it's been a good week of learning. Sister Senger got a new companion in the form of a mini missionary and she leaves tomorrow. So it was just one week of different but the Lord knew we probably needed it.
We did a lot of campus contacting this week because there was a "Mormons Next-Door" presentation on campus on Thursday and so we helped advertise for it. Not a lot of people came to the actual presentation, but we did meet a lot of great people and had a lot of good contacts. I'm super grateful for this experience on a college campus because I really feel like it will change my whole life especially my BYU life.
We are really earning the trust of our members here and we've received a lot of referrals. The other day bishop wanted us to call this guy named Cody who's whole family is LDS and his brother served a mission but for whatever reason he was never baptized. So we called him but he's busy right now so he wanted to wait to meet. BUT miraculously he gave us the number of his friend, Jenelle, who he says is going through a super tough time. So we call her and meet with her and she is golden! Her best friend from high school is LDS and has given her a CTR ring and she just has only good things to say about the church and she REALLY needs it. So pray for her because the adversary is going to work super hard against her (already is!)
We got dropped by two investigators yesterday. Jake is this really, reaaaaally awesome guy but he is stubborn. He is being fed a lot of anti things and so he just wants to stay at his church right now. He's really respectful and he was kind of sad to drop us too. He said "i really do care about you guys and i hope we can still be in touch." It was very much like a sad break-up. He's going home to Yakima in two weeks and his best friend there is LDS. Maybe if I get called to Kennewick I'll meet up with him this summer and his heart will be softened! Hope so!
About 172983712 other crazy things happened this week and a lot of miracles and it was good for Sister Johnson to see that those times when there is a dry, rough patch, it's always closely followed by wonderful, miraculous things.
I love my Savior. I really love the work He asks us to do. I'm growing a little bit each day and I feel so incredibly grateful that the Lord cares enough about me that He's giving me these experiences. He can see my potential and He knows I need this to get there. And I really do appreciate that.

Welp, love y'all!
Hermana Em

Monday, May 20, 2013

they clapped their hands for joy, and exclaimed: This is the desire of our hearts.

We are glowing. We are SO happy. This is mission life bliss.

Seriously. Since last Saturday to today it's been a complete 180 for Sister Johnson and I. I love her so much. We've been getting along swimmingly since the start but it was pretty tough that first week. It always is. Missions are hard. They are not what you expect. And I think it was almost too much for Sister Johnson to swallow. But she is incredible. She got to her lowest, close to breaking point and then she went to bed and decided to start fresh  and she's been climbing up everyday since. I'm so thoroughly impressed with all that she's done in the last week and how much her testimony has grown. She speaks up more in lessons, she is persistent in her street contacts, she tries to participate in daily and weekly planning and she is just all around more filled with the light of Christ. I'm just really grateful for Christ in all of this. Because even when I was having a hard time seeing her potential, God did. He softened my heart, inspired me to keep working hard and to be kind. And I know that helped her. And it helped me too. Missions change you. In a moment of weakness I had the thought, did God really mean to say that 19 year old girls could start coming out? But through Christ, anyone can be transformed. You only need a sincere desire to serve, and Christ will be there to lift you up. God knows exactly what He is doing. His work is hastening and He needs all the help He can get. Whomever He calls, He qualifies.

We were joking the other night that she is living proof that the Atonement is real. But it's true. We are nothing without Christ. But with Him, we have the potential to become amazing instruments in His hands.
We had Zone Conference this week and it was as amazing as it always is. I couldn't imagine it being my last Zone Conference with President and Sister Mullen. Maybe it's not. Either way I don't like thinking about it. Last week they spent a few days with Elder Holland. It was a small, intimate group of about 9 or 10 and so they really got to talk with him and have an amazing experience. President Mullen wanted to share everything that Elder Holland would have if he was there with us so he showed us a similar clip from a talk at the MTC.

