Sept 26-Oct 2
This week we were really busy so I have less super cool stories about people we contacted but it's still a good email.
On pday we went on a little excursion to the thrift shops just for fun. But then I wanted to go to a normal store because sometimes the thought of wearing other people's clothing is weird to me. I got a shirt on sale at Old Navy. I'm excited to wear it! It's always fun to shop.
At sports we played kick ball, basketball, Chinese dodgeball, and scoops. Scoops is like handball or lacrosse but we cut milk gallons in half to use as scoops and a tennis ball to throw around. It was really fun.
Immediately after we went on exchanges. I wasn't too happy about it because they told us a day in advance because of poor planning on their part. (Usually you're supposed to tell the missionaries at the start of the transfer when exchanges will be).
Because of the unplanned exchange and the last minute baptism on Tuesday I was stressed and a little annoyed. Thankfully everything ended up working out. We exchanged back right before dinner. For dinner a member took us to a China Buffet. I took a picture with an octopus but there was no way I was eating that! Been there done that! Haha MJ was able to pick me up and take me to the baptism for the Halls on the other side of town in Anthem. Sister Grindstaff went to institute with a member.
The baptism was amazing. So many people came to support the Hall family. It was nice seeing old members again. Derrick baptized Angel (his wife), Avery (11), and Sadie (9). Sister Koyle, Underly and I were in the side room next to the steps of the font hugging and crying like we had never been happier! I am amazed by Sadie's faith. She was the youngest in her family to be baptized but she was the first one in the family to pray and set herself with a baptismal date. Sure, it was 6 months away but she still made it to the day! That is incredible to me.
I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. And analogy that I used that I had heard from Brad Wilcox is that often we don't recognize the gift of the Holy Ghost with us because he is always there. It's like a fish swimming in a bowl saying 'where's the water? I don't see any water!'. You recognize the water most when you are out of it just like you recognize when the spirit is gone more that when it is always with you.
At the end sister Koyle started crying because she told us this would be her last baptism as a missionary. What a great way to end! She goes home next week and it makes me really think about the time I have left on my mission. MJ told me that going home is just like another transfer. I'll be going to a place with people who need me at a specific time. I'm valuing my time here but I'm excited to see the people in my "home transfer".
Oh and during the opening hymn sister Koyle leans over and says, "you went shopping didn't you! I know your wardrobe. That is new!" Haha I just had to go shopping!
Wednesday we went to volunteer at the Food Bank. We put after school meals together for kids. We were making tacos and I was in charge of the tomatoes. I never want to see another tomato again! There were so many! But it was fun serving there with our district.
At night we street contacted a guy who said he wasn't very religious but believed in Christ. We began to tell him our purpose as missionaries and teach about the restoration. We ended up talking to him outside for at least an hour! Turns out he Is studying to be a pastor and is very well versed in the Bible. Hmm funny! It sure did keep me on my toes! We explained to him the divine roles of Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost. He then explained his views and ideas. We concluded by inviting him to watch Conference and to pray to know that God still calls prophets. He agreed. I'm not sure if it was to try and prove us wrong, but he agreed. I really hope he did watch Conference because I know God still calls prophets and apostles to lead and guide His children. I know my Father in Heaven and I know Christ divine role as our Savior. It makes me so sad when I find others who are so close to coming to know the truth but to stubborn to open their eyes. The truth of the gospel has given me so much comfort in my life and that's why I'm here sharing it!
Thursday we had Zone Conference combined with the Central/Sunrise Zone. I was asked to give a training. I felt super special because only one time a year at Zone Conferences do they ask missionaries besides the APs and MSTLs to give trainings and last year, when I was serving in this area, I was chosen to give a training then too. Although now I feel so much more prepared and I actually knew what I was doing. (Last year I gave a training and it was my first Zone conference ever!) I trained on iPad which is always a difficult topic because missionaries sometimes misuse their iPads and I basically have to chastise them, but it went really well. Several missionaries said they really enjoyed it. One elder, who is relatively new, came up to me at lunch and told me my training was "straight fire" and was wondering where the heck I came from because he thought I was super cool to give a bomb training. I told him how long I had been out and then he realized I had trained sister Kaufusi and Lellis who were two of the STLs from the two zones that were there. It's neat seeing how far I've come and the fruits of my labors. The Gier legacy lives on!
