This is Abby's Dad. Today, we had a cyber family reunion! We were permitted to have a Google Hangout with Abby on her mission and Brittany and Jeff were able to join us from Colorado. Here is a screen shot of the conversation. You can see all our faces in the lower right corner. It was soooo wonderful to be able to see her beautiful face and hear her voice. Oh I feel so blessed as a father of these amazing young ladies!
Abby is doing so well - she loves the people she is serving and she is doing such a marvelous work there.
Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Yay for the Christmas season!!
I am so grateful for a loving Father in heaven and the opportunity to share my testimony of the Savior with the people of the Butler area! So many tender mercies were given to us this week and we feel so blessed!
I'm not sure if you remember, but when I first came to Butler I told you about a young man named Andrew! He is one of our investigators and he was originally supposed to be baptized on November 30th. Well, he is 23 and still lives at home, and his family does not know he is investigating. He asked us to push his date back because he was going to be moving at the beginning of December and didn't want to tell them until after he had moved out because of the contention he knew it would cause. Well, the apartment he planned on moving to fell through because of a heating problem, and at the same time the girl who got him interested in the church who lives in Utah, decided to tell Andrew that she wanted him to date other people.... sad. After that lesson when he broke all of that news to us, we couldn't have a lesson with him no matter how hard we tried! He would cancel on us or not respond to our messages for 4 weeks straight. We had continued to pray for him but had stopped planning for him during our weekly planning session because of his lack of interest (or so we thought). Well, this last week we finally got to have a lesson with him and he came with such exciting news: He told us he is planning on telling his parents about his investigating the church on January 15th, because he is moving on January 14th (still within our area), and he wants to be baptized shortly after!!! :D Such a wonderful answer to prayer! He told us that he really was just overbooked the past few weeks and he was so sorry he had to cancel so many times. It was so happy! So, we had a lesson with him about the importance of strengthening faith. He is a tree farmer, so naturally we used Alma 32. It was so amazing to see how the scriptures can really help anyone better learn principles of the gospel, and to see how Andrew basically taught himself the lesson through our series of questions we had prepared. I think Heavenly Father was really trying to remind me that He is always in control, and even when I think people are not progressing, He is always at work in their heart!
Another tender mercy, happened on Friday. We were walking on the main strip of Evans City (it's super tiny) after updating our progress record at the library, and at the stop light a big red suburban pulled up next to us and the lady driving rolled down the window to say, "hello!! Just a big mormon family in a big mormon car!" haha She then told us to walk over to the market parking lot so she could talk to us. Her name is Sister Webb and she actually is a member of the Cranberry ward, even though she lives 5 minutes away from us (because we live in the bottom corner of our ward boundaries). But she rocks! She has 6 kids under 12 and she served a mission in Switzerland! She gave us 2 referrals of families they have become close to through school and that live in Evans City, AND she invited us to her home for lunch on Christmas eve!!! We had to get permission from President Topham and his response to our request was, "just because it is Christmas." :) haha We were so grateful for Heavenly Father placing her in our path!! She has given us proselyting ideas and brought us over ingredients to make cookies for our neighbors, the day after meeting her :) So awesome!!
The Christmas program yesterday in the Butler ward was incredible. We were dragged into singing in the choir (dragged... haha) and it was so wonderful because we got to look out at the congregation and see all of the smiling faces, happy to hear the stories of the Savior being talked about over the pulpit. The Butler Ward is so loving and it is so easy to feel the Spirit of CHRISTmas around each of them. I love this gospel with all my heart and I feel so grateful to be here at this time, helping others receive the witness that I have that Jesus Christ is my Redeemer. I have received multiple packages and cards from so many people and I cannot describe how loved I have felt! I feel so blessed to have so many wonderful people in my life :) I love you all so much and I hope you have the most wonderful Christmas!!
p.s. Pictures: 1) Alan Kean (the hilarious member who wears the funniest things to church) showed us some of his swords after correlation... so we had to take a fun picture with them! 2) Sister Draper and I at a "scenic lookout" spot we found on the way to Brookville for an exchange. The snow is beautiful! 3) Sister Draper and I next to our "big" Christmas tree :) LOVE YINZ! Merry Christmas <3
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Okay, so this week was really good. Lots of wonderful things happened! But first, you really, really should go and watch/listen to a video on mormonchannel.org, under holiday media, a video called "O Come, Emmanuel - Christmas Version". It is the Piano guys with little bits of video of Mary and Christ... it brought me to tears it was so wonderful. I really believe music is one of the ways that Heavenly Father speaks to me the most clearly.
Anyway, I am so grateful for this wonderful Butler Ward!! They really love the missionaries and it is a genuine love. There is a couple that has a daughter on a mission in Cambodia, and they do so much for the elders and us. We received a name from the ward of a lady who had recently moved in, and they took us to find her. It took us an hour! haha She lived on a road that isn't marked but the road she supposedly lived on was on the other side of the main road, and... well, you get the picture. It took us forever but they were so diligent and had such a happy, optimistic attitude about doing whatever it took to find her. We ended up finding her house! Another family in the ward gave us these massive, plush blankets that are so warm!! Which I was extremely grateful for because I can't ever seem to get warm.
Another lady that the ward told us to visit, is a sweet older less-active woman named Vella. She lives alone in a tiny apartment and craves human interaction. We went over to see her twice but she was doing laundry so she told us to come back. On thursday though, she invited us to come and help her put up Christmas decorations! It was so fun!! We set up her little fake Christmas tree and put little cling-ons onto the window. She had bought way too many, so she even sent us home with some. :) She was soooo grateful for our help though, even though we felt like we didn't really do much. I think it was mostly the conversation that she benefitted from and she told us "you know where I live, so please come back!" haha I love her.
