Monday, December 15, 2014
I really have no idea how to put into words the emotions I have felt in the last few days! I truly feel so blessed to have spent the last 18 months of my life serving the Lord here among the people of Pennsylvania. There are so many things I wouldn't have been able to dream up that I have experienced, and both the good and the bad are things I wouldn't trade for the world because EVERY experience has provided an opportunity to grow closer to my Savior. Yesterday in the 3rd hour of church, Sister Pugmire and I were invited to join a small panel of returned missionaries for the Young Women to ask questions to about sharing the gospel. It was a sacred experience for me because I was able to pause for a moment and really reflect on my mission. A flood of memories of the AMAZING people I have met, loved, taught, and been blessed so greatly by just completely overtook me and I couldn't help but sit there in awe. I felt such an overwhelming sense of gratitude to my Father in heaven for the love He has for me, in allowing me this opportunity. I feel so blessed.
So many miracles happened this week for Sister Pugmire and I! We had two lessons with Sheila about the word of wisdom, and the law of chastity. Both of them were incredible experiences because Sheila is sincerely preparing herself for the day she will be baptized, and I have never seen anyone so genuinely desire to please the Lord. In explaining the importance of our bodies as special gifts, sacred temples, from our Father in heaven she instantly grasped onto the seriousness of keeping them holy! In the word of wisdom lesson, she started pondering if she should give up sweets as well because she didn't think they do good things for her body! We thought it was amazing how she was so readily applying the teaching in her life, but did explain that moderation in all things is a key part of the word of wisdom. :) She is such a neat lady!! She has grown at such an amazing rate in the last few months, it is such a testimony to the power of the gospel! IT HAS THE POWER TO CHANGE LIVES!! I know that with all my heart.
I was asked to teach our district meeting this week, which was neat. I chose to focus on a phrase that has been a major blessing to my whole mission, told to me by my Daddy at the end of every letter - "Remember Joy!" During my time in State College, I read the Book of Mormon focusing on the word "remember" and it was such a powerful experience, realizing that one of Satan's greatest tools is trying to make us forget the spiritual promptings, revelations, and aspects of our testimony we have worked so diligently to gain! The Lord promises that if we retain in our remembrance the tender mercies He has poured out upon us, that we will not fall into temptation! The greatest tender mercy, or gift, we have been given is our Savior Jesus Christ. If we remember Him then we will have motivation to keep all our covenants and our Father in heaven will rejoice that we are choosing to acknowledge what He has done for us. The gospel is what has brought the greatest joy in my life and the time I have spent here in PA as a full-time missionary has helped that become so very clear! I know that part of my next task will be to remember the lessons I have learned, the experiences I have had, the people who have touched my life, and the relationship I have gained with both my Heavenly Father and my Savior. If I allow those things to propel me into whatever comes next, and to help me continue deepening my love for the gospel and my resolve to become more like Jesus Christ, then I will have nothing to fear.
I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true. I know that God provided a way for us to receive all the blessings He has by restoring the fullness of the gospel to the earth! I know that the Plan of Salvation give us greater understanding, and by studying it we can gain an eternal perspective that can change the way we see our everyday lives. How amazing is it that we can KNOW that we are loved by a perfect God?! I have come to know so deeply through the power of the Holy Ghost, that each of us are beloved sons and daughters of our Heavenly Father. I know that He desperately wants us to return to Him and that we can!! He has provided a way, and only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ can we achieve our divine potential.
I love you all and I cannot thank you enough for the support you have given me!!
Hurrah for Israel!
Wednesday, December 10, 2014
I know, I am the worst email-er on the planet.. sorry! Please forgive me!
I wanted to tell you how amazing it has been using the "He is the Gift" that the church has put out! Everyone needs to be touched by this wonderful message and help Christmas be more focused on the reason the holiday exists - CHRIST! We are so blessed to have this incredible gift from our Father in heaven, so what are we going to give in return? :)
Sister Pugmire and I went caroling almost everyday this week, spreading Christmas cheer and striving to find opportunities to share our testimonies of the Savior with all we come in contact with. We have seen so many miracles, and I wish I had time to spell them all out. Just know, Heavenly Father wants all of His children to come back to Him so desperately!
