oh my goodness! I can’t believe I didn’t talk about Elder Holland! All 259 of us missionaries met in a church building and heard Elder Holland speak. It was fantastic. We started the meeting by going one by one to shake his hand. It was nuts. I was so scared. We sat back down and then two other men spoke to us. When Elder Holland spoke I thought he was going to rebuke us, but he didn’t. The first thing he says is “i just had a mini interview with all of you. When you walked up and shook my hand and I looked unto your eyes I could see how you were doing. Most of you are doing well, but some of you are struggling.” He gave us a pep talk and told us to keep going out and doing the work. This spirit was so strong and you could tell that he loves us all so much. He told us that we need to focus and work our very hardest every day. He said that when we leave our missions we shouldn’t be the same as when we came out. We should be beyond exhausted and have done our very best. He cautioned us to remain active after we leave. He said nothing disappoints him, the brethren, and the prophet more than return missionaries going less-active. He told us to continue striving to become better disciples of Christ even after our missions. He told us that we need to be better a missionary than He was. I really needed to hear a lot of the things he said and it helped me to stay motivated to do the Lord’s work. I am so grateful for His apostles that lead and guide our church.
This is email is later than usual due to the libraries being closed on Monday and I wasn’t in swissvale yesterday. This past week was sooooo good!!! Lots of awesome things happened. We went to a ward picnic on Monday which was so much fun (and it wasn’t even for our ward). We played lots of games like baseball (I missed it so much!), Ultimate Frisbee, and football. We had a BBQ which was great and we got to play with a lot of the kids.
For starters we picked up a new investigator on last week. She is ten years old and her name is Sisi. We tracted into her grandma who lives down the street about a month ago and we got Sisi as a referral from her. We planned to go see Sisi for weeks, but for some reason it never worked out for us to get down there. Finally two saturdays ago we found time to go see her. The mom told us it wasn’t a good time and that we should come back later because Sisi has a lot of questions for us, so we did on Sunday. There was no one home when we went so we left a note. We decided to try again on Monday night and voila they were home. Sisi answered the door and she had a huge smile on her face, we could tell that she was super excited to see us. She asked her mom if she could meet outside with us. We ended up having a lesson with her that night. She loved it! She wasn’t sure if God existed or if he heard her prayers. We taught her how to pray and committed her to pray that night. We saw her the next day and she told us that she felt so much happier after she said her prayer and she knew that Heavenly Father was there. It seriously melted my heart hearing her say those words. She is only ten and I am so glad that she knows Heavenly Father loves her. We saw two more times that week. She loves what we are teaching her and she says she knows it is true. Sisi came to church with us this past Sunday and absolutely loved it. It was her first time EVER going to church! We picked her up from her house and then rode the bus with her to church. After church she came up to me and asked me how someone becomes a member. It was the cutest thing ever I could tell that she really loved church. I explained to her how and she just smiled. We have her committed for a baptismal date on June 14th! When walking back to the bus she told us that she wanted everyday to be Sunday. Her love for church made me appreciate going to church so much more. For a ten year old girl she understands so much and is so mature. We meet with her quite often during the week and she always greets us with smiles. Her parents are totally ok with this and have told us that this is Sisi’s thing and they will support in her any decision that she makes. After one lesson her mom came out and told us that she was really grateful that we came and knocked on their door. She told us that the day before we came Sisi had been asking her a lot of questions and she didn’t know how to answer them and she was afraid Sisi was going to go down the wrong path. She told us that she knows it wasn’t a coincidence that we came when we did and I know it wasn’t either. All the other times we planned to go weren’t the right times. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of us and knows what we need and when we need it most.
