Monday, April 28, 2014


I don't know where this week has gone, it has flown by. We had some really amazing lessons this week, the kind where you walk out and think, "What just happened? How did that go so well?"

The first was with a former investigator that we decided to call last Saturday. I don't know why, but ever since Sister McNeece and I have been companions every single Saturday is like an eternity, none of our plans every work out and we end up going through every single person we can think of by 2:00. It's like Heavenly Father is testing our diligence. Anyway, on one such Saturday we decided to just call this guy and he answered and agreed to have us come over, so we did. And he's a minister at a Church of Christ, and he absolutely does not think the Book of Mormon is the word of God. He believes in the Bible, and that all that we need to know God and get back to him is in the Bible. That first lesson we had with him was bordering on an argument/bible bashing, but since both of us were trying to be respectful it never boiled over. He invited us back, not because he thinks we might be right, but just because he wants to understand our beliefs better. I'll admit, I kind of felt like we'd be wasting our time to come back, but Sister McNeece felt like it was a good idea, so I just trusted her. 

We decided we'd talk about the Plan of Salvation, we left him the pamphlet to read and when we went back last Monday, he had read it and had a list of questions he wanted us to answer. We only covered about half of them, but amazingly we concluded at the end of the lesson that most of our beliefs are the same. It was shockingly non-confrontational. And the best part about the whole lesson was that in answer to his questions we basically just gave him a couple scriptures, or asked a question and he figured the rest out on his own. He taught himself more than we taught him. Which is the best way for investigators to learn. I know the Spirit was in that lesson and was teaching and testifying to him, even if he doesn't believe that you can know the truth by "feeling" something. We're teaching him more tonight, it will be an interesting lesson. We're going over the last half of the plan of salvation. We want to teach it as simply and clearly as possible, so we've been practicing a lot. 

The other really amazing lesson was with a less active member from England, and she's very good friends with the Relief Society President. In the past, I've always gotten the impression that she's well aware of what we believe and just have no interest or need for church. But this last time we were there we got talking about the plan of salvation, and I realized that she actually knows or remembers very little about what we believe, but she's really interested in learning about it again. She told us that she feels something is missing in her life, that she's happy but not truly happy. It really surprised me to hear her say that, but it also made me really excited, because she recognizes that there's something else out there for her, and she's ready to look for it. She told us she wants us to start studying the Book of Mormon with her, which we'll probably start doing in another week, once she gets back from her son's graduation. After the lesson, she walked us outside and we all just stood in her driveway for a minute, looking up at the stars, and it was just such a spiritual moment, one of those moments where I wouldn't want to be anywhere else on Earth. I think we were all feeling how close God is, and how much He loves us. It's moments like that that make missionary work worth it; they may not happen very frequently, but when they do they make all the hard times worth it. 

Our new member is still progressing so well. She's getting ready to go on the ward temple trip and do baptisms for the dead. She brought this big binder with her to church on Sunday, full of family records and information, so one of the sisters in the ward could help her get some family names ready. It reminded me of one of the things Brother Cluxton told her as he was confirming her, that she had been chosen as the one to introduce the gospel to her family. It's exciting to see her doing so well and really becoming a part of the ward. I was a little worried when she was baptized because she didn't, doesn't still, really comprehend the whole one true church concept. And as I prayed about it, I felt that it was right for her to be baptized, and that her conversion was going to continue throughout her life, as she was a part of the church. And that promise is being fulfilled. 

Summer is here, it's nice and humid outside. I keep getting this sneaking suspicion that I'm going to be transferred to the middle of the state next, which is supposed to be the hottest. I'm praying that I'm wrong. 

Thanks for sending me the news on my new mission president. They look very fun, and I'm excited to meet them, but I'm really going to miss President and Sister Holm. They're just amazing, it's going to be a big adjustment to see them go. 