Things are going so well with Sheila! She is the most adorable lady ever, I LOVE HER!!! She loves the Lord with all her heart and is looking forward to being baptized! She has become a regular among the ward and everyone has enveloped her in love! Also, we started teaching this incredible Chinese couple (I feel like I am in State College again!) who work with a member of the Stake Presidency. They have a little girl and have expressed desire for "God to help their family". Which, we know is possible :)
I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to change any life, and if we allow it to help us with our challenges it can lift us to new heights and bring the greatest happiness available! I love you all so much!! Please reach out in love to someone around you who needs it! #ShareTheGift
p.s. here is a picture of Sister Pugmire and I decorating our cute little Christmas tree!
Monday, November 24, 2014
I cannot even begin to describe what an incredible week it has been!! I started off the week with an exchange with my adorable sister training leader and good friend, Sister Sparks! We served in the University Branch together in State College so we know each other really well and it was such a tender mercy being able to spend a day with her. While we were together we got to teach Sheila about the importance of daily scripture study and prayer. Sheila is incredible and repeatedly expresses her sincere desire to simply do whatever it is that the Lord wants her to do! She is committed to being baptized and excitedly looks forward to that special time, but Sister Pugmire and I are not sure when that will happen. Sheila is very devoted to God, but has been having a bit of a hard time comprehending and retaining the wonderful truths that help her understand that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the Lord's one, true church upon the earth. It may take a little longer than we expected or would like, but we are constantly being reminded that everything happens according to the Lord's timing. His timing is always what is best, so there is no point in stressing out about the "when".
I had 2 wonderful surprises also this week - Thursday night a lady from Butler took us out for dinner! Her name is Jan and I think I talked about her quite a bit while I was serving there. She is an ANGEL and has come such an incredibly long way over the past year and a half in her conversion, her testimony is so strong it filled my heart with joy!! Her husband is now actively taking the lessons (he went from avoiding us entirely to sitting in on Jan's lessons during my time there) for himself and has been reading the Book of Mormon on a regular basis! Woot woot! She also has been sharing the gospel with one of her co-workers. So wonderful! It is amazing to see how we automatically desire to turn outward and share the blessings of the gospel when we take the time to recognize them in our own lives, and develop our personal faith!! Then, later in the week I got a surprise visit from 2 of my favorite people from State College!! Sam and Emily took an outrageously long detour after their temple trip to the DC temple and came here to moon to see me :) I about passed out with joy... seeing them didn't even feel real! I sat there holding their hands and listening to them talk about the happenings in the branch, soaking in the feeling of being with them again! I miss that branch so much!
The neatest experience we had this week was with a wonderful lady that I am going to call Mrs. B. She is not a member, in fact she is very active in her own Christian church. She is WONDERFUL!! She is a dry Mormon, and being in her home is such a joy. Sisters met them several months ago because they have a very good friend who is LDS who referred them. Well, they are not interested in taking the lessons right now but we pop in every once in a while to see if we can do anything for them. When we popped this last week, she said it was perfect timing because she wanted our help in decorating her house for Christmas! We were extremely excited, of course, and set up a time to help her. We spent a good chunk of time on Friday helping her and it was such a happy day full of learning about her and her family, and the role that God and religion have played in their lives! She asked us a lot of questions in reference to the misconceptions about the church and we loved having the chance to clear those up. As we helped her clean up after all the decorating, I asked if we could sing her a song before we left because I saw Sister Pugmire eyeing her beautiful grand piano as we put up the tree in the living room. She excitedly said yes and as Sister Pugmire began tinkering around on the piano, Mrs. B called her husband to come home from work right away and called her next door neighbor to come over for a "concert"! haha She was ecstatic that we wanted to sing for her. So, Sister Pugmire got to share our testimonies of the gospel through music :) We sang "We Thank Thee Oh God for a Prophet", "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul", "Count Your Many Blessings", "Sweet Hour of Prayer" and "God Be with You Til We Meet Again". It brought Mrs. B to tears and after each song she would comment on the beautiful words. Her neighbor was so grateful that she was invited and thanked us over and over for our beautiful voices. It was such a neat experience! We felt so blessed to have had the opportunity to share a little more of our beliefs in a way that means so much to both Sister Pugmire and I. Music has such an incredible ability to bring the Spirit and touch hearts.