We also went back to a man that we tracted into a few weeks ago and he had asked us how we knew Christ’s church ended with the Apostolic reign. We went back and had a nice discussion with him and bore testimony to him of what we knew to be true. We got on a discussion about the first vision and the scripture of James 1:5. By the end of our discussion he told us that he appreciated us coming back to answer his question. We didn’t get a return appointment with him because he wasn’t interested, but he did commit himself to praying more to find out if where he is standing in life is where God wants him to be. He told us that he hadn’t been praying much and that the biggest that came from us meeting with him is that he will be praying more and asking God if he is in the right place. Although he didn’t become a new investigator I know that we were preparing him to accept the gospel. I have come to realize that missionary work isn’t only about baptizing people it.
We also had exchanges yesterday and I went out to Penn Hills. It was such a good day. We went to go see a less-active in their area that had stopped going to church because she went back to being Catholic. We went inside to talk to her and she had a man that was staying there with her. When talking to them you could tell that the spirit wasn’t there. This man that was with her kept spouting off Biblical references and stories and preaching all kinds of false doctrine, especially about how God is not loving. All I could think of doing was to bear my testimony, so I did exactly that. I bore powerful witness that I know we have a loving Heavenly Father. That he loves each of us and that He trusted each of us enough to let us come to this earth and make our own choices and return back to him. I looked at the less-active lady and told her that God trusted her enough to be the mother to two of his spirit children. She looked back at me and got all teary-eyed. I could feel the spirit so strong, like it was going to burst out of me. Per usual, I was crying as well, but they were subtle and soft tears. I just wanted them to know how much Heavenly Father loved them and cared about them. The man and woman were silent when I finished. The sister I was with bore her testimony after me. When she finished the man paused and then started spouting off more stuff and you could feel the spirit leave once again, so we said a prayer and left. I am so grateful for the power that the spirit brings. My words would have just been words if I wasn’t speaking with the spirit. I am so grateful for the privilege of having the Holy Ghost as a constant companion and to bring power to my words. It is the greatest feeling when the spirit is present and He is making it known. I know that when we speak with the spirit and bear testimony nobody can confound us. Heavenly Father has promised each of us.
I absolutely love putting on my badge every morning and bearing Christ name on chest. I am grateful to be one of His servants here in Pittsburgh. Time is flying by all too quickly, but I am grateful that he trusts me enough to teach some of His children the gospel. I know Heavenly Father loves each and every one of His children.
I love you all and I hope you have an incredible week!!
Our name tags
So this last transfer just ended and now we are headed into a five week transfer instead of six. We will be getting a new mission president after this next transfer. No more President Topham, it will soon be President Johnson.
Exciting news for the week to come! We are having a mission wide conference where we are getting to hear Elder Holland speak this Thursday!! I’m pretty stoked about that! It scares must just a little due to the fact that Elder Holland is so intense and I have no idea what he is going to say to us missionaries. I know it is going to be an amazing meeting and the spirit is definitely going to be super strong with some 280 missionaries and Elder Holland being in one building.
A lady in our ward is in charge of a missionary blog for our stake. They did a piece on sister missionaries here in Pittsburgh. She interviewed Sister Stokes and I for and posted it yesterday. The website is pittsburghmormons.blogspot.com
Check it out and let me know what you think 🙂 Let others know about it too!
