Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Party's Over . . .

Christmas was pretty awesome. I was kinda worried about it being really hard and stuff, but the Lord definitely helps out with things like that. Yes, I was missing my family hardcore, but, like I told all of them, I wouldn't want to be anywhere else right now. Christmas Eve we had dinner at a member's house and they had Cornish game hens. I ate a whole one. It was super good, and the first time I had ever had one. We made gingerbread houses after. It was pretty intense, but now we have a massive gingerbread house that we don't know what to do with. Any takers?

Christmas Day we got to sleep in (surprise present from President and Sister Weaver--I was so excited!!!) so my companion woke me up around 8:30 to open presents and get ready for church. We had tons of stuff and lots of boxes. So we're making a fort today. Pictures to follow. Church was great, except the power went out so they had to yell the sacrament prayer and the first speaker had to scream to get over all the other screaming kids, but then the power came back on and everything was all hunky-dory. We raced over to the Finnegan's after church and beat them there, but it was ok cause they gave us a key to their place so we could call home right away. My lovely mother decided to call and check the house phone right when I was trying to call her so it kept going to voicemail. I was in a panic, but I finally got them. It was so good to talk to them!! Yeah, I cried but who wouldn't?? We went and saw some members and had dinner at the YSA bishop's house (his wife is the best cook EVER) and watched 17 Miracles. Didn't cry as much, or hardly at all, this time. But it was still good.

Hmmmmm what else happened this week? We got a new investigator!! Have I written about her yet? We got a call one day about a friend of another investigator who was really sick and needed some help cleaning her house so we went over and cleaned and in the process found out that she was supposed to be baptized into the Baptist church the previous Sunday but it didn't happen because she was too sick. Perfect. So we have been helping her and checking up on her. The other day we were visiting with her for a few minutes and she said, "I just want to let you guys know that I'm not going back to the Baptist church." We started smiling like idiots. "I went there for 4 years and when I needed help no one was there, but you guys came right over. When I told my pastor what was going one he started going off on you guys, and that really was not ok with me, so I'm not going back there." She then asked us a bunch of questions about basic beliefs, what we expect from her as we teach her, etc. and it was really great. We took her on a church tour the next day and I think she really liked it. She didn't come to church on Sunday like she said she would so we'll have to find out what's going on there but we're really excited. Also, our other investigator seems to be doing really well. Well, at least better than the last time we met with her. She had actually read the Book of Mormon and was praying about it. We invited her to be baptized, she said no, but it wasn't a flat-out rejection. She just feels like she doesn't know for sure yet (she knows, we just have to help her see that).

We ran into this super funny guy when we were knocking doors one night. He started asking us all these questions and telling us "facts" like that Joseph Smith actually joined the masons for 18 years and when they kicked him out that's when he started the Mormons. Yeah, that makes sense, cause he was 38 when he died so he had lots of time for that. (He was a mason, but he was one at the same time as he was establishing the church, just fyi.) Then he was running in circles around himself trying to explain how God and Jesus were the same person, but they were different because God is an uncreated being, but Jesus was on the earth so he was a created being. When he was telling us about how Jesus was talking to his father on the cross, my companion went, "So...he was talking to himself?" Funniest thing of my life. For reals.

All I keep thinking about is how awesome Christmas was and how grateful I am that I get to be a missionary for two Christmases. It's the only time in my life that I will have to focus on His gospel, share His message, and spend it not with my family, but with Him. I felt nothing but love and comfort all day. It's exactly what I needed and I couldn't have asked for anything better. Christmas Eve during companionship study we just read about Jesus and it was awesome. We read Matthew 1-5 and some stuff in the Book of Mormon. I just really love being here. Do I have hard days? Yes. Do I sometimes just cry trying to fall asleep? You betcha. Is it all worth it? Without a doubt.

I love this gospel. It is so simple and has blessed my life so much. I love being a missionary. I love you all. You are de best. Peace!


Monday, December 19, 2011

Silverdale, Silverdale, It's Christmas Time on the Mission

That subject was supposed to be sung to the tune of the Silver Bells Christmas song. Oh man, definitely an interesting week. Really slow. I finally got to teach an investigator, just one, and it went well but she is kind of hard to work with because she has been meeting with the missionaries forever and just won't commit to baptism. We're seeing her again this week though so hopefully it will go better.