I know the gospel is true!! I know that we can accomplish what the Lord needs us to, if we are doing what is needed to have the Spirit in our lives and then acting on the promptings we receive! Never pass up an opportunity to show love to someone.
Have a wonderful week!
Monday, October 13, 2014
This week has been full of so many miracles!
We were able to find a new investigator this week, a cute 45 year old lady named Sheilea who is completely prepared to hear the gospel. She was in awe as we taught her the Restoration and explained that there is a prophet on the earth today, just like Moses or Abraham or Noah. She has been to many churches in the past, but she never felt like they were truly focused on God. She had felt that each church she attended was becoming more and more centered on the "money" aspect, and less determined to help people have faith. We knew that coming to church with us would be crucial, because she would be able to see right away that the ward is full of righteous families and individuals who have the sole purpose of deepening their relationship with God and helping others do the same! Guess what? SHE CAME! It was especially special, because our ward mission leader told me that there hasn't been a single investigator from the sister's area at church for this entire calendar year... Not from lack of trying, just simply because people were not truly interested or satan worked his way in and prevented it from happening. Sheilea was so wonderful and she seemed to glow as she heard the different talks and lessons, fully based on our Savior Jesus Christ and how we can grow closer to Him. Woot woot! Yay for church!
We also had a fun experience contacting a Church Headquarter referral. We had called the guy to ask when would be a good time to drop by his home and leave him the Book of Mormon, and he sounded very young! So, we were excited! We arrive on the scheduled day and out walks this 15 year old kid (named Jake) in a white t-shirt with the print on the front looking like a black necktie and black name tag! As he got closer we were able to see the words on the name tag, "God's Favorite Musical"! haha He had gone to see the Book of Mormon musical a few weeks before with his parents and because of it, was anxious to read the Book of Mormon and see what it is really about! He was excited to meet us and told us that he has been "church hunting" a lot lately but none of them have clicked for him. He was thrilled to set up a time to learn more from us about the church and at the end of the conversation he looked at me intently and asked, "so if I joined your church, would I go on a mission?" haha..... what?! :D We giggled and told him, if he had a desire to go then yes of course he COULD serve a mission.
OH! This last Tuesday we got together with 2 neighboring zones, had a mini zone training, and then got to watch MEET THE MORMONS! Holy cow, it was amazing!! I don't think there was a dry eye in the room, especially during the "missionary mom" section of the movie - it was so real for all of us and it may have caused a little longing for home in the hearts of a few of the missionaries. But truly, what an uplifting, inspiring video! It is so interesting to see how the world's view of members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is slowly beginning to shift to a more accurate perception. With the miracle of modern technology we have the opportunity to share what we believe with so many people in our lives, on a regular basis. I hope everyone gets the chance to see the movie soon! Invite your friends to see it! :)
I love you all so much! The gospel is the greatest blessing, and I hope we can strive to live it a little more fully each day and show the Lord how grateful we are for this blessing. I know the Savior loves us! Our Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and He has given us so many tools to find true happiness. Read, pray, serve, love! Have a wonderful week!!
This week has been full of craziness and pure JOY! To start - last preparation day (a week ago today) missionaries serving all around Pittsburgh came together at the Point State Park to play ultimate Frisbee! It probably doesn't seem like that big of a deal, but if you look at almost any well known picture of Pittsburgh or even the fun Pitt t-shirts, so many display the Park with it's massive fountain. It was neat, and it made it very real that I am truly in Pittsburgh! Woohoo!