We had to do a fair amount of tracting this week because we are desperately trying to find investigators. We know that Heavenly Father has people ready for us to teach, we are just earnestly trying to follow the Spirit to know where they are. It's a challenge. But, our faith and trust is in God and we know that He will help us... He is on our side :)
We got to attend Missionary Leadership Council on Friday and sheesh, it was so wonderful! Two of the sisters that I was over last transfer (and they both came out with me) became Sister Training Leaders this transfer so I got to see them!! Also, my awesome district that I was with when I was serving in Elizabethtown (my favorite group of missionaries ever), 5 out of the 8 of us are on the Council now and it was such a happy, fun reunion!! haha I think my favorite part of attending MLC though, was President Topham's passion for this work! He has made the goal for our mission to have 400 baptisms in the year 2014! Which means that by the time he leaves in July, we need to have half of those baptisms. He broke it down and showed us that each district needs to have a baptism every month! We are really excited to accomplish this goal.
Everything is going well here!! I hope everything is going well at home too!!!! LOVE YINZ!
p.s. Pictures: 1) the pretty lights we have up in our bedroom.. we wanted a little christmas spirit in our apartment :) 2) This AWESOME guy in our ward named Alan Kean!! He is a total goofball and has wack-o ties on usually every Sunday. But, this Sunday he stepped it up a notch and wore a lava lava. Baha. Way fun.
Have a wonderful week! LOVE YOUU!
(Sorry! The picture files are too large to upload and I can't figure out how to resize them.)
Tuesday, December 3, 2013
Well, I hope everyone had a tremendously wonderful Thanksgiving :) I sure did! The morning of Thanksgiving, we received 2 phone calls from members who were not planning on feeding us that day, but wanted to make sure we were taken care of! So sweet. We actually ended up going to one of their homes in the afternoon because they were eating very early. So, we had 3 huge meals!! Sister Draper and I were struggling pretty bad after the second one. haha The members were so kind in letting us come into their homes and let us feel the love that was there.
Earlier this week we received a ton of snow!! Oh by the way, there is a family in the ward who always gives us weather reports and they told us that Michigan received 2 feet of snow. I hope that was fun! :) Anway, tuesday was when the snow really came here and it was absolutely gorgeous!! As we were driving on a back road to visit one of the new sisters in the ward, I had to make Sister Draper pull over so I could take pictures because it took my breath away! Ah! I love it! It went away quickly though because it rained the next day, which made the steps leading up to our apartment VERY slick... thank heavens we have not fallen!
But one thing I wanted to tell you about this week, was an experience we had with Destiny- our recent convert. She is so wonderful. We had a lesson with her on Tuesday which went very well. We usually meet with her on Thursdays as well but with Thanksgiving, she thought it would be best for her to focus on her family (even though she said she wanted us to come over). We totally understood and were happy that she was excited for that special time with her daughter, son-in-law, and grandson. Well, her grandson is the one I briefly mentioned last week, he is special needs and an amazing trooper with everything he has been through medically. He has a very special spirit and LOVES music. Well, on our way home Thursday night, we got a call from her. She was so excited to explain to us a special thing that had just happened. She told us that Justus had found on her ipad (he is 5 and extremely technologically inclined) a video on the church website where little children are singing, "I am a child of God". She told us that as he was listening to the song, he ran over to the fridge and stared at it for a few moments, then pointed up at the picture of Christ... then he looked over to Destiny and smiled. Keep in mind that this little boy has never been introduced to the knowledge of God, Jesus Christ, or anything else religious. How special!! Destiny told us that she knew at that moment, that Justus knows who God is and that he is special to God! It really helped me remember that little children really are our mentors, if we take the time to learn from them and recognize that they have so much to teach us! :)
Destiny also bore her testimony yesterday. When she got up to the puplit, she began by saying, "If I shared my full testimony, it would take a couple days... so I will try to do a shorter version." :) I am so grateful for her example! She has barely been a member for 2 weeks and yet her testimony is unshakable!
Transfers are tomorrow, and both Sister Draper and I will be here for another 6 weeks. We have become much closer than I ever expected, so I am excited that we have this time together! We are understanding each other more and more everyday and learning how we can really help each other become better. I love the way of a mission, having a companion that I get to learn how to love has been such a tremendous blessing for me!
I hope you have a fabulous week!! Never forget to take time out of each day to thank Heavenly Father for the MANY blessings he has given each of us! :) His love is so incredible! LOVE YINZ!!
p.s. pictures: 1) Sister Draper and I on tuesday morning when the snow was falling in huge flakes! 2) the area I was telling you about that took my breath away. 3) Sister Draper and I being silly in the pink jackets that a less-active member named Joe gave us - the bottom floor of our apartment is always really cold so we are wearing them constantly! haha LOVE YOU!!