Because a lot of our area is the naval base, so many people are busy and out of town around the holiday. It's really hard to catch people at home or that have time to come on a church tour. Last transfer they baptized pretty much their whole teaching pool so we don't have very many progressing investigators to work with. Our focus is entirely on finding and reactivating and it is really hard. I definitely have learned a lot from it though.

The biggest thing that I had to realize was what faith actually is. It's interesting, when you ask someone what faith is they don't really know how to explain it. That's why the scriptures are so amazing. Alma 32:21 gives the best definition of faith I have ever seen. It is things hoped for, and I think that's what stood out to me the most this week. Sometimes it seems like things just logically won't happen, as much as you want them to, but you still hope for them and by hoping and going out and working, you are showing your faith. Yesterday in church (all 6 hours of it plus ward council) we heard the same lesson, Exaltation from the Gospel Principles manual (which, by the way, is an awesome book, I used to teach from it and I love it), three times. I definitely needed to hear it that many times because finally by the last one I think I got it. I loved what someone said about faith and how that applies to our exaltation: Faith is a principle of action. You can never truly have faith until you are willing to act on it. Every time we do something like baptism, where we go through a saving ordinance, there are actions associated with it. We must always continue to show faith. That's why enduring to the end is part of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is not a checklist, but a cycle that we go through of having faith, repenting, being baptized and taking the sacrament, relying on the Holy Ghost, and building faith again. It is so important to just learn to trust God. I mean, he's pretty smart, so it makes sense to listen to Him. D+C 6:36. There's a reason I put that on my plaque.

I just read Jake's email and here was his philosophical point for the week: "if you're worried about how cold it looks outside, just put on your best clothes, and you'll get warmer as you keep walking." So true. My first few nights I was just freezing. This last week we had one night where we just had to get back in the car and defrost before we could do anything else. It was painful. But, other than that, I feel like if I mentally just say, "Yep, it is ridiculously cold out there for me right now, but President wants us out there 5-7 every night so I'm going to do it" then I'm not as cold. For reals. Also, when you do things to help other people because it's the right thing to do even though it means you will end up dead tired the next day, the Lord blesses you with extra energy. I have felt like that the last few days. While we are out working, I don't feel that tired, but as soon as we get home, I fall asleep trying to write in my journal. I've been doing really good on that, by the way. I haven't missed a day so far. Ok, well I have, but I catch up the next day so there is an entry every day.

Just want you all to know I love you and I appreciate your support. It really does make a big difference for me. Write me soon :)



MTC Address:
Sister Sara Chronister
4007-D Bridgeport Way West
University Place, WA 98466-4330

Monday, December 12, 2011

(Near) Dead Dinner at Deorbrah's

So, we had a dinner appointment with Deorbrah last night. Yes, that is spelled correctly. Sis. Balmforth kind of tried to give me a heads up on it, but it mostly involved, "Well, you'll see when we get there." Deorbrah lives in a double wide with her truck driver husband and I think several children, but I can't be sure how they were all related, and she is the only member in her family and has been for just over a year. There were 2 "daughters" and 1 "son" that were older and 2 grand kids. We sit down to eat, with the fake Christmas tree right behind me, 70's orange carpet all over, and chairs that sink so low the table was about at my chin. Unfortunate for Sis. Balmforth who is 6 inches shorter than me. There is a ton of food on the table, most of it meat, but all different kinds. There was chicken, steak, and hot links. I survey the food and determine that it would be safest to eat the steak, but one of the more cooked ones. I try finding a small one, but these are not the kind of people that have small portions. So, I take one half of the cow. Trying to be nice, I grab one for Sis. Balmforth, not really looking at the piece of meat I was about to slap down on her plate. Too late did I realize the thing was barely cooked. In fact, we are both pretty sure it was still mooing. I was just barely holding it together trying not to laugh THE WHOLE MEAL. The rest of the meal was lima beans, white rice, carrots and potatoes, and biscuits. Interesting combination. OH, side story. Forgot to include this part. Yesterday was Sis. Balmforth's birthday! Yayy!! The Finnegan's got her this awesome cake the night before and we shared it with the YSA ward so we had already had some cake that day. When we get to Deorbrah's, one of the daughters walks in a goes, "Got that cake for ya momma!" It was some sort of angel food, whipped cream, weird fruit cake. We both took the smallest pieces possible. By the time we left I needed to get out of there because I was trying so hard not to laugh. Still not sure exactly what was so funny, but I'm just guessing it was that it was an experience that I have definitely not had before. We get in the car after and Sis. Balmforth turns to me and goes, "Way to give me the bloodiest piece of meat you could find! As soon as we walked in I knew I should have talked to you about the dinner appointment code." Then, she told me this great story about some baby ducks and how if you can't eat something just start playing with your ear and your comp will try and help you out. Great night.

