Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year

It was very fun to be able to see some of you and talk with you on Christmas. It was funny how normal it felt. I guess since it had been 7 months since I'd talked with you I was expecting it to feel like it had been forever, but it really felt like we were just picking up where we left off. Thank you for all the Christmas presents, I really appreciated all of them. Those fleece lined tights and fuzzy socks came in handy when we were caroling, it was really cold on Christmas night. We also went caroling the night after Christmas, and since we were all a little tired of the Christmas hymns we started singing other hymns as well. We sang all the classic Mormon hymns- The Spirit of God, Called to Serve, Families Can Be Together Forever, even If You Could Hie to Kolob. It was a lot of fun. 

The rest of our week has been pretty uneventful. It's been a little hard to get a hold of people to teach them since it's the holiday season and everyone has been super busy. But we were able to do a lot of service for people. With one particular investigator, we showed up at the perfect time, they were having a hard time with something and we were able to help them out. It ended up being perfect, because then we were able to have a really good conversation with that investigator and we commited her to be baptized. We're really excited for her. 

We're working with so many people right now that have a lot of potential, but their lives are so crazy that they're not really in a position where we can teach them at the moment. It's been a little frustrating because these people are so prepared to recieve the gospel but because of their living situation, or their lack of a good job, or their family, or their health, we haven't been able to help them make much progress. 

But our bishop said something yesterday in church that I think is very true. He was talking about missionary work, being a member missionary specifically, and he said that he worried for a long time about finding someone he could invite to learn more about the gospel. But then he realized that God has already prepared people to be taught. The people are out there, and God is going to guide us to them. And all we're supposed to do is pray for the chance to find them and then have the courage to open our mouths when the opportunity presents itself. Missionary work is really as simple as that. So I know Heavenly Father is going to open up ways for us to teach these great people, or he'll lead us to others who are ready for the gospel. 

I'm excited for this new year, and excited that I get to be a missionary for most of it. There are so many good things ahead. I love the opportunity to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I love being a missionary. Have a wonderful new year! 

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Now and Then

Sister Rudy with Kathie and Charles Smith at Greenville 1st Ward, 12-15-2013

Charles and Kathie Smith with Baby Katelyn Rudy, 10-30-93, Madison, Wisconsin

Monday, December 23, 2013

No Doubt

I'm so excited to hear about the Childs! They are going to be such a great mission president and wife. Mission presidents has such a big effect on missions, I can't even begin to describe all the wonderful ways President and Sister Holm have helped me and blessed me. It's a huge responsiblity, but they're going to be great.
Speaking of how mission presidents have an impact on their missionaries, President Holm had an interesting revelation this week that's really made our lives exciting the past few days. We had zone conference on Tuesday, which was really fun, as I'm sure you saw with the pictures and skits on Facebook. We also got to watch Ephraim's Rescue, which is an amazing movie. But anyway, on the way back to Columbia after zone conference, President Holm had this impression that every single companionship in the Greenville North Zone had someone they needed to baptize by the end of the year.
So he told the zone leaders and they told us. We found out on Wednesday, which gave us ten days. Since we didn't have anyone on date for the rest of the year, we had 10 days to find someone to put on date and get them baptized. I have to admit, at first I was really skeptical. I thought there was no way we could do this. But then I thought about how much I trust my mission president, and more importantly Heavenly Father, and I decided that I wasn't going to doubt anymore, that I was just going to have faith that this would all work out. And so we went right to work. We looked through all our investigators and former investigators and found all the ones that have been to church at least once and then we went to go see them and invite them to be baptized.
And the first day, we had absolutely no luck. No one was home. The next day we were supposed to have an exchange with the Sister Training Leaders. I woke up not feeling to great and by the end of companion study I had a full blown fever, but was freezing cold. But one of the Sister Training Leaders was also sick, so the two of us went to their apartment and slept all day, while Sister Rowley and Sister Paxman went and tried to contact all these people. They were finally able to talk to some of them, but none of them wanted to be baptized. I still wasn't feeling well on Friday, so we stayed in during the afternoon, but we went to the ward Christmas party that night and I was able to get a blessing there, which was really helpful. Also, while we were at the party one of the former investigators we'd been trying to contact called us and said she'd watched all of general conference, loved it, and wanted us to come over. So we're going to see her tonight.
We've talked with everyone and invited everyone that we possibly could to be baptized on the 28th, but none of them have accepted yet, so we're really praying this meeting tonight goes well. It's been a really crazy week. I don't think I've ever been more stressed on my mission, but I also don't think I've ever worked so hard and been so bold. We just haven't had time to beat around the bush with people. And no one has been offended when we've asked them to be baptized.
That was the thing that concerned us most, was that we would scare some of our investigators off by inviting them to be baptized so fast. But nothing bad has happened yet! I'm just really grateful for this experience, because it's really changed how I feel about inviting people to be baptized. When we left zone conference, I was thinking a lot about that, wondering if I really had the faith to invite people to be baptized, the faith that they would stay strong and active in the church and the faith that the ward would help them and support them. Well, after the past five days, I definitely do have that faith now.
Another funny thing that happened last night. All the missionaries in our district went to downtown Greenville, which is the cutest city ever, to go caroling. We ended up standing across the street from this building with big glass windows. There was a huge tv in there, and you'll never guess what show came on- Larkrise to Candleford! I couldn't believe it. It was a little distracting :)
I'm very excited to talk to some of you soon. Don't worry about Christmas presents, Grandma Terry's is already here, and the zone leaders will be getting the rest to us on Christmas Eve, so as long as it's in South Carolina it will get to me by Christmas. I also got a present from Sister Marsh and Brother Bobby Harris. She told us they'd ordered us Christmas presents before he died, but she hadn't gotten them by the time I was transferred. Getting that present almost made me cry.
Merry Christmas,
Sister Rudy

Monday, December 16, 2013

Great Week

It's been a great week here in Easley, although a bit more of a challenging one than normal. We didn't have much luck teaching that many of our investigators this week, they were all gone or wouldn't answer their door or were busy. It was really hard for Sister Rowley, because that doesn't usually happen here, while I was pretty ok with it, because that's how most days were in Moncks Corner.