Monday, November 25, 2013
Okay, I am so sorry that I didn't write last week! We were at the library and because of the amount of people, the computers cut off early... silly. I was momentarily stunned. haha So, this week's email will include 2 weeks worth of information :)
To start off - Thanksgiving is so soon!!!! :D I am so happy that everyone will be in Ohio for thanksgiving because those were always the best, even though it means you will all only be roughly 3.5 hours away from me..... uh. haha My relief society president and a group of women went down to the colombus temple this last week to do a few sessions, when I told them that almost my ENTIRE extended family lives just outside of colombus, they were shocked. They made a few comments about calling them up to see if anyone wanted to join them at the temple and get a picture for me, but I didn't have a number to give them. haha Oh well, it was a nice thought. We have 2 dinner appointments on Thanksgiving and I am very excited to get to spend time with the members, and build those relationships with them :)
Oh! Destiny was baptized on the 16th! :) She is doing so great. It actually was kind of a rough situation because satan was trying really, really hard to prevent her from being baptized. The day before her baptism she was doing some research on the internet (she LOVES to read and is constantly looking for more knowledge - so cool) and came across some anti-mormon literature :( She said that it was about Joseph Smith and that even though she knew right away that it gave her a nasty feeling inside, it made her momentarily wonder if she wanted to push back the baptism. Ah! But then she said that she took a moment to think about it, and she realized that whenever she thinks about the church, the members, or her baptism, she has nothing but happy feelings! So she decided to continue on and NOT call us to push back her baptism (thank heavens). Then the next morning as Sister Wazaneggar came to pick her up, she opened her door to find a Jehovah's Witness version of our pass-along cards stuck in her door! Then she told us she thought, "holy cow! I just need to hurry up and get to the church!" haha When she got there, everything went great :) She kept saying "I have found God's real family! I am so happy to be adopted into HIS family!" She has so much faith. Yesterday, she received a calling to work in the family history center :)
I have gone on 2 exchanges this last 2 weeks, and both of them were so wonderful. The first, I was able to go to Cranberry and serve with Sister Burnett!! Remember the day I received my endowment and I met a girl in the Celestial room that was coming to this mission - that is her! We were together in the MTC, and when we got to see each other again last week, Sister Burnett said, "it's like seeing family!" And I felt the same way :) We had such an awesome time serving with each other for that short 24 hours. Then, just a few days ago, I got to go to Avalon which is a walk area about 45 minutes from Butler. IT WAS SO FUN! I seriously hope Heavenly Father calls me to serve in a walk area at some point in my mission because I really felt like I got to talk to so many more people! Their area is pretty ghetto though. We went to main street for the time we had planned to street contact, and while there, I heard an enormous amount of profanity, talked to a couple people who were either high or wasted, and witnessed a man getting arrested. That same man who was arrested, Bryan, actually helped us. As we were walking down the street in his direction, he yelled out, "hey! You girls know a John Smith?!" ...haha We politely corrected him, and walked over to where he and his friend Damon were standing. Bryan told us that he was baptized when he was 22, "straight from the penitentiary!" He was a little loopy from the alcohol he had recently consumed, but they few things he did say grabbed the interest of his friend Damon :) Damon turned to us and started asking us questions about our badges and the pass-along card we had just given him, what the "beautiful building" was and what we do everyday. During this conversation, Bryan had gotten into a huge argument with his sister which led to them screaming profanities at each other from across the street, causing the police to show up and get involved. As this was happening, Bryan looked over at us and yelled, "Yo Damon! You gonna help me out?" Damon looked at us and said, "I'm not getting into trouble for him." So we starting walking the opposite direction. As we were walking, Sister Hansen ran into another man that she knew, she they started a conversation while Damon and I continued to talk. He was talking to me with such genuine curiosity, it made me so happy! At one point, he turned to me and sincerely asked, "so what made you decide to do this and come out here?" I got to bear my testimony of the gospel and the blessings it has brought me. I really felt my testimony as I was telling him! It was a very neat experience :)
Ah... life is good. It is beginning to get very cold here and today, there is a thin layer of snow on the ground. Apparently we are expecting 3-6 inches here in the next couple days which is a really big deal for the people here. haha. I'm glad that I was raised in Michigan so I know what to expect and how to "survive"! ;)
Well, I love you all so much!! Enjoy every minute of Thanksgiving together and know that I am grateful for you! I am realizing more and more the many blessings that I have been given throughout my life and many of those blessings are the people in my life... :) LOVE YINZ!!
p.s. Pictures: 1) Sister Draper and I with Destiny at her baptism :) 2) Me with Destiny's grandson - his name is Justus and he has been through so much! He is only 5 and he has been through 11 surgeries including some for the stage 4 liver cancer that he fought. He is so cute though! 3) Sister Draper and I in the beautiful snow!
Have a fabulous week!!
Wednesday, November 13, 2013
Oh my goodness I am so grateful for this last week! There have been so many blessings that have come our way, I wish so badly that I could just video record my whole week and send it home!! But I guess a short email will just have to do :) Oh and I am sorry that last week's email is so short. I have gotten a lot of emails lately and I have LOVED it! But it has pulled away from my big email... hehe whoops! I will try to do better, especially since there is always so much to share! Ah!
Well, this week we got to have interviews with President Topham. He is such an inspired man, I feel so lucky to have been called to this mission and be able to learn from his example!! We got to see him a lot this week because on Wednesday were interviews, and then Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference for the Pittsburgh North Stake! :) There were so many tender mercies in regards to stake conference, and I want to share two of them:
1. Destiny is the amazing woman I have told you about that is scheduled to be baptized the 16th of November (this upcoming Saturday). The baptismal interview must be done a week prior to the baptism by the district leader. Destiny is SO amazing and so golden, never having issues with any of the commandments. On Friday, the day before her scheduled interview with our district leader, we went to her home to go over the interview questions with her. She answered the questions with complete confidence in her recently found testimony! One of the questions however, if answered a certain way, requires higher authority to conduct the actual interview and approve the person for baptism. Well, Destiny answered the question in that certain way. Our whole ward loves her and is so excited for her baptism there was no way we wanted to have to postpone it! So we left her house and immediately called President Topham to explain the situation and ask when he could conduct the interview. He called back later in the evening to say that he would be more than happy to do it after the adult session on Saturday evening which Destiny was already planning to attend :) It completely put our minds at ease.
2. After the meeting Saturday night, the interview went much longer than normal. We were waiting outside the door with Sister Topham, worried that something had gone wrong! We know how strong her testimony is that this is the true church upon the earth today, and couldn't come up with any reason why things wouldn't work out or she wouldn't be passed for baptism. President Topham called us in when they were finished and simply handed me the paper with his signature on it, telling me to make sure I get all the rest of her information in before I send it in to the mission office.... Woohoo! She passed with flying colors :) But the best part was that in the Sunday general session of stake conference, President Topham spoke. His talk was about how we all have our own conversion stories, some of us were raised in the church, some fell away and had to find our way back, and some came to a knowledge of the church later in life! He then quoted Destiny!! In the interview she had said, "The things the missionaries are teaching me, just confirm what the Holy Ghost has already told me." :) It was so special for all of us, especially since the whole ward knew who he was quoting!
