Monday, April 23, 2012

Wis-nuggs & Such

Every day we either try and write down a funny quote or a nugget of wisdom (aka wis-nuggs). Sometimes they are goofy and other times they are profound. For example, in the same day, Sis. Baylon wrote down to not go the beach in a skirt, boots and tights. I wrote down that when one prayer is answered, there is almost always another answered also. This came from a huge miracle that we had. We taught Pohai, our deaf investigator, this week using an interpreter from the ward. It went ok, but we're still not sure how much she understands or how interested she is because she is pretty shy about signing (no one in her family signs so it throws her off when someone comes in and signs in ASL to her). We were trying to figure out what to do when we heard about a couple in another ward that have met Pohai before and they are both deaf and he served an ASL mission in Chicago. They met her once before and saw her at the deaf branch and it went really well, but for some reason they didn't see her after that. So, we got a hold of them and met them on Saturday night at their house to talk about what we could do for Pohai and how they might be able to help us. They are so awesome. So friendly, so willing to help, and, this is the kicker, they have been praying to find a missionary opportunity. It was way cool meeting with them. They both read lips and can speak so it was way cool talking to them. They are going to help us teach Pohai, and they are super willing to help out whenever. It was a huge miracle. At the end of our little meeting with them, we shared a scripture with them, Alma 29:8. It talks about teaching people in their own nation and tongue. At that moment I had a greater understanding of what that scripture meant and I told them that I knew that this was the missionary opportunity they were praying for. The Spirit was so strong in their home and when we left, we were pretty speechless on what had happened. After we shared that scripture, I told them they were an answer to our prayers, and Ann, the wife, said that it was interesting that more than one prayer was answered. God works in mysterious ways and I looooove it haha. Two of our investigators are on date, but not until next month. They are two kids whose parents are just recently coming back to church. Just getting them on date was a huge miracle becuase they are so shy. They are gearing up for it and hopefully they will open up more and we can keep helping them with the things they need help with. They're good kids and this is going to help them and their family a lot. Did I tell you guys about Rudy? We found him while tracting. He invited us in, told us he had been drinking all day, his wife died 2 years ago, and he's depressed. We gave him a Book of Mormon and set up a church tour. Monday he called us and cancelled the church tour so we stopped by on Tuesday to see what was up and talked to him forever on his front porch. He tried to give us the Book of Mormon back, but we got him to keep it and say he would read it by the end of our talk. Right in the middle of us testifying, a member was riding by on her bike and she yells out, blonde hair whipping in the wind, pink Nikes pedalling away, "Hiiii Sisters!" Sis. Baylon tried to recover and tie it in, but it was an epic failure. It was pretty much straight out of Nacho Libre when they find him in the wilderness and he asks how they found him and the villagers are like, "Hola Nacho." We've been laughing about it for days. We saw him again later in the week. He had read some of the Book of Mormon and was pretty happy to see us. We have to be really persistant with him becuase he says he doesn't want it, but every time we see him, he talks to us forever and he always seems happier. Every time we have seen him he's been happier. It's cool. Friday was the coolest day ever, we were so busy running around like chickens with our heads cut off. Setting up appointments, church tours, finding new investigators, learning life lessons (sarcasm is good, but don't get carried away cause then it's not funny and you just end up putting people down), etc. I love being that busy. We saw this lady named Crystal. She's probably one of my favorite people we've met so far. She's a pretty recent convert with some mental disabilities, so even though she's 30, mentally she's probably 8 or 9. She was so fun to talk to, and it reminded me of Marissa Troiano, just with how happy and friendly she is. She has a really cool spirit in her and you can't help but be happy around her. Instant friendship with her. Yesterday at church we had......wait for it.........12 people at church!! That was super cool. There were a few that we weren't expecting at all (like an investigators kind of anti husband who ended up really liking it) and there were a few that didn't come that we were hoping would. We have some really high goals for ourselves and it's fun to see big miracles like that happen. Have I even really told you about my comp? I don't think so. She's pretty cool. She's from San Diego and has been out on the mission 6 months longer than me, so she's at about 11 months right now. We were both born in Silverdale so we know a lot of the same people. She's way funny and quick-witted so we laugh a lot. It's preety cool. We decided that since the last 3 missionaries that were trained in Silverdale, all in a row, are awesome, that Silverdale is where champs are born. The world is the Coliseum and Silverdale is the locker room. You get ready to go out into the world there. I really like working with her. We're pretty different in our approaches to missionary work, kind of like fire and ice, but it's going to work out really well cause we'll figure out just the right balance and learn how to read each other and be bold and bring the hammer when we need to and go easy when we need to. I'm really excited about it. I'm so glad to be in Steilacoom. It's such a cool place. The last few days we've had amazing weather, so we've spent a lot of time outside contacting people. When the weather's good, no one is at home, so you have to go to where the poeple are. I even ended up with a tiny little sunburn cause we were out for so long. Basically, it's cool here. Oh, and fun little factoid. We are right next to Ft. Lewis, which is where my awesome Grampa Bruce was stationed when he was in the army during the Korean War. I like having that little connection. I love you all so much. You guys are the best. Thanks for all of your love and support. Keep writing those letters :) Have a great week!! Love, Sara

