Monday, September 30, 2013

King Agrippa, believest thou the prophets? I know that thou believest.

Hey Good People,
Yesterday may have been the strangest day of my mission, or actually of my life. I'm really not sure how to say this or what exactly to say so I can preserve the integrity of all involved but I'll keep it simple. You can ask me in 6 months for the details. No doubt, I'll have them engrained in my brain forever.
Anthony drank a little (or probably a lot) of alcohol late Saturday evening and came to church in an unstately condition. It was mortifying. I've never really had any drunk uncles but I can imagine he was acting something like that. No dancing on tables or anything but there was a lot of "amen" and "absolutely!" yelled after every testimony. And he clapped. And shouted for joy. And he stood at the pulpit for what may have felt like 3 hours, bearing his "testimony" as well. He invited the whole congregation to his baptism on October 12th but sadly, that won't be happening any time soon. And then as soon as the closing prayer finished he leaned over and asked Sister Walton on a date. I died inside no less than 12 times yesterday.
Bishop had a good discussion with us afterwards to reassure us that we were doing a good job, that even though we may have the spirit to help us discern, we can't read minds. It's ok that we didn't see this one coming.
If I had written this email to you on Saturday afternoon I would've said, "Anthony is doing great! Been coming to institute, volunteered at our LDS booth on campus, reading the scriptures everyday. We can't wait for his baptism!" So you must understand how this really was the VERY last thing I ever expected to happen. I'm still in shock. I'm completely heart broken. It just all came crashing, shattering, viciously down yesterday. And I'm not saying this was the end forever, because I believe with my whole heart in the healing and cleansing power of the Atonement and I know with certainty that Anthony will be baptized. Absolutely he knows it is true and He wants to take that step. But the fact of the matter is that we can't teach him anymore. We have to give him to the Elders. And it's sad. It's the right thing to do, no doubt. But my heart aches.
Conversion to the gospel of our Savior, Jesus Christ doesn't mean we go through the motions. It means we literally change our lives so that our heart can be a home to Him.

I've never had a more concrete testimony of the Word of Wisdom, that is for certain. And also, it the comforting power of our Savior. All while I was frantically watching this unfold, I also felt the spirit. There were moments in church yesterday, when the words from a testimony or the doctrine taught in the lessons just hit my heart, and amidst the turmoil I was experiencing, I felt so much warmth from the spirit.
We were sad for a moment also thinking about how Chris is now our only investigator but then we felt assured that this means God is opening up more space in our week for us to find the elect. And, thank heavens for Chris. Because he is a true miracle and I am so grateful to teach him. He really is so, SO great and I have a lot of confidence in God. We haven't taught him the Word of Wisdom yet but he already told us he is giving up alcohol and coffee. On his own. 'Cause he wants to. That's a tender mercy.
On another note, we ate dinner with Arnoldo and Guadalupe this week and it was so great. They made us Sopes and they were just so honored to have us in their "humble" home as Arnoldo kept saying. I love them. I love the hispanic people SO much.
And I went on exchanges to West Terrace with Sister Lundberg and everything from the weather, to the trailer parks we visited, to the dinner we ate reminded me of my hometown, Moses Lake. And I needed that. God knew I needed that sweet reminder of my favorite place and that tender beginning of my mission. It was a note from Him to me, letting me know that He knows me, He loves me, and He WANTS me to be happy.
We have MLC AND Sisters Conference with Sister Mullen AND General conference this week so I know that there will be several more epistles sent right to my heart, straight from my Father and Heaven and I'm so looking forward to it.

I know Satan had a big hand in yesterday, but I also know it's part of God's plan and maybe right now I can't see the bigger picture, but I know He always has something better in store.
He's so good at surprising me.
Someday Sister Walton and I will pass each other on campus at BYU and we'll hug and cry and then laugh and LAUGH and LAUGH about how insanely crazy yesterday was. Nuts, I tell ya.

I love Fall, I love pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, I love the Gospel, I LOVE my Savior and I love this great work. It fills my whole soul. Joy to the roots of my Hair.