That's something that I've been learning lately, that different things are hard for different people. Something that I struggle with isn't hard for Sister Rowley, and something that she struggles with isn't hard for me. That doesn't make her struggles any less hard than mine though. I've had to remind myself of that this week, when she was really getting frustrated, and I thought she was overreacting. I think that's one of the reasons Sister Rowley and I were put together as companions, because we've had very different experiences on our missions so far and we struggle with different things, so we kind of balance each other out. And she's helping me with my struggles, and I'm helping her with hers.

Their Creative Christmas Tree
One of the investigators that we tried over and over to see is a great guy. He's in his 50s; he's married and his wife has a lot of health problems. He's been investigating the church for about a year and a half now. He feels like he needs to read the entire Book of Mormon before he can know if this is the true church, so at least once a week we go over and read a few chapters and discuss them with him. He's really smart, and he and his wife take very good care of us. They were one of our Thanksgiving dinners, and we're going over to her mom's house on Christmas Eve. Every time we go over there he gives us peanuts and a Hershey's chocolate bar, and we eat that while we read. He's about to finish Mosiah, so he's got a ways to go, but we're really hoping that he'll figure it out soon.

We also started teaching this great guy I think Spencer would want to be his best friend. He's from the Dominican Republic; his family moved to New York, not far from Grandma and Grandpa Rudy, when he was 15. He just moved down here a year ago. He's already living most of the commandments; he told us he doesn't drink, and he doesn't have any law of chastity issues. So we're really excited about him. He's a very sincere, committed person, when he says he's going to do something he'll do it. Which is very refreshing, to have an investigator that actually does everything he says he'll do. It may take him a bit to get his answer, but I know he's going to get baptized in the near future.

As I'm sure you've heard, Charles and Kathie did come to my ward yesterday. It was really weird, but also very good to see some familiar faces. They also happened to come on the day that I was giving a talk, so that worked out perfectly.  [Kathie's mother, Carolyn Aiken Andrus Ginn, passed away on December 10 in Boise; her burial is in Greenville on December 17.] 

I hope by now you've gotten my Christmas package I sent. I was going to write a letter explaining more about it, but I don't know if I'll have time today, our district is getting together to practice Christmas carols so we can go caroling next week. So I'm just going to explain in my email. I was thinking about what I could give y'all for Christmas that would be meaningful, and this idea came to me. I sent 8 copies of the Book of Mormon, all of which I've written my testimony in. 

District Ugly Sweater Photo Op

Monday, December 9, 2013

Finding Out and Settling In

Thank you everyone for all your letters and emails. It's so exciting to find out that I have so many connections to this area and to Sister Rowley. [Sister Rowley is the sister of the mission companion of Kate's cousin's husband! And, our family friend and relative Kathie Smith still has family in Greenville, SC, so she knew Katelyn was serving there before we did.]   It really is a small world. Grandma Terry's christmas cds got here the middle of last week, and we've really been enjoying them.

Brad's baptism went so well! It was incredible. I've gotten to know him a little better this week and he really is such a great guy and he's really embraced the gospel. Even though Satan was giving him some opposition, he was really sticking to what we've taught him. We knew we wouldn't have to worry about him. 

Our goal for this week was to help him get to know the members of the ward better, so that he could start developing some friendships with them. We had dinner with him at the Kunzler family's house, and it was really fun. Brother Kunzler was able to baptize Brad, and he was so happy about it. He's the former stake president, so he's a really great member, and exactly what Brad needs as someone to help him learn more about the gospel. As soon as the baptismal service was over, Brother Kunzler was telling us he wants us to do the new member lessons at his house, and he was talking to the bishopric about volunteering to be Brad's home teacher. 

The ward here really is so nice. We stopped by to visit an older man in the ward, Fred Smith, who has cancer, and as soon as he saw us he presented me with my very own "Fred hat", which he makes for all the missionaries that serve in the ward. It's orange and light blue, because that's what I told him my favorite colors are. I'll send y'all a picture of it soon. 

The work here is going well, we have quite a few people we're teaching. Some of them aren't progressing very quickly. There's a few that have been meeting with missionaires for months, one over a year. It takes a lot of patience to teach them, as well as faith. We have to have faith that they'll be willing to change, and that all this effort we're putting into them will be worth it in the end. 

Yes, we do have a car and I am still the driver. We're praying it never snows here, because the roads are so curvy and hilly, it would be a nightmare in snow. It really is a great town. Sister Rowley has been telling me there's some great thrift stores, which makes me very excited. We're going to be going to some today, looking for ugly Chirstmas sweaters, for our district christmas picture. We have an awesome zone here. Everyone is super close to each other and so supportive. It's really nice to know we have other missionaries we can always count on for help. 

Monday, December 2, 2013

From Farm Girl to the City

Several times this week I've found myself thinking "My family has no idea where I am right now, just that I'm somewhere in South Carolina." It was kind of a funny thought. I'm happy to tell everyone that I'm in Easley, serving in the Greenville 1st ward. It's about two hours north of Columbia, on the completely opposite side of the state as Moncks Corner. And it's very different here. I feel kind of like a farm girl that ended up in New York City. There are so many stores, and gas stations, and houses here! I can't get over it. Everywhere we go there are neighborhoods and people. It's crazy.

My new companion is Sister Rowley. She's from Rexburg, Idaho and she's pretty amazing. She came out with Sister Bell, so she just finished her training. She was a ballerina, so we have lots to talk about. And she's a big singer, when she found out I sing alto she was thrilled!