Monday, April 16, 2012

Get off my property!

So my first night here in Steilacoom we were out knocking doors and this guy answers in basketball shorts, slippers, and a bathrobe hanging open so you can see all 2 chest hairs, looks at us for about 2.5 seconds and goes "Get off my property." But not really seriously, almsot like he's about to laugh. My comp, Sis. Baylon just goes "Ok." and we left. It was funnier in person. I promise. For reals. Things are going really great here. I really like the ward and my new comp. We just laugh all the time and it's great. Right now we're plotting to start a beach cruiser biker gang and ride the streets of Lakewood and chuck copies of the Book of Mormon at people. I think it's a pretty solid idea.

I do miss Silverdale's hard when you're so used to an are and the people there and all of a sudden you have to adjust to a completely new setting. Monday and Tuesday I just said goodbye to everyone and it was really hard. But, driving home from our last appointment, I had the coolset feeling come over me and I knew that my work in Silverdale was done, that everyone would be taken care of, and that I needed to move on to other things. I was really grateful for that becuase I had been so worried, but I know everything is ok there.

I'm really lucky though, I came to a really good area with a really hard working companion. We have some pretty high goals for ourselves this transfer and we don't see any reason why they can't happen. We just need to have some greenie faith and go out and work. There are a lot of people here to teach. Probably the coolest one I've met is Pohai. Her whole family is full of converts and recently reactivated members. She's 11, never been baptized, and she is deaf. The first time I met her, I knew that she needed the gospel and needs to be baptized. It was one of those instant "I know you." things. She shook my hand my first time over there and my comp said that was huge cause the first time she met her, she ran away. Anyways, this girl is way awesome, we want to get her baptized so their whole family can eventually go to the temple. They are so awesome. We were there last night sharing scriptures and everyone goes around and shares something good they did and their testimony. The Spirit in their home was so strong and you could feel the love they had for each other. I definitely want my home to be like that when I have a family of my own.

I have a goal this transfer of finishing the whole Book of Mormon....all 531 6 weeks. Which means I'm reading about 14 pages a day. So far so good! It's pretty interesting that when you read the Book of Mormon at different speeds and with different purposes, you see different things. Different ideas stand out more and you pick up on things you didn't notice before. It's way cool.

Also, today is my 5 month mark! Woooo!! That's pretty crazy awesome, and kind of a big deal, just a heads up. I am so grateful to be serving a mission. I have learned things and met people that I never would have anywhere else. Last week at transfer meeting one of the elders who was leaving said that your mission is not a sacrifice. Your mission is the greatest blessing you could ever have, and I completely agree. I have had to give up things to be here, but now that I am here, the things I gave up for a time are not hard because in the end, we serve a grateful God and He blesses us for the things we do for Him. It's incredible.

I love you all so much, and I hope you have a great week. I'll be writing letters real soon. Byeeee!!



Monday, April 9, 2012

Sad Day in Silverdale

Well.....I'm leaving Silverdale. I kinda pretty much knew it was coming, but now it's official. We got the call around 9:45 on Saturday night. I will be headed to Steilacoom (good luck pronouncing that. It's like still-a-come) and my new companion will be Sister Baylon. I've seen her around before and heard lots of good things so it should be great. She and her companion got their transfer call before us, and I am trading places with her companion, Sister Jensen. They called and asked if we had our call yet...and pretty much figured out Jensen was coming here with Balmforth, but then the phone cut out, so I just had to wait for the official call to find out where I was going. Not the way I wanted to find out I was leaving, but it's all good. Right after we hung up from the phone though, I basically had a break down. I couldn't even talk to the Finnegans to tell them what happened. It's been weird saying goodbye to people, but I know that this will be a good thing. I felt it as soon as I heard where I was going that it was the place that I needed to be. I have loved Silverdale so so much, it will always mean so much to me, but I also know that it's time for me to go somewhere else and continue working there. I am going to miss my companion, Sister Balmforth, so much. Over the last 3 transfers we have gone through so much together, seen a lot of challenges and a lot of miracles, and she has become my best friend. I was a little deer in the headlights when I first got to Washington, but she understood exactly how I was feeling and knew when I needed help, even if I never said anything. I could not have asked for a better first companion and a better example of what kind of missionary I want to be. So yeah, it's always hard leaving your best friend. But, she is going to finish her mission here in Silverdale and it will be great. As sad as it is, I really do know that everything is going to work out and this is where the Lord needs us.

