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.