It was hard to leave Moncks Corner. Even now I find myself thinking about the people back there, wondering how their Thanksgiving was and how everyone is doing. It was really hard for me to leave Sister Bell. I really love her; we went through a lot together, and we were really close. It's interesting because we really aren't very similar at all, but we complemented each other well. We've already made plans to meet up after our missions and I'm looking forward to seeing her soon, probably at the next Sisters' Conference. One of the sisters that was in my MTC district, Sister Eames, was transferred to Moncks Corner. That has brought me such comfort, because I love Sister Eames, and I know the people in Moncks Corner are going to love her too. Also, Sister Winsor and Sister Anderson, my trainer and my MTC companion, are now companions. I thought that was pretty great.

The work is moving so fast here in Easley that my head is spinning. We have six or seven investigators, one of which is going to be baptized this coming Saturday! He's in his early thirties. Sister Rowley and Sister Robinson (the sister before me; she came out with me) have been teaching him since October. He seems to really love the gospel. He's quiet so I haven't really gotten to know him that well yet, but I'm really excited for him.

Thanksgiving was pretty crazy, but we had a lot of fun. We had four dinner invitations. So, starting at 11:00 AM, we went to ihop with one of our investigators, and his wife and her parents. Then right after that we went to another dinner, with a couple who aren't members of the church, and aren't really interested in joining, but they love missionaries; they've been having the missionaries come over for about six years now. And they had invited a whole bunch of their family and neighbors over so that they could meet us and we could teach them. During dinner I got involved in a discussion with one of them and their neighbor; I didn't get to say much because their neighbor is an Independent Baptist and has very strong opinions, but it was an interesting conversation. Meanwhile, Sister Rowley managed to teach another neighbor the entire story of the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation, and that went very well. The lady really loved what we had to say; she thought it was really interesting. I don't know how seriously she would consider joining the church, but she said we could send more missionaires over to talk to her more. Then the last dinner we went to was with members. They were super nice, and we had a great time with them. It was a good day. I had way too much food. I didn't eat any pie, which was shocking to me, since I love pie, but I was just too full for dessert.

The Greenville 3rd ward had a wedding and a baptism on Saturday, so we spent a lot of time helping out with that. It was a lot of fun. The sisters in that ward had been teaching the girlfriend of a less active member; he's now become active, and she got baptized on Saturday. But before she could get baptized, they had to get married, so they had the wedding in the Relief Society room and then the baptism right after. They had a wedding reception in the cultural hall, but Sister Rowley and I couldn't stay for that because we went to dinner with some members. It was a really exciting day though, and it was fun to be a part of all the craziness.

There is so much to do here and so many people to teach. It's been a little intimidating for me, since I have very limited teaching experience, especially with investigators. But I'm so excited to be here. I'm glad everyone had a good Thanksgiving; I was sad I couldn't be with everyone. Thanks for the letters and the pictures; they mean a lot. I hope y'all have a wonderful week.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

End of an Era

November 25, 2013
We had transfer calls this Friday night. I'll be leaving Moncks Corner, along with Elder Wright. I knew this was coming, but it's still kind of sad. I love Moncks Corner, and I really love Sister Bell. It's going to be strange to leave. These past couple days have been full of goodbyes. I've really gotten to love the members of this ward and I'm really going to miss a lot of them. Last night we had dinner with Sister Barron, one of my favorite members. It was hard not to cry when we left her house. We're going to visit Sister Marsh one last time tonight, I pretty sure I'm going to cry then. I just keep telling myself that I'll see all these people again sometime, whether that's when I come back and visit or sometime later.

I'm really going to miss Sister Bell. She's been a great companion and we've been through a lot together. We're very different, but we get along well. We complement each other in a lot of ways. Leaving her is going to be very hard. But we've already made plans to meet up after our missions, we're going to go see Finding Dory together when it comes out in two years. 

We got to go to the temple this week, which was so wonderful. Sister Barron and Sister Jarvis went with us. And we went on the day when a few members of our ward work in the temple, the Langdons and Brother Harrop. I did one of Brother Harrop's family names. It's been so long since I've been able to be in the temple, it was so nice and so peaceful. The Columbia temple is tiny, but it's so beautiful. As soon as we left I wanted to go back. After we went to the temple we went to the LDS bookstore across the street. I got volume two of the Lower Lights, and the BYU Men's Chorus cd, which made me very happy. 

We had an interesting experience the other day as we were out tracting. It was a kind of rainy day, it had sprinkled a few times, but had never rained very hard. As we were walking this guy called out to us so we went over and talked to him. We talked to him a bit about the restoration, and he told us he was very impressed with what we had been saying. But then he went on to say that he didn't think we were going to be part of the Latter-Day Saint church for much longer, he thought we were going to join a different church. We asked him what church that would be and he said the St. James AME church, his church. Sister Bell and I were looking at each other, trying to figure out what we could say. And as we were trying to think of what we could say to get us out of that situation without hurting his feelings, it started pouring rain. So we were able to very quickly end the conversation and walk away. I think that was Heavenly Father's way of getting us out of that situation, rather than giving us what to say, He just made it rain! 

My six month mark is on Friday. It's amazing how fast the time has gone by. Elder Smoot and I were talking about it on Sunday, since we both now only have a year left on our missions. In some ways it feels like it's all gone by so fast, but when I think about all the stuff that's happened and all the things I've learned it's amazing.

One of the things that I've learned, which surprised me, was how to be a better member of the church. Now I understand how important home and visiting teaching are, now I understand why fellowshipping and loving and serving other members is important, now I understand how the simple primary answers-praying, reading the scriptures and going to church- are what really make the difference. Doing those basic things consistently is what keeps our testimonies strong and helps us to become increasingly converted to the gospel.