Ok, so here's what happened the rest of the week. Monday night I got really sick and couldn't go anywhere. Tuesday I woke up and thought I was ok, til I tried to get off the couch to study. It didn't work. I was down and out for the day, but thanks to an oh-so-compassionate companion and the Finnegans getting me whatever food I needed, I was just dandy the next day. It was a pretty slow week after that, just not really sure what to do. You know, it's rally hard when you and your companion have been in the same area together for 4 1/2 months. I mean, it's not hard to have a companion you love to death, but it's hard when there's nothing left to do. We tried everything, tracted everywhere (twice), visited everybody, and I was 95% sure for about 2 weeks that I was leaving, so we spent a lot of our time making sure we saw everyone and that we were visiting the essentials. Dang, that makes me sound like such a crap missionary. I promise I've been working hard, and I am going to work my butt off in Steilacoom. Really. For reals. Promise.

The other day we were praying before bed and I asked Balmforth if there was anything she needed me to pray for and she asked that she could be good at tracting for the next 48 days of her mission. I decided that would be a good thing, and I also decided to give myself a little boost while I was at it. So I did some very incorrect math in my head (ok, 10 transfers left, 6 weeks in a transfer so....60, then 42 days in a transfer, so obviously multiply 60x42 and that's how many days I have left on my mission. WRONG) and I said, "Heavenly Father, please bless Sister Balmforth that she will be able to tract the last 48 days of her mission and please bless me that I will be able to tract the next 2,520 days of my mission." I said amen and Balmforth goes, "Dude, how long is your mission?" Ooops. So I said a mini prayer to correct it, because you really should always be careful what you pray for. So that was my blonde moment for the week.

Easter was pretty great. I did something I have never done before. I played a piano song in sacrament meeting. I was terrified and my hands were shaking so bad when I got up there, but when I got into it and just ignored everything else around me, I think it turned out pretty good. Balmforth and Sis. Finnegan cried, so I guess that's a good thing haha. It's a really good song called "Redeemer" by Paul Cardall if you wanna check it out on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Or anytime during the week, or even if it's cloudy, it's good either way. We had dinner with a family from the 6th ward, visited some people, said bye to a lot of people, and now I need to go home and start packing. Lame. Ok, the first part wasn't lame, but the packing part is.

Yesterday at church I was looking around and feeling all sad, and I looked at Balmforth and said, "I didn't sign up for this." She said, "Yes you did, you just didn't know it." It's so true. You can't stay in one place forever and you will love more and more people and places as long as you allow yourself to. I have yet to experience that, but I have heard it from so many people and I know if I give it a shot, it will work. I guess I'll share my favorite scripture from Silverdale. It's in 1 Nephi 15:5-6. Nephi has just seen a vision of what is going to happen to his people, our day, etc. and his brothers are arguing and life kinda sucks, so Nephi has a breakdown. Then, in verse 6, he asks his brothers what's up. He gets up and goes to work. Those two verses have meant so much to me. I have learned to love people, I have learned that it's ok to have bad days, it's ok to need to cry a little bit, and that you always get back up and go to work. Always.

That's about all I got this week. Love you so so much. Letters are coming....PROMISE. You should write me too :) Have a great week, talk to you next week from Steilacoom!!


Sister Chronister

Friday, April 6, 2012

Did you invite the Easter Bunny to Conference??

Cause I did. We were driving through this random neighborhood looking for people to car contact (which, by the way, is a horribly awkward thing that I'm sure Sis. Balmforth will laugh her head off trying to tell you about) and we saw these two bunnies chillin on somebody's lawn. I don't know what the deal was, but I rolled down the window and stopped the car and asked them if they would like to come. No response, but I think I planted a seed. Good for me.

