Tuesday, August 27, 2013

my soul shall be joyful in the Lord


There really are no words to describe the week I've had. So that's the best I've got.
I'd be happy to report on just one major miracle from the last three days but I've got like 28. I don't know what it was but the Lord just poured it on heavy this week. People are flying out of the woodwork. It is a thrill to be a missionary. I've been smiling myself to sleep the past three nights and to top it off we got to go to the temple today so I'm just in heaven!
Where to start? Seriously? Sister Gardiner and I's biggest dilemma this last week has been how can we even describe to our families the goodness that is God and being a missionary?? I'll do my best. You'll have to read her blog too to see if I missed any details.
Saturday. Typical college town Cheney Saturday. As in there is no one here. Everyone bails for the weekends and summer classes just ended so there has been literally NO ONE. But the Lord is merciful and His plan is always orchestrated beautifully. Our original plans for the day were shifted a little so that in the VERY MOMENT He needed us on Elm street, there we were just a walking. And across the street was our soon to be best friend, Anthony, just a walking himself.
So we cross the street. People can't dodge us. We live to talk to people. But what do you know? Anthony has this wide grin spread across his face.
"Whadya got for me?" he says. "You got pamphlets or something for me?"
Which we thought meant that he wanted us to speed up our spiel so he could get on with his walk. Wrong. He really wanted it. Wanted to hear our message. So we ask him about his religious background. His grandfather and his dad are both ministers but he doesn't have a church in Cheney.
"I'm looking for a home." he says. Cool. Church starts at 11. We give church tours. We have activities on Monday nights. Institute on Wednesday. He can't come to church this Sunday because he is helping a friend move in Spokane. But he's all for the rest of it."Can you please just take my contact info?" he begs us. The day before he saw the Elders riding their bikes and he was saying to himself, "keep coming straight, keep coming straight." because he WANTED TO TALK TO THEM. But they turn. And then we show up the next day. Hallelujah! And we set up a tour for Monday at 6. He's thrilled. WE literally scream the moment he is out of our sight and sound. SO COOL.

we'll pause that story right there.

Sunday. Typical Sunday. Most of our investigators were working or out of town so nobody comes to church. But we had set up a church tour for 6 pm earlier in the week with another street contact, Ronald. He plays for Eastern football. He's a former investigator who denies ever meeting with the missionaries so I didn't really think he had a lot of promise. But we call and he's still on for the tour. The miracle happens when he invites His friend, Kendrick (also from the football team) to come along. And what are those sweet words out of Kendrick's mouth the moment he enters our church building?
"I'm looking for a home." My new favorite phrase!
Ronald and Kendrick love the tour. LOVE IT. Kendrick practically bears his own testimony at the Sacrament table. SO sweet. And after the tour when we taught about Joseph Smith he just nodded his head and smiled. After we explained the first vision we ask him who Joseph Smith saw in the grove that day. He smiles, breathes in deeply and says, "Wow. Oh my gosh. He saw God and Jesus Christ." He knew it was true. He loved the promise in the Book of Mormon. Oh he loved it. He and Ronald both accept baptism no problem. All set for September 28th!
So are you keeping up? I'm not even close to being done.
After this miracle church tour we randomly stop to check up on a less-active,Vaughn, who always dodges us. But he lets us in. We watch "Lifting Burdens" He asks us about how someone can really be forgiven if they can't even remember all their sins? So I tell him the story of the Prodigal son. And we bear testimony over and over of God's love. I share Isaiah 53:3-5 and invite him to start praying everyday and then he looks right at me and says, "If you say one more word I'm going to start crying. Everything you've said tonight has been so powerful. I can't even believe it. I swear I'm gonna cry if you keep talking." He looks and both me and Sister Gardiner and tells us what a powerful duo we make and how we just really know how to bring the Spirit. It was the compliment I've really needed lately. Probably needed to hear that my whole mission so it's been really boosting me.

