Monday, February 24, 2014

Time's A Crazy Thing

Well, Sister Rowley has been transferred. I was very sad to see her go. It's interesting I thought I wouldn't ever be as sad to lose a companion as I was when I left Sister Bell, but I was equally as sad to lose Sister Rowley. We really have become like sisters in the past few months. 

My new companion is Sister McNeece. She's 21, from Springville,Utah and she came out the same transfer as Sister Bell and Sister Rowley. I don't know what it is about that transfer, but I'm starting to wonder if I'm destined to be companions with all the sisters that came out at that time. They're all wonderful, so I'm not complaining, but it's going to be rough trying to get to all their homecoming talks. Sister McNeece came from Spartanburg, and her area was a lot like my first area. It's kind of like I get to relive my experience coming here through her. Every time she says something like "I can't believe how many houses there are here!" or "It doesn't take twenty minutes to drive to our next appointment?" it takes me right back to what I was feeling three months ago. 

A lot of exciting things have happened this week. An investigator was interviewed for her baptism yesterday, and everything went well, so she should be baptized this Saturday! I'm so excited for her. She's made so many changes and overcome so many fears to get to this point. I have to admit, I was a little doubtful that she would ever get to this point. I thought she had too many things she wouldn't be willing to change, especially coming to church and quitting smoking. But she's done so well. Plus, she's reading the Book of Mormon faster than anybody I've ever known. She's already halfway through Helaman. And yesterday on the phone she asked about coming out teaching with us. She's just so amazing and she's going to be an awesome member. I think it's also a tender mercy that she's getting baptized on my nine month mark. I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate the halfway point of my mission. 

It's crazy how fast time has gone by. I can't believe I'm halfway done, that after this week I'm on the downhill side of my mission. Ah! I don't want to think about it. 

We've also started teaching the niece of one of the members in our ward. The family is amazing; she is a ward missionary who comes out with us every Thursday night, and he is the Sunday School President. They're both converts, and they have two teenage kids. Their niece came to live with them about a month ago.  She's been coming to church and going to seminary and mutual, and she's really interested in joining the church. Her dad is a Baptist preacher, so her family is pretty opposed to her learning about our church, but she's really interested. She's still not sure about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, but she's so sweet and really open to finding out for herself if this is all true. And it's great because her aunt and uncle were both in her position once so they can relate to her. 

A lot of our investigators have been really hard to get a hold of the past couple weeks, so we're trying to work on getting back in contact and teaching them regularly. We still haven't been able to talk to one of them at all. We did have a great lesson with another last night. Sister McNeece was really bold with him and asked him some very inspired questions. He told us he knows he needs to read more from the Book of Mormon on his own, but he's not getting much inspiration out of reading it, and he's super busy so he hasn't been reading a lot lately. But he recommited to read a lot when he's off from work next week. And we went back and read 2 Nephi 33 with him, which seemed to really hit him. The nice thing about him is that he is doing all this for the right reasons, and he is determined to search until he gets an answer, whether that's yes or no.

I just worry that he's waiting for too big of an answer, because he has had some incredible experiences in the past, but his answer about this may not come in the same way. I know he feels the spirit when we read, but he knows he's going to have to give up his coffee and cigarettes once he knows this is true and he really doesn't want to do that. We've tried to get him to try and quit now, promising him that it will help him get an answer, but he just says something about how you don't pick out a mansion before you win the lottery. I was wondering if Dad would be willing to write him about how he gained a testimony of the Book of Mormon, because I think our investigator trusts people who are converts more than lifetime members. 

It makes being a missionary so much easier because I have such a supportive family, so thank you all for everything you do for me.  I hope you all have a wonderful week, I love you and I miss you, but I am so thankful to be a missionary. 

The parking lot as ice rink.

Monday, February 17, 2014


This will be pretty short. We're at our new Relief Society president's house, since the library is closed, and we have a lot to do today. Sister Rowley is being transferred, and so is Elder Oviatt, who is also serving in our ward. So our district is getting together for one last time in downtown Greenville. Greenville is a fun city and it has a really nice downtown. There's the cutest gelato shop, I think Mom would love it. 