Also, I did find my wallet. Well, some saint turned it into the Police Department. Not one penny was missing. And they gave it to me in an evidence bag which is the coolest thing ever. I guess it's God's humorous way of giving me a miracle I wanted, since clearly, Anthony won't be happening for me.
Hermana Judd

Monday, September 23, 2013

and He did know the thoughts of their hearts

Hey. Hola. Hi.

I'm in love with the seasons. Fall is glorious. I love the crisp air and the yellow leaves and the boots and sweaters. I'm constantly shocked by how fast time flies. I distinctly remember typing out, "i love spring!" and then "i love summer." and by golly it is definitely fall here in Chee-town. And yes, we can all quietly admit that I'm coming upon my one year mark. But just quietly, because it is weird for me. I can't even believe it. I can't wrap my brain around this past year and all that has changed in myself. I went back through my emails to see what I first wrote about being a missionary and I know I'm so different from that Hermana Judd of yesteryear. I know a lot more. I'm more kind, and my heart is sooooo much deeper in the work. 

I've had a lot of thoughts this week and now I'm just stumped on what to say. We had interviews with President and Sister Mullen. Sister Mullen and I had a good conversation about becoming more personal with the Lord and she even called me later on in the week so we could talk more about it. When I sometimes feel pangs of sadness or jealousy that I am not serving in Othello or Royal City where hispanics are just abounding, I have to count the blessings I do have. And top of the list are the Mullens. They will forever be dear to me and I know I'll be dear to them. They were absolutely supposed to be my mission parents. And that's probably number one why I stayed. And I'm ok with that. I'll admit to you that this is probably one of the greatest trials of my mission and I'm continuously working through it. I know I'm supposed to be here. There is a great work for me to do. But I'm still a human. I'm still a little selfish and I sometimes wish Heavenly Father would just do it the way I want it done. But that sounds a lot like pride. And I'm learning more and more about humility the more I seek His will and love. 

I am happy to be here. I really, really am. I'm grateful the Lord really does know better than I do. His way is right, and it's best.He doesn't put us through trials because He wants to see us suffer but because He knows there is a greater happiness that can come as we turn to Him. I have loved every bit of serving here in Cheney and underneath the Mullens on my gratitude list is about a billion more people and experiences like the Taits, McCombies, Holloways, Anthony, Joel, Leslie, serving in the YSA, serving on a college campus, etc. I could go on for weeks. I love every bit of my mission. I do. 

Cheney is coming alive. It's so great. When I first got here, school was just letting out and we met a ton of people who were all leaving for Summer and guess what?? Now they are back! So we called a ton of people to set up appointments and a lot of them were still surprisingly interested. Que genial!

Also, really funny! So you remember Cameron? Great guy just super nervous to commit. Well, he wasn't interested and hewas kind of avoiding us for a while but we would run into him on campus and he was always embarrassed or like panicked for words and then last transfer one day, Sister Gardiner and I were praying in the car and I opened my eyes and there was Cameron walking down the street so I just quickly closed the prayer and hopped out of the car to stop him. Haha. We set up an appointment with him but he was a no-show. WELL that was like a month ago and then on Saturday we went to visit Vilma and Ernesto, our sweethearts from Honduras. They are like our besties now and they invited us over to eat some bread that Vilma made and in precisely the right moment (because God is SO good and always orchestrates things the way He wants to) we decided to stop by and thank them for the bread and as we were walking to their door we see a boy and girl in the parking lot, kissing. No big deal, this is a college town. We had a suspicion that it was Cheri (another girl from Honduras just staying with Vilma and Ernesto) but we didn't think much of it. So anyway, we are sitting at their table when Cheri walks in. I was just thinking to myself, "Oh it was Cheri outsi-CAMERON!" And then he walks in. His eyes are wide. "Sister Judd??" He was SO embarrassed. SO panicked. SO 'at a loss' for words. It was like maybe the funniest moment of my life. I told him it was NOT a coincidence because we didn't even know that he knew Cheri or that he would even know OUR Hondurian friends. All I can say is that this is God's work and if He wants to find you then He'll find you. I may not know a lot but I know I'm just His little hands working in Cheney. Needless to say, we have an appointment with him this Wednesday and I think he knows it would be foolish to try and dodge us again. SO funny.

