Monday, July 29, 2013

That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.

hello sunshines!

It's a great day to be a missionary in the Washington Spokane Mission! But really. I am staying in Cheney and training again. It is SO great because I love it here. I think I've got a few more transfers to go here. The Lord loves Sister Judd in Cheney. And Sister Judd loves the Lord.

We've had a great week. Week 6 is always miracle week. I'm so grateful for the members here. Since the broadcast we've been really working through our members and they are getting it! They are inviting! On Monday we had a lesson with a guy named Joel. He is friends with one of the RMs in our ward, Ethan, and he came to church just one time last transfer. We've been on Ethan's case about inviting him but Ethan has been super busy so finally we just said, "can we give him a call?" and then baddabing baddaboom! We had a lesson with Joel.

He is so sincere. Time and time again, I keep meeting the most prepared, faith-filled wonderful people ever. He has a strong belief in Christ and the Atonement. He has seen it lift him through his trials. And he knows the Bible reeeeaaally well. Which has led me to study the New Testament so intently lately. I've been surprising myself about how much I actually do know (and remember! from seminary!) and I am just craving more and more. Elder Hargiss (my last ZL) LOVES the Bible and he always uses it to train us and I love it too. Because I know the Book of Mormon. I am confident in my Book of Mormon knowledge and references and I know and often apply the Book of Mormon to my life. But it's like i'm discovering the Bible for the first time ever and really applying it to me. The life of Christ is incredible. Good stuff. Anyway, Joel asks good questions and always keeps his commitments. He is reading and praying but he's a pretty logical guy and right now he wants reason more than feeling. I've been praying every night that the Spirit will hit him strongly. He has a real intent and sincere intentions. He says, "I'll believe it if the Lord tells me to believe it." We watched a great video of Christ with him and I think he'll get it. We met him on Monday and have met with him 3 times this last week. It'll be a miracle but I know he can get there!

We don't teach the English classes. Brother Holloway does. But we go as often as we can. He loves us and we love him. He is a convert and he is a rough character. Harrison Ford in every way. Total white guy that grew up on farms speaking Spanish. And he loves the Hispanic people. He really loves them. And so he has worked  hard to make our English class grow. We've both worked hard. And then this last week, we sat around the table teaching the lesson, and I felt so peaceful. The Spirit just spoke to my heart and told me that the sweet people in this room would build the foundation for our Spanish branch. It felt like a trip to McAllen eating a meal with all of my family. Only this time when everyone was joking and laughing, I UNDERSTOOD! I know this is a big part of why I am here and whether I see the seeds grow, I know I will have done my part to nourish them. Brother Holloway and I talked after the class and he teared up thinking about our sweet students. It touches my heart too because I always feel like I'm teaching my grandparents. We have one couple, Arnoldo and Guadalupe. And they are my grandparents. Arnoldo knows more and is very vocal. He wants so badly to learn English. And Guadalupe is shy and quiet but her husband is sweet and gentle and helps her along to pronounce the words. Can I say it enough? I LOVE THESE PEOPLE. President Mullen called me this week and told me that there are Spanish sisters coming next transfer so I'm praying I can train one! I mean, hello? I've just got to!
Last night we stopped by to visit Emily. She is a referral from our member, Rachel (who's brother, Rustin, met Jake at the MTC). She is awesome. Rachel thought it was a long shot that she would really want to meet with us. But she let us in and loves it. This was a our second visit with her and we put her on date for baptism for. 

She clearly felt the spirit and felt peace. We watched the mormon message, "True Beauty" and it was what she needed. She needs to know how divine she is as a daughter of God and that He loves her. We read Alma 32:28 and asked her what ways she can grow her faith. She really loved the verse and she felt so motivated to read mroe. In her prayer at the end she said, "thank you so much for all that the missionaries have taught me in such a short period of time." Ahh! it was awesome.

