Monday, August 25, 2014

Another Good Week

It's been a good week. Every week goes by so fast, I feel like I just wrote y'all three days ago. But a lot of good things happened this week. We had an awesome exchange on Tuesday with our sister training leaders. Sister Earl, who came out with Sister Bell, came here to Camden with me. We had a little time before our first appointment so we decided to knock on some trailers. We randomly picked one to start on, and the lady invited us right in. It turns out she's a less active member, and her daughter who lives with her is a member as well. They joined the church awhile ago up in Maryland. They're very northern and very funny. Hopefully we can get them coming back to church again. They still have testimonies, just have got away from living the gospel. I love it when Heavenly Father guides us to people in that way, even people who've already accepted the gospel once and need to find it again.

We also had ward council on the exchange. I have to say, I love going to ward council in this ward because the leaders are hilarious. So it's always an entertaining experience. And I also am so grateful that I have this opportunity to see what goes on in running the church. I've definitely gained a greater appreciation for all my church leaders seeing how much work it actually takes to keep the church going. And I feel like I'll be much more prepared to serve well in callings after my mission because I've been able to see such great examples on my mission.

Lately we've been spending a lot of time getting ready for the 5th Sunday next week. It's going to be a missionary Sunday, so I'm speaking in sacrament along with one of the elders and our ward mission leader. And then during third hour one of the senior missionaries serving in the stake is going to give a presentation on member missionary work. He's been coming to our ward coordination meetings so we can get ready for it. Sister Boyson and I are going to sing a missionary song she wrote, so we've been practicing that a lot. And Elder Ferguson wants us to demonstrate to members how to talk to their friends as part of his presentation, so we've been practicing different scenarios to present.

We had a really amazing lesson with one of our less active members on Friday night. The wife has recently been coming back to church, but her husband has kept giving us excuses, the biggest one being that he doesn't have a suit. From talking to ward members, he's always kind of given excuses and never shown much interest in coming back. But we left him a chapter to read in the Book of Mormon and he read it, so we discussed it on Friday. It was an amazing discussion, and at the end he said he'd gotten some impressions and answers that he'd been looking for for a long time. On Sunday, his wife came up and told us he'd gotten himself a suit, so hopefully he'll be at church next Sunday.

We had stake conference this weekend. It was really good. On Saturday night we went to the evening session in Columbia, and then Sunday they broadcast it to our building in Camden. About halfway through we lost the signal, and they couldn't get it back. So the young women volunteered to do a musical number, and then both bishoprics bore their testimonies for the rest of the time. It ended up being a good meeting.

Thanks for all the emails and letters; I always appreciate it. I love you, have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Busier Today, Busier Tomorrow

The beginning of this week was full of cancelled appointments. We had a lot of appointments set up with people that we were really looking forward to, and then an hour or two beforehand they'd call and cancel, or we'd show up and no one would be there. It was actually pretty frustrating, especially the last part, when we'd show up and no one would be there. That happens a lot to us.   

We came to the conclusion that a lot of our investigators just really aren't interested in changing. They want to learn, and they're fine with us coming over, but they're not doing anything with what we're giving them. We're doing all the work, and that doesn't lead to conversion. So we've had to drop a few people this week.  We had a good talk with one on Thursday, about whether she was willing to consider joining the church, and basically the answer she gave us was that she's had too many changes in her life in the past couple years to consider more change right now. It was sad to reach that conclusion with her, but the member we've brought with us to the lessons said she'd keep in contact with her, so it's not like we're cutting all ties.

Because we had so many people fall through and because we dropped some people that we saw on a regular basis we had more time to find through our own efforts this week, which means knocking. I haven't had to spend a lot of knocking since I left Moncks Corner, and I have to admit that I tend to have a pessimistic attitude about knocking. I think of it as a time filler, not as an effective way to spread the gospel. We do find people to teach through knocking, but more often than not those people just turn into leads that we try a million times to catch, but it's never a good time for them to actually sit down and talk. 

And my whole mission I've worried that we'll run out of things to do, run out of houses to knock, or end up knocking all day every day, so I've tended to drag my feet, to try and find anything else we can do before going tracting. But the other day when I was thinking about it I realized that the busier we are today, the busier we'll be tomorrow. As we show the Lord that we trust Him enough to try our very best and to work our very hardest, then He's going to help us. We've definitely seen that this week, because we actually did end up finding quite a few new people to teach.

Saturday afternoon we went to check on a lead, a man who knew some members of the ward. We'd stopped by lots of times before but had never been able to sit down with them because the wife was always at work. This had been going on for months, but this time we finally decided we were just going to go through the Restoration pamphlet with the dad on the porch. We did and at the end he told us that he'd been having some concerns about things that were happening at his church, and that he'd been feeling like it may be time for his family to find a new church. We invited him to pray about what we'd shared, and ask God if he should find a new church. He did and then said "I know what I need to do. Our church is small and needs everybody it can get, but I have to do what's best for my family, and I think it's time for us to leave." We were both pretty excited and surprised because normally when we invite people to pray they don't get an immediate answer like that. We set up to come back the next day and teach the whole family. Luckily this family live right down the road from a family in the ward, so we brought the husband and wife with us to the appointment and it went really well. They haven't committed to be baptized yet, but they're thinking about it and said they'd try coming to church. 

