Tuesday, January 28, 2014


This week has been very good, and very sad. I'll start with the sad first. One of our investigators basically dropped us. When we met with him on Wednesday, he told us he wasn't sure he wanted to continue with this, and then he brought up all these concerns that he hadn't ever told us before- he believes in the trinity, he thinks as long as a person accepts Christ they're saved, he thinks we worship a different Christ because of something Brigham Young said, he's not sure that there's just one true church anymore, Joseph Smith was a mason and a sorcerer etc. It was an awful lesson. Even though he didn't mean it to come across this way, it felt like he was attacking us, and that he was saying there were higher beliefs in our church that we were unaware of. It was hard for me to not get mad and defensive and start arguing with him at times. I'm getting frustrated just thinking about it again. 

We just told him that the only way his concerns were going to be addressed was if he prayed to know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if he read the Book of Mormon. He's said he'll still meet with us, but only once every other week. Sister Rowley and I were both really rattled after that lesson. I knew that we had done everything we could, and that he was exercising his agency, and I knew that what he had said about our church was absolutely, completely false, but I just couldn't stop thinking about it. It just kept running through my mind again and again. The same thing was happening to Sister Rowley. Along with what happened with him, another investigator hasn't been responding to our texts or calls, which is very unlike him, so that had us worried too. 

On Tuesday at DDM, our district leader, Elder Proctor, had encouraged us to ask our bishop to give each of us a blessing, to receive guidance on how to move the work forward in our area. So we asked our bishop for a blessing, and he did that Thursday night at his house. He and his wife both served missions, and they're both amazing. It was good to talk with them about their missions, especially Sister Jones, about the good and the hard times they had. Sister Jones just kept telling us about all the blessings that she's received for serving, that she didn't recognize until she's come home. And the blessings Bishop gave us were really amazing. They were exactly what each of us needed to hear. It was a reminder to me that our Heavenly Father is more aware than I am of what I need, and what my investigators need. I am here to serve others, that's why I came on a mission, but in the process I'm also supposed to grow and change myself. And as I grow and change I'll be better able to help others.

Friday and Saturday we had an exchange. Sister Paxman, one of our Sister Training Leaders, came out with us. It was a really good exchange. We had a great lesson with one of the active members and her less active sister. The sister is really trying to get her life back on track, and the member's been going through a lot of challenges as well, but it was cool to see the sister talk about how she's getting inspiration from seeing her sister, who's always been a good person, go through hard things and still be so faithful. It was a very hopeful lesson; I think we all just felt a lot of peace that the Atonement is there and that it works. 

We also had stake conference this weekend, which was good. An investigator came to the Sunday session and liked it. We taught her about the Word of Wisdom on Saturday, and she's willing to give it a try. I think that's going to be a challenge for her. She smokes, and tea is big in her family. But I think once she gets a stronger testimony of Joseph Smith as a prophet, she'll be able to do it. We're pushing her baptism to February 15, so she'll be really ready for it. 

Also, I think this was the best moment of the week, when we went over the baptism interview questions with another investigator, and we asked her if she believed Joseph Smith was a prophet she said, "Absolutely yes"! Now the only thing keeping her from being baptized is the law of chastity, and she knows she needs to live it. So now we're praying she'll be able to find a job so she can move out and get her own place. 

I got the family recipe book yesterday, and I am very excited to make some of the recipes today.  I loved getting the pictures too.  It's crazy, everyone is grown up. But I'm so lucky to be on a mission, especially at such an amazing time, when God is hastening his work and all these changes are happening in missionary work. There are moments that are discouraging, and times when I feel like I'm not accomplishing anything, but those moments don't happen very often, and when they do they're always followed by some kind of miracle that reminds me how blessed I am to be here. I just love being a missionary so much. I'm so excited for the next 10 months. I love the gospel of Jesus Christ, it's simple and it's true, and it is for everyone. 

I hope y'all have a wonderful week! 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Everything Will Work Out in the End

I'm writing this at a member's house, at their kitchen table on their laptop while Sister Rowley learns how to make a scarf out of yarn. We're eating chips and salsa and having a lot of fun. 

