Monday, July 30, 2012

Boots n cats n boots n pizza

If you say "boots and cats" really fast or "boots and pizza" really fast, then it sounds like you're beat boxing. We did a lot of that this week. And service. Lots of service. We weeded some gardens and helped out at a soup kitchen. The soup kitchen was extra fun cause we got to wear the yellow "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts and serve lunch to people who needed it. We couldn't proselyte cause it was at a different church, but it was cool to go, and it was our ward that was providing the meal that day. Good ward bonding time.
We got to give a training at Zone Meeting this week on ward relations and it was really fun. We started by showing the clip from "The Testaments" where they're overthrowing the government and pulling the towers down and stuff, pretending that was like sacrament meeting and Helam was the bishop, looking for his less-active recent probably had to be there but it was really funny. Trust me. Also, that was the day I ate my first, freshly-picked-off-the-bush blackberry in Washington. It was really good.
We gave a lesson yesterday about the Atonement that was way cool. It helped me understand it more, so I thought I would share my thoughts on it.
1) What is the Atonement?
The sacrifice of Christ for all of us to overcome physical and spiritual death. It consisted of His suffering in the garden, His death on the cross, and His resurrection 3 days later. It was the most pivotal event in human history.
2) Why do we need it?
Because we all fall short of the glory of God. None of us are ever perfect, and no matter what we do, we can never become like God or live in His kingdom without grace, which is the divine power and help we can have through the Atonement. The catch is, it can only be applied after we have done all we can do.
3) How do we use it?
We do all we can do!! We do the little things every day like read scriptures and pray, we go to church, we repent and change so that we can become like Him. He promises us that He will help us with our burdens. He won't necessarily take them away, but He will make it so that we have the strength to bear them. Christ has already overcome the world, so we can rely on Him, but we should never leave Him alone. We must do our part.
I love the gospel. It's the all-encompassing, all-inclusive, overarching answer to life. It solves any and every problem, we just have to be willing to work to find the solution. I love sharing this message with people and seeing them come closer to Christ and developing that relationship with Him. There really isn't anything cooler. Really. Fo realz.
Hope you are all having a great week. Love you lots. Talk to you soon!!
Sister Sara Chronister

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Take good care of her!

Well, well, well. What to say about this last week. Pretty fun, I think. You know, when I keep up with my journal it's a lot easier to remember what happened this week so I can write about it without having to look at my planner. I'll be better this week, I promise dear journal....
I got to see the one nad only Katee Balmforth!!!! It was a glorious, frozen yogurt and pancake-filled reunion (on separate occassions, those two things would have been pretty weird together.....). I'm sure everyone already knows because of Facebook, but she is doing great. And she kept warning me that coming home from a mission is not fun. Good thing I don't have to worry about that for another 10 months. Ha!
We had another amazing miracle with someone we haven't heard from in a while.....Jane. I had been avoiding calling her because the last few times we talked to her she was super non-committal and it's hard to pour so much into someone who is not ready or willing to make committments. So I called her one more time, on Tuesday, just to see if she would answer. She did and we talked for a few minutes. I was in the middle of challenging her to come to church and explaining why it's so important when call disconnected. I don't reallyknow what happened, but we had to go anyways so I figured if she wanted to call back, she would. A few hours later, the phone started ringing. We were out finding, so nothing too exciting was happening, but I looked at the caller ID and it was Jane. She said that she had been at work, doing some house-cleaning and these words suddenly came to her: "My name is Jane Wainina. I'm from Kenya, East Africa, and I'm a Mormon." She asked if she could come to the church. Heck yeah!! We met her at the bus stop when she got off work and waled up to the building. We had an incredible church tour with her and she kept asking what she needed to do in order to be baptized. We told her to come to church on Sunday and to meet with us so we could teach her the gospel. She asked to meet us one more time againm before Sunday so she could feel ready for it.
Saturday we found a member to pick her up and bring her to the church since she has no money for a bus pass. She looked sooo good! She was dressed in a nice shirt and dress slacks. It was a very different looking Jane from the one I had sat with on the bus a few weeks ago. We had a great lesson on the gospel, she said a great prayer at the end, and she looked so happy.
Sunday, she came to church!!! She looked so happy and peaceful. Then we found out that there was a relative of someone in the previous ward that was visiting, who happened to be the area authority over West Africa. Hmmmm....After Sacrament meeting Jane went and met the bishop and a random man came over and kind of interrupted and introduced himself. He was the general authority. He talked to Jane, told her that his counselor was Elder Sitati, from Nairobi, Kenya. Crazy!! He said he would have him write her a letter. I was standing right next to Jane and he looked at me and said, "Are you teaching her?" "Yes, I am/" "Take good care of her." "I will."
So there it is, a charge from a general authority to take good care of Jane. She loved church and is ready to be baptized, as soon as we can get her taught and help her quit smoking. She is ready!!!
Huge miracle. I love that God is so good at timing. He always gets everything right. We should just trust Him. So many great things are happening. We have a lot of really solid people we are teaching, and if I had more time I would tell you more about them, but trust me, they are awesome. Hope you all have a great week. I love you!!!
Sister Chronister

Monday, July 16, 2012

All nations, of their own nation and tongue . . .

