Monday, August 26, 2013

Trip to ER, Almost

No, it was not me, it was my companion. We learned the hard way that Sister Winsor is severely allergic to fire ants. Tuesday evening we stopped to talk to a guy on the street, and while we were talking with him, Sister Winsor got attacked by fire ants. She got at least 60 ant bites. To her credit, I had no idea  she was being attacked like that, she kept talking like nothing was wrong. But about ten minutes afterwards, she started saying that her ears felt really heavy, she turned bright red and started breaking out in hives. So we went very quickly to the nearest member's house, who luckily was a retired nurse. She immediately recognized it was an allergic reaction and suggested we go to the emergency room. So we did, and on the way we called the mission president's wife to let her know what was going on. She asked us to call the mission doctor before we actually went into the ER, which we did, but we got his answering machine. Since Sister Winsor was feeling a little better, we decided to wait in the car, in the emergency room parking lot, to hear back from him. After waiting for half an hour we just went to Wal-Mart and got some Benadryl, and she was fine. So, that was probably the most exciting thing that happened this week. 

It's been an interesting week. We've taught several lessons, most of them when we just met some random person on the street and started talking to them. We haven't really been able to get a hold of any of the people we've been working with. One still isn't answering our calls, so we've just been praying about that a lot. We're not sure how much more we can do for him. And although we've taught quite a few people, none of them have been interested enough to invite us back. However, there are a few less active members that we've been working with that are starting to come around. Now we just have to actually get them to church. 

On Thursday we had a mission fireside, where President and Sister Holm come down and all the missionaries in our zone bring the people they're working with to meet them and attend this fireside. It was really incredible. They had some recent converts share their testimonies, which was really powerful. President Holm also had interviews with all the missionaries before the fireside. I was the last missionary from my zone to be interviewed, and we were the last zone they visited, so I was the very last missionary to be interviewed in the entire mission. We didn't have long to talk, but it was great to be able to talk to President Holm. I could feel how much he loves me and cares about me. He asked us to share a scripture with him that describes the kind of missionary we want to be and I picked Alma 26:12. I want to be humble enough to recognize my weaknesses, but I want to be bold enough to open my mouth and tell these people what God wants them to hear, I want to see and recognize miracles, and I want to always be grateful for them. 

It was amazing to think back over the past couple transfers and see how much I've grown and how much I've changed, especially this second transfer. I'm not sure why, but my confidence has just sky rocketed. I guess it's because I have a basic understanding of what I'm doing and what to expect, but that I've also embraced that there's a lot of things about missionary work that I'm just not going to know. And I think I've been able to recognize that I have been improving, which has helped me to feel like I am making progress and doing something good, even if we don't really have any investigators. I think I've come to accept that change happens gradually, and that as I put forth the effort to work on my weaknesses, I will be able to overcome them. And I know that while the work isn't going quickly in this area, that we are doing good and that as we continue to improve and work hard, we will find people who are ready for the gospel. 

I hope everything is going well with all of you. I love getting your letters and emails, it's good to know what's going on so I feel like I'm not totally missing out on everything. I love you all. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Big Lift

It's been a pretty incredible week. We've seen a lot of miracles, big and small. 

We went on two exchanges this week, and they were both incredible. I learned so much this week about how I can improve as a missionary. The first exchange we went on was part of the Big Lift, which is when every missionary in our zone goes on an exchange at the same time. Sister Winsor and I went on an exchange with Sister Lundholm, one of the Traveling Sisters, the female version of assistants to the president. Sister Lundholm is pretty awesome. I had a really rough morning right before the Big Lift started. I kept trying to role play with Sister Winsor, but I kept getting stuck and I was getting very frustrated with myself. But I knew that it was just the adversary working on me, I could tell that he wanted me to get frustrated with myself and give up because he was trying to keep something amazing from happening.