It was spot on. It hit Sister Johnson and I so hard that it's motivated us completely. It was really similar to his talk in October conference about Peter and "do you love me?" but it was geared more towards missionaries. As all Elder Holland talks do it moved us and inspired us. It gave us a resurgence for the work and it will probably shape the rest of our lives too. We have walked probably more than 25 miles in the last two days. All of Cheney twice! And we didn't have one lesson. It was hard. But we were so happy. We stayed positive because we remembered why we were here. We love God. We love our Savior. This is His work. There is no other time like this in our lives. We must do all we can to serve Him right now.

I feel so grateful this week. I really love Sister Johnson dearly. My heart has been so touched this week as I've watched her really try her best to grow and improve. She bears her testimony with so much feeling. I know she means it. I know she knows it too. Christ has really been there with us this week. She's pushed herself to do better and I know she will be a powerful missionary her whole mission.

We are teaching Leslie, Jake, Porche, and Saud. Not a lot of huge lessons took place, but I know a miracle is coming. We've had too many slow days for a miracle not to take place. That's the cycle in missionary work. We are working diligently and trying our best and the Lord will bless us. What a guy.

Well, I love y'all! Have a great week!

Hermanita Judd

Monday, May 13, 2013

for behold it swelleth, and sprouteth, and beginneth to grow

To the loves of my life,

So I'm in Cheney, Washington on the Eastern Washington Campus and I am loving it. This campus is beautiful. And it's spring and warm and delicious. It reminds me of my beloved Provo except more beautiful, cuter houses and lots of trees. It's been a different experience working in YSA but it's been pretty fun.

College kids are super open and willing to listen which is awesome. It also helps that we are two adorable girls. But seriously. We ask people for their phone numbers all the time to send them texts about activities at the institute and people have been a willing, although a little reluctant. Can you imagine some lanky elders asking for college girls' numbers? Not a chance. But the girls are willing and the boys are hoping we'll call them for a date. Also, not a chance. But I know there is lots of potential here. There are quite a few recent converts in our YSA ward. I think it's so awesome. A lot of the students had friends in high school who were LDS and they were always a little curious. College is the time to find out who you are and what you will become so a lot of kids will just come into the institute building to learn more. And our members are super awesome. We've been trying to visit all the students. I don't know if I would be quite as cool as the people I meet on my mission but they are always happy to meet with missionaries or help us out or most importantly, give us referrals and invite their friends!

We sat down with some members last night and they all thought of people they could invite or we could call. President Mullen is spot on when he says that the Lord is hastening his work on both sides of the aisle. Meaning more missionaries are going out but also more people are being prepared to hear the message.

In our last Zone training we were asked to think about a Christlike attribute that we could work on for the month. My first thought was humility because sometimes I can get into my head that I know enough. I know enough how to teach, I know enough Spanish, I know enough about how to be a missionary. And this week taught me a lot about how much I don't know. It was tough and humbling. But the more I prayed and thought over the attributes the more I felt like I really need to work on Faith. Faith is at the root of everything. If I have faith I won't fear or get stressed. I have faith that we'll find, I have faith that my companion will be able to teach and grow as a missionary, I have faith that the area I'm in is the right area and that God is aware of me.

Fear and faith cannot coexist. And so I'm building my faith, because I don't want to fear.

They are splitting my mission in July and all but one of the Spanish branches that we work in will move to the Kennewick mission. Right now I'm on the side of the mission that will stay with Spokane. But truthfully I'd like to be over on the Spanish side, because I love the Spanish work. It's been a battle in my head and heart and I've tried not to let it creep into my thoughts too much. This is why I need faith. Because with faith I will have confidence that whatever mission I end up with, whichever mission president I will get to work with, will be right.

I'm training Sister Johnson and she's pretty cute. She's 19 and from Safford, Arizona. This is her first experience away from home. She'd never planned on going on a mission and then she was sitting in the conference center when President Monson made the announcement so she thought, "sure, what the heck." For that reason I think it's been a little tough for her. Missions are hard stuff and she wasn't totally ready for all the changes. But she's a trooper. We get along really well and I'm surprised at how nice and patient I've become as a missionary. It's part of the call and I know God is helping me. I'm trying to be a good big sister and work her hard. She's made a lot of progress even in the last few days and I'm confident she'll make it just fine through her mission.