This past week we picked up a new investigator named Fran. She is a baker and owns a bakery. We had our first lesson with her at her bakery. It smelled so good when we walked into the door. She was bakery fresh pastries, cookies, scones, etc. She give us some that had come right out of the oven. It was heaven! Fran is a very nice lady. She has a lot of medical problems that she is going through. She was diagnosed with diabetes some 20 years ago and she now is on insulin for it. Fran recently underwent a heart surgery to unclog some of her valves. She is such a trooper and she told us that it only because of Heavenly Father that she has been able to get through any of these medical trials. Talking with others about overcoming their trials has really strengthened my testimony of the power of the atonement. The atonement can be applied to every aspect of our lives in particular, trials. If we put our faith in the Savior and ask for strength I know the atonement will take affect in our lives and we will be able to overcome any obstacle. I know that the Savior is always there for us and is carrying us in those times when we need him most. It reminds me of the poem called footprints. It is about a man who has a dream that he is talking with the Lord while walking along the beach. Scenes from his life flash across the sky and he notices two sets of footprints, one his and the other the Lord’s. When the last scene of his life flashed before him he looks back at all the other footprints. He notices that many times along the path there are only one set of footprints and they were during the most challenging and saddening times of his life. He asked the Lord why this was and the Lord replied “My son, my precious child, I love you and I would never leave you. During your times of trial and suffering, when you see only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.” I love that story because it is so true. The Lord lifts us up and carries us in those moments that we think we can’t go any farther or we can’t keep going. I know that when we put our trust in the Lord He never fails us. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the strength that His atonement gives me while I am out here serving. Without Him I would not be able to get through each day. I know that His atonement can help you all too. Turn to the Lord and He will not forsake you.
It was a pretty tough day yesterday. I was in this funk and I knew I needed to get out of it. We hadn’t done our personal due to us having church at 9am. We went home had lunch and then went out to do some work. The person we went to see wasn’t home and I just wasn’t feeling it. All I wanted to do was read the scriptures. We went back so that we could do personal study. I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to please help me get out of this funk. I read the Book of Mormon for the whole hour. It was exactly what I needed and it helped me get out of the funk I was in. After the hour I felt so much better and ready to go out and do work. We decided to go out and go tracting. The first ten houses we knocked no answered or would even let us talk. I said a prayer in my heart that I would just keep knocking because I was putting my faith in the Lord that this is where we should be. Two houses later we knocked into a lady and we started talking with her. I bore testimony to her and started crying at her door. I could feel the spirit testifying to me that what I was sharing was true. That I was doing what the Lord had asked of me. We started walking to go to a ward activity at a park down the street. On our way there we saw a man gardening. We waved hi and he stopped us and asked if we knew how to pick weeds. We smiled and said yes and that we would love to help him. He said he was joking and that he wouldn’t make us do that. I kept talking with him and asking him questions. He asked who we were and we told him sister missionaries. We kept talking with him and found out that he has a really good friend who is a bishop in Utah who had given him a Book of Mormon. We found out that he is a funeral director and he asked us if we did service. We said of course! He said one of the funeral homes he works with does a lot of service. We offered to help when ever he needed. He was such a nice man and we had such an uplifting conversation with him. Talking with him and the lady before were such tender mercies from the Lord letting me know that I was doing His work. After that may day turned around and it was so much better. The ward activity was awesome and I love all the ward members. I know the Lord was looking out for me and that He was helping me through my struggle.
I hope you all have a fantastic week and that you rely on the Lord. He will help you through anything. I know that to be true. I love you all 🙂
Long time no see!! I am so glad that I got to talk to everyone yesterday 🙂 That was so much fun and I am glad I was able to see almost everyone. Sometimes I forget that time is moving for everyone else.
This upcoming week will be the last week of this transfer, but I will still be in Swissvale for five more weeks after this one due to the fact that I am training Sister Zaugg. By that time I will have been in Swissvale, PA for almost six months!
It rained a ton this week, but all this rain sure makes Pennsylvania super green. I don’t think I have seen this much green grass and green trees.
During my studies I have learned so much and yet I still have more to learn! Through my studies I have come to see just how important missionary work really is. I’ve realized that my focus isn’t to add more members to the church or to help people lives better lives, but to help people come unto Christ through repentance and baptism in order to open the door to the celestial kingdom for them. Without receiving the gospel people won’t be able to obtain the highest degree of the celestial kingdom. As missionaries whether full-time or part-time, it is important that we share the gospel with everyone so that we give them the keys to open the doors to the celestial kingdom. Without us they can’t get in. What motivates me to open my mouth and share the gospel is the love for the people of Pittsburgh that I have and my desire for them to be able to receive the joy and happiness that I have in this life and will have in the life to come. Share the gospel with whom ever you can. You don’t have to have a name badge on to be a missionary. The Lord has called all of us to be his servants.