Also this week, we got to do a special "blitz" in Beaver Falls. President Topham had called us last week, telling us that the Sisters up there are really struggling because they got doubled in to the area and have zero investigators and a poor relationship with the ward because of pervious missionaries. So, Sister Draper and I got to both go up to Beaver and work with them in the area (instead of doing the regular exchange where 2 would come back to Evans City). It was an incredible experience. We split up in the area, trying to cover more ground, and wanted to FIND as much as possible. I was with Sister Crockett and she is sweetheart. She has been on her mission a transfer longer than I have, and it broke my heart to hear that she has NEVER had an investigator come to church... her whole mission... She really needed some encouragement and love and I felt so blessed that Heavenly Father inspired Sister Draper and I to know that I needed to be with Sister Crockett that day. I tried to show her my enthusiasm for the work, and the power that comes from being joyful and optimistic through everything - including very rude people who want nothing to do with us. She bore her testimony to me several times, without meaning to, of how this work changes lives even though the majority of the time we (as the missionaries) don't get to see the change, because we are planting the seeds. I am so grateful that I get to learn from these wonderful sisters!! I love them so much!
So... life is great. There are so many things to be grateful for, and like Moroni, "my heart wells with thanksgiving to my God..." I feel so blessed to be here!! I am reminded everyday of the wonderful people in my life that I owe so much to!!
p.s. Pictures: last week was really beautiful, the trees had lots of vibrant yellows and golds - it was so great!! And then this morning when we went outside for our run, the ground was covered in beautiful white snow :) It was crazy! Love you!
Monday, November 4, 2013
This week has been absolutely fabulous I don't even know where to begin!! I don't have very much time left on the computer unfortunately so I'm really sorry this email is going to be pathetically short.
BUT, a tender mercy I really wanted to share was one that happened on Tuesday.
There is a couple in the Butler Ward who have lived here for 8 years and are very well loved! Their names are Skip and AJ Starkey and they are moving this week to Florida for various reasons. The Relief Society president asked us if on Tuesday we would go over to her home and help her pack! So we did and Tuesday evening we helped her wrap up all her pictures. When we finished we found her in the house to ask what else we could do. Instead she told us to come in and talk with her for a minute. So as we were sitting there on her bed with her, she randomly said, "Walborn, Walborn... you wouldn't by chance know a Bruce Walborn?" I was so shocked!! I immediately responded - "that's my grandfather!!" :) She was blown away and told me a few funny stories about Wally Seldon, Sam Topham, and Carl Anderson - people she said my Grandpa would remember very well. It was so fun and special for me!
Ah! Time is running out! I got to go on exchanges up to Brookville this week and it was amazing to see how much is to be learned from the missionaries around us! I am beginning to think Heavenly Father needs me to learn more from these Sisters than they could possibly learn from me, and I am so grateful!
We also had Missionary Leadership Council all day on Friday and it was AMAZING! The messages that were shared and insights we were given, the problems we discussed, etc. Everything was wonderful! I was able to gain more understanding about how Heavenly Father uses every experience on our missions and in our lives to teach us something that will make us better. There is quote I found in my studies this week that ties in with that as well, "Cherish your spiritual burdens because God will converse with you through them and will use you to do his work if you carry them well." - Jeffrey R. Holland
I am so grateful for challenges in our lives! Heavenly Father is trying to shape me into the person He needs me to become and I have so many examples to look to along the way :) I hope everyone has a fabulous week!! LOVE YINZ!!!!
Love, Sister Walborn
Monday, October 28, 2013
Soooo... where do I begin?
Well, on Tuesday, we drove to the Harrisburg chapel with my (former) District Leader and his companion who was getting transferred. There was a mini transfer meeting there, and Sister Thomas got her new companion Sister Winkler who was already serving in our zone - so they knew each other a little bit. We said our goodbyes (not fun) and she headed back to Elizabethtown, and I headed to Pittsburgh. I got to ride in a truck with 3 other missionaries and we hauled a trailer full of luggage! It was kind of scary at time since the Elder who was assigned to drive had never driven with a trailer being pulled behind him! But we made it safe :)
Once in Pittsburgh, we had a transfer meeting where it was announced that I would be serving as a Sister Training Leader in Butler. My new companion's name is Sister Draper! She is from Highland, UT (3rd utah companion in a row), and she is fun. She is 21, went to BYU-Idaho before her mission and has been out 3 months longer than I have. After we got luggage figured out and were all set to go, we were driven to Evan City! We are called the Butler West Sisters, but our apartment is in Evan City.. The hardest part about coming to this area so far is that we are both unfamiliar with the area! I'll explain: the day before I arrived (10/21/13 - monday), the Butler Elders switched apartments with the Butler Sisters! The Elders moved into downtown Butler because it has become a walk area, and we have all the area around them, with a car. Which means that Sister Draper knows very, very little about the area we now have. It has definitely been an adventure! Haha But, we are figuring it out together and we will be pros in no time :)
We have 2 investigators who both have baptismal dates! One of them is GOLDEN! Her name is Destiny and she is absolutely incredible. She has read the Bible so much you can hardly read the words because it is so marked up! Ever since she was given a Book of Mormon, she has completely dove in and is REALLY reading it! It is so amazing to see her passion for the gospel before she even really knows it! She has come to church the past 2 sundays, comes to the BOM class held on Wednesday nights at the chapel, and has us over twice a week for lessons. I already love her so much!!
Andrew is the other investigator. He is a very sweet young guy. He became interested in the church because of a girl he met online who lives in Utah... haha She is LDS and has said that she wants to marry a mormon. The cool part about it though, was that yesterday, Andrew sat next to me in church and the 3rd speaker gave a little background of his life. He told the congregation that he became interested because of a girl he liked in high school! He said at first his family was convinced he was only doing it because of the girl, but now many years later being married to a woman who was NOT that girl he liked in high school, they are convinced otherwise. :) Andrew turned to me after that part of his talk and said, "that is wild. I like that." Haha He is on the right track!