Porche came to Institute this morning and President McCombie catered the lesson to her. She is so close she just doesn't know it. I pray that she will pray sincerely. We are going to try and have a lesson with the McCombie's this week. (BUT like how many missionaries are having lessons in the home of their stake president?? These people are the best!)
Our ZLs, Elder Cybulski and Elder Hargiss called a special training meeting for our zone. It was unusual because there was no training or anything they had received but they had been praying a lot for our zone and felt impressed to put this together. They got special permission from President and we were the only zone holding a meeting like this. It was amazing. I love my zone. They taught about Peter and Paul and all the hardships they faced. Elder Hargiss talked about how Paul was so close to helping King Agrippa receive the gospel and yet he didn't. They compared it to how sometimes we work so hard and then we still don't see the fruits of our labors. It was like: STORY OF MY LIFE! Then at the end they had us all pass around a sheet of paper with our name on it and then every one would write one uplifting thing for each person in the zone. It was so nice to read the sweet things people have noticed. I have been so blessed to always have incredible Elders leading in my areas. I love it!

I have a testimony of the Spirit. The Holy Ghost is a member of the Godhead and He testifies of truth. I feel his influence so often. It's the treasure of being a missionary.
I love y'all! I love my Savior. I love this gospel with my whole heart.

Hermana Em

some pictures:
cheney welcome sign
field is white already to harvest!
eastern campus!
our last district. it was 6 sisters and 2 elders. party!

Monday, July 22, 2013

and no man having put his hand to the plough and looking back is fit for the kingdom of God.

Oh sweetest friends,

I love Chee-town, Washington. I am SO grateful the Lord sent me here to this part of the world. Farmland Washington is my very favorite. I just want to stay in the farming community forever. Gratefully, the biggest places in our mission are Spokane and Spokane Valley and even those aren't BIG cities. Since I'm on this side of the mission now I feel like the stability I once might have known is totally gone. Like I used to know the areas that Spanish sisters served: Moses, Othello, Wenatchee, Royal City. But now there is only one Spanish sweet spot and I've already served there and I may or may not return. But I could serve anywhere now. Coeur D'alene, Lewiston, even Montana! I am just so happy that nearly every area in our mission is a good ol' farming community. These are my people. I feel it all through my bones. I belong here.

We had a really good week. We've been visiting all our college kid members and they are the best. They are super willing to invite their friends to come to activities and to meet with us. We've been receiving lots of referrals which is awesome.
We had a lesson with Leslie at our Bishop's house. I could say it like a thousand times, but I REALLY love Bishop and Sister Tait. They are exactly the people I want to be when I grow up. Bishop is a convert. He joined when Sister Tait and him were already married with two kids. The first time he met with missionaries he wasn't ready, and then the second time he really was prepared. His heart was softened. And now look! He was a bishop and stake president and now bishop again. And he is the softest, most gentle and loving man I know. And Sister Tait is as bubbly and fun as they come. They are so different and so perfect for each other. Anyway, Leslie came over and we showed her a mormon message about Christ lifting burdens. We really wanted the lesson to be focused on Christ to help the spirit testify to her. She felt it but I guess it's not the right time for her. I just feel really sad because I wanted to be the missionary to see it through to her baptism, but the Lord knows best. I trust Him and I know that someday I'll be able to recognize the good I did for her.
This is the lesson the Lord wants me to learn over and over. He wants me to trust Him and work diligently even when (and oftentimes) I don't get to see the fruits of my labor. I know I'm obedient and I work hard. Sister Haynes always comes home from exchanges and says, "you are the hardest working sister!" which assures me that I'm where I'm supposed to be, doing what I need to. And when I joked to Bishop that I will probably stay in Cheney for the rest of my mission he responded so genuinely, "oh i wish!"

Five new families started taking the English Daily Dose classes. This is good. Pray for the Spanish work here in Cheney. I have a good feeling. 

Trust God, and believe in good things to come.
well, that's all I've got cause i'm out of time.
love you!
Hermana Em

here's some pictures:
bowling for sister lamb's birthday.
elder molyneaux and elder williams are going home in a week. so crazy! 
these are all the people i came out with. half are missing and in a different mission...super sad.