I'll quickly tell you that after all this we had a crazy storm Sunday night where all the power went out and we found 5 more miraculous people because of it. God is good and the Church is true!
Are you ready for part 2 of the Anthony story?
So yesterday our church tour. We probably couldn't breathe all day we were THAT EXCITED. On p-days 6 o' clock is here in NO time. But yesterday it was taking FOREVER. I have never felt so anxious for a lesson before. I'm usually pretty calm and collected but I just knew it was the day that would change my mission and change Anthony's life. Oh sweetness. He walks in and we ask him why he wanted to come? "I knew I didn't miss my bus for a reason. God put you in my path and I know it was not a coincidence." So the tour was incredible. We invite him to come to church. "Absolutely." We ask him if he has a few minutes to hear the restoration lesson. "I've got all day." We ask him to read the Book of Mormon and pray "I don't need to read it to know it's true. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet. Just look at the fruit of his labors." We invite him to be baptized on September 28th. "I want to get baptized. I will prepare for that day." We ask him when he can meet us next. "I've got all week." So we set up another lesson for today. We are meeting him today and probably the next day and the next day and the next and oh my heck I'm just SO HAPPY! He's the most prepared person I've ever met. And he's in grad school and he is the best ever. WE scream like every 20 minutes about it because we are just so grateful and blessed that the Lord lets us teach him. We ask him to pray at the end of the lesson. He tells us he likes to have a real conversation with God when he prays. "Lord, I just think it's funny that two minutes before I met these lovely missionaries I had asked you to help me find a church, to find my home. So thank you. As I continue to act in my faith, bless me to know that this is good. This is right." Amen. AMEN!
So keep him in your prayers. Joel is chugging along. We still love him with all our heart but it might not be his time. The Lord knows.
In other news, Enya has been feeding our spirits this week.
Love y'all. I LOVE being a missionary. I know this is so true. Going to the temple today just strengthened my desire for an eternal family and to help others unite their families as well! You can't get this kind of happy anywhere else. I love it.
con todo el amor en mi corazon,
Hermana Judd

Monday, August 19, 2013

behold, he sent angels to minister unto the children of men

Queridas mias!

What a happy birthday! Thank you SO much for ALL the emails and letters and love. Sister Gardiner popped out of bed singing happy birthday and she had decorated my closet with a sticky note banner of "happy birthday" and she also blew up some little "cherry bomber" balloons that have been hanging out on our book shelf for probably the last 12 sets of missionaries. It was so fun. Since it was pday we didn't have a lot of food in our fridge but we did the best we could and made a little hashbrown, egg, and biscuit breakfast. The potato and biscuits were courtesy of Sister Johnson (yep, two transfers ago :))
Then I opened my little package! Stationery galore. I could not have been happier! And I love the messenger bag. And the stamps and everything. We hung the banner immediately. It will probably stay up forever. It's been a fun day. We got some Papa Murphey's and then we are going bowling and picking up some Froyo 'cause there is a new place that just opened this last weekend!
This week has been crazy. Sister Gardiner and I have had a lot of heart to hearts. We've been learning a lot about open, honest communication. And it's been really character building. We are a good team. I think we've had a lot of powerful lessons. Not just for our investigators. A lot of members will text us after our lessons to tell us how much they needed the message we shared. It's been a nice blessing to see that we are making a difference.
Joel, bless his heart, just isn't receiving his answer. It doesn't mean it won't come. And I trust that the Lord will show it to him when the time is right but how do we know when the time is right? He is gone all this week visiting family and I think it will be a good break. I think he knows the Book of Mormon is true but he just doesn't want to admit it. He need to be compelled to be humble, in the best way possible. Oh I love him.
We are working on finding. We need more people to teach. School starts in September for Eastern and I cannot wait. Because that means there will be PEOPLE here in Cheney! Hallelujah.
We had Zone Conference this week. We received a training about really applying the Atonement and keeping our lessons centered on Christ. It has had a powerful effect on us. I love my Savior. I learned so much about who He is and what He does for me this week.
I love you all so much! Happy birthday!
Hermana Em
Here's lots of pictures, ok?
Last week we made cookies with Hannah and Ellie McCombie. I think they are the cutest girls on the face of the earth. It was SO fun.
Zone conference with sister kunkel, sister dishong, sister senger, sister mullen, and sister webb.

And here are some birthday celebration pictures including a wall of the many cards she has received.

Monday, August 12, 2013

There is no other name given whereby salvation cometh; therefore, I would that ye should take upon you the name of Christ