I think so many people see the commandments as burdens, as extra things to do that they just don't have time for. But now I've seen that when we don't treat the commandments like burdens, when we put God first we're so much happier than we would be otherwise. Yes, living that way requires more work and sometimes it means that God asks us to do scary things, things we really don't want to do. But as we put our faith and our trust in Him and try our best, He helps us do more and become more than we ever could have on our own. God's agenda is always better than our agenda.

From a numbers standpoint, I haven't had a very successful mission so far. But I know that my mission has been successful, very successful. I know that Sister Winsor and I and Sister Bell and I have done a lot of good. And I'm just so grateful to be here. I hope I can work even harder and be even better in my next area and throughout my mission. This next year is going to go by so fast. 

I love you all so much, have a wonderful Thanksgiving, I'll miss being with you all. 


Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Learning with Elder Bednar

It's been an incredible week. Having Elder Bednar here was absolutely amazing, I don't think I've ever been in a more spiritual, life changing meeting. But I'll talk more about that in a minute. 

Last night [Sunday, November 17], we were able to finally get in contact with one of our investigators. He's a 50 year old black man, and he's pretty awesome. Last night he was telling us about how he found God after he'd been involved in drugs and stealing and stuff like that. He told us about how he went to church and went up and repented of his sins and as he asked to be forgiven a warm feeling came over him, over his whole body. He said "Drugs would only give me that good feeling in my mind, but this was my whole body! So I didn't want to use drugs anymore." Right now he's living with his mother-in-law, who's not a very religious person, so he wants us to wait to teach him until he moves out, which will hopefully be in a month. But he invited us to come to this singing time his church is having next Sunday, and we said we'd come, so that will be very interesting. He's AME- African Methodist Episcopal. So it will be a very different experience from what I'm used to. 

Yesterday was also the Primary program at church and so many less active and nonmember people came! It was great! The husband and mom, who's Baptist, of our friend who has returned to church came. They didn't stay for Sunday school, but we were really happy to see them there. I think as our friend continues to come to church and live the gospel more, her husband will join. He just needs her to set that good example and show him how much the gospel can bless their family. 

Now about Elder Bednar. It was amazing. We met with him for three hours on Saturday night [November 16]. He didn't talk to us, he talked with us. For that entire three hours, he asked us questions and called on people to answer them and then we asked him questions. But he never really answered anyone directly. Instead he would ask the other missionaries if they had any ideas, or he would ask the missionary a question, which would allow them to answer their question on their own. I'm sorry, I don't really know how to describe what happened very clearly. But the Spirit was there, and it was the teacher, not Elder Bednar. All he did was help us to hear what the Spirit was trying to tell us, and then he shared some stories and experiences with us. And we had so much fun! I can't even count the amount of times that we all just burst out laughing because of something that someone said; Elder Bednar laughed so hard a few times his face turned red. But then in the next instant something really profound and spiritual could happen. It was just amazing. 

I'll share one really cool moment that happened. This young elder stood up and asked Elder Bednar how he could stop overcomplicating the gospel, how he could teach it more simply. Elder Bednar asked him what he thought, and the elder said that he'd been thinking about it for the last 15 minutes, and he kept overcomplicating all the possible answers he was getting. Elder Bednar asked him why he thought he was doing that, and after he'd thought for a minute the elder said, "Because I don't trust enough." And just like that, he had found the answer to his question--trust in God more. That was how the entire meeting was. 

Elder Bednar talked a lot about the Book of Mormon. He said that if we would read the Book of Mormon every single day of our lives we would never fall away from the church. That made me think about all the less actives in Moncks Corner; I don't think many of them read the Book of Mormon. I think we're going to start asking them to read it daily. 

South Carolina Columbia Mission with Elder Bednar
So, it's been an incredible week. Transfer calls are on Saturday, and while anything could happen, it's most likely that I'll be leaving Moncks Corner. I'll be sad if that happens, but for now I'm just focusing on moving the work along here. There's lots to do. I love you all, and I'm so grateful for all the support that you give me. 


[We have been humbled and yet grateful for the unexpectedly sad and tender experiences of Katelyn's first investigator to accept a baptism date.  We will remember him, his family, and the members in Moncks Corner who cared for him.  The letters have shared this unfolding story.] 

I guess I'll start with the most exciting thing that happened- we have someone on date to be baptized! Last night, Sunday October 20, we went to visit a recent convert that we love. She has a friend, Bobby, who she's kind of dating. He's been in and out of the picture since I got here, but he's come to church fairly regularly, and he's been reading the Book of Mormon a little bit every day. Last night when we stopped by he was there and he asked us what he had to do to be baptized! We were very excited to tell him everything he needed to know. He's scheduled to be baptized on November 16, but we're going to try and move it up to November 9, since we'll be up in Irmo with the apostle on the 16. We're very excited for him. Sister Bell was so happy when we left our friend's house. So now we're going to do our best to help Bobby get a testimony, I don't think he really understands or believes in our church doctrine, but he likes the church and he wants to be a part of it. We're very, very excited to teach him. 

After Sisters Conference [on October 22, Katelyn's birthday], we got our new car. Elder Fenton told us to take the new one, and to give our elders our old one. . . . We didn't get on the road until about an hour later than we were expecting to. And then before we could get to the interstate our gps died! We got so lost. Finally we stopped at a Wendys to get some dinner and someone there gave us directions. We didn't get back to North Charleston till almost 9:30. The elders weren't very happy with us, they had to wait at the church for us to bring them the car for about two hours. We were really disappointed that we weren't able to teach Bobby that night. 

And then Wednesday afternoon we got a call from his friend in the ward telling us that Bobby had been in a serious accident at work. He had been in the bed of his truck unloading something, when a lady hit his truck, and he went flying out. She completely totaled both cars. Bobby broke every bone in his face, and several ribs. He was in a coma for a few days, but he'll be ok, but it's going to take awhile for him to heal. So things with him are kind of on hold for now. He's down in a hospital in Georgia, which is where the accident was, but hopefully he'll be moved closer to here soon. 