Monday, July 15, 2013

but that they might receive the word with joy

Heyo familia!

Chee-town (as we affectionately call Cheney) is picking up speed. It was a really good week. I love the sunshine and the warm weather. When everyone finds out I'm from Texas they always ask, "so you must be loving the weather right now?" which is funny because in the winter they'd always say, "so you must be hating the weather right now?". I love everyday. I love Washington so much. I really think I'm moving back here someday. Cheney is so beautiful. Rolling hills and trees and green. I turned to Sister Haynes the other day and said, "I think that when God was a man, he was a painter" because the sunsets here are like the most spectacular views I've ever beheld. Divine!
We passed by the Fuentes this week because they have been so hard to get a hold of lately. They work SO much. They were out behind their trailer eating all my favorite foods that grandma makes and when they offered us some I had to seriously remind myself that we had just eaten dinner. It smelled so heavenly. But we talked about keeping the Sabbath day and trusting God. I love them so much but they just don't move. The Elders and I are trying to team effort this one and so hopefully soon good things will happen.
On Thursday we had leadership training and it was so, so great. I feel like I've been spending a lot of time in meetings lately but it's always good and uplifting. We talked about having natural and normal conversations and inviting EVERYONE to be baptized. It was really great because now that we have SO many new missionaries, sometimes we really need a repeat of all the basic things so that our mission culture doesn't shift too much. We are an obedient mission. We invite. We talk to everyone. Those are the things we want to be embedded in all the Washington Spokane missionaries and I'm really seeing how I make a difference as a Sister Training Leader.
I went on exchanges to South Hill with Sister Jensen and it was the best time of my entire life. SERIOUSLY. I LOVE Sister Jensen. She is the cutest, sweetest. Oh, I love her. She works hard. She knows her purpose. She is motivated by love and her testimony in the Savior. This is her second transfer out and she is actually waiting on her visa to Brazil. She spoke in Portuguese and I spoke in Spanish. Lots of fun :) I was so thoroughly impressed with her. She went to BYU for a semester and she was hoping to study vocal performance and she has a lovely voice. We went on a church tour with one of their less-actives, Nancy and it was the most spiritual experience of my mission. Nancy was baptized when she was 8 but never went to church after that. She knows nothing about the gospel. She hasn't been to church since she was a child and now she is in her 50s. She has lost three family members to suicide and the sisters knocked on her door at the moment she needed God most. So her heart was softened and she finally felt ready to come to church. The moment she walked in the building she was tearing up. She doesn't think she has faith but we told her to walk through the church doors was an act of faith. Oh, it was so powerful to feel the spirit and to help her feel it too. At the end of the tour we stood in front of the picture of Christ being baptized and Sister Jensen explained that when Christ came out of the water, the Father spoke and said, " This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." and she told Nancy that God says that about her as she chooses to follow Him. I have witnessed so many times on my mission and I firmly believe it, but the best thing to testify to people is that God is their father and He loves them. Then Sister Jensen felt prompted to ask to sing a hymn so she pulled out "where can I turn for peace?" and the moment her mouth opened, warmth engulfed us. I have never felt such a powerful witness of the Holy Ghost. It was a profoundly touching experience.
We also visited a little Mexican-Indian family while I was there. Sister Jensen really wanted me to use my spanish to impress the mom and grandma (dad is from India and doesn't speak spanish).  They were the best family. Both parents are doctors and their little 5 year old twins were precious. When they met me they were super excited. "yo hablo un poquito espanol" is what they said in their mini voices. Oh I wanted to take them home with me.
It was the Cheney rodeo this weekend and the parade was on Saturday so lots of people were in town. I love small town spirit! We talked with lots of people and it was so great because Cheney usually turns into a ghost town come Saturday because most of the college kids like to book it outta here. We stopped by to invite Porche to an activity. She has been MIA lately and not responded to our texts and so we thought we'd give it another go but she didn't answer the door and just yelled through the window, "Umm. I don't want to talk right now. Can you come back later?" She just sounded really annoyed so we decided that we'd leave her be for now and maybe in a few months she would have a desire to hear more. But then she called us at 7 pm on Saturday to apologize and asked if we could meet. So we had an impromptu lesson at 8 at the institute and it was awesome. She said that she was having a REALLY hard time and we knocked on the door right in the heat of things. But she felt like she needed to be doing better at reading scriptures and saying her prayers to show God she loves Him. Talk about compelled to be humble. We watched a Mormon Message with her and then asked to close with a prayer and she said, "Could we read a little from the Book of Mormon before we pray?" Umm YES?! So we read some and she told us to write down the Mormon Channel website and the chapter we read from the Book of Mormon because she wanted to look it up. It was not the lesson I was expecting at all but it was awesome. I have a good feeling about her. I always have but I'm glad she is back on board.
And then yesterday Arthur came to church. He's a big Samoan guy that grew up going to church with his Mormon Uncle. The sisters before me taught him for a while and I met him my first week but he told us he couldn't get baptized until he was more self-sufficient because he didn't have a job or go to school or anything. When he came to church he sat in the foyer all three hours and slept. So he was off our radar and we haven't seen him in a long time. But he came yesterday and he looked great! He had found a job and then after church he came up to us and said, "I wanna talk to you. Somethin serious. I wanna be baptized!". Sister Haynes was floored. It was awesome. So he's getting ready to be baptized on August 11th. It'll take a miracle to get him there but it was already a miracle that he got a job and is bringing his life together. God is good!
It's been a really good week on all fronts. Lots of the less-actives we are working with have been coming to church consistently which is just so sweet.
Love it here. Love the Lord. Love Sister Haynes. We have two weeks left in the transfer so I think we'll be seeing lots of crazy miracles.
Love y'all.
Hermana Em