The ward here is SO sweet! Sister Kinney (the missionary I replaced) served in this ward for 7.5 months. A long time. So, all the ward members immediately recognized a new face and all the women came up to me with a smile on their face, giving me a huge hug, and asked me about myself. I felt very welcome. :) The Elizabethtown ward will always hold a special place in my heart, but I feel so blessed to have been sent (as the follow-up ward) here to Butler, where the people are so loving and kind.
Anyway, we have planned our first exchange next week with the Brookeville Sisters and then next Friday I get to attend my first Missionary Leadership Council. So, lots to tell you next week! I love you all so much!!! Oh! And it has gotten drastically colder in the last week (we had our first tiny snow) and I was SO GRATEFUL that I had the gloves Jessie and Marcus gave me! They are soo nice! Thank you so much! Haha
LOVE YOU ALL!!! I hope you have such a fabulous week!
p.s. Pictures: Sister Thomas and I saying our final goodbyes.... I really miss her! And then a pitcure of Sister Draper and I in our apartment. I forgot to mention this earlier but my new apartment is like 4 times the size of the apartment in Elizabethtown! I have my own shower! lol I LOVE YOU!!
Monday, October 21, 2013
I feel so overwhelmed by everything that I want to tell you! There is no way to describe in a few paragraphs everything that has happened this past week (or any week) in the mission field. But, I will do my best to hit the highlights.
1. I am getting transferred... I was sad when I found out on Friday. I have come to love this area so much! The ward members are so incredible, I feel like I have learned so much from so many of them and have built such strong relationships!! The people here, my companion, the area... it was such a wonderful time. I feel so blessed for every minute I have gotten to spend here!
2. On Tuesday, we had one of the most spiritual lessons I have had so far on my mission. It is with one of the sweetest ladies I have ever met. Her name is Valerie, and she has been investigating for a few months now but has only received 2 lessons. She was found by the Elders and has been to church consistently since the first week she came (6 times- not counting conference). She is such an amazing woman!! She lives in Columbia which is out of our area, but the Elders got permission from President Topham for us to teach her because that is what she preferred and what we all felt she needed. Anyway, we have tried meeting with her in member's homes that she has come to know and love through church attendance 3 times but she has always cancelled last minute. On Tuesday she randomly invited us over to her apartment, which she had a big aversion to before because she said it wasn't ready for people to see. It was our first time meeting with her and we completely fell in love!!! She is so desperate to have relief from problems in her life and is anxious and ready to use the Atonement and her Heavenly Father's love to help her get there. We taught her the gospel of Jesus Christ. She said she really needed to learn about repentance so it was "totally from the Holy Spirit" that we were there to teach her that lesson :) After Valerie hesitantly accepted a baptismal date, Sister Thomas felt prompted to give Valerie her CTR ring. When she did, Valerie burst into tears and told us that she has been looking and praying to find a ring! For a ceremony she is doing through "group", she needed a ring to symbolize the things that she was putting behind her, and help her move forward. She turned to us and said, "Now I know I can do this! This will give me the strength I need! God is so good!" :) It was a very special moment! When I said goodbye to Valerie on Sunday she told me how much she loved me and was grateful for me... I felt it was Heavenly Father's way of telling me that I am doing my "job" in making a difference in someone's life. Missionary work is the best!!
3. I got to go on exchanges!! Sister Berry is one of my favorite people ever. She is serving in Ephrata, and I got to go up to be with her and my grandmother Sister Averett (they are in a trio with Sister Kirk). I feel so blessed to be surrounded with such wonderful missionaries! Getting to go up for 24 hours to Ephrata and spend time teaching people that I don't know at all was an amazing experience. There was one experience I wanted to share with you: One of their investigators is named Sylvia. She lives with her Sister Sofia, and Sofia's daughter Megan, who were both baptized a few months ago. As we went into their home and talked with them about the gospel, I couldn't help but feel a connection to Sofia. I asked her about her baptism, and she told me the wonderful feelings she had. Then she told me about her good friend who baptized her! He is a member of the Lititz ward (the ward that meets in the same building as my ward - Elizabethtown ward), and she was baptized in my building! Whoa! Then it clicked, I WAS AT HER BAPTISM!! After only being here a few weeks, I attended a baptism of the Ephrata Elders in our building of a wonderful Hispanic lady and her daughter. She was amazed! It was such a fun connection and it set the tone for the lesson, helping us remember that God gives us little miracles everyday :)
4. This is news that President Topham shared with me and I can't share with other missionaries yet but I AM GOING TO BUTLER TO SERVE!!! I have been called as a Sister Training Leader over the Pittsburgh North zone (I think that is the zone name). Ever since I receive my call, Daddy has talked about my ancestry in Pennsylvania, specifically in Butler. Now our feelings that I will be able to reach out and bless some of my distant relatives are actually happening! I feel so blessed that President is trusting me with this calling, it is a lot of responsibility but I am so excited to take it on and help Heavenly Father accomplish what he needs to accomplish through me.
I love my mission. This is where I need to be. I can feel so many of your prayers everyday, and I will praying along with so many of you that I will be open to receiving those promptings and inspirations that will lead me to those of my relatives and others that need to hear the gospel from ME. This is a wonderful place, and a wonderful time, when the Lord is "hastening His work", to be serving a mission. The Lord really does love all of His children. (YOU AND ME) I am so grateful for His hand in all things. I hope you have such a wonderful week!! Hurrah for Israel!
p.s. there are so many picture this week....
1. my awesome district. We are obsessed with saying 'Merica for some reason, so Sister Thomas and I got each of us little American flags.. haha so fun.
2. the beautiful Sisters that I got to go on exchanges with - Sister Berry (my future companion - hopefully haha) is on the left, and my mission grandma Sister Averett is on the right.
3. Cutie patootie little Blair Montgomery. She is a little girl in my ward who wanted me to speak at her baptism next week! She gave me about 20 hugs on Sunday and kept telling me I wasn't allowed to go because she would miss me too much... So precious. Love her. (Daddy - her older sister is Belen) :)
4. My beautiful companion and I... I will miss her so much.
I LOVE YOU!!
Tuesday, October 15, 2013
Oh my goodness, I can't even begin to describe what an absolutely wonderful week I have had!!!