Dear Sweet Friends of the Earth,

So much happened this week. So much happens every week, but I seriously don't even know where to start.
Tuesday was MLC. My favorite time ever. It was a really powerful council. Learned a lot from the spirit and it was so great to be with President and Sister Mullen. I am one of the "older" sisters in the mission in terms of how long I have been out. Isn't that crazy?? But being in MLC sometimes reminds me of the void still in my heart and in our mission. I miss the West side. My heart still longs to be there some days but I do love Cheney. I know I am supposed to be here and I know someday I'll look back so grateful I stayed over here.
Joel is the best ever. Sister Gardiner and I will sometimes suddenly declare, "oh my heck. I love JOEL!" because we just love him SO much. He always reads and his prayers are so sincere. On Tuesdaywe were super conflicted because we didn't know what else to say to help him feel the spirit but I felt really strongly that we should just read Enos with him. The spirit is the teacher. We are just little pawns that the Lord moves around and the Spirit does it ALL because Joel totally felt the spirit as we read. And he himself said, "I need to struggle more in my prayers. I really need to be praying more sincerely." Like YES! That is what we wanted to say but we didn't even NEED to. He won't admit it but he loves the Book of Mormon. He came to church yesterday and I just about died because he was so precious in his little button up shirt. Some people in our ward have told us that they see him all the time on campus carrying around his Bible and Book of Mormon. Ahh. I love him so much. Keep praying for him because I know he'll get there. He has grown SO much in his faith since we first started meeting with him and he still has concerns about the origins of the and logistical facts of the Book of Mormon. But over time more of what we say resonates with his core beliefs. I just am so excited for the miracles to keep happening with him.
We visited TONS of less-actives this week. That's been a huge part of my mission and I know will be a huge part of my life forever. Because most times people who are less-active don't disagree at all with the doctrine, they just need to be reminded of how the spirit feels. And most times too they just need a good friend. It's always so sweet to help rekindle the fire. I've seen a lot of re-activations on my mission and it is awesome.
Yesterday after church we had Second Sunday Supper which was great for Joel and for our other visitors. Rickia (a recent-convert from the Bahamas) is one of the best missionaries. She is Porche's friend and she was the one who invited her initially. But anyway, Rickia is blind and she met some other blind kids on campus this last weekend and so she wanted us to bring them some dessert with her. It's as easy as that my friends! Take the missionaries with you to bring homemade treats to your friends! So we go to the dorms to drop the treats off and we meet Abby. She is completely blind and from Ethiopia and SO sweet. It worked out so perfectly and we just sat down and started talking to her. Both Sister Gardiner and I are "people" people, so conversations usually are really easy but we really weren't quite sure what to say or how to bring up the gospel and suddenly I had the thought that we needed to sing. It wasn't a loud prompting but it was enough for me just to blurt out, "Can we sing you a hymn?" I have sung many times on my mission but Sister Gardiner and I had never together and she looked up at me wide eyed but it worked. We sang "I'm a Child of God" and then the spirit was there. We said a prayer and she lit up. She asked us to go to her room and pray with her there. Once again the spirit did all the work. The dorms she lives in are traditionally considered 'haunted' and it really freaks her out and sometimes she wakes up in the middle of the night and will turn on Ethiopian Christian music and then pray. She was so touched to have us there. She really felt the spirit. So we are having another lesson on Tuesday and we are SO excited because she is really in tune with spiritual things. Oh the gospel will BLESS her life! Pray for her.
Well, Sister Gardiner and I are very similar but also SO different. We communicate really well though. We are always very open and honest. It feels so liberating each night to talk about our feelings and how we can be better. We talked a lot about how we wear Christ's name and become like him through our actions. I studied my Patriarchal blessing a lot this week reading all about the different Christlike qualities the Lord wants me to develop and strengthen. Lots of growing. You never stop growing on your mission. I love this time of my life SO much.
We are going today to make cookies with Hannah McCombie (our angel from last week) and we are so excited.
I love this gospel. I love opening my mouth to declare repentance. I love My Father in Heaven. The church is SO true!
Hermana Em
Here's some pictures from this week:

All the Sister Training Leaders and Sister Mullen at MLC. I wore a crown of braids. I never wear my hair up. It was a little outside my element. I am trying to step out of my comfort zone in all aspects of life because miracles are just outside your comfort zone. 

Porche and I before she left for TWO months. She says she is getting baptized on August 24th by her California pastor but I think she won't. I'm going to email her all Summer with little scriptures and thoughts and probs when she gets back she'll ASK US if she can get baptized. Keep it in your prayers!

All the Sisters in our district. It's a constant party with Sister Gardiner.

Rickia and us.

Monday, August 5, 2013

yea, we will rejoice, for our joy is full; yea, we will praise our God forever.

For those of you new to Hermana Em's blog, so sorry for the delay! I just finished my first year of grad school yesterday so I FINALLY have some time to catch up on blogs for both of my missionaries! Enjoy! - Hannah

Hiyaa Family!

So Sister Gardiner is my new companion and she is the funniest. SO funny. We are laughing ALL the time. She is tall and blonde and probably the most similar to me than of all my companions. She is outgoing and loud and loves people. She is not afraid to talk on the street or in lessons. She jumps right in and she is a quick learner. I LOVE her SO much! That's the thing--companions were my biggest fear before my mission. I was just so sure that I would always have a hard time but when I got set apart it said that I would have companions that are all unique with their own sets of weaknesses and strengths and that I would love them all. It could not be more true. None of my companions have been remotely similar to each other or to me but I have loved each one. Truly. I already loveeeeee Sister Gardiner so much.

She must have packed some miracles in her suitcase because the moment she got here it was a crazy awesome week. I was so surprised how busy we were. It was like Moses Lake all over again. We were running to and fro and teaching, teaching, teaching! We had 3 church tours last week! Which is crazy because we only had ONE for the whole month of July and then last week alone we had THREE! SO much happened I don't even know where to begin.