Well, it's hard for me to put into words everything that happened weekend.
I have talked a little bit about Pohai in past emails, but everything finally came together this weekend. We have also been teaching another girl, who is a close family friend of theirs, her name is Lisa. Pohai and Lisa were both baptized Saturday afternoon and confirmed on Sunday. I cannot describe what it was like to witness that event, or even to explain how significant those baptisms are.
Pohai is a member of the Pacheco family in the Agor clan. Missionaries had been trying to teach them for years, but to no avail. The timing was never right. Just about a year and a half ago the sisters were finally able to get in to get to know them. Slowly at first, but then all at once, individual members of the family (in-laws and grandkids) decided to be baptized and the ones that were members already started coming back to church. When I first got to Steilacoom there were only 2 kids left in the Pacheco family who have not been baptized. Now they are down to one. The struggle to teach Pohai, however, was extra significant because she is deaf. How do two English-speaking, non-signing missionaries teach a deaf girl about who her Heavenly Father is and the great plan that He has for her?
They don't.
We found the solution in Jamie and Ann Wilson, a deaf couple in the stake. They are the most amazing people I have ever met. They had been praying for a missionary experience and we heard about them from a member in our ward and when we met with them, we all knew that this was the answer to so many prayers. They have been teaching Pohai for just about 2 months, starting from the basics, teaching her who God is, how much He loves her, and how she can live with Him and with her family forever.
Lisa is the youngest of 6 in her family. Her parents and 2 oldest siblings are members, but they have been less-active most of their lives. They recently reconnected with some distant family, who happen to be members in our ward, and they started coming to church, grudgingly at first, but more and more willing over time. Lisa was the most prepared, and led the way. She constantly tells her siblings that Jesus loves them and they need to rely on her.
The two of them were both ready and waiting to be baptized, so we were able to organize everything, get all the logistics worked out (becuase Lisa lives in Lacey, definitely not in our area) and they were baptized on Saturday. It was an amazing day. Hands down my favorite part was when Pohai came up out of the water and looked at everyone standing in the room watching her (standing room only, we had to have the meeting part int he chapel because so many people came) and she smiled and everyone did the sign for applause (bringing your hands up and waving them). It was so happy and so special. They did the same thing for Lisa when she came up out of the water.
I had the great opportunity to bear my testimony while they were changing and I was speechless. I stood up and didn't have any words to say for a minute. This scripture, however, has come to have so much meaning to me, and this is the one that I shared:
"For behold, the Lord doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have; therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to that which is just and true." (Alma 29:8)
This gospel is so important that the Lord will prepare a way for ALL of his children, no matter where they are or what language they speak, to hear and learn of the gospel that will being them back to His presence forever. When I got my mission call I was disappointed that I would be speaking English and staying in the US. The Lord showed me over the last few months, and I finaly realized it on Saturday, that He always has a greater purpose in mind and that He will make anything possible for us. Anything.
I am amazed at how blessed I am to be here, to witness these great miracles, and to be so loved by my Heavenly Father. The words to "I Stand All Amazed" sum it up pretty well:
"I marvel that he would descend from his throne divine
To rescue a soul so rebellious and proud as mine,
That he should extend his great love unto such as I,
Sufficient to own, to redeem, and to justify."
We are so blessed. I love you all and I hope you have a great week. What miracle will you see today?
Sister Sara Chronister