Monday, April 21, 2014


It sounds like you all had a wonderful Easter. Mine was very good.  We've been enjoying our Easter candy a little too much these past couple days. I also loved both dresses, and I got lots of compliments on the green one at church.Easter Sunday wasn't very different here, although the amount of people at all the other churches did seem to swell dramatically. We had some really great talks on the Atonement and the Resurrection. Sister McNeece and I taught the young women, we had them all pick an attribute of Christ that they liked and find a scripture about it in the Book of Mormon. It ended up being a really spiritual lesson. We had dinner with the Burrows and Sister Chapman, and that was lots of fun. We saw Brad in the evening, it may have been the last time I'll see him since he just got a new job that takes him out of state for weeks at a time. Thank goodness the church is the same wherever you go, so he'll always have a place to go to church. 

The elders had a couple of baptisms this weekend. A man and his mother were baptized and confirmed. She's 84 and he's 60. It was an amazing baptism service, and he bore his testimony in sacrament meeting, and it was incredible. They both have very strong testimonies, and we're all really excited for them. 

We had a specialized training meeting on Wednesday, and it was fun to see President and Sister Holm again. The Fentons were also there, they finish their mission next month. I can't believe they're going home. They got here the same time I did, and I'm going to miss them a lot. I can't believe it's almost been a year already. Sister McNeece and I were asked to be part of a couple of different skits during the meeting. In one of them, Sister McNeece and I demonstrated how to plan by the spirit, and we rhymed everything we said. In another I was the Holy Ghost, white sheet and all, and I directed the missionaries in where to go and what to say. It was fun. 

We went on an exchange with our sister training leaders, which was really good. I was with Sister Prior here in Easley. We stopped by our investigator's house, and she told us that things had gotten pretty hostile at home, and so she was going to be moving out as quickly as possible. It was good news, because she really can't progress while she's in that situation so hopefully things will start improving now. She really wants to get baptized, but she doesn't really understand that by being baptized and confirmed, she'd become part of the church. She's just looking at it as a recommitting herself to Christ. So, we're going to be talking about baptism a little more. 

We had another good lesson with another investigator who hasn't come to church since conference, so that's what we'll be focusing on with him. It's amazing how much quicker investigators progress once they come to church. It really helps them to get their answers to questions, and they get to see what we teach in practice. Plus they get to meet members and build friendships there. 

I got Kate's wedding invitation, which was very exciting. I think now it's finally hit me that it's actually happening. I realized we're not little girls anymore. In a lot of ways when I saw her invitation it felt like I was entering a new phase of life, kind of like how I felt when I graduated from high school or got my mission call. I realized that we're growing up and progressing. It's a little scary; I had a moment of thinking "I don't know if I'm ready for this, for her to be married," but it's really exciting and I'm so happy for her. 

I was very happy when I heard about Zaxby's coming to Utah. We still have them around and I love going there every once in awhile, and I'm glad I'll at least have that part of my mission when I get home. I hope you all have a good week.  I love y'all! 

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Sweet Gift

Last Monday night was one of the sweetest experiences on my mission. Sister McNeece asked one of our members, Brother Kunzler, to give her a blessing. She hadn't said much when she told me that her grandmother had passed away, so it wasn't until she told the Kunzlers about it that I really heard much about what had happened and how she was feeling. It was obviously a surprise to her that her grandma was gone; it wasn't something she was expecting. But she had such a strong knowledge that she was in the right place and that she needed to stay. Brother and Sister Kunzler said some very helpful things and the blessing that he gave her was very comforting and encouraging. It was exactly what she needed. She really hasn't let it distract her from being a good missionary. 

The theme for this past week with just about all the lessons we've been teaching seems to be the importance of authority and how we know that someone has it. That's one investigator's big concern. A member came with us to the last lesson, and he talked a lot about the priesthood, and it seemed to make sense to our investigator. When you think about it, authority is really what our message boils down to, either Joseph Smith had that authority or he didn't. So as soon as he resolves that concern, he'll be good to go. He's agreed to set a baptism date for April 26, although he didn't come to church this week, and we still have loads to teach him, so we'll probably have to move it back a week or two. 

 The true nature of the Holy Ghost has also come up quite a bit. It's interesting down here because there are some denominations that believe very strongly in being possessed by the Holy Spirit, and speaking in strange tongues and shouting and running around and all that stuff. I'm still not very sure what to say to people when they mention those experiences to us and talk about them as being manifestations of the Spirit, because we know how the Spirit works, but to these people those were spiritual experiences that brought them closer to their Savior. It's made me very grateful for the knowledge that I do have of who the Holy Ghost is, and what His purpose is. Hopefully by teaching people about the true nature of the Holy Ghost, they'll be able to recognize and come to their own conclusion as to what a spiritual experience really is. 