I'm not sure where to begin . . . it's been an interesting week. Everyone's lives seem to be falling apart. We had an investigator that we haven't been able to contact in about a month.  She called us on Saturday to tell us that her family has been evicted from their trailer, her car died, and the cousin she was staying with admitted she was addicted to cocaine, so the cousin went to live in Illinois and the cousin's husband ended up in jail for abuse and drug use, and she had no idea where they were going to go after Monday. Stuff like that's been happening right and left, it seems like. There are quite a few people we're teaching who have been in hard situations since we met them, but things are starting to get worse, and I feel like some of them are reaching their breaking point. Which could be good, because maybe when they have nothing left to turn to, they'll turn to the Book of Mormon. I know Heavenly Father knows what he's doing, and he has a plan for these people, so everything will work out in the end. 

More happy exciting news, Brad got the priesthood on Sunday! It was very exciting. We didn't get to see the ordination, because we were teaching the Young Women, but it went well and he's excited about it. He's got a home teaching companion and everything. I can't wait to see him bless and pass the sacrament. 

Another investigator is doing pretty well. We had a great lesson with him on Thursday night at a member's house. It went really well. All the spiritual experiences he's been having are amazing. Everything just fell into place so we met him at the right time and so he was ready to meet us. He's slowly accepting it, but this is a big change for him. I don't think I can fully understand what it's like to essentially abandon the traditions of his fathers. He'll get there eventually. 

We had a good training meeting with President and Sister Holm on Thursday. The rumor was that we would be getting our ipads then, but that didn't happen. But President says they'll be here soon, within the next three months. It's going to make things a lot easier on us, especially when it comes to keeping updated records of our area and all that. 

I love you all, I'm glad everyone is doing well. I'm really excited to hear the Lakeys were able to give away my Book of Mormon. Have a wonderful week, thank you for all the prayers. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Crazy, Good Week

It's been another crazy week up here. The weather hasn't been very nice to us. It was absolutely freezing earlier this week. Everyone's pipes have been bursting. The church up in Seneca's pipes burst and no one knew about it till the elders went there on Tuesday afternoon, and by then there was about three inches of water all throughout the building. It's been a little crazy. 

District P-day

We've seen a lot of miracles this last week though. An investigator came to Book of Mormon class on Wednesday night. We were so excited to see her. She's agreed to be baptized, she was scheduled for the 25th, but she didn't come to church yesterday so we'll have to wait till sometime in February. She's so sweet and she feels the spirit, she just has a hard time retaining information. So I think Book of Mormon class was really good for her. A couple ladies in our ward have really reached out to her and they get along well, so she's already got some good friends. Now we just have to get her to church! And she has to stop smoking. But, she'll get there soon! 

We've also been able to start teaching another investigator more. He came to the elder's baptism on Saturday and we showed him around the church. It turns out one of his friends from high school is part of the 3rd ward, and she's serving in France right now. He was really excited to see her picture on the wall. He's going to write her and tell her he's been meeting with us; I wish I could see her face when she reads that email!  He came to church yesterday, and I cannot believe how perfectly tailored to him everything was. Sacrament meeting was all about the importance of the Book of Mormon, Sunday School was about our heavenly family (family is a big thing for him), and priesthood was about Heavenly Father. He looked so happy when we saw him after priesthood. Everyone was so nice to him; it was so nice to see members introducing themselves and connecting with him. We also had dinner with him and the Kunzlers that afternoon and taught the plan of salvation, which filled in some more questions he had. He's really close to knowing that this is the truth; he keeps telling us these amazing experiences he has where he'll have a question and then we'll answer it or what he reads in the Book of Mormon will answer it. He's also been talking to his mom a lot about the church, and she's starting to warm up to it. I think if he gets baptized, she'll be willing to meet with us. I'm just so excited for him! 

We had a really cool experience earlier in the week. We'd just gotten out of a really disappointing lesson with a recent convert, and we were both pretty upset, Sister Rowley especially. As we were walking back to our car, we ran into another investigator. He came over and started talking to us, and he could tell that something was wrong. So we explained a little about what had just happened and how sad it made us. And then he gave us this great pep talk. It was so amazing; it was like President Holm was standing in front of us. He just told us to keep going, that he knew that what we were doing was good and that none of our effort was wasted. It was exactly what we needed to hear. By the end of the conversation Sister Rowley and I were both laughing and happy again. It was amazing how Heavenly Father helped us through what he said. He's on vacation in New York now, but he promised us he'd come to church once he got back. So next Sunday should be really good. 