That night we found a lot of new investigators. It was kinda funny (mom you might not think this was funny) but we were walking around an apartment complex trying to contact people when we started talking to these two guys who were 20 years old. They accepted a Book of Mormon and for us to come by again but then said, "you're probably older than us... and smarted than us...but I wouldn't be here if I were you..." Haha it was funny in the moment. Don't worry the spirit won't let us go into dangerous places. We continued to walk around those apartments and found two more investigators! God doesn't want us to have fear and He will protect us.
Friday we had John come out with us. Remember him? He got baptized without telling his parents and then his sister got baptized also without telling her parents? Anyway, John has been coming to teach with us a lot because this Thursday he leaves for Wichita, KS because that's where he is stationed. Not too far from OKC! He said he might come down for my homecoming talk. That would be cool!
We had dinner with his family. Like usual, they always make so much food and it is always really good! After dinner with the Nauvos family sister Grindstaff was texting a member while I went over to talk to a girl who was sitting on some stairs. (Don't worry we were still obeying mission rules). By the way it's super weird talking to people when you don't have a companion right next to you. I talked to her about the restoration and how we have prophets on earth today. I read part of Thomas S Monson's talk from April 2016 general conference. Then she asked me why some people feel really good after they are baptized and others only feel that good feeling for a second or not at all. I was then able to explain the priesthood authority. She said what I was telling to her gave her chills. I know this was the Holy Ghost testifying to her the truth. Sometimes I don't know what stills with people so this experience was neat because she flat out said that it touched her.
At night I was driving over the freeway like normal and I was looking over to the city and I thought to myself "Man, I love this place".
Saturday and Sunday general conference took up most of our day. Wasn't it amazing? I noticed a lot of it focused on the fundamentals and the doctrine of Christ. Many speakers talked about how we can persever through trials in our lives. (In Spanish endure translates to "perseverar" which is like persevere and I like thinking about persevering not just enduring). They also talked a lot about missionary work and how we need to be sharing it with our friends. I think it is so important, now more than ever, that our testimonies are strong and founded on Christ. Times are only going to get more difficult and we have to have our feet firmly planted.
Saturday evening we went on splits. Yesica was my companion and we were able to talk to many people who were interested, just not YSA. We walked around a lot. To the point where my knee was bothering me Sunday morning so I wrapped it and made a pre-wrap brace for it. It's probably a good thing I'm back in YSA since we have a car.
Sunday we had a lesson with an investigator who is having a hard time believing there is even a God. He's really nice and funny and says the most random things. We were reading Alma chapter 32 with him about how faith is like a seed and eventually it will grow into a tree of knowledge. It amazing seeing his faith grow even if it's just a little. I read verse 41 then he said "whoa!". I thought it was because he was feeling the spirit or something but then he said, "you read that perfectly! It's like you could be a rapper!". Did you hear that folks?! I found my new calling in life. I've been in the city long enough that I'm evolving into a rapper who reads scriptures. Brilliant!
Wow I can't believe that it is the end of September already! One more week and it's The beginning of October and that means General Conference. It also means I now have less than 2 months until my feet touch Oklahoma again.
On pday we went to the library so I could transfer pictures from my iPad to my flash drives. I think it was the first time I have stepped foot into a public library since I was 8 when I smashed Natalie's fingers in the car door... does anyone else remember that? Side note: that was one of the first times I truly considered myself a "sinner". I remember I thought it was by far the worst thing I had done in my life thus far. Anyway, I also found it really strange trying to navigate a PC computer. Now I know what old people feel like when they are trying to figure out technology! I hope I can at least understand how to use a Mac when I get back. Hey that rhymed!