The email this week is short, but I love you all and I am so grateful to be a missionary for the Lord. Go out and share the gospel! Love yins 🙂
Another great week here in Pittsburgh!! It rained a ton this week. Pretty much every single day and then it drizzled off by the end of the week. Some days it would come out of nowhere and when it would stop it would be super hot. Makes it interesting for deciding what to wear each day. Pittsburgh is so green right now and spring has only just begun!
We had exchanges on Friday-Saturday. I stayed in Swissvale and Sister Zaugg went out to Penn Hills with one of our Sister Training Leaders. It is a twenty-four hour switch of companions to see how everything is going. It was a lot of fun. During the exchange we went to go teach our investigator G. We were teaching him about the Word of Wisdom and then all of a sudden he said “My stomach doesn’t feel good.” He went to the bathroom and started puking! He left the bathroom door open so we could hear everything… it was gnarly. I had no idea what to do so we just sat there. When he was done we told him we would reschedule and come back another day. I’m just glad he didn’t throw up in front us!
After that we went to go see our investigator named Markus. It was such a powerful lesson. I could feel the spirit so strongly. He was so caught on the definition of certain things and about the Priesthood. He kept trying to find differences between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. We asked him to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true because if that was true everything else fell into place. He said he wouldn’t because he knows the Bible is true and there are too many discrepancies between the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I just sat there listening to him. I started to have the whole burning of the bosom experience and I could tell the spirit was there. It was telling me I needed to say something. I waited until he finished and then I bore testimony to him that I know the Book of Mormon is true and I know it by the power of the Holy Ghost. I could feel the spirit so strong. After I bore testimony my body was shaking a little. I bore testimony to him that God was the source of all truth and he could come to find out if this was true for himself. During that lesson the spirit reaffirmed to me that this is God’s true church. Markus’ heart wasn’t open to finding the truth. We need to allow our hearts to be open so that we can continually find receive truth from our Heavenly Father. There is more truth to be revealed and we cannot believe we have it all.
Our investigator T who I met when I first got out here is set with another baptismal date for June 14th. She wasn’t able to be baptized on May 3rd because she wasn’t able to make it to church before then. She is trying to get work off so that she can come. I love talking to her and I know that she has changed so much since have been meeting with her. She is turning her whole life around and I know it is because she is coming unto Christ. It is amazing to see what faith in our Savior Jesus Christ can do in our lives. If we really truly have faith in Him we will do all that we can to serve Him and become like him. He is such a great example to each and everyone of us. If we all strive to be like Him the world will be such a greater place to live in.
In the middle of last week Sister Zaugg and I were walking to the store and I had this prompting that we needed to tract the area that we were next to. I told Sister Zaugg and we decided that we would come back the next day and do it. We came back and we started knocking doors and we finished all of one side of the street and absolutely no one answered the door. I said to myself/ Heavenly Father, “Either I’m going crazy and that thought was nothing, I’m showing my faith by following through, or there is someone we are suppose to meet while out here.” We saw life in one of the houses on the other side of the street so we immediately went and knocked that door. This man named Bill answered and we found out that he had taken the lessons ten years ago from Elders in Scotland. Sorry to break it to you, but he wasn’t Scottish, he was American. We talked to him more and we found out why he stopped, he had a question about the apostasy. We told him that we would come back and talk to him more about it. He said that he would really like to hear what we had to say about it. Who knows if this who Heavenly Father wanted us to find, but I know that if we follow the promptings the spirit gives our Heavenly Father will bless us for it.
I encourage you all to continue to read the Book of Mormon every day, pray to Heavenly Father daily, and keep the commandments so many blessings come from doing these things. Heavenly Father loves and wants to bless us as much as possible.
Have a great week!! Love you lots!