Sundays, by the way, are going to be the longest days in my life. We are over a family ward and the YSA ward for the stake, so do you know what that means? 6 blessed hours of church (more if we have meetings) ever Sunday. Man, that was a rough day, but it was also good because we heard the same lessons from different points of view. We missed Sunday School for the family ward though because we went and sang with some of the YSA people at an Alzheimer's facility. Every other week the Finnigan's do a quick non-denominational church service for the patients in there so they can have the chance to go to church if they want. Yesterday we sang a few Christmas songs and told the story of Jesus' birth since this was the last one before Christmas. I really enjoyed going, but it's pretty sad because it's such a terrible disease.

We went and saw an inactive lady the other day who is having a hard time with stuff, including her job. We talked about prayer and asking for help and being wiling to have people help you. I think she was slightly intoxicated while we were there, but she appreciated our visit anyways. As we were leaving, she pulled me in for a hug. And just hugged and hugged and never let go. It was the longest hug of my life and I had just met this woman about 20 minutes before. You know how I love that. Sis. Balmforth told me after that she was just trying not to laugh the whole time. Jerk. I paid her back with that bleeding meat though. Juuust kidding :)

Friday we met with this girl who has been inactive for most of her life and decided to change her life around and come back to church. The bishop arranged the meeting so we weren't really sure how to approach it or what to talk about but it ended up being a great lesson. We talked about what it's like trying to come back, how yeah, it will be hard and she probably will face more challenges and temptations because Satan does not want her to come back. He knows it's so important for us to do this, so he will work his hardest to get us on other paths. It sucks. But, we started talking about temples and the blessings that come from going and she decided that the temple was going to be her end goal for her reactivation. It was amazing, as she was telling us about that I could just imagine her there and how happy she will be once she gets it. It made me miss the temple a lot. At first I was unsure of the temple, but the more I think about the times that I did get to go, I was so lucky and it blessed me so much, even if it was just to get that peace that I needed.

I was so blessed this week. We had not 1, not 2 , but 3, count it 3, sunny days here in Silverdale! It's a miracle!! Haha I get so excited every time. And, we got to play basketball today as a zone. Lovin it. By the way, this is just for Deneka: Not only have I seen Elder Dayhuff and talked to him, he is my Zone Leader. Imagine that. Super nice, great missionary.

So, we don't have a ton of people to teach. It's kind of frustrating because both of us want to be busy, be productive, and not waste time, but it's hard when we've seen everyone, no one wants to talk to us, no one is interested when we go out tracting, and the members don't have referrals for us.We're trying our hardest though, keeping busy, praying a lot, and for me, making sure that I have the faith to know that a miracle will happen, we just have to do what we are supposed to and wait for the Lord to fill in the rest in His own time. Please keep the missionaries in your prayers. It really does help so much. There isn't always a lot you can do to help them, but pray and give them someone to teach. That's enough.

Welp, the mission Christmas party is this week, so that will be exciting. Other than that, just ready to keep working. It's hard but it's great being out here. Different than I expected, but then again, I didn't really know what to expect. Love you guys, write me a letter. Get my apartment address from my mom if you want me to get something faster than every 6 weeks. Message her on Facebook. She'll like that, it will make her feel popular and loved. :)



P.S. Joshua 1:5+9 It's a great one, I promise. Go read it. Go. Now.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Week 3-The Aroma of Tacoma

I'm finally here!!