We had district council on Tuesday which is always fun. We always go out to eat afterwards and I always eat at Five Guys. It is so good! I'm going to be a little fatty when I get home if I keep it up. Haha
We had some really solid lessons that day and are inviting everyone that we can to be baptized. I remember there were a few times that I was either in a lesson or talking to people on the street and I was thinking "I am just so happy right now". Missionary work is truly the best. You can't be sad when your spreading the word of God with excitement and enthusiasm.
We also went to institute at night. Yes, it's in the west mission. It is s huge No-No for missionaries to leave mission boundaries. But we are the only missionaries in this mission who have special permission to do so. It's a blessing because I love Institute. We go to the "Jesus Christ and the Everlasting Gospel" class. We talked about the pre-mortal world and our roles there as well as the Saviors foreordained role. One of the questions that was asked for us to ponder about was "how well did we know Christ to have enough faith in him to follow Gods plan before he fulfilled the Atonement?". Look at your patriarchal blessing and see if it talks about you being with Jesus before this life. I know mine does.
For as great as Tuesday was, Wednesday was just the opposite. Everything my companion did annoyed the heck out of me! Her smacking her food as she chewed, her talking about random things that don't pertain to anything, her singing songs that she didn't know the lyrics to, her lack of deodorant... anything and everything made my skin crawl to the point where I got a huge headache. We had spent a lot of time in the car so I was super close to her and I needed space! But we don't get space as missionaries. I even woke up Thursday morning with a headache and grumpy. I tried so hard in my personal study to find peace.
I read the Conference talk "The Healing Ointment of Forgiveness" and it was a good self assessment. My favorite quotes were:
"Even though we may be a victim once, we need not be a victim twice by carrying the burden of hate, bitterness, pain, resentment, or even revenge. We can forgive, and we can be free!"
"One key to forgiving others is to try to see them as God sees them."
"Too often we look at the offender the way we would look at an iceberg--we see only the tip and not beneath the surface. We do not know all that is going on in a person’s life. We do not know their past; we do not know their struggles; we do not know the pains they carry...But we can gain greater understanding and peace when we see with a broader perspective."
And I read "The Mercy Obtain Mercy".
"The people around us are not perfect. People do things that annoy, disappoint, and anger. In this mortal life it will always be that way. Nevertheless, we must let go of our grievances. Part of the purpose of mortality is to learn how to let go of such things. That is the Lord’s way."
Of course she had no idea she was irritating me- that's just the way she was! How could I expect her to be this ideal, picture-perfect companion that I had in my head when I had no expressed my thoughts nor am I that perfect companion. I just keep telling myself that at least I can chose my eternal companion. Even then I know there will be "growing experiences" and things to change about ourselves.
Thursday we had a less active that I was working with last year come out with us. It was neat seeing how much changes in a year but how much is still the same. It was also special seeing the change she made in her life. She got her patriarchal blessing, which was something we had been working with her to do, and now she comes to church regularly. She is happier and you can see that it's source is the gospel.
We also had a recent convert come out to teach with us, whom I had never met before. She was enthusiastic about the work and especially about talking with everyone! We had knocked on a door of a potential who I had tried several times last year but never spoke to anyone. Like the times before, we knocked on the door and there was no answer. We got back into the car and started it so we could visit the next person we had planned for. Then the member saw someone walking to get their mail and said "we should go talk to her." We turned off the car and walked over to this lady who was nice but clearly not interested. However as we were talking to her someone pulled into the drive way of the house we had just knocked on! We were then able to talk to the person we had been looking for. He told us that he had been taught by missionaries in the past and had gone to church as everything. We asked if he believed the message was true and he said that I knew it was true and it had given him a new perspective on life. He said he would come to church this week and we are meeting with him again next week. #Miracles!