Monday, July 8, 2013

if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, ye certainly will be a child of Christ.

Dearest dears,
Hope you know we had a hard time.

I'll start by saying Hermano Fuentes did not get baptized this Saturday. The Elders interviewed him on Tuesday and as it turns out, after a year plus of lessons, no one ever told him he needed to marry his wife. Go figure. Elder Hargiss was so sad to call me because he knew it'd break my heart but I'm ok.
all these things shall give thee experience and shall be for thy good.

Leslie told us she was going to stop meeting with us for now. She said she wishes we could just be friends and hang out all the time but that wouldn't get us anywhere. I felt a profound peace as she spoke but it's just so hard. I've been praying for her everyday.
On Tuesday we had a MLC which is like my favorite time to be with President and Sister Mullen because it's a group of missionaries who get it, who work hard and are obedient. Sister Mullen, in all her general authority inspiredness gave us a training on trusting in the Lord's timing. She said sometimes we just think, "Heavenly Father, this is such a good thing. This is a righteous desire. Can't you make this happen?" It's like she took the words from my heart. She handed out a few attributes of God and had us teach about the nature of our Heavenly Father. God lives. God knows us and loves us. He can see things we can't. He has a body of flesh and bones. As we trust in him, we obtain peace. If He honestly has our welfare at heart, why wouldn't we believe that He will do what is best for us?
It was what I needed but not what I wanted. I know I can trust God and I do, but aligning my will with His has been tough for me this week.
Sister Haynes and I were recognizing that we were a little down so we've set goals to be happier and more grateful this week. We decided to pay attention to all the little miracles that happen each day so that we can see how much the Lord really is there with us. And miracles do take place each day.