One of our members, Virginia, started dating this boy, Chris, who is perfect and soon becoming my favorite person ever. Hehas a good Christian background but he is SO open to learning more. We took him on a church tour and already he's reading the Book of Mormon everyday and he came to church yesterday and oh, he is so great! I think he already knows it is true buthe is just waiting to learn more. He asks good questions and he is just so nice. Bishop Tait came on our church tour with us and afterwards, Sister Tait looked at us and said, "Chris reminds me of Bishop when he was learning about the church." umm. YAY?!

Also, Anthony is great. Came to church again yesterday. He has a lot of ideas about lots of things but I can always carry my own with him. At the end of the day, the Spirit has the final word and Anthony really does know it is all true. I can't tell you how many times he has born his testimony to us that "this is the restored gospel." "I know the Book of mormon is absolutely true." etc. It's pretty awesome. We changed his baptism to October 12th because it worked out better.

We made some Mexican meatballs with Maria this week and so already we are doing more Spanish work than we have in the past. Ok, so maybe all our Spanish work involves making and eating food but that is a step forward :)

Love you all!

Hermana Judd

Monday, September 16, 2013

I would that ye should do that which is good


Welcome back to Spanish land. Hooraaaaah! Oh, I love it. Officially, [and technically] I've been covering the Spanish work in Cheney for the last four months but now I have a Spanish speaking companion and I AM LOVING it. Hermana Walton from Mesa, Arizona. She is super funny. She does THE BEST impression of Miranda Sings and I tell her to do it all the time. I am loving all the funny companions the Lord sends me because more than anything I love to laugh. She also went to the Mexico MTC and I go through her pictures like every night because I just want to go the Mexico MTC. I want to work there SO bad.

I will admit though that if this is the last time the Lord wants me to train, I'd be A-OK with that. My first three companions were 24, 25, 24 and then it's been 19, 19, 19, 19. Craaazy stuff. 

I am excited to see more happen with the Spanish work here. Go look in the July 2013 ensign for the story about the miracle in England with the Slovak saints. That will be Cheney soon, with our own little Spanish branch! We had a strategy meeting with President McCombie and High Counselors from the Stake over missionary work. We talked about what we need to do to get the ball rolling here. It was awesome. I know I've said it like 8219721 times but I love President McCombie. He is so missionary minded and so supportive. I feel like it's one of the greatest blessings of my mission that I've served around him and so closely for so much of my mission. The main thing we got from the meeting though was to trust the Lord. We were a little stressed thinking about how we could make it work and how we could find the Hispanics but then we just said, "Now wait, The Lord knows what He is doing. No need to fear." And seriously. It's not one bit of a coincidence that the mission split, that I've been here in Cheney and our English class is bien llena, and there are two Spanish sisters here now. That's just not a coincidence. The Lord knows what He wants done and President McCombie has felt, since the beginning of his calling as Stake President, that there needed to be a push for a Spanish branch in Cheney. We're just doing exactly what the Lord has already envisioned. 

We had a family here from Honduras that I feel really excited about. They moved here from Tegucigalpa (shout out to Hermana Brown! Brother Floyd is the person I can think of who might go to Honduras and visit your ward and also a LOONG while back you asked about Elder Orellano. I never met him until a couple weeks ago and now he is my Zone Leader. Small world!) like 3 months ago and that is also not a coincidence. We are just trying to follow the spirit and do what the Lord directs us to do.