Halloween night we had to be in our apartments early, by 7:00, so Sister Bell and I used that extra two hours to start redoing our area map, because it badly needed to be updated. We were right in the middle of that when we got a phone call from one of the members of our ward. She told us that Bobby's friend had just called her and told her that Bobby wasn't going to come out of his coma, so his family was going to let him go. We were absolutely shocked, since the last we'd heard, he was going to be fine. We immediately called his friend, and we had a very emotional phone call with her. We found out yesterday Bobby's family is waiting for a second opinion before they let him go, but he's basically gone.

Having an investigator die is something I never expected to have happen to me on my mission. At first I really didn't know how to handle it. And of course, Sister Bell and I both immediately started talking with each other and with our friend about the plan of salvation, about how Bobby can still be taught and baptized, and about how God knows what He's doing and everything happens for a reason. But at first just saying all that didn't really bring me that much comfort. But as I've prayed about it, and as we've talked about it with other people, those words have begun to bring comfort. Especially driving home from ZTM, when Sister Bell asked me how in the world we were supposed to share a postive, uplifting email with our family when we'd had such a tragedy this week. And as I told her "We'll tell them that while we won't get to teach Bobby, other missionaries will, and while we won't get to baptize Bobby, he will still be baptized," the full meaning of those words finally hit me. And I felt so at peace. And although it's still very sad, and I'm still disappointed that we won't get to teach Bobby and see him change and see him accept the gospel, he will still have that opportunity. And at some point on my mission, I will have that opportunity to teach and to baptize.

In a way I've kind of already had that experience, with another sister in the ward who has come back to church. We had dinner with her on Friday night, and as we were talking with her, she told us how much happier she is now that she's coming to church. And she said that if it hadn't been for us coming by so persistently and for her member friend encouraging her, she wouldn't have come back and she wouldn't be as happy as she is now. When she said that, it made me so happy! If for some reason my mission ended right now I could go home happy, knowing that I helped one person to find the joy of the gospel again. Moments like that really do make all the other hard times worth it. 

Tuesday afternoon, we found out that Bobby had passed away. We knew that it was just a matter of time before we got this news but it was still very sad. His friend went down to Savanna to see him, and when she got there the lady at the desk informed her that he had "expired" the day before. She was the first one to find out. . . . It was really hard for her, but she's hanging in there. His heart just stopped, which in a way was good. . . .  At least this way he went on his own. It's been kind of a bittersweet weekend, because this was the weekend he was scheduled to be baptized.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Fish and the Fair

We've had a very good week. We had a great time at the fair. The fair is a big deal down here, there was so much to see and do. Since we couldn't ride any of the rides, we just walked around and looked at things and ate food. Most of it was deep fried. It was all very good and we left the fair very full. 

 We went on a really good exchange this week with our Sister Training Leaders. I went down to Summerville. It was really cool to see how the work is going in another area. The Summerville sisters have lots of people to teach, so almost all of our time was spent teaching people or trying to set up return appointments with people who had indicated they were interested in hearing more. It was a really inspiring exchange for me and Sister Bell. We came back really excited about missionary work and much more optimistic than we had been before. It was amazing to see how many people we were able to meet and teach while we were on the exchange and then the couple days afterward. I think it just goes to show how much attitude affects our work, because as Sister Bell and I have been more positive and more excited about going out and talking with people, we've been able to find more people who are interested in learning more. Preach My Gospel talks about that, if we lower our expectations then our effectiveness will decrease. I think Sister Bell and I have definitely learned that this week, as we've changed our attitudes and seen that there really are people out there who are interested. 

We also had a No More Strangers fireside this week, which meant that all the missionaries in our zone got to be interviewed by President Holm. The first thing President Holm said to me was, "Sister Rudy, you're a low maintenance missionary." I'm glad that President Holm doesn't worry about me, that he trusts that I'm being obedient and working hard. He was also very sure to tell me that if I ever did need anything he wanted to hear from me. That's the thing that I notice most about interviews, I always leave them feeling very loved. It's amazing how inspired President Holm is, he always seems to say exactly what I need to hear to feel reassured that I'm on the right path and I'm doing enough. 

Sister Bell and I are both very excited for this Saturday, to hear Elder Bednar speak. I'm sure that's going to be a great experience. 

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Emotional Roller Coaster

I don't even know where to start with all that's happened this week. I think this week has been by far the craziest, busiest week of my mission. Sister Bell and I have definitely been on an emotional roller coaster ride. 

Monday night we had planned to have dinner with a member family, and they were going to invite their neighbor, who they had showed the Restoration DVD to a few days earlier. We went over to the neighbor's house and sat on his screen porch and talked for about two hours. He had a ton of questions, about half of which we had satisfactory answers for. But we were able to get a return appointment with him for a couple days later. He's a good guy, but he's definitely not a completely normal person. Wednesday we went back to teach him again, but we brought the elders with us, because we felt more comfortable teaching him with them there. It was a very interesting lesson, I learned that one elder gets irritated very easily. But the other seemed to understand where the neighbor was coming from, so we're going to let the elders take over teaching him. 

Tuesday was Sisters Conference, and it was wonderful. It was a great way to spend my birthday. I couldn't believe how many new sisters we had gotten since my first Sisters Conference. There are so many of us! 

Katelyn and Sister Anderson, her MTC companion

Happy 20th Birthday, Sister Rudy!

Sister Rudy's mission generations

After Sisters Conference we got our new car. Elder Fenton told us to take the new one, and to give our elders our old one. The new one is a 2014 Chevy Cruze, so just a year newer version of what we already had. It took us forever to get the car and everything else straightened out so we could leave, so we didn't get on the road until about an hour later than we were expecting to. And then before we could get to the interstate our gps died! We got so lost. Finally we stopped at a Wendys to get some dinner and someone there gave us directions. We didn't get back to North Charleston till almost 9:30. The elders weren't very happy with us, they had to wait at the church for us to bring them the car for about two hours. We were really disappointed that we weren't able to teach our member's friend that night who is interested in getting baptized. 