We had an awesome training from Elder Whiting about working with members and it has gotten us so excited. He talked about a tool that his stake back home used and that he has used with all his members on his mission. It's simple but incredible. Sometimes as members we are afraid to open our mouths and share something with our friends because we don't want to offend them, we are afraid of rejection, or we think that our friends aren't ready enough for baptism so why try. But the truth is the success is in the invitation. If we are inviting, we are succeeding. We are doing all the Lord asks. And people aren't interested in doctrine immediately. Sometimes we think we don't know enough or won't answer correctly but truly people are interested initially in US. They see how happy we are, how close our families are, how much peace and joy we experience. So we just need to share what it is that brings us that joy. So alls you got to do to bridge your normal conversations into gospel conversations is say,
"that's what I love about my church."
It's that easy. Someone might say, "why don't you work on Sundays?" and then you say "that's what I love about my church! We really try to observe the sabbath day and set it apart as a special day. we do this by going to church. YOU SHOULD COME!"
or maybe you drop off some cookies for a neighbor and they say "these are delicious. where did you get the recipe?" "That's what i love about my church! once a month we get together to learn skills to become better mothers and homemakers. YOU SHOULD COME!"
you could say it for anything. Elder Whiting gave us an extreme to show us an example. say you are on your high school football team and you score a touch down and your team mates are cheering you on. you say, "that's what i love about my church! it makes me want to be the best i can. YOU SHOULD COME check it out sometime."
Totally nonoffensive because they showed the interest in your life first and then you showed them what you love and offered a simple invitation. Try it this week! I promise you'll see miracles.
Welp, Sister Haynes and I keep singing, "bring on the rain" because we've been in a spiritual drought so to speak and it's about time for some miracles. And the neat thing about the Lord is that when it rains, it pours.
I love y'all! Happy days ahead.
Hermana Em

So this was at our training on Wednesday. the girl taking the picture met Jake at the MTC. I should've gotten a picture with her darn it cause she thought Jake was the cutest (not her words but nearly. she said he was so polite and nice!)
Didn't we look adorable for 4th of July??
I went on exchanges with Sister Rose and we were like wearing the same outfit! she is a violin performance major and loves soundtrack music and so do i so it was like the BTOML. she insisted that we listen to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack before we fell asleep. I was in heaven. Probably one of my most favorite exchanges ever.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Fear not, I am with thee; oh, be not dismayed

My dearest loved ones,

Last week when Elder Pieper came to visit, Sister Mullen spoke first and talked about change and repentance. She showed us her binder of all the missionaries that have already gone home and their testimonies and she says she loves it because it is full of testimony and change and growth. She loves to ask missionaries what their turning point in their mission was.

For me, this week was a turning point.
The last few weeks actually have meant a lot more to me than all of my mission combined. Maybe it's because I've crossed my halfway mark and I've done a lot of reflecting on these last few nine months but also because these last few weeks have stretched my faith in extraordinary ways.

I told the Lord that I didn't need miracles to happen to prove to me that I was supposed to stay, but if He wanted to give me some sweet assurances, I wouldn't mind. But God is good. And the Church IS TRUE.

On Thursday we sat down with Leslie and read Enos 1 with her and watched Elder Bednar's series "Patterns of Light" which talks about revelation and prayer. We asked her to pray mightily and to fast on Sunday and that we would pray and fast too. I've loved all my investigators dearly and I have prayed hard for them but it's different with Leslie. I desire her eternal salvation as if it were my own. With every fiber of my being I've prayed for her. And then on Friday morning she texted us.

"I recieved my answer and I've never felt so much joy and peace in my life."

I almost cried. But then the text went on.