At our English class this week, Guadalupe had a birthday and so Brother and Sister Holloway wanted to surprise her with a Tres Leches cake. They had put a fancy table cloth on the table and then switched rooms for the class so they could walk in later and surprise Guadalupe. When we started singing to her she exclaimed, "voy a llorar!" and she hid her face so we wouldn't see her tear up. It touched me so deeply. Afterwards I asked her what her plans were for her birthday and she said she didn't have any. Bless her heart. Her sweet husband, Arnoldo was working all night and so she probably wasn't going todo anything to celebrate. Brother Holloway is a little gruff on the outside but a total softie on the inside and he got pretty choked up. It was a really tender moment for all of us. I love the hispanics. My heart just goes out to them and I have every desire to help them in every aspect of their lives. I want to serve among the hispanics for the rest of forever. 

Anthony came to church yesterday and stayed for all of it. He loved it. We met with him like 5 times this last week and he just loves everything we teach. He is still planning on September 29th for baptism and we are ready to get him there.

Welp,that's all I can think of. Here are some pictures. 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice!

Hey Friends,

What a strange week. Well. Just a lot of weird ups and downs.

I'll start with this. On Wednesday we went to the car warsh to warsh our car (if you are from Washington you really say Warshington) and I left my wallet on the ledge. I didn't realize I had left it until the next day and so when we went back it was gone. It was pretty devastating to say the VERY least. I like couldn't sleep or do anything because I just felt so dumb about the whole thing. Sister Gardiner was really nice and kept telling me that everyone loses their wallet and it was a mistake and the Atonement covers even that but I still just felt so stupid. And I was worried about my license and my debit card and my temple recommend and I loved my little Mexican wallet so I just could. not. get. over. it. So I fasted on Friday that maybe it would turn up or something and we had Zone Training and it was about trusting God and giving thanks and it helped me to feel a lot of peace. President McCombie spoke to us about a time in his mission where he was praying to God and saying, "I would give ANYTHING to see so and so be baptized." and then the peace and assurance came that he would be baptized and all would be well. It really stuck with me through the meeting and then I went on exchanges and I just decided to stop worrying about it. And as I prayed to break my fast my first thought was Anthony and Joel. And not about my wallet. And I was thinking more about how I want them to progress and be baptized. And I really want to see them make it back home to Heavenly Father. And I said, "I would give anything to see them be baptized." And the thought came to me, "but what about your wallet? would you give that up too?" And I knew instantly that I would. I had been praying that a miracle would happen and the car wash people would call me to say that they did find it after all, or that maybe some kind person sent it home to my family's address but then when I was praying I realized that wasn't really the miracle I most desired. The miracle I really wanted (and should've been fasting for) was that Anthony would continue in his desires to know truth, or that Joel would feel the Spirit prompt him in the right direction. And so I don't think my wallet will turn up. I think that is what happened between the Lord and I. I know he keeps his promises. I know Anthony will be baptized instead.

And that is perfectly ok with me.

I'm also staying in Cheney. And training. Again. 4th times a charm, eh? But I am excited because she is almost certain to be a Spanish speaking Sister and I've been waiting a loooong time to have a Spanish sister again. Oh, I can't wait. But I'm said to see Sister Gardiner go. It was a way fun transfer. Like fun all the time. She taught me a lot about being joyful (and silly). We were a good balance and I'm just so happy we had such a good time and we saw so many miracles. She is going to Lewiston YSA and she is going to light that place up. I have loved all my companions so much. What a tender mercy.

In other news, Satan doesn't let up on golden investigators. Not for one second. Anthony came home Thursday to a flooded apartment. Like reeking, awful and wet. Unlivable. So while I was on exchanges, Sister Gardiner helped him move his stuff and he seemed homeless and the whole situation was strange but he really appreciated our help and the scriptures. He came to Stake Conference on Saturday and so did Joel. But neither showed for Sunday's sessions. It was kind of tough. I think Joel sent us his farewell text because it seems like he has a lot of pressure from his family. He told us that although he loves being with us, we just don't understand because we are not in his place. It was pretty sad because I just love Joel so much. I know he'll get there. Maybe not now but I know we've rocked his understanding of Christianity and I think it will tug on him for a long while before he finally recognizes that IT IS TRUE. Anthony loves the gospel a lot but he has some strange ideas about a few things. He loves the Godhead and the plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon and he can't wait to be baptized but something about the whole thing feels a little odd. We're not sure what it is and it's not that we don't feel good about him because we do and we always are excited to teach him. But it is just different. I don't know how to say it better than that.