And then Wednesday afternoon we got a call from that member, telling us that her friend had been in a serious accident at work. He had been in the bed of his truck unloading something, when a lady hit his truck, and he went flying out. She completely totaled both cars. The friend broke every bone in his face, and several ribs. He was in a coma for a few days, but he'll be ok, but it's going to take awhile for him to heal. So things with him are kind of on hold for now. He's down in a hospital in Georgia, which is where the accident was, but hopefully he'll be moved closer to here soon. 

Sister Bell and I spent most of our week going out to the far reaches of our area. When we got the new car, we got 1100 miles to use on it before the end of the month. So we've been going everywhere we've never been able to go before and trying to find people out there to teach. Thursday and Friday we were in Alvin, and we found a few people who were interested. Saturday we went to Huger, but I think there's about 20 houses total in that entire town, so no luck there. We've spent so much time in our car. It's really weird. 

We've been working hard this week. I feel like we haven't stopped going since we got back from Sisters conference. We've gone to bed as early as we possibly could every day this week. We're exhausted,but it's been a good week. Very stressful in some cases, but still good. I love the colder weather, but Sister Bell thinks it's freezing. She says it's because she's from Vegas. 

We're going fishing today at a member's house. That should be interesting. I'll be sure to send pictures. Thanks for all your prayers and letters, they mean a lot to me. I love being a missionary, as crazy as it is sometimes! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Amazing Birthday Gifts

This week has been . . . I don't even know where to start.  I guess I'll start with the most exciting thing that happened-we have someone on date to be baptized! Last night we went to visit a recent convert that we love.  She has a friend who she's kind of dating.  He's been in and out of the picture since I got here, but he's come to church fairly regularly and he's been reading the Book of Mormon a little bit every day.  Last night when we stopped by he was there, and he asked us what he had to do to be baptized!  We were very excited to tell him everything he needed to know.  He's scheduled to be baptized on November 16, but we're going to try and move it up to November 9, since we'll be up in Irmo with the apostle on the 16.  We're very excited for him.  Sister Bell was so happy when we left.  So now we're going to do our best to help him get a testimony; I don't think he really understands or believes in our church doctrine, but he likes the church and he wants to be part of it.  We're very, very excited to teach him. Wish us luck! 

We have a new district leader. His name is Elder Smoot. He's from Corinne,Utah. He's a great missionary. He's going to be going home the same transfer as me, so he's been out almost a year. But he's a few weeks younger than me. So I'm now the oldest one in the district.

We also got some very good news this week, that was almost as exciting at putting our member's friend on date to be baptized. The elders are getting a car! So we're splitting our area in half. Sister Bell and I were so relieved when we heard that. Because honestly, miles are probably the biggest thing that causes us stress right now. We can't go anywhere, our area is just so huge there's no way we can possibly cover all of it. And now that it's getting dark sooner, we can't do much at night without driving, so most of our miles need to be saved for the evening. It's really been frustrating us lately. But now the elders will be taking about half of our old area, so we'll both be able to cover more ground. Sister Bell and I are so happy. It was amazing because the night before we found out the elders were getting a car, we were talking with a member about how sad and frustrating it is that we can't get to all of our area, and so those people way out in Holly Hill and St. Stephen aren't getting a chance to hear the gospel. And then the next day we got the call about the other car! It was amazing. 

I feel like things are really starting to pick up here in Moncks Corner. Another member we've worked with is still doing really well. She even told us on Sunday that she wants to have us come over and meet her sister, who's not a member of the church. We've had a few more less active members promise they'll come to a No More Strangers fireside next month, and one is going to invite her nonmember friend. And we have a few members who have been sharing with the gospel with their neighbors and hopefully we'll be able to start teaching them soon. It's exciting. I'm very excited.

I'm excited for my birthday and Sisters Conference tomorrow. I think the best birthday present will probably be the elders new car, which we're driving down to them after Sisters Conference. And then we have a lesson with the friend that night, so it's going to be a great day. 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Worth It

Transfers are this week. Sister Bell and I will be staying together for another transfer. I think this is going to be the last transfer I'm here in Moncks Corner. I'm glad I get to stay here a little longer. Elder Butters, our district leader is being transferred and our district is splitting since they're putting sisters up in Georgetown. So now it will just be the Moncks Corner elders and us.
We've had a little more luck with investigators this past week. We were able to teach a few people the first lesson, and they both agreed to let us come back, but didn't set up a specific time to do that. That's something Sister Bell and I are working on, setting specific return appointments, because if we don't then it kind of turns into a game of hide and seek, trying to catch them at home when they're not busy.
We had a good little miracle on Friday. We had an appointment with a member down in her area. We had about an hour of time to fill before the appointment so we decided to tract a little in that area. We don't tract there; we've just stuck to street contacting in that neighborhood. But we felt like we should tract so we did that for about an hour. And we met a really promising guy. He's in his late 30s, and he's already got a Book of Mormon and he was telling us about some of his Mormon friends from high school, that he thinks very highly of. We'll be going back and teaching him sometime next week.
The member is still doing really well. She's been to church every week for almost a month now. And she told us on Thursday that she's stopped drinking coffee. She says for some reason it tastes disgusting to her now. So that was a big miracle! She's really feeling the blessings of living the gospel in all the areas of her life and I'm so excited for her.
The elders had a baptism this Saturday, which was so exciting. His mom came and we were able to talk with her, and she was very impressed by everything that went on. She said she felt very warm and calm while she was in the church. A ward member, who's been a member for a little over a year, was able to baptize him. It was a really good day.
I'm so grateful to be here. I love Moncks Corner and I love being a missionary. As hard as it may be sometimes, it's so worth it. That's seemed to be something that's been coming up a lot as we've talked with people this week- sacrifice. I've just been thinking of a quote from one of the prophets, I think it was President Kimball, "As we give we find that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven. And in the end we realize that it was no sacrifice at all." That's so true about a mission. Yes, I am giving up quite a few things to be here and to preach the gospel, but it's more than worth it. 