On Friday we were able to meet with the girl from the previous week, Shelia, who we had shared Helaman 5:12 with. She said that she had read some more from the Book of Mormon. She recognizes that her life is improving already. She told us how her boss at work had recently passed away and how it made her reflect more on her life and its value. We taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel and she believed it to be true and is preparing for her baptismal date.
Saturday's highlight was watching the Women's General Session of Conference. It was amazing. The spirit was so strong especially when the young women sang "How Firm a Foundation". I'll admit, no tears fell from my eyes but they were a bit watery. But this email is getting long enough so I won't put in all of my insight on the talks given. They are worth reading and rereading.
Sunday the guy that we met at the park a week before, Tony, came to church! We sat by him and just about everyone introduced themselves to him. He seemed to fit right in and even participated in class. At the end of church I asked him what he thought. He said that he found it was "rejuvenating" and that the church was "saturated with the spirit". What a powerful description of church!
In relief society Dijana gave the lesson. It was such a neat experience to be taught by one of my recent converts. Not to mention it was an incredible lesson! It was one of those that when the time is up you feel like it went by too quickly. Instead of those Sundays where you feel like the last 15 minutes is God testing how well you can endure to the end. I really hope I stay in this ward for my last transfer.
Spiritual thought: How are you preparing for conference? It's coming up this weekend! It's like the super bowl for missionaries! I always write down questions that I want answers to. Or review previous conference talks. Thomas S. Monsoon said "I encourage you to read the talks … and to ponder the messages contained therein. I have found in my own life that I gain even more from these inspired sermons when I study them in greater depth.” (Thomas S. Monson, "God Be with You Till We Meet Again," Ensign 2012).
I remember when I was in young women's a leader shared a story of how she was telling a non member friend about the upcoming conference. She explained how the church of Jesus Christ has prophets and apostles today who all speak at a world-wide conference twice a year. The friend found this interesting and genuinely asked "what did the prophet say in the last conference?". The young women's leader mind drew a blank.
Can you remember what God's prophet and apostles said at the last conference? We are so fortunate to have living prophets who receive revelation from God and share this divine guidance with the world. There is something so special hearing Christ's apostles share testimonies that make it feel like they are talking directly toward us individually. We can't take this opportunity for granted. Prepare for General Conference!
Oh and I forgot to mention, when I was washing my clothes I suddenly remembered that I forgot to take off my tag from the night before. I rush to the washer machine to see my clothes nice and clean and the lettering on my name tag perfectly white. It was an awful sight! I had spent 16 months making my name tag a nice off-white yellowish color; the color of people's teeth when they haven't brushed them for a week. But all of that work to show for was gone. I was devastated! Now my name tag looks like I just got into the field yesterday. How embarrassing!
Pday was good. We played kenacky and Chinese dodge ball. I'm bad at normal dodge ball and I'm really bad at Chinese dodgeball. So I just ran around and tried not to get pegged.
When we came to the area the sisters before us were only teaching one investigator, Anthony, who got baptized on the 17th. Which meant that we had to work our tails off to find more people to teach. Thankfully God blessed us and we saw lots of miracles.
On Tuesday we had a member with us and we were walking around apartment complexes trying to contact potential investigators and find people to teach. We had no luck and we ran out of doors to knock on. We decided to go to Craig Ranch park, which is my favorite place to talk to people because there are always people and they can't run away because they aren't doing anything in the first place... they are at a park! However normally families go to the park so we usually have to refer the people we meet to other missionaries. When we arrived we got out of the car and the very first person we talked to was a guy, Tony, that was YSA age and he wanted us to come by and learn more about our message. He told us that he wasn't very religious but his grandparents are LDS and he knew this would be something good. We were so excited! However as we were leaving sister Grindstaff looked up the address and come to find out it is just barely on the other side of our boundaries. I'm talking like on the other side of the street! I was so sad because we had to refer him to the West mission elders. But at least he will have the gospel in his life!
We also found two guys who were in their garage but agreed to talk with us. We felt prompted to share the plan of salvation. They believed it was true and accepted a date to be baptized! Nothing makes me happier than inviting people to be baptized and them accepting.