We've had a very interesting week with the snow and ice storm and then the earthquake. It snowed hard all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Since everyone knew it was coming, it was a madhouse at the grocery store on Monday. It was like the end of the world was coming. And then everything shut down. School was pre-canceled before it even started snowing. How crazy is that? We got really bored being stuck inside for so long. Since it hasn't been long since the last time we were trapped inside for four days, there wasn't much productive stuff for us to do, so we mainly just watched old church movies and worked on a 750 piece puzzle we found in a closet. Thursday morning our mission president asked us all to pray for warmer weather, so we did, and about half an hour later the sun came out and things started melting. The roads were clear enough that by that afternoon we were able to drive to Simpsonville and have interviews with President. It was a miracle.

The earthquake on Friday night was interesting. Sister Rowley and I were exhausted because we had a crazy day on Friday, trying to catch up on all the things we couldn't do the rest of the week, so we went to bed as quick as we could. I'd just started to fall asleep when the building shook. It felt like someone had dropped something super heavy in the apartment next to ours. Since we were both pretty out of it, and our neighbor was moving, we didn't think too much of it. But when things kept shaking for a few more seconds, I kind of wondered if it could be an earthquake. But that seemed really unlikely, and I was tired so I just went to sleep. Then a member told us the next day that it was an earthquake. Apparently there was another one yesterday, but I didn't feel that one at all. 

It's been sad to see Sister Rowley say her goodbyes to everyone. It's really hard for her to leave; she loves this area so much. But I know she'll do great wherever she goes, and I'm excited for a new companion. I just keep reminding myself that good things will keep coming. I'm very happy with the companion that I have now; we really have become like sisters, but I know that I'll love my next companion just as much. It's hard to embrace change, but that's something that you have to learn to do as a missionary, because things never stay the same for long. I've been thinking a lot about all the changes that have happened to me in the last eight and a half months, and they've all been good for me. So, I'm grateful for change. 

Sisters Rudy and Rowley at our neighbor's son's wife's family road!!  Sister Looper took good care of them.

Monday, February 10, 2014

A Valentine

So, interestingly enough, I have a valentine for Valentine's day. He's very sweet and only six years old. He's the son of a member in the ward who's just becoming active again. His cousin is smitten with Sister Rowley. It's pretty funny. Every time we're around them they always do something to get our attention, and then as soon as we look at them they either hide behind their moms or run away screaming. They're pretty entertaining. 

It was a super busy week. We had a zone meeting on Tuesday, down in Simpsonville. There's a Target down there, so I was able to use the gift card Charles and Kathie gave me for Christmas and get myself some cute Sunday shoes; I'll send a picture next week. We also went on exchanges that day. I stayed in our area and Sister Rowley left. It was good practice, since transfers are next week and Sister Rowley is probably going to be leaving, even though I may have to drag her to transfers kicking and screaming; she really doesn't want to leave, and I don't really want her to leave either. We've had some good times, and some crazy times, and we've learned to teach really well together, and I'm going to miss her. 

We couldn't get a hold of an investigator for about three days this week, which really scared us, but we finally managed to see her on Friday and she's doing great, she had just been busy. We had planned to have her baptism this Saturday, and we talked about that with her, but after we left we really didn't feel good about it. And then we realized that there's a ward temple trip that day, so no one is going to be around. We're not sure if she's completely living the word of wisdom yet, so we're just going to see where she's at and then set a new date. I feel really bad doing this to her again; this is the fourth time we've moved her baptism. It's hard with her, because she has the desire to be baptized, but she doesn't quite have the understanding or the commitment to the commandments. But she'll get there. I can't believe how far she's come in the past month. I thought she was never going to come to church, but she's been great about coming. Although, this week she got confused and showed up at 1 instead of 9, so she went to the Spanish branch by accident. Luckily our elders were still at the church and told her it was the Spanish branch and our ward met earlier. I think stake conference a couple weeks ago threw her off, but we called her last night and got everything cleared up. Oh the funny things that happen on a mission :)