So even though the week started off really rough, it ended pretty well and I'm feeling much more optimistic about how things are going here. We're really being blessed and while everything isn't happening in our timing, we are seeing God bless us as we do our best. I'm grateful to be a missionary; it's the best calling in the world.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

A Good Week

We've had a good week. One of our members had a friend that she wanted us to teach, so we went over and taught her the first lesson on Wednesday. Her friend's a very nice lady. She's a horse trainer for the King of Dubai, who has a stable for his Arabian stallions here. Have I mentioned that Camden is a major horse place? There's lots of very talented people in that profession here. Anyway, she is really a golden contact. She'd already read the first three chapters of the Book of Mormon before we even met her, and she was so easy to teach. The only thing that may make it hard to teach her is her schedule, which is super busy, and she feels like she needs to read the whole Book of Mormon before she can decide if she should be baptized. But I think as long as we're able to keep teaching her on a consistent schedule things will go really well. We're going to teach her the quit smoking lesson this Wednesday. She's already basically quit; we just need to help her with that last little bit.

We were also able to finally teach this really amazing guy. We originally met his wife a couple of months ago, but could never catch her to teach her again. When we met him, we set up a time to come back, but then he called us the day before and told us his wife had just left him.  So we kind of had to wait till things settled down a little, but we taught him the Restoration in about ten minutes on his porch the other day, and it was one of the best lessons of my mission. He understood everything we were saying so clearly, and he agreed to get baptized once he gets the spiritual confirmation that this is all true. So we're really excited about him.

It's interesting how we can be going along throughout the week and feel like nothing good is happening and we're not getting anything accomplished. But then when I write these emails or talk about how things are going with members I realize that we actually are doing a lot of good and good things are happening. Progress in missionary work is always a lot slower than I think it should be. I am definitely learning patience on my mission, and how to work hard for a long time without seeing any results.

All our other investigators have been getting better at reading their scriptures, but none of them are doing much beyond that. We're trying to figure out how to help people come to church. Somehow that is the most difficult thing in the world for people.

The members here have been feeding us and giving us so much food lately, so we're having a cookout with the other sisters in our district today. Sister Boyson is really excited because one of her trainees, Sister Christensen, just transferred into the district. So I think we're going to have a lot of fun.

I'm glad to hear about Elder Rudy, and how he's settling in. Sounds like he's pretty busy, which is good. It's great to have another missionary in the family.

Monday, August 4, 2014

No News Is Good News

So the transfer news is... I'm not being transferred! And neither is Sister Boyson! So at the end of this transfer I will "kill" her, in missionary terms, since she's going home. It's going to be really interesting, I've never had a companion who was about to go home. So it will be interesting to watch that whole process.  But that's still six weeks away, so for now we're just focusing on all of the amazing things that are starting to happen in this ward.

Sister Boyson and I have been continuing to try and work with members. Sister Boyson found this great article about member missionary work, I'm sending it to y'all because it's a great article. One of the sections talks about the importance of setting a deadline. We shared that part with some of our members, when they were taking us to an appointment with a recent convert. The article quotes Elder Ballard, who says that if we will prayerfully set a date to find someone for the missionaries to teach, and then do everything we can to make it happen that the Lord will provide someone for us. 

So we shared that with the members, and they agreed to give it a try.  She came up to us before sacrament on Sunday and told us that she'd tried it and it had worked! She decided that she was going to invite someone to come to church by Friday. She invited her daughter, who isn't a member of the church, and her daughter agreed to come. We were so excited for her; we got to talk to her daughter, and she was really nice, so hopefully something will come of that. 

We also had quite a few other members tell us that they'd prayed to have missionary experiences, and that they'd had some that week. And then we got a call last night from a member telling us that she wants us to teach her neighbor, who she said is "golden". She's already set up the appointment for Wednesday, so we're really excited about that. It's amazing, it hasn't even been a month since we got those blessings from Bishop and already we're seeing so much change. I know that's because we've been doing our best to follow the guidance God has given us, and although we haven't been perfect He's blessing us for trying our hardest.

I've also been very blessed to have really kind district leaders, who care more about how we're doing and if we're loving our missions than about how many lessons we taught that week.

We've got lots of fun things happening this transfer, I think we're going to have a lot of fun and see a lot of success. I love how there's always something I can work on and some way I can improve. No matter how long I've been a missionary I can always be a better missionary in some way. I'm grateful that Heavenly Father always gives me new challenges and new opportunities to grow.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you!

Comp reunion at zone conference