First off... I have some sad news. Although nothing is for sure, there is a huge chance that I will be transferred from the Elizabethtown Ward :( We find out on Friday, and we are not looking forward to receiving a call. Sister Thomas is so wonderful, she cries everytime we talk about it or whenever it is mentioned! We have gotten so close, it will be REALLY hard if I have to leave. But, we just keep reminding ourselves that whatever is best is what will happen, and we are on the Lord's time... it makes it easier.
So, any letters that you want to send, could you send them to the mission home address?? That would be awesome, I don't want to miss out on love from my family (through mail). :)
2600 Boyce Plaza Rd. Ste. 101
Upper St. Clair, PA 15241
Back to my incredible week - Elder Arnold (of the Seventy) and his wife came to speak to us this week!! We had 3 zones combined, and we were the first ones he met with. After ours, he traveled towards Pittsburgh, meeting with zones along the way. It was such a cool experience! In the morning we met with his wife, all the sisters who are not Sister Training Leaders, and she talked with us about "what keeps us up at night." Haha she is adorable. She shared with us different scriptures that helped her focus on her strengths and never on her inadequacies. She had 6 children under 10 when her husband was called to be a mission president in Costa Rica, which required her to learn Spanish, and then later on she had to learn Portuguese when her husband was called as a general authority over Brazil! She is such a neat lady, and had so much wisdom to share with us!!
After that meeting with her, we all filed into the gym where there were lots of tables set up. The front row of tables was saved for the Sisters, and the table where we ended up sitting was right in front of where Elder Arnold stood through his whole talk/lesson. He is really tall, but has so much passion for the gospel, I loved just being near him!! It was so crazy how everything started, I wanted to share it with you. Haha
So, I am sitting smack dab in the middle of the table that is right in front of Elder Arnold. He begins by giving us a little background of when he was called to be a general authority. He told us that the day he was waiting for his interview, there were 4 other men with him who were being called as general authorities also, along with another man who was being released as a General Authority. He said the 5 who were being called were sitting together at a table, like us Sisters sitting at the table in front of him, and that I was sitting in the exact same spot where he (Elder Arnold) was sitting - in the middle. He told us that the general authority who was being released walked RIGHT up to the table, with his legs pressing against the side (by the way, he was reenacting this whole thing - I was representing him in the situation and he represented the general authority), and with a fierce look in his eye, he shook his finger in my face and said, "I have given everything I have and done all in my power as a general authority, and I expect YOU to do the same!" ....We all sat in silence as we pictured the scene in our head, then Elder Arnold jokingly said, "Don't have nightmares from that Sister Walborn." Haha So, I got to get up close and personal with a general authority :) He gave us so many wonderful insights and encouraging words to propel us into our work, and help us know how to better do our work effectively. It was great!!!
Besides that, the other crazy moment of our week was that we almost got trapped in Marietta! All of Thursday and Friday it rained non-stop and it was unbelievable how much it rained! We were in Marietta Friday night, which is a little town in our area right along the Susquehanna river, that has a history of flooding. Well, we had to be there a little longer than planned (long story - not enough time lol) and by the time we had to head home it was around 8:45pm! Which means we had JUST enough time to get home without breaking curfew! As we are driving, we come to the road we always take and are stopped because it is closed.... it is flooded. So, we find a different route home. As we turn the corner on this new road, we had to hit our brakes because it too was flooded just as badly as the first road! I only knew one other road to take, so we head out to take it home and it is flooded the worst of all three!! It was awful! So, we called our zone leaders and asked for advice. They said that we would have to call and get permission to stay at a member's home in the area! Just after that a very nice old man pulled up alongside our car and said he might know another way home! Yayy! So, it took 3 more tries but we FINALLY made it back to Elizabethtown! :) That was a very fun adventure. haha The flooding caused a lot of problems for a lot of people though. The Greenways, a family in the ward that takes such good care of us and I have mentioned several times (without using their name), had their basement flood. We felt so bad because they were out of town for a funeral, and that is what they came home to! Awful.. we helped them sort through everything, clean things off, take things to the dumpster, and vacuum up all the water. They are extremely patient people, and didn't get frustrated at all that so much of their stuff had to be thrown away!! They are awesome examples :)
Well... I love you all. I know this gospel is true, and I am so grateful for every day that I get to serve the Lord as a part of His missionary force. I hope you all have the most amazing week!!
p.s. Pitcures: Sister Thomas and I tracting in the dark.. and the rain. We met the nicest old man who let us in because we were soaked! (A definite blessing of the rain- haha!) Another picture of me posing in the rain, and another picture of me standing in multiple inches of water on one of the roads we usually take home from Marietta! LOVE YOU!!!!
Monday, October 7, 2013
So, conference? Incredible or what? Every talk was so inspiring, uplifting, motivating, and simply WONDERFUL! I know that as we each take to heart the messages that were given, and sincerely apply them in our lives, many blessings will come. Not only will our own lives be blessed, but we will be able to help more and more people feel the love of our Savior Jesus Christ! As a missionary, it was so exciting to hear the leaders of our church invite all members everyone to do all they can to "Hasten the Work!" Please help the missionaries! It is so true that we cannot do it on our own. Haha There are so many people who have yet to come to the knowledge of their Savior... so let's help them. :)
Our week was very slow. Sister Thomas got the stomach flu on Monday night, so all of Tuesday she spent in bed, drinking Gatorade and 7up. I felt so bad! But I'm happy that she is all better now! Our Ward Mission Leader and his family took very good care of us while we were confined to our apartment, bringing us food, constantly checking up through text messages, and giving Sister Thomas a priesthood blessing. Needless to say, we felt very loved!
So, since not a lot of super exciting things happened this week, I should probably update you on previous investigators that I haven't mentioned in a while (sorry about that.. lol).