We are reeeeeaaaaally looking forward to school starting soon and more people here in Cheney. Lots of potential. We'll be teaching tons!

I don't know what else to say.
Except I love ya. I love the gospel. I LOVE my Savior and I am grateful that His Atonement covers every mistake, even lost wallets. I know He lives and that God loves all His children. ALL of them.

Hermana Em

*Editor's note: Some kind soul found Emily's wallet and turned it into the local police station. They then contacted my dad to let him know, and all is right in the world again!! Thanks for any prayers that went her way this week :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

And he who receiveth all things with thankfulness shall be made glorious; and the things of this earth shall be added unto him, even an hundred fold, yea, more

Hey y'all wassup it's me, Sister Judd! 

Hahah. That is what the voicemail for one of our recent converts, Rickia, says. She is blind and from the Bahamas and she is a gem. Sister Gardiner and I say her voicemail message like 56 times a day because we think it is so cute and funny. 

Anyway, this was a good week. We saw Anthony on Tuesday and he said, "I was just hoping we could read together from the Book of Mormon." Which was perfect because that is exactly what we had planned so we read 2 Nephi 31 and he just loved it. After we finished the chapter he said, "that's not it, right? aren't we going to read more?" So we decided to pull up a Mormon message and after the video he said, "ok let's watch another." It is just so awesome to teach him. He also loves the idea of the Godhead and basically everything we teach. He has really thoughtful questions and he is just so incredible. But he went to San Diego for a wedding on Thursday and is coming back today so we haven't been able to see him but he has texted us a few times to tell us what he's reading in the Book of Mormon and how much he loves it. Last time we asked he was in Jacob so he's just whizzing through. We get our transfer calls on Sunday and I'm a little nervous. I feel like I'm staying and I don't know if that is just because I really want to stay or what. I've been out long enough to know that the Lord knows best but eep I just want to see Anthony get baptized!

In other news, MLC was yesterday and that's why today is our p-day. I could say it a thousand times but I just love MLC. I love President and Sister Mullen and our assistants and just being around so many hard working missionaries. The work is so good. I have a bad habit of comparing the outward results of other missionaries to my own but I have to know that I've done everything I can here. I've been exactly obedient and I work diligently. I'm so far from perfect and I've learned so many lessons about patience and love and charity and humility. So maybe I haven't been as "successful" as I thought I would have been but I know I've done good and touched lives. One sister, halfway through our meeting, just put her arms around me as we walked to lunch and said, "I think you are an incredible missionary and I have admired you since I came out." It was so kind. It's those little things that help me see that my mission is not for me. It's not just for my investigators either. I'm here to serve the Lord and bring souls to Christ and often I've found that I'm helping more members or less-actives and especially fellow missionaries and sisters. Another sister at the meeting told me that she went on exchanges with Sister Haynes this last week. "You trained her so well. She is such a hard working, obedient missionary." And I know it's not just me. But it helps to know that I am helping convert the children of the Lord to Christ, whoever or wherever they may be.

My mission means everything to me. I think about that everyday. This is the most valuable time of my life and I learn so much everyday about setting goals and working and achieving them. What a privilege that the Lord has allowed me to be His hands and to stretch and grow in the light of the Gospel.

Also, it's September. WHAT the heck??

I love you all!
Hermana Em

here's a few pics:

Our miracle board from last Sunday. We update it every night but we had to take a picture because the miracles were nuts last week.

And our English class white board. I love teaching that class with my whole heart. We will take a picture this week of all our students. You will die. They are precious. Arnoldo, Guadalupe, Maria, Esteban, Yolanda, Alfredo all from Colima, Mexico! And we have 3 new students from where else?? Tegucigalpa, Honduras!! (That's for you, Hermana Erika Brown!) Oh, i love it.