We had another neat experience where we knocked on a door looking for a guy but the girl inside, Shelia, told us that he didn't live there. We started talking to the girl who claimed to not be religious. We explained to her our purpose and missionaries and taught her about the Book of Mormon. We shared Helaman 5:12 with her and testified of the importance of having our testimonies firm on Christ. She then admitted that she was looking for more guidance in her life and committed to read the Book of Mormon. When we gave her a card with our phone number and a picture of Jesus she paused and told us that her mom had that same card and had also been looking into the church, although she lived on the other side of town. She then recognized that we were sent from God and knew this was something good.
Funny story: one day when we were with a member, walking around an apartment complex these two kids who were probably about 4 or 5 who shouted from a balcony "y'all luk lyke ghaostezes!"
We were all really confused, "like what?"
They repeated "lyke ghaostezes!"
"Ohh, you mean 'like ghosts'?"
"Yuh! Y'all so white yer glow'n in the sun!"
We laughed and then our member said with a straight face "that's because we are."
Their eyes got HUGE! And they got real quiet. It was the funniest thing! Those poor kids. And my testimony is confirmed that the gift of tongues is real. Haha
We went on exchanges this week. I was with Sister Lellis in her area. It was fun working with her again, she has grown a lot and is a great missionary. I'm glad we have become great friends. While we were on exchanges the members fed us steak for dinner. Real steak! I hadn't have steak for at least 16 months! It was heaven. I almost forgot how good it was! But I can't wait to eat steak from back home.
We had a baptism on Saturday for Anthony. It went smoothly and the spirit was really strong. His friends dad baptized him. He doesn't have a lot of family support to be baptized which was a real trial for him. It was so touching when he share his simple, but powerful testimony and when he asked his friends mom, "does it feel like I'm your son today?". It's great that he has that family support even if it's not from his own family.
This week we also visited some of my converts from last year. We met with Johnny and he told us a story of how when we first invited him to read from the Book of Mormon he was too tiered to go out with his "friends" but had just enough energy to read the scriptures. He stayed up all night reading until he got a phone call at 3am from a friend. The friend was surprised he answered the phone. He told Johnny that everyone in the "group" he was going to be with got shot- dead. No one lived. As heart broken as he was to lose his friends Johnny knew it was a miracle that he was saved. The scriptures truly keep you from danger. Johnny faced and still faces a lot of opposition. He had to give up his past life, which is something that his friends don't understand. He had one friend in particular tell him that he shouldn't go to church because they will trap him there. He responded, "if I can get out of gangs don't you think I can get out of church people? Are you seriously afraid of church people?!" His faith is amazing. It so wonderful seeing him truly converted to the gospel and trying to live for God and Christ in everything he does.
That last story might have freaked you out a little but don't worry, I'm safe. And the weather is getting much better! The highs were in the high-80s low-90s. It was amazing! I wore a cardigan for most of the week. Then I realized it's not normal to wear sweaters when it's 80 degrees outside... I scared because I'm going to freeze in Provo! Is it too late to transfer me to Hawaii?! Just kidding.
Spiritual thought: Romans 1:16
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth..."
This is such a powerful scripture. Have we ever been ashamed of the gospel or of standing out? In YSA we frequently have dinners at fast food restaurants with people always surrounding us. As a missionary everyone looks at you and watches your every move. Our first dinner in the area we finished and asked if we could share a spiritual thought (everyone always says yes). Before we began the member said "I think it's really neat that you still stare a thought even if you're in a public place". To me it was second nature. I served most of my mission in YSA so it was just what we did. I thought all missionaries did this! I guess the sisters before us hadn't in a while. Anyway, the world is becoming more and more wicked and is convincing people to keep religious views to themselves. However God wants us to do the opposite. We need to not be afraid of man but know that this gospel brings peace and true joy for everyone who is willing to take it in. So be bold! And share your testimony always in your words thoughts and deeds.