Monday, July 9, 2012

There is a hell

That is one of the tactics discussed at our last district meeting. Only to be used after the whole "what are you willing to do and you won't see the results until you try it" approach. We'll see how it goes this week. Elders are so special.
Alright, so I have a new companion. Her name is Sis. Grenfell. She has lots of energy and smiles and talks all the time. She looks like Natalie Dance, reminds me a little of Taylor when she's talking to people (and especially when she practices speaking Spanish to people) and was roommates with Lara Thorpe (now Leber, haha) up at BYU. So that's cool. She is a way hard worker and I can tell it's going to be a really jam packed transfer with lots of miracles and lots of crazy stories.
The biggest thing happening this week is....Pohai is getting baptized!!! We worked out all the details with her mom on Sunday and it's happening this Saturday. This is a BIG FAT HUGE MIRACLE. Know why? Becuase this family has been a part member family forever, they have two kids left that aren't baptized, and Pohai is deaf. Hopefully you remember the story, but there is a couple that are deaf and they have been teaching her and she is getting baptized this weekend. Sisters have been trying to figure out how to get her on track for ever a year and it is finally happening.
I realized something the other day. God loves me. A lot. Otherwise, why would He send me to such a great mission where I meet such amazing people and get to be a witness to so many MIRACLES. I may have already mentioned this, but I keep a journal and I write a miracle in it every day. So I've been on my mission a while now but there is a miracle for every single day that I have been here. Now I get to look back on some of those days and I am amazed at how often miracles occur, whether it's big ones like someone getting baptized or a little one like the sun coming out. The reason that God does all of this is so we know how much He loves us and wants to bless us and wants us to return to Him.
So, to tie this back in with the title (grasping at straws here) while there is a hell, there must be opposition in all things, so that means there is a heaven too. BUT. Heaven is not a place, it's a condition (cool quote from church yesterday). We want to be in a condition that will allow us to dwell with God, to be with our families forever, and to have joy. Cause that's why we're here. Thanks, 2:25.
So I hope you have a great week and that you remember to look for the things that let you know that God loves you. Cause He does. And if you doubt it, ask. I promise He'll answer. Love you!!
Sister Chronister

Monday, July 2, 2012

Steilacoom is the Celestial Kingdom

Direct quote from my new companion, who called us this morning and will be here on Wednesday. I would have to agree.
We had an amazing miracle this week. We have been teaching a girl named Ariana all transfer. Her parents were baptized just over a year ago and Ariana recently turned 9. Her dad approached me about 6 weeks ago and said that we needed to come over and teach her about baptism because she wants to be baptized and she needs to understand a little more about it. We were happy to oblige. Ariana, however, has some disabilities. She has autism and cerebral palsy, but is very high functioning. That's why her parents waited to baptize her. They wanted to make sure she would understand it. So we spent the next 5 weeks teaching her, coming up with creative ways to help her remember, and seeing her really learn and grasp it and grow. The first lesson we had with her we asked her why she wanted to be baptized. She said, "To get the Holy Ghost." We planned, with her mom that day, to have her baptized on June 29th. We didn't tell Ariana the exact day just in case things came up, we didn't want her to have that day stuck in her mind and have it become a problem. As things progressed, we didn't get much support from the parents on her baptism date. They were pretty iffy about it. They said she could get baptized when we said she was ready, and she was (when we went over the gospel she did great, then her sister wanted to try it too and she was correcting her sister on it), but they kept needing more and more confirmations that she actually was. The whole time, however, we never changed the day she was getting baptized on our board. It always stayed the same.
So then Monday night we had dinner with them. We knew it was crunch time and that she needed to be baptized this weekend. I almost got her dad to agree to a day, but then the opportunity slipped away. The next day we decided that we needed to go over there and just tell them that we had thoughtfully prayed about it and that she was ready to be baptized-this weekend. The only catch was to do it without her in the room in case her parents didn't want to do it. We stood there is their apartment, making small talk and finalizing plans for her interview, when it hit me that I had to bring it up. I was terrified. I said a quick prayer asking God to help me be able to say the words I needed to and for Ariana to be able to be out of the room so I could talk to her parents. As soon as I finished, the panic in my chest melted away. Ariana all of a sudden got up, put on her jacket, and went and played outside. I turned to her parents and said, "We've been thinking a lot about her baptism and we know she is ready. She should get baptized this weekend." Her parents hesitated and decided to hear Ariana's side. She came back in and said, "Saturday! At 8:00!" That was amazing. Two night later she was interviewed, we practiced her being baptized in the font, Friday everyone and their dog tried to push it back another week, but we knew and Airana knew that she needed to be baptized this weekend. It felt like the 3 of us fighting against the adversary, all together.
Saturday she was baptized and it was the sweetest thing ever. She looked so happy and loved the warm water haha. We meticulouly watched the temperature to make sure it wasn't too cold for her. Sis. Eichenmiller shared a great scripture in 1 Nephi where Nephi says, "And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." Ariana doesn't know everything, but she doesn't need to. She knew that she needed the Holy Ghost and that was all that mattered. It was such a huge testimony to me of the Savior's charge to all of us to become as a little child. Afterward we had treats and Ariana, Sis. Eichenmiller, and me sat out on the stairs by the gym just talking. Ariana was going to go to the movies that night with her family. She was eating all of the sweets she could and looked so pure and happy. I couldn't help but feel so honored to see her baptized and to learn from her. She'll be one of the ones teaching me how to make it to the Celestial Kingdom.
So then we got our transfer calls. Sis. Eichenmiller is leaving, and I will be here another 6 weeks at least, with Sis. Grenfell. In the bishop's wife's words, "Why can't we get any easy names here?" Oh well. It was a great end to a great week, and I am so grateful for it. Love you all so much. Stay strong, be happy. SMILE.