From Tuesday night into Wednesday, I got to go on an exchange with my Sister Training Leader and good friend who was in the MTC at the same time I was! We had quite the time together! We had a surprise service activity where we spent 4 hours frantically packing up a house. A random lady, who is coming out of an abusive relationship, was leaving to another state with 4 young children and hadn't packed up a single thing in her home. When we walked into her house, I just wanted to burst into tears! Immediately after walking into the house, the living room off to the left had the four children sprawled out over a flat cardboard box that had nothing but a soiled flat sheet over top of it and all around them were the remains of the previous night's McDonald's dinner. The youngest child, just a small baby was screaming at the top of her little lungs and the mother, between giving us directions on where to start, would yell at the baby to cut it out. So, we went to work! There were mounds of clothes, toys, food, garbage- you name it -that we gutted and packed up for her. We had to call in the assistants and another set of elders to come and help, because we knew there was no chance we would be able to accomplish it all on our own. The assistants had helped her the night before as well, and when they arrived and saw the progress we had done, they were amazed by how much better it looked from the night before when they had first arrived! Which was pitiful because we hadn't felt like we had accomplished hardly anything! (in case you can't tell - it was BAD)
After listening to that poor little baby scream for the next little while, one of the assistants looked at me and told me that one of us sisters needed to hold her and that we had permission to give her some love because it was very apparent that what the mother was doing was not working. So, we continued working as fast as we could, taking turns holding the kids and trying to keep them calm. The whole time as we were trying to help, I found myself getting discouraged that these poor little children were in such terrible circumstances and that nothing we were doing would help them to really get out of the problems they were dealing with. Heavenly Father seemed to sooth my worries, and when we were nearing the end, we gave the mother a Book of Mormon. She said thank you over and over, telling us that we were angels for helping her! I don't know if that lady will choose to read the Book of Mormon, but I do know that because of our service and prayers on their behalf, that family will be blessed in some way. If nothing else, it helped me realize how lending a helping hand and being willing to help in a time of need can be an answer to someone else's prayer. It didn't seem like much what we were able to accomplish for her that day, but as Elder Holland helped me remember in conference, "What we do is only a drop in the ocean, but if we do not do it, the ocean will be one drop less.."
Which leads me to the pure joy of this week - CONFERENCE! Holy cow - this conference was truly the greatest I have ever experienced. I was able to see so clearly how the Lord really does hear my prayers and is anxious to help me find answers to them. I was especially touched by Elder Jorg Klebingat's talk about the importance of having confidence before God. His 6 tips to help accomplish this confidence were so inspired and I am excited to readily apply and do better with each of them. Towards the end of his talk, I felt that he was speaking directly to me when he said, "acknowledge and face your weaknesses, but don't become immobilized by them!" The Lord wants each of us to be happy and to provide us with strength to overcome our weaknesses, not to be held down and hindered by them. The Savior's Atonement is REAL. I know that as we turn to the Lord for help, He will send what we need to achieve our righteous desires and goals.
I love this gospel! And I love all of you!! I hope that we can all review over and over the inspiration that we received this weekend. We are so incredibly blessed to have the opportunity to receive personal revelation, and to hear the word of God directly from His prophet! Let's take advantage of the blessings available to us :)
I have been transferred to Moon! It is about 15 minutes outside of Pittsburgh! Woohoo! This last week was really interesting and fun getting to try and learn the area and LOTS of names. We had dinner appointment every night this last week, which my companion said is extremely rare for this ward, and it was such a tender mercy because these members extended so much love to me - and coming into church on Sunday, I felt like I already knew a good amount of them! This ward is really young. So many young families with a lot of cutie pie kids, and many more on the way(it seems like half the ward is pregnant and they are all glowing with joy!)! Needless to say.. I am very happy here :)
My companion's name is Sister Pugmire! She has been out for 14 months, so it is definitely a cool experience to serve with someone who is "seasoned" and has had a lot of wonderful experiences to share. We are ready to tear up this area and find/teach/rescue until we drop!
I don't have a lot of time, next week I will write more! But I wanted to share really fast something that I loved from the General Women's Meeting. Wasn't it wonderful?! I was so inspired by President Uchtdorf's talk, and specifically when he shared with the women about the importance of remembering that we are all children of God! The knowledge that I am a child of God will carry me through the hardest trials and can motivate me to accomplish so much IF I choose to remember it... Being a daughter of God isn't a title I have earned nor will I ever LOSE. How comforting! I know that we are all children of God and that our Father in heaven loves us so dearly. I hope we can all choose to remember that no matter what is going on in our lives, trying to distract us from that precious truth!
I love you all so much and I hope that General Conference receives your full, undivided attention this weekend! We are so blessed to be able to hear these inspired men of God speak directly to us on the most important topics right now. LOVE YOU!!!
p.s. New address:
310 Lee Dr. #59
Moon, PA 15108