Monday, October 7, 2013

Wonderful, Spiritual Week

We've had a very good week, although we weren't able to get much missionary work done. This past week we spent two days up in Irmo, for a leadership training meeting. It was for all the zone leaders, sister training leaders, district leaders, trainers and trainees. So basically the whole mission. There were 180 of us there, it was a huge group. The meeting was so good. I love my mission president and his wife. They're just incredible. We got to stay at the mission home and spend some time with them, and we had a lot of fun. In the morning we went and walked by a dam near the mission home, I'm sending you a picture of that.  


We also had general conference this week, which was so good. We watched it in the chapel at the church. Not many members actually come to the church to watch conference, most people watch it at home online or on byutv, which a lot of people have. A couple different times we've shown up for dinner at a member's house and they've had it on. Sister Evans, our ward mission leader's wife, loves Chef Brad.

Oh, this was a really neat thing that happened when we were up in Irmo. A group of us went out to a grocery store to buy something for lunch before the meeting started. And when we went to pay for our food at the register, the lady just rang it up and handed us our receipt. When I mentioned that we hadn't paid, she told us that a customer in the store had already paid for our food. It was really nice. We all wished we would have known who the person was so we could have thanked them. 

Getting the potatoes ready for LTM meal

Because we have to go up to Irmo twice this month, we're going to be very low on the amount of miles we have on our car, so Sister Bell and I will be doing a lot of walking. On Friday that's all we did basically. We drove up to Bonneau Beach, parked at the bottom of the area at a member's house, then walked around all day and drove home. That's basically how the rest of the month is going to be. I know that Heavenly Father is going to place people in our path who are ready to hear the gospel, and that our members are going to help us and take us to appointments when we need them to. It's going to be a good month. 

I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing well. I love getting all your letters. I was sad I couldn't spend conference with you; it felt different to not be in Utah, where everyone is watching conference. I hope everyone has a wonderful week. Thank you for all your prayers. 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Just Incredible

Time is flying by. Yesterday was my 4-month mark. It's crazy how fast those months have gone by. In some ways I feel like I've learned so much and changed so much, and in other ways I still feel like a brand new missionary who has no idea what's going on. Talking with missionaries that have been out longer than me, I don't think that feeling--having no idea what's going on--is ever going to go away. A mission is just so unpredictable. I'm just amazed at how much God guides us and protects us. Every once in awhile, as we're out during the day, I'll just stop and look around and think "How in the world am I doing all this?" I'm a 19 year old girl from Provo, Utah. I'm out in the middle of South Carolina. And yet we find our way around this huge area we have, and we talk with perfect strangers all the time. It's just incredible. 

We just found out on Saturday that we're going to be having a Sisters' Conference, where all the sister missionaries in the mission meet for a day, on my birthday. So I'm excited about that; it will be a good day. 

We went on an exchange with the sister training leaders this week. It was the first time that I've left my area to go on an exchange. I went with Sister McNeely to Goose Creek, which is right south of our area. It was fun. It was interesting to see how their area has a lot of the same problems our area has; they don't really have any progressing investigators either. But their area is the exact opposite of my area in terms of size, it's tiny! Like, they could cover their entire area in a day if they wanted to. Which is such a foreign concept to me, since I haven't even been to half of my area. It just showed me that each area is challenging in its own way; missionary work is hard no matter where you're serving. 

I was really kind of nervous about leaving Sister Bell during the exchange. I knew that it was going to be a good experience for her and that she needed it, but I kept finding myself thinking about her, thinking about what she'd be doing at this specific time and how everything was going. She was very nervous about the exchange and didn't think she would be able to handle being the only one who knew the area and the people. I knew that Sister Prior would help her and she'd be fine, but it was still really nice to see her the next day and have her tell me that everything went really well. She did a great job, and I think that exchange gave her a lot more confidence because she's been talking more and participating more in decision making, which makes me really happy. 

We haven't had a whole lot of luck with investigators this week, but one of the members is still really progressing. She came to scripture study and church again, and would have come to the Relief Society Broadcast, but she was out of town. So we'll still be working with her to keep her coming and help her build her testimony. 

Today for P-Day we've had a lot of fun. We went over to a member's house and spent the morning baking cakes- one for their family, and one for another that always lets us do our laundry at their house. This member is so awesome. I love her. She's one of those people who can just talk for hours, and she has such a solid testimony, she's such a good member of the church. We had a very good time together, and we all ate way too much cake and frosting. It was so good though. Sister Bell is a great baker. 

I'm very excited for general conference this weekend. We watch it at the church, they broadcast it, although most of the members don't come to the church; they just watch it at home online or on BYUtv, which a lot of members have. 