Yesterday was the longest day of my life. Going off Washington time (since that's where I am, ya know) I got up at 2:30 am to finish packing and get Sis. Young down to the travel office to head out to South Dakota. At the airport, my bags weighed in at 50 and 45 pounds exactly so I had no extra charges. Slept for a few minutes on the plane. At the airport were President Weaver, Sister Weaver, the 2 Assistants, and 2 office Elders to greet us. Sister Weaver gives really great hugs and she and President Weaver are some of the nicest people I have ever met. After 5 minutes with them they already love you like their own children. It's great. They took us to a spot right on Puget Sound and had us just take everything in for a minute. It's so pretty up here. We saw a bald eagle while we were there. Apparently they're everywhere up here.

We went to a church building where they were having the transfer meeting. They fed us, talked to us about cars, mission money stuff, apartments, things like that, and we had our quick interview with President Weaver. They already had trainers picked, but not assigned. They did that after the interviews. So, my companion is Sister Balmforth. She is from Taylorsville, UT and has been out here about a year. When she came in (they did this big announcement thing, kinda cheesy, for each missionary and the Sisters were last) she hugged me and said, "I knew it was you!" That confused me but I asked her about it and she said when she saw the three new Sisters she was pretty sure I would be her new companion. They call us babies here. She is my mom. And my area, where I am born, is Silverdale. It includes the Navy base up here, which is the largest submarine base in the US. So that's exciting.

We went and knocked doors for a little bit. We do that every night from 5-7. Apparently that's where 50% of our baptisms come from still. We just go around around and offer people church tours (where we just show them around the local building, tell them what a service is like, and a little bit about our beliefs) and we let them know they're always welcome. Most of the people were really nice. Not interested but really nice.

We got a few funny responses. One person said he was a born again atheist. Cause that makes a lot of sense. And this other lady wasn't interested, so we just told her where the building was in case she ever wanted to come, and she said oh we know where you guys are, you're not lost. Again, that makes sense. It was a good experience though. Then we met some people from the ward, I guess they were excited to meet the new Sister (that's me in case you forgot). Everyone was really nice and I was really out of it haha.

We finally got back to our apartment at 9 which, by the way, I guess we're lucky to have one of the nicer ones that doesn't have mold all over it. Count your blessings, right? It is pretty nice though. Much, much bigger than the MTC. And more comfortable. And the members give us food like crazy so we never have to worry about that. In short, I'm happy with where I am. Fell asleep at 10:30, 20 straight hours on only 3 hours of sleep. I don't know how I was still talking by the end of it, but I was and I was happy haha :)

Ready for the best news?? We were driving up to our area (about 45 min away from Tacoma and right on Puget Sound) and Sis. Balmforth and I discovered that we both play basketball and both of our numbers in high school were 11. It was meant to be. We have lots of plans for this, including not telling the Elders that I play so they can be surprised when we play on P Day, next Monday. Also, at the transfer meeting they had all the new missionaries stand up so everyone could see who we were (all 194 missionaries in the mission) and we wrote something interesting about ourselves that they read. Mine was that before my mission I had never worn a dress or skirt for more than 4 hours in my life. As they read it, my brand spankin new comp whispers, "Hey, me too!" It was meant to be.

So yeah, things are good. I had a lot more to talk about this time. I'm really glad to finally be out of the MTC. I loved it there, but role playing only gets you so far. And, when your favorite TRC investigator misses your last appointment because she's sick, then there was just no reason at all to stay.

One thing that is really cool is every meeting with missionaries we say this recitation which includes D+C 4, a quote from, I think, Joseph Smith, our mission motto, and 3 Nephi 5:13. It's very long and I had not idea what was going on the first time it happened but it's really great. So, go read D+C 4. Good, good stuff.

That's all I got for now. I'm really excited to be here and just get to work. Let's do this!! Haha

Sister Chronister

P.S. It is COLD here!!!! Oh well, I'll just have to suck it up. Apparently January and February is the worst though. Pray for me. Seriously.