"I prayed earnestly last night about the things you asked me to and I woke up early this morning and in the stillness God told me 'No' to stop searching and rest in His strength and His comfort. This isn't the answer I desired because I wanted to convert but I trust God and am confident in His leading."
I sat puzzled for minutes. I had gotten ready quickly that day and for the 30 minutes before personal study I prayed. I was so hurt and distraught. How could she receive a "no?" Hadn't I felt confident to extend a baptismal date? I had felt completely assured as I told her she would receive an answer but I never imagined it would be "no". If the church is true for everyone why wouldn't it be true for Leslie?
I couldn't focus. I wasn't ok. My personal study was out of anger and I just felt flustered. I was certain Leslie would be a miracle. How could this happen?
Companion study helped though. We were on exchanges and Sister Tea was with me and we talked it through. We watched some PMG DVD clips and that helped because those always help me to remember my purpose but I still just felt so hollow.
Then during lunch, after I had calmed myself down, I sat in our bedroom and it was still and quiet and I thought about revelation and how it has worked for me in the past. When something was right like when I knew I wanted to study Art Ed, it felt so right, it felt so peaceful and calm. But when I had thought about studying Photo that didn't feel right, it felt wrong. And then I thought some more. When something is right, God will gives us clarity. When something is true the SPIRIT testifies! If the answer is YES, God gives us peace. I read in D&C in section 6:23 and in 9:8-9. It was all making sense. Leslie DID receive her answer. She felt peace and joy. She felt assured and confident. In the moment of her prayers she was heading towards baptism and then she felt good. The Lord does want her to stop searching and just TRUST Him. I felt so comforted and assured and what added more to my joy was that this revelation came not while I was angry but while I was calm and still. That's how the Lord works! So we fasted this weekend, we prayed earnestly, we studied everything we could about revelation, we talked to Bishop and President McCombie and now tonight we are finally seeing Leslie and I am so excited. Replace fear with faith. I know a miracle will take place. I prayed to know if we were doing the right things because I want to follow God's will and I just continually feel happy about it. God is a God of miracles.

20 And the reason why he ceaseth to do amiracles among the children of men is because that they dwindle in unbelief, and depart from the right way, and know not the God in whom they should btrust.
But I trust God. I'm really learning what that means. I know I can trust my God.
On Thursday night we passed by the trailers where the Fuentes live. They weren't home but as we were walking out of the park, they drove past in their truck. The moment I saw Hermana Fuentes I felt so much love. I felt like I was looking at my mother. They are opening their own restaurant in the Valley and they work so hard and they had just come home and they looked exhausted and I saw them and wanted to cry. My heart was filled to bursting. The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God. I had been frustrated with them because they have been taught forever and were not accepting a baptismal date. But in that moment, I changed.  The way I felt and the way I taught changed. I shared a quick scripture and then Hermano Fuentes asked me to stop by the next day so we could talk about his baptismal date. I nearly died.
All day I waited in anxious anticipation for our lesson. The Diaz family came. Hermano and Hermano Diaz are from Uruguay and they joined the church 3 years ago. They are saints. I'm so happy they came. The lesson was the most incredible lesson of my mission. Instantly I felt peace and comfort. We read Alma 5 and Hermano Diaz bore his testimony. Then I asked Sister Haynes to bear her testimony. We had practiced all week and all day and every hour. She opened her mouth and my heart was pounding. I was saying a prayer that all would be ok and it was perfect. Every word was perfect spanish. It was amazing. And then I asked Hermano Fuentes about what day he wanted to be baptized and he said, "you tell me." and I said, "July 6th. Next Saturday. Will you prepare yourself to be baptized on that day?" And he said yes. And the room felt warm and good and happy. It was the most marvelous feeling.
I didn't need a miracle to know that I was supposed to stay in Cheney. Sister Haynes has been a tender mercy. Our members have been incredible. Everything about Cheney confirms to me that this is right.
But the moment Hermano Fuentes said yes. I knew I stayed for them.
So we have a baptism this next Saturday! Sister Hayne's first and in Spanish to boot! I feel like this is a huge team effort. Elder Molyneaux and Elder Leake found them a year ago and Elder Saloman started teaching them and Elder Legarra taught them for 6 months. It's just really neat to be part of all of it. Pray for them. It will be a hard week but I know it will be miraculous.
I have so many other miracles to report because this week was truly life-changing for me but this is already getting long. I love you!
Please keep Leslie and the Fuentes in your prayers. I think July we may have a baptism every weekend. The Lord loves His missionaries. This is His work and He wants it done.
Les quiero muchisimo!
Hermana Em