Ciara - moved to Altoona, and hasn't been texting us back the past few weeks, so we aren't sure if she ending up getting baptized! We will find out from the Altoona Elders soon though, and I will give you an update on that next week :)
Terrianna - we haven't been in contact with her for a while now, we loved her very much but she wasn't progressing. Her husband didn't approve us coming over, so we had to move on..
Mikey - no longer teaching. :(
Dale - no longer teaching. :(
Deb (first Deb) - still an investigator, and we are still teaching her! I love her so much! She hasn't been able to find a way to come to church on a regular basis yet, so that is what we are working on. She has tremendous faith, and we have tremendous faith in her!
Dalitza - she moved last week to Lancaster, so we gave her information to the Sisters up there. She is in good hands!
Umm... I'm not sure who else I haven't given updates on. Hopefully that is everyone! Sister Thomas and I are going to be taking Elder Ballard's challenge, and striving to talk to more people each day (outside of those already in our teaching pool) so that we can find ALL the people the Lord has prepared for us to find. This month's issue of the Ensign has a wonderful article about becoming a more successful missionary. A mission president once shared an insight with President Hinckley that was shared in the article. It is very simple but brought me a lot of peace, the mission president had said, "Do your best, your very, very best. Say your prayers and work hard and leave the harvest to the Lord." :) This gospel is perfect, and although I am an imperfect missionary, I know that I can be the vessel by which the light and knowledge of the Gospel can be brought to them! I love the Lord, and I love this work, and I love all of you!!!!
p.s. Pictures: our neighbor's creepy cat that was randomly sitting on our porch one morning - it scared Sister Thomas pretty bad! And a picture of Sister Thomas and I in a beautiful park in our area, where lots of leaves have fallen :) It is so beautiful here! I LOVE YOU!!
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Ah :) Hello!
Well... Where to start? This week has been amazing! So many blessings are coming our way, many not in the way we expected, but so wonderful!
I wanted to start by telling you about a member. We are going to call her Sister E... She is one of the most wonderful people I have ever met. She has been a part of several previous emails, helping us with lessons and advice, things like that. Well, she and her husband are currently going through a big challenge over an adoption. I won't go into details, but it is a really sad situation that they shouldn't have to be dealing with, but are persevering through anyway. On Wednesday, we were working in Sister E's area and decided that we should stop by to see how she is doing and if she is in need of any service. She was so happy to see us and invited us in to talk with her for a minute. She gave us an update on the situation and we chatted about it for a little while. Even though it is such a horrible situation, she kept saying, "I'm just trying my best to remember that Heavenly Father has a plan, and that it will all work out." Then, even though she is the one who is going through this hard time, turned to us and asked how we were doing. Since she served a mission she knows how hard it is when your teaching pool is small, and all you are doing practically, is finding! We told her that is hasn't been very fun spending the majority of our time knocking on doors, but we are doing our best to stay positive. She told us that she knew exactly how we felt because the majority of her mission, she spent 8 HOURS A DAY tracting.... holy cow. She said it was so hard, but she knows that we can do it. She told us that we should never get down on ourselves because people aren't accepting the gospel, she reminded us that they have their agency. Moral of the story: Sister E gave us a much needed boost of encouragement, and we thought that we were going to visit her to help HER.... The Lord knows us very personally, and knows exactly what we need. :)
Okay, the next amazing blessing is an investigator named Cat! She isn't our investigator, but we have now been to all 3 of the lessons she has received from the Elders in our ward. She has a brother and sister-in-law who are LDS, and she has spent the past few summers in their home. She felt a special spirit, a calmness and sense of peace there and has reached a point in her life where she is desperate to have it for herself. After the first lesson, she expressed a desire to be baptized and since that time has read a good chunk of the Book of Mormon. After she completes the reading assignment the Elders give her, she texts them and asks for another chapter because it has "given her hope about her life".... (REALLY AWESOME). So, this past week she received her 2nd (and 3rd lesson, but I want to tell you about the 2nd) lesson in the home of my Ward Mission Leader. *side note: the Elders have asked us to attend the lessons because Cat told them she would feel more comfortable with girls her age there.* In this lesson, we talked about points from almost every aspect of the gospel because she is SO eager to learn and continue feeling hopeful about her life. Before starting to pray and read her scriptures daily, Cat said she would turn to harmful things when something didn't go as planned in her life. Now she said all she does is say a prayer and she somehow feels better. At one point in the lesson when we were discussing this, she said, "the trials are easier though... like I feel like I've got a little God sidekick with me!" haha :) I can't even begin to express how incredible Cat is! She is experiencing the joy from the gospel because she is sincerely seeking it! She is the epitome of a person who wants a change in their life, and is ready to do whatever it takes to find lasting happiness. She isn't even our investigator, but I feel like I have learned so much from her and I feel so BLESSED to be a part of her conversion process. Ah.... life is good :)
I feel a little repetitive saying this again, but it is so true - I am so blessed!
We are trying really hard to find those who are ready to learn about the gospel and come unto Christ, so we know that it will all work out how the Lord wants it to! I am so happy to be serving a mission... and I am especially happy to be serving a mission in THIS beautiful area, at THIS beautiful time of year, with THIS amazing ward, and with THIS incredible companion. I love you all so much, and I hope you have a fabulous week!
p.s. Pictures!! :) 1 - Last week the missionary website was down, so we sent President Topham hand-written letters and covered the back of the envelope in stickers... hopefully he had as much fun getting it as we did making it! 2 - We were given a thing of whipped cream from a member and Sister Thomas had a little too much fun smashing some in my face, so I had to return the favor :) LOVE YOU!!!
Monday, September 23, 2013
Okay so I'm sorry this email is going to be super short!!!
Not a ton of interesting things happening this week! Sister Thomas was throwing up Tuesday morning so we were told to stay in for the day in case it was the flu. That wasn't fun for her... but I got a chance to get the apartment cleaned and we read lots of church magazines, which was nice. :)
We also had zone conference this last Friday! It was so amazing! So many wonderful lessons were given (it is from 9am to 4pm-long) and Sister Thomas and I both felt so spiritually enriched, it was great. Our Assistants to the President gave a lesson about the importance of charity within the companionship. They used examples from Christ's life and talked about how the work we do with our companions is just as important as the work we will do with investigators or less-actives. I'm so grateful to have such a wonderful companion!