Speaking of General Conference, it was so amazing!! I don't know what it is, but it was way different as a missionary. I was totally glued to the screen and I loved every single minute of it. The Saturday morning session in particular felt like it was speaking to me. The whole thing. It was a little weird. But mostly great. I think my favorite talk was by President Erying. He just has so much sincerity and love in his voice when he speaks and I remember feeling the Spirit so strong while he was at the pulpit. It was awesome. I love hearing from the prophet and the apostles. Everything was so good and so applicable. I can't wait until the next issue of the Ensign comes out. I had to keep reminding my self of that while I was watching it because I was furiously trying to write down the cool things I heard and the impressions that I got. The MTC choir was way cool, and The Finnegans' grandson was in it. We saw him a few times and every single time she turned around and yelled in the chapel, "That's him!! There he is!!" It was so cool. Here were some favorite things I heard from Conference:

-He did the best he could with such light and knowledge as he had.
-Before I hear the words "Well done" from my Father, I hope to hear them from my mortal father.
-Invite the Spirit, set the example, and help them live what they learn.
-Love of God is not just a suggestion or well-wishing. It is a commandment.
-We must make our own sacrifices to prepare for the rewards God has planned for us.
-The way to have faith and rise above trials is to believe there is a Balm of Gilead and that He will not forsake us.
-55,410 full-time missionaries in 2011 :)
-Your children will call you blessed.
-What thinks Christ of me?
-Be not afraid; only believe.

Yep. And many many others.

Our week was sooooooooo good. We had an awesome miracle on Monday where we got a new investigator, Brian. He lives in the barracks and his randomly assigned roommate is a recent convert who is super gung-ho about missionary work. His mom is an inactive member of the church so he knows a little, but not much, about it and wants to learn more. So, we met with him 3 times this week and he is super solid. On Wednesday we asked if he wanted to know if the Book of Mormon is true. He said yes. We asked if he thought it could be true. He said every word. Awesome. Then we saw him last night before he goes out of town for a week to see his family and we taught him the gospel with the cycle circle thing and we asked him where on that path he thought he was. He said probably between repentance and baptism. You. Can. Not. Make. This. Up. So Sis. Balmforth goes 2 for 2 on textbook deliveries and goes, "great so when you get back we can set a day for you to be baptized if you want. How about the 21st since you get back on the 13th?" He said that would be great. So yeah, we have another investigator on date. He is a super nice guy and you can tell he is really prepared for the gospel. He said he feels better when he reads the Book of Mormon and when he meets with us and we told him that's the Spirit and after he's baptized, he can have that all the time, even at work. He liked that idea. He liked it a lot.

We got to teach a lot of people this week, less actives, investigators, members getting ready to go on missions. It's great. We got to see Megan last night. We haven't seen her in forever because her new job keeps her working on Sundays. Things are crazy for her right now. It broke my heart a bit cause when we were talking she said she had been thinking about us and how she doesn't want me or Balmforth to leave. We told her it was probably going to happen....and soon. I told her it would probably be me and she got a little teary eyed and so did I and all I could say was, "Man, this sucks." But it's going to be ok. We're still working on helping her get back into activity and feeling the Spirit more constantly. Satan is so tricky and he always gets you with your little weaknesses. You have to be so careful because it is so easy for him to sneak in and drag you slowly down and you don't realize it until you're sitting at the bottom of a hole and you need help to get you out and the only person that can help you out is the Savior. That was a ridiculous run-on sentence, but it's true. We have to stay on our guard all the time.

Yesterday was kind of a hard day, just realizing that eventually I will be leaving and I won't be able to work with these people that I love so much every day or every week. I think that's one of the biggest things I've learned here: how to love people. Pretty much everybody and their dog knows I'm not a super lovey huggy person, but Silverdale tore down a lot of the walls I had built up and these people found their way into my heart. I really learned to love here, and I won't forget that.

That's about all I got for today. We are looking forward to another great week. Transfer calls on Saturday and Easter on Sunday. Lots and lots of work in between. Balmforth said something to me yesterday that really stuck out: endure to the end. And it also reminds me kind of something that Natalie told me. Sometimes at the end of a transfer or the month or the week or whatever you just feel burnt out and done. That's when it's most important to do what you have to in order to endure to the end. It means you give it your all and you work as hard as you possibly can. So this week, I will endure. Not it a "oh this is something really crappy that I have to get through" kind of thing, but a "I don't know what's coming, I've worked so hard here and I don't know what else to do" kind of way. Just keep swimming, just keep enduring.

Love you all so so much and I hope you have a great week. Letters are coming soon, I promise!!