There's just so much that happens in a week that I can't possibly tell you all about everything. But we're doing well, we're working hard, and I'm growing and learning so much. My mission really isn't about me, and I don't want it to be about me, but I have already seen so many blessing from my mission. My testimony has been strengthened, I've met so many incredible people, and I have learned so much about how to be a better person- how to manage time and money, how to set priorities, how to work hard, and especially how to overcome obstacles and discouragement. There's still so much ahead of me, and I'm so excited to learn more and serve more. I love you all, thank you for all your prayers and letters. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Better than Christmas

We've had a very good week. We saw a couple really big, very unexpected miracles this week involving a few less active members in our ward. The first started on Tuesday when we went to visit a less active member. We've visited her quite a bit since I've been here, and she's never shown any sign of wanting to come back, in fact she once told us that she felt we were wasting our time by coming to see her. So I wasn't feeling very optimistic about going to see her, but we had some time and we were in the area so we stopped by. And she started talking about why she doesn't come to church, but then also said that she felt like she should come back. Which absolutely shocked me. We invited her to scripture study the next night, and she actually showed up! And then she called us on Thursday and asked if we'd like to come over for lunch. It was crazy. I don't know what happened, but she's made a total change. We had a really good discussion with her on Thursday and then she came to church with her two little boys on Sunday (her husband is a nonmember and not interested in church at all). She was an hour late, but she still came. I think she's noticed that there's something missing in her life and I'm so glad she's recognizing she can fill that void by becoming more active in the church. I think things will continue to go really well with her. Because she's willing to act, which is really refreshing. I don't think I've ever seen someone make so much progress in one week.

We also had another less active family at church this Sunday. They're a younger family, and we've been trying to get them back to church for a long time. We stopped by their house on Friday night and talked with the mom; she told us her conversion story which was really neat. They are one of those families that have testimonies, but let other things get in the way of coming to church, normally their excuse is that they've had a super busy week and so they just need a day to sleep in. But the mom's been telling us for awhile that she knows they need to come back to church and so yesterday they actually did it! They were late as well, so we didn't see them or the other member until after sacrament meeting. I was so excited when we walked out into the foyer and saw them both there. It was better than Christmas. 

Smile for the Camera: Sister Bell and Sister Rudy

While we've had a lot of success this week, it hasn't really been showing in our numbers, since working with less actives doesn't really count for much. Sister Bell has been getting a little frustrated with that, and I can understand why. We put just as much work into the less actives as we do investigators. We visit them, we teach them, we invite them to keep commitments, we pray for them, we go through this whole emotional roller coaster while trying to get them back to church. And when they come it's so exciting. I really can't imagine that it feels much different to watch an investigator be baptized than it did to see these members at church on Sunday. But it doesn't count for much when we're reporting our numbers. We're seeing success, just not in the form of baptisms, which is kind of how success is measured in the mission field. But that's ok. Our purpose is to bring souls to Christ, whether that's through baptizing or reactivating, it's still the same great work. So even though next Zone Training Meeting we're going to have to stand up and report 0 baptisms for September, I know we still had a successful month. 

The elders are still doing really well, they had two investigators at church again, and one of them is going to be baptized this Saturday, so we're really excited for them. 

It's finally starting to cool off, almost to the point where we'll need to wear a jacket in the evenings. I'm really excited for fall weather here. I think it's going to be really nice. 

We had zone conference this Friday, which was so good. I love President Holm, he's amazing. And it was good to see everyone, all the other missionaries. Sister Clemons, who was in my district at the MTC, is now in my zone, which has been really great, I love having the chance to talk with her. I can't believe next week we'll have been out for four months! 

Sister Bell and a picnic dinner without a park

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Cane Gully

September 16, 2013

It's been an interesting week. I think I can count on one hand the number of times Sister Bell and I have actually been able to go in and sit down in someone's house. We haven't been having a lot of luck catching people at home lately. We've been trying a lot of leads and less active members, but so far haven't been very successful. We were able to talk with a couple of less active members we've been trying to contact for forever, but not much progress there yet. 

We're still really trying to get one sister to come back to church. We went over there last Sunday with another member and it went really well and the sister was so sure she was going to make it this week. But then we went by on Saturday night, because I knew she would be wavering, and sure enough she told us she couldn't do it. We talked with her for a long time, and she said she felt better, but it wasn't enough to get her to church yesterday. She just can't take that first step back. She knows she'll be fine as soon as she gets in the building, but she can't bring herself to come. We don't know what else we can do for her, except pray and continue to encourage her and support her. She just needs to realize that the longer she puts this off, the harder it's going to get. 

We didn't have a very successful week, but our elders sure did. They had three investigators come to sacrament meeting and two of them stayed for the rest of church. They seem really awesome. One of them is on date to be baptized September 28. He seems really prepared and he really liked church. We're really happy for the elders. It was an exciting Sunday. Along with the elders' investigators, we had a new family that just moved in, as  well as several less active members show up, which was really great. Now we just have to keep all those people coming. 

Sister Bell and I taught a really interesting lesson to a man who's a Muslim. We had a very interesting discussion with him. He's very well studied in lots of religions, so he already knew a lot about what we believe, but we were able to answer some of his questions, and at the end of the lesson he said he had a greater respect for our church because of what we shared with him, and that he was particularly impressed with how much we, as young girls, knew about our religion. He gave us both a Qu'ran, and we offered him a Book of Mormon, but he already had one. He said he'd read it some more though. 

Sister Bell and I had a very adventurous evening last Monday. We felt that we should go visit this woman I had taught when I first got here, but hadn't expressed much interest in changing churches. We tried to find her, but we couldn't figure out where she lived. There are three roads that are very similar to each other- Cane Gully, Cane Gulley, and Cane Gully A. And we couldn't figure out which one she lived on. So finally I just turned down Cane Gulley. That was a big mistake. It's a forest road, which means it's basically a large trail in the middle of the woods. It was pretty scary to drive down, and it was so narrow we couldn't turn around. There were potholes everywhere so it was a very bumpy ride. When we finally managed to get off it, Sister Bell was walked around the car to make sure it was ok, and when she got to the front of the car she said "You killed a dragonfly!" Somehow, a huge dragonfly had gotten its head stuck in the grill of our car. It wasn't dead and we were able to get it out eventually. That was the perfect ending to that adventure. I think we're going to avoid all the Cane Gully roads for a while. 

Thank you for all the letters and emails, I love getting them. I miss you all. I love you all. 

New Companionship: Sister Bell and Sister Rudy