We had Sisters' Conference this week down in Irmo. It was so fun to see everyone, it's been a long time since I've seen a lot of my old companions and MTC sisters. It's good to know that everyone is doing well and to see how happy they are. I can't believe how many sisters there are in the mission that I don't know, so many of them came out after me, I'm now one of the older sisters in the mission. It's very strange. 

Before I forget, I did get the Primary kids' letters and I loved them! It definitely made my day. 

Tell Grandpa and Grandma Rudy hi for me, and tell Grandpa happy birthday. I hope Dad has a good trip, and that everyone else has a good week as well. I love you all! 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

General Conference

It has been a great week. Sister McNeece and I have been really busy, and it's been great. I love being a busy missionary. Time flies and I feel so much more fulfilled. We've started teaching a couple former investigators again. One of them was taught by the sisters a lot right before I got here but then he kind of dropped off the face of the earth for awhile. But he's back now. Sister Rowley described him to me as a 50 year old black man who acts like a 15 year old boy. After meeting him and teaching him, I think she had it about right. He's really nice and he's very willing to learn more about the gospel. He a person where you really have to make sure you're teaching to his needs. We taught him on Thursday about the importance of the Book of Mormon. He wasn't really getting the point we were trying to make, until a member who was with us pulled up a Mormon Message on her ipad. He really liked that and understood exactly what we were trying to teach him. 

The other former we've started teaching again is in his 60s, married with a couple grown kids. He's really nice. We had an amazing lesson with him on Friday night. The member who was going to come with us fell through, and we only had about an hour to find someone else, and who's free on a friday night? Our Relief Society president, agreed to come with us, and it was an amazing lesson. We didn't teach what we had planned. He had a lot of questions about baptism, and how we know that someone has the authority to baptize. That's a big hurdle down here, because so many people have been baptized and they consider that baptism valid. But we were able to use the scriptures to help him understand more the pattern of how men recieve the priesthood. It was great and he and the Relief Society president got along really well.

Most of what we did during the beginning of the week was in preparation for general conference, trying to get as many people there as possible. We invited whoever we could think of. General Conference is interesting out here. Since you can get conference on BYUtv and online, most members stay home. There was barely anyone at the church on Saturday. Sunday is a little better. There were quite a few families from our ward, a couple from 3rd ward, and a whole bunch from the Spanish branch. In between sessions, everyone sets up tables in the cultural hall and they all bring lunch to eat. We ate with a family, and then everyone shares desserts and everyone wants the missionaries to eat their desserts, so we got lots of dessert. 

One of our new investigators came to the last session of conference, which made us super excited! He seemed to really like it, he said it gave him a lot to think about. Our less active member also came to the last session. We'd called her visiting teacher earlier in the week and asked her to invite her and bring her, which she did. And then we ended up having dinner with them after conference. It was really great to see that their friendship is developing.

Sister McNeece found out this morning that her grandmother passed away yesterday afternoon. It's obviously really sad for her, and hard for her to be away from her family right now, but she's taking it really well. Just keep her and her family in your prayers.

My favorite quote from Preach My Gospel this week is on p.9, from Elder Oaks, "We do not preach and teach in order to 'bring people into the Church' or to increase the membership of the Church. We do not preach and teach just to persuade people to live better lives... We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this". If all we were was just another Christian church, missionary work would not be worth it. It takes so much effort to find, teach, and baptize and confirm someone. If all we had to offer was just a slightly better way of life, all that effort would not be worth it. But because we are offering people the gateway to eternal life it is worth it. It's worth all the time away from family, all the walking, all the rejection and persecution, all the worrying if you're doing enough, all the difficulty of living with the same person 24/7, all the planning and replanning when things fall through, it's worth all that. 

I am so grateful to be a full time missionary and so excited for Matthew to be a full time missionary. And I'm especially grateful that I will still be a missionary even when I come home, because I don't think there's any more rewarding work than helping people accept the gospel. Thank you so much for all your prayers and support. I love you, and I hope you have a blessed week.