Oh also, funny moment for the week- we got lost in a nursing home. It was pretty hilarious. We were trying to go visit some members that live there, and we had no idea where to go, and all the doors have alarms on them so every time we opened a door an alarm would go off, and then we somehow ended up in a courtyard with no way out. Luckily, we found one door that was open, so we eventually got out, but it was pretty funny. 

We have an exciting week ahead of us, we're going to be teaching a lot of people. We have so many people who are so close to baptism; they just have to take that scary step and commit. Hopefully we'll be able to help a lot of them do that this week. We also have a special training all day Thursday with President and Sister Holm, which will be good. I'm hoping it's about Ipads, but who knows what it could be. I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you. Thank you for your prayers! 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Quite a Week

So I just had a rather surreal experience at the grocery store. We were walking up and down the aisles when this lady who was passing us stopped me and asked if she could give me something to read. I said sure, and then she handed me a pamphlet (she was Jehovah's Witness). It was kind of strange, since I'm used to being the person who hands other people stuff. It was a little weird to be on the other side of the fence. 

I don't even know where to begin with this week. It's been quite the emotional roller coaster. A lot of good things have happened, but we've also been really disappointed by a few people and had to watch a couple others go through some really rough stuff. It's been a test of faith, to say the least. 

New Years Eve and New Years were pretty uneventful. We had to be in a little early on New Years Eve, but we were out late enough to see some of the fireworks. Since basically every firework known to man is legal in South Carolina, it always sounds like a war zone outside on major holidays. We went and taught Brad a lesson, and he told us about all his crazy New Years adventures back in his wild days. Then we went and taught an investigator, although it was hard to concentrate since their neighbors were having a fireworks show outside.  He has had a kind of hard week; we were a little worried about him for a while there. One of his cousins died, and it really shook him up. But then the next lesson we had with him he really opened up to us. He told us that he's convinced that the Mormon church is good, and he wants to be a part of it, but he knows that the Mormon church doesn't want him to be a part of it unless he believes in the Book of Mormon and that Joseph Smith was a prophet, and he's not going to pretend just to belong. So he promised us that he would keep reading the Book of Mormon, looking for something that will help him to know that it's true. We promised him his answer would come. I really hope he gets his answer soon; he's been searching for it for a long time. 

Thursday morning was absolutely amazing. We had miracle after miracle. We had planned to meet with an investigator at 11, but plans changed and we couldn't go by till 12, so we decided to go see another investigator in the meantime. I can't remember if I've told y'all about her, but she's awesome. She's in her 50s; she lives with her boyfriend, and she just got out of jail. We had planned to teach her the plan of salvation, but as we got talking to her she told us that she'd just decided that morning to quit smoking because it was giving her bronchitis. Well, I look over at Sister Rowley and see her pull out a Word of Wisdom pamphlet. At first I was a little worried and didn't think it was a good idea, but as we talked with her about the Word of Wisdom the Spirit came. The lesson could not have gone better, and she commited to live the Word of Wisdom. She also brought up that she knew that their living together was wrong, and that she was praying about whether to marry him or move out. So we covered the law of chastity too. It was amazing, the two commandments that we were most worried about we taught in one lesson and it went perfectly. 

After that we went over to the other investigator's and had a great lesson with him, and he's promised us that he's coming to church once he gets back from New York in a couple weeks. By the way, he's from Yonkers, and I think Spencer would be his best friend if he met him. Also we found out he has absolutely no Word of Wisdom issues.. He quit drinking coffee and alcohol a few years ago when he realized he was depending on those things rather than God. So, that was really exciting to hear. And then, we went and contacted this mormon.org referral. He had requested a Book of Mormon, and when we first started talking with him, I kind of thought he was a member playing a trick on us. He knew so much about our church and the things he was saying, about wanting more purpose and hope in his life, just seemed to good to be true. But he was serious. He's 21, and he's just searching for something more. He researched our church for three days, and he said he already felt more hopeful as he read our beliefs. He's so prepared and so willing to accept the gospel. He's willing to give up whatever is necessary, make whatever changes in his life he needs to if he finds out this is the truth. So we're really excited to teach him more. 

Transfer calls were this week, and Sister Rowley and I will be staying together for another six weeks, which we're both very happy about. We really feel that a lot of exciting things are about to start happening in our area. And even though we've faced some hurdles this week, things are going well. We know everything's going to work out.