We had a great lesson last night with that family we met last Sunday. We taught them about the Restoration. They're not really sure about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon yet, but they're willing to read and think about it. Their youngest daughter said that she wanted to be the first one to finish the Book of Mormon, she was really excited about it. They're just such an amazing family, and we had a really good lesson with them. At one point the dad asked me, "If you weren't missionaries, if we were just some extended family that had come over for Christmas dinner and we were talking about religion, what would you tell us is the reason we should join your Church? What is it that makes it so much better than what we've got?" It was an interesting question, and it almost made me cry when I answered it, because I do have family members that could ask that question. But what I said to him was that the priesthood is what makes the difference. In our church, we have men that have the authority to act in God's name, to perform baptisms, to give blessings of healing and comfort, and to seal our families together forever. That's the difference, because we believe just about the same things they believe. But the priesthood authority is found only in our church and with that comes the power and direction of God, and that makes all the difference. Oh, I hope that family will be willing to soften their hearts and recognize the truth of what we share, because they're so amazing, and they need those blessings of the priesthood. 

We've been warned that a big ice storm is supposed to hit tomorrow and Wednesday, so we're praying that it's not too bad, or we may end up stuck in our apartment again, which wouldn't be good because we've got lots to do this week, lots of people to teach. The weather here is so weird. One day it will be warm enough we don't even need our coats and the next day it will feel like we're in Antarctica. 

I love you all, thank you for your prayers, we need them. I can't believe it's been three months since I got to Easley. I didn't think any place could be as good as Moncks Corner, but I love it here too, in a different way. I'm just so grateful to be a missionary. There's nothing I'd rather be doing. I'm very happy. 

P.S. As you can tell from the picture, baking cookies on a rainy day just doesn't work here. At least the dough tasted good! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

Cabin Fever

Well, it's been an odd, ironic week down here in Easley, South Carolina. On Tuesday, something happened that I never expected to happen on my mission- it snowed! 

We got about a full inch. It was crazy! Also, a little pathetic, because we basically had to shut down and stay in our apartment. Seriously, missionaries were not allowed to drive or ride bikes when there was snow on the road. Not because we aren't capable of driving in it, but because everyone else doesn't know what they're doing. Wednesday morning everything was still iced over, so we spent the morning baking chocolate cakes for our recent convert Dolly, who got out of jail that day. 

Then on Thursday, Sister Rowley got sick with the flu, and so we had to stay in our apartment all day. Friday, she still wasn't feeling better, so we stayed in again. While she slept, I organized our map and our area book a little better and went through all the phone numbers in our phone and deleted all the ones we no longer needed. There were about 100. So even though we weren't out working, we stayed as busy as we could, and it was good because now we're a lot more organized. I felt a little guilty, because I like organizing things so I felt like I was enjoying staying in a little too much. 

The reason this week has been so ironic was that when it snowed, we had our day absolutely packed with things to do, and then we couldn't do any of it, and it was the one day that week when we had everything planned. Also, we've been really good about miles, so we had about 300 miles to use this past week, but we couldn't go out and use them. And then, less than an hour after I got our phone all cleaned out, the mailman delivered a new phone to us, and we can't transfer the contacts over, so we're going to have to go through and put them all into the new phone. 

Saturday Sister Rowley was feeling better so we were able to go out and see people. Kathy is doing well, and is excited to get baptized in a couple weeks. She hasn't completely quit smoking yet, but she's so close. She's changed a lot in the past couple months and it's been exciting to watch her grow. 

On Sunday we had an amazing miracle, we found a family to teach! They were a referral from a member in another ward, who works with the dad and has been telling him all about the church. They're a really awesome family; they have three kids, a daughter who's 22, and son who's 18 and another daughter who's 9. We're meeting with them next Sunday to teach them the first lesson. We're really excited. Pray that it will go well and the spirit will be there.