But my best advice for any young girl who "just thinks" missions "might" be a good idea--really pray about that decision. Missions aren't for everyone. Being the right age isn't the only qualification. Really dig deep and figure out why you want to come. Because you can't quit. You can't give in  when it gets tough. You gotta know why you are here and fight for those reasons.

It's the most rewarding experience you'll ever have, but go because it's the right thing for YOU.

Welp, I love you all dearly. The church is true! We have a prophet of God. Invite your friends!
Hermanita Em

Monday, May 6, 2013

I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be.

Well I just had the most miraculous week of my whole mission. Every day was full of miracles and lessons and SUNSHINE! It was wonderful. The work is picking up and we have so much potential here. I had never felt so happy to be here before.

And then transfer calls came. I'm sweeping in to train in Cheney YSA branch and Sister Sanchez is sweeping it to train in Wenatchee. Which means we are both being swept out. Like all of our hard work, everything we did from the ground up to find people and earn the trust of our members will be swept up by two new sisters. I have maybe cried twice before this on my mission but yesterday I shed real tears. I felt like Hugh B. Brown in his story of the currant bush.

I just kept looking up to heaven and thinking,
how could you do this to me? after all I've done to measure up? how could you do this to me?

And then in the same way the quiet voice came to Elder Brown a voice came to me,

“Look, little currant bush, I am the gardener here, and I know what I want you to be. I didn’t intend you to be a fruit tree or a shade tree. I want you to be a currant bush, and someday, little currant bush, when you are laden with fruit, you are going to say, ‘Thank you, Mr. Gardener, for loving me enough to cut me down.’”

It was a simple reminder to me that this is God's work. The miracles we have seen didn't come from me or my talents. They came from the Lord. I did work hard here and the Lord knows that and He's pleased with me. He didn't ask me to move this boulder (even though when I first got here I was certain I'd get it going fast), He asked me to push. And I did push. Got pretty strong here in the Valley from all the pushing we did. We didn't see miracles by way of baptisms but we did see miracles take place in the hearts of the members. We started from zero here and now the new sisters will come in and have fresh soil and newly laid seeds to reap a mighty harvest. I know it's not me. Yeah, I know that I am nothing. As to my strength I am weak. Therefore I will not boast of myself but I will boast of my God. 

And the Lord always does surprise me with things far better than I could imagine. I'm going to the English side for now and that's pretty hard for me to swallow. But I know I'll come back to the Spanish work and I'll love my time there. I'll look back and be grateful that God is cutting me down a little. 

I didn't want to leave Moses to come to the Valley. But the learning and growing I've done here means everything to me. Spokane Valley is so, so dear to my heart. And so it goes with missions. Lots of changes. Lots of learning. Lots of good, good experiences.

We don't have a lot of time today because we have a million things to do to get everything ready for the new sisters and for packing to leave tomorrow. It's been a crazy day. Fear busting this morning again. Always fun. To keep you updated on the work here: Dusty (garage sale guy) is so sincere. He read the restoration pamphlet and intro to the Book of Mormon like 6 times. He has a real desire to know the truth. We've prayed mightily for him and I hope the sisters have lots of success teaching him. We are still teaching Veronica S. We got really real with her last week and told her she has to keep commitments and show God she wants to know and then she will receive her answer.She's been reading in the Book of Mormon with her family each night and so we're thrilled for her. We found a less-active named Ivan R. that we've been looking everywhere for. He moved and changed phones so we couldn't find him and then one day we knocked on his door! God is amazing. Ivan's really ready to come back to church. We asked him when we could see him and he said, "any day, any time. I'm so willing to do this right now." We are working with some families that are referrals from members so that is awesome. 

I really was super bummed to leave my Spokane Valley after all these good things started to happen, but I know I did my part here. I truly worked as hard as I could and now the sisters will come in to see the wonderful blessings here. I'm excited for them to keep the work moving forward. 

I will miss Hermana Sanchez dearly but I'm super excited for the new adventures coming this next transfer. I hear YSA branches are a blast. Yay!

Love you all, love being a missionary, love, love, love this gospel!

Hermana Em

* Hermana Em sent this link for those of you who have not seen this Mormon Message.