And there were several miracles that night as we started the Big Lift, but the most incredible one happened the next morning. We had an appointment with a man who was a referral from the MTC. He lives way out in the far reaches of our area, so we got a member to give us a ride. He lives in the middle of nowhere, in a boarding house type place. One of his friends had been given a Book of Mormon and a restoration pamphlet and he had shared them with him. He said he had read parts of the Book of Mormon and he'd been very inspired by it. He'd also read the restoration pamphlet several times. When Sister Lundholm asked him what his favorite part was he immediately opened to the page on the First Vision. He said he believes that Joseph Smith did see what he said he saw. He also said that he's been trying to be baptized in the church that he attends now, but that for some reason or another it hasn't ever been able to work out. But he really wants to be baptized. Sister Winsor invited him to be baptized on September 7 and he accepted. It was an incredible lesson. I realized as we were speaking with him that I was witnessing the beginnings of a testimony and that was incredible. We were all so happy when we left. 

However, he called us on Saturday and canceled the appointment we had made to go see him that day. He has several health problems and he said he wasn't feeling well. He also said he felt he'd jumped the gun by deciding to be baptized, but he said that he still wanted to meet with us. I don't think he really understands the magnitude of the restoration. He believes that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but he doesn't really understand what that means. I think he still thinks of us as just another church. We'll hopefully be meeting with him tomorrow and I still think he can be baptized. 

We were able to talk with [the family I mentioned last week] and they promised they were going to read the Book of Mormon and that they'd love to talk with us again. I don't think they fully understand what as missionaries do. We're going to try and go over the restoration with them the next time we go over. 

Also, we had a pretty amazing experience yesterday. We met this woman who invited us into her house and we started talking with her. After we'd been talking for awhile Sister Winsor asked her if we could sing her a song, so we sang her I Am A Child Of God. She loved it, and asked if we'd write down the words. Sister Winsor pulled out her notebook to write them down, and then remembered that she'd already written them down earlier that day. So that was pretty incredible. 

I'm excited to hear how school goes. We're working hard out here, and eventually I know we're going to have success. I love you all. 

Also, we're still talking with [the older woman whose friend is a recent member].  Sister Lundholm challenged me to invite her to be baptized when we were there on Thursday, so I did even though it was a little rushed, since just as we were starting to share our message with her she told us she wasn't feeling well and needed to go lay down. So I just kind of asked her as we were going out the door, she told us she's already been baptized. So next time we'll go over why she needs to be baptized again!  And the referral in Eutawville hasn't been answering her phone, so we're assuming she's not really interested. We've met a couple other really good leads this week, I'll let you know if anything develops with them.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


August 12, 2013

How beautiful are the feet . . . ? . . .

Yes, I bought a camera today, but I don't have any new pictures to send from it just yet.  The pictures are from Sister Winsor's camera. The first one of our feet after a rainy day, there's one of us canning peaches and then one that Sister Winsor took of me while we were tracting a gravel road on Saturday. We were on that road for three hours. It was exhausting. But the scenery was beautiful.

When we're helping, we're happy

I'm so excited to hear about [my cousin Mikelle's baby] Kinslee! It's strange to think that she'll be over a year old before I see her. 

We've had a pretty good week down here. Last Monday evening was actually really incredible. Because we only have three hours to work, we generally don't get a lot done. But this past Monday we got 4 new investigators. That's about 4x as many as we normally get in a week! So we were pretty excited. 

The first three investigators are a married couple and their brother.  We met them the second or third day after I got here, and were able to talk to the whole family, except for the husband, but hadn't been able to catch them all together again after that. We stopped by last Monday and luckily the three of them were all sitting outside. We ended up talking to them for about an hour, answering questions they had and talking about the Book of Mormon. I'm really excited about them. They're all at different places in their spiritual lives, but I can tell that they've all been prepared to hear the gospel and I think all of them could accept it. The brother is such a cool guy. He has an interesting past; he was in a gang at some point and had one of his legs shot off, so he has a prosthetic leg. He went to jail for something and while he was there decided to become Muslim. He said one of the main reasons he became Muslim is because there's only one version of the Koran, he doesn't like all the different versions of the Bible. So we were really excited to tell him about the Book of Mormon. The wife knows she needs to go to church and be baptized, but she's worried about messing up after that, so we talked to her about the sacrament. And then the husband isn't very interested in religion, he was raised in another church, but he said he was forced to believe it so I think he's a little wary of religion at the moment. But he got more involved in the conversation as we talked, which was good. We're going back to see them again tonight, hopefully things go well. 