1-Joel. He is softening up the more he reads the Book of Mormon. He is still skeptical and doesn't know it is true but he has told us he feels a reassurance and peace as he reads it. Hello? Joel? That's the spirit testifying of truth! But I think he wants something more concrete. He told us how much he loves music and so the thought kept coming to me that we need to help him feel the spirit through music so we took him on a tour and then afterward we went into the chapel and read the words to "I Know that My Redeemer Lives". I knew he would love it because he loves Job and his story and then after we played the instrumental hymn, "Redeemer" (Hannah sent it to me on a CD and Sister Gardiner has it on her iPod and we've been obsessed so we knew he would love it.) We just sat in the chapel and listened. It was profoundly serene and peaceful. I felt the spirit so strongly. Then we invited Joel to pray and as we knelt we listened to the feelings in our heart. He looked right at me and said, "I know that you know your Savior. I really can see that He is the center of your belief." He didn't say much else but he still isn't ready to commit to baptism. He doesn't think he will ever change but I do. He is open and honest in his prayers and the Lord is working on him.

2-Porche. She is hot and then she is cold. She loves it and then she doesn't want to see us. She knows our church is true but she thinks all churches are true and she just wants to shop around and then decide what is best for her. It is so hard sometimes. We had been praying to know what we could do to help her and then we thought of Emily B. who is one of our recent converts. She joined last August and she is on fire. She has a POWERFUL testimony and we knew she and Porche would hit it off. But we were never really able to introduce them when we wanted to and then out of nowhere they just run into each other and become instant friends and talk for HOURS. It was just a confirmation to me that this is the Lord's work. If He wants something done He will do it! Anyway, that was a huge blessing and then the Colvers had us and Porche and Rickia over for dinner.  It was nuts. I think she was having a bad day because she just vented to us. And not happily. She just felt pushed and pulled and she says, "I am stubborn. No one can make me go to any church. I am doing this for me." It was just so much to handle and it stressed me out because it was a long discussion and we were running late and it was just not what I ever hope to happen in a lesson. But we knew we would see her the next day because we had already set up dinner with President McCombie and his family with her so I just prayed all day that we'd be able to help her feel the spirit. I've told you before that we are BFFs with President McCombie, right? We talk to him everyday. How many missionaries can say that? I feel SO blessed. I LOVE the McCombies. Like they are my favorite family ever. Anyway, I knew it would be a good lesson the moment we walked into their home. First because President McCombie built his house by himself and it is like a giant version of a Nauvoo cabin. Second because the spirit and love in their home is tangible and sweet and so, so good. Third because they have 7 amazing, sweet children who love the gospel and support and sustain their dad in his calling. Dinner was awesome. The conversation was great. We asked how the McCombies met and President even tied their love story into a gospel metaphor of how to CHOOSE churches. It was great. Then we sat in their family room and they had worn hymnals and books of mormon and i just love them so much i could talk all day about how much i love them. And the lesson was super simple and powerful. We testified of Christ and President McCombie spoke and was so BOLD and then he turned to his nine year old daughter, Hannah, and said, "Do you have anything you want to say?" And this little angel of a child with her cute, thick glasses started to tear up and she bore the most sincere and heartfelt testimony I've ever heard. It was instant spirit. She was so articulate and she honestly touched on all the things Porche needed to hear. Sister Gardiner and I were floored. Like she probably could have taught the whole lesson her spirit was so powerful. We prayed that the whole evening would touch Porche in a way to make her want to act and she DOES!

She came to church when she had already told us she would be going the the Baptist church and Rickia bore her testimony and it was just a huge miracle all around. And then later Rickia told us that she was talking casually about how she needs to meet a mormon boy so she can be sealed in the temple! OH man. I am so excited for this next week. More miracles to come.

Ahh. I know SO much more happened but I don't even know where to start. Keagan was a referral from a boy in our ward and she came on a tour and felt the spirit so strongly and she has been reading the Book of Mormon and loving it.
Also. When Sister Gardiner first got her call to Spokane Washington, English speaking, she felt really impressed that she should start learning spanish because she would need it on her mission. When I showed her my name tag that says, "Hermana" she just about died. The spirit is real! She already knows so much and so we've been doing hard core language study each day and I am SO excited. She loves it as much as I do. Huge tender mercy for me. I told President Mullen to officially change her to spanish but we'll see. It is awesome.

I am so loving my mission right now. I love the gospel and the opportunity to bear witness of my Savior. The Book of Mormon is true! It's all true. I love it.

That is all. Here are some pictures. This will probably be the funniest transfer of my mission. Even more funny than my Christmas with Sister Tippetts. yeaaahh!
Love y'all! 

Hermana Em