Also on Monday night we were able to contact a referral from the Spanish elders. He's from Costa Rica and speaks pretty good English, although I really had to concentrate to understand his accent. His wife, who's eight months pregnant, doesn't speak any English though, but there are people in the ward who could help us out there. He was very nice, and invited us back anytime, so we'll hopefully see him soon too. 

One of the things that's very different about the South is that people aren't afraid to talk over each other. It's not something I'm used to. Like one evening we stopped by a less active family's house and ran into a daughter and the grandma out in the yard. We started talking to the daughter, but then the grandma started talking as well, so I started listening to the grandma and Sister Winsor kept listening to the daughter. We talked for almost half an hour, and even though Sister Winsor and I were standing right next to each other, we might as well have been on opposite sides of the room, we were having a totally different experience. We walked away and I asked her "So, how was your conversation?". It was pretty funny in a way, how even though we were both right there, we had entirely different conversations. 

I love you all, I'm happy to be out here and I'm happy everything is going well at home. I always love hearing from people. Have a great week! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Pretty Good Week

It's been a pretty good week here in Moncks Corner. We had a Zone Training Meeting on Thursday (August 1) in North Charleston, which was really good. Sister Winsor and I were asked to give a training on setting good goals. We only had a couple days to prepare, and I was getting a little worried about how it was going to turn out, but luckily we were able to pull it all together and I think we did a good job. 

There were some other really great trainings as well and Sister Winsor and I have been trying hard to apply them and we've begun to see more success. We've especially been trying to get specific return appointments. So often someone will agree to let us back, but then not mention a specific time and then we end up trying them again and again until we finally catch them at home. It's not very effective, so we've really been trying to ask if we can come back at a specific time. It's worked really well. We had a good lesson because of that on Friday, and we have several more appointments next week. 

There are four senior couples in our zone, and they're wonderful. They really treat us like we're their grandkids. One couple took our whole district out to lunch after the zone meeting. We went to Zaxby's, which is my favorite Southern fast food restaurant so far. Apparently they're also opening some in Utah, so I'm excited about that. 

I had an interesting food experience this week. We were eating dinner with a great older couple in the ward; they both work in the temple and he's in the bishopric and she's a ward missionary and a primary teacher. We were having hamburgers, which were really good. As we were eating Brother Langdon said, "That meat came from the field over by the high school." That kind of surprised us, and Sister Winsor said she didn't know there were cows over there. And then Brother Langdon told us that it wasn't beef, it was deer. So I had deer for the first time. It was good. I didn't recognize the difference until Brother Langdon mentioned it because he had seasoned it with onion soup mix, so I thought that was why it tasted different. 

It's finally stopped raining every single day over here, so we've been enjoying walking around in the heat and humidity. We're pretty gross and sweaty by the time we get home, but that's ok.
On Tuesday morning we helped a member of the ward can peaches. She's a young mom and her husband was away at scout camp so she needed some extra hands. We had a lot of fun, and the peaches were really good.  Hm, I write about food a lot, don't I? Maybe that's just because we haven't eaten lunch yet, and I'm really hungry right now. 

I'm really enjoying myself out here, even though the days sometimes seem to go on forever and I feel absolutely exhausted from the sun and the walking. But I know as we continue to work hard we'll see success, and it may not be the success we expected, but it will come. I can't believe it's already August. The summer has flown by. I love you all, and I hope everything else is going well.