I love you all so much! We tried rearranging our p-day schedule and email in the afternoon... didn't work out so well. But I hope you have a wonderful week!
p.s. Pictures - Sister Thomas and I holding the cute pumpkins we got at the grocery store for our desks :), an awesome amish horse and buggy that we passed on our way home from church, and Sister Lamphier (friend from BYU who came to the mission a transfer after me) next to our matching cars! LOVE YOU!
Monday, September 16, 2013
Holy cow. This place is so amazing. Elizabethtown is such a wonderful place to live. It is starting to cool down here - I'm wearing a jacket today! There are a few leaves on the ground and Sister Thomas and I are anxiously awaiting all the leaves to change color. This week has been a wonderful time for me to think about all of my blessings. Two of our investigators, Mikey and Dale, are no longer investigators. This was hard for Sister Thomas and I because we really loved them and could see their potential, the happiness they could have if they simply wanted to have it. But, it also has been a tremendous blessing for us because it has really forced us to think about all of the miracles we have witnessed and the blessings that we do have.
One of the blessings that I really wanted to share with you today is a lady named Deb (not the previous Deb... a new one). She and her husband Ken attend the Methodist church here in Elizabethtown and we came into contact with them through Athena's mom, and doing service for her while they were there. Every time we have met with them, Ken (Deb's husband) talks the entire time and likes to practically shove his beliefs down our throat. He listens to us and what our beliefs are, but is closed to taking a step back and trying to see if they are true - it isn't really a question in his mind. However, Deb always sits quietly in the background and just lets her husband take over. A week ago today, Sister Thomas and I were in the grocery store and we ran into Deb! She was happy to see us and expressed how much she appreciated us visiting them. She told us as we were leaving, "We don't have any children. But now I feel like I have two beautiful daughters." :) We felt such an abundance of love for her, and it solidified previous feelings that we had that her heart IS prepared. So when we met with them later on, we directed our lesson more towards her. Ken didn't really catch on, and still ran over her when we would ask her questions. They promised to come to church since Sister Thomas and I attended their Sunday school class the Sunday before. They followed through on their promise, and yesterday they came to church. Before we went into the Chapel, she saw a picture of Christ with his arms extended, surrounded by the hosts of heaven blowing their trumpets. She just stared at it, and then after a minute she turned to us and said, "It's so inviting, I just want to walk right into his arms." I sat next to Deb during Sacrament meeting and she would quietly lean over and ask questions. They also attended Gospel Principles class, where we learned about tithing. Ken didn't like the fact that we don't pass around an offering plate during our worship service, but after the class Deb leaned over to me and said, "I really like that it is so confidential, then it isn't like you are competing with other people, but just showing your commitment to God." ....awesome, right? They were planning on heading out after Sunday School class, but instead got a little tour of the building by our executive secretary. As Ken was busy talking about something with Brother Allen, I talked to Deb more about Relief Society. She said it sounds like something she would love! She said that even if Ken doesn't want to come back, she would be interested in it. :) We are meeting with her tonight and Ken won't be present because of a meeting. This is such a huge blessing for us!! We are really going to take advantage of the time we get to be with just her. We really love her.
Another blessing that was a huge miracle was a lady named Grace. She is a less-active in our ward who I have been visiting since my first week in Elizabethtown. I have extended the invitation for her to come to church countless times with zero results. She is an older lady and has many health issues. She only wants to come to Sacrament meeting because of her health problems and not being able to sit for 3 hours. So... we have tried many different options. This week, while visiting another less-active that has been coming to church much more regularly but also only stays for sacrament meeting because of severe health issues, we asked if she would be interested in calling Grace to see if she would go to church with her. When we met with Grace later in the week, instead of inviting her to come to church, we asked if she wanted to read an article from the Ensign before we meet with her again for us to discuss and she said yes!! (First time ever saying yes to one of my invitations) On Sunday, while sitting with Deb and Ken in the pew just before Sacrament meeting started, the other less-active comes into the Chapel and Grace was right behind her!!! I literally started tearing up with joy I was so happy to see her! They were uplifted by each other and I think it gave them both a greater reason to attend. It was so incredible, just another blessing from Heavenly Father.
There have been so many things this week that have filled me with joy in recognizing them as blessings from my Father in Heaven. One of the things I am continually grateful for is all of my wonderful family and friends! I can't thank you all enough for your thoughts and prayers. I am confident that the moments when things are hard, or don't seem to go according to plan, your love gives me the strength to press on regardless.
p.s. Pictures: #1: A picture of our windshield wipers... the blade part came off and was flopping around - not good - during a really bad rainstorm and I couldn't see anything, so we pulled over and I tied them to the plastic part with dental floss. It worked! haha #2: Sister Thomas and I after fixing the windshield wipers. We were soaking wet. #3: A really cool old barn with a mural on the side that says, "Harvest time" - we love fall! LOVE YOU ALL!
Saturday, September 14, 2013
So, I have no idea how the last 6 weeks went by so fast! I feel like I was in Pittsburgh just last week picking up Sister Thomas... so crazy. Anyway, all transfer calls have been made and good news- I get to be in E-town for another six weeks!! :D So no crazy surprises from President Topham this time, Sister Thomas and I will get to complete her training (and mine too) here together. We are SO happy!!
This past week was good! We had a lot of good moments and the weather was AMAZING!!!! We chose to walk more than normal because it was just so beautiful outside! I'm bad with temperatures but I would say it was in the mid 70s, not very humid, and had a wonderful cool breeze... :) We said lots of gratitude prayers!
So just an update on some of our investigators:
We didn't get to meet with Deb which was really sad.. She said she would call us on 2 different days and then never did. She said things are just crazy right now with a lot of different things going on and that she hasn't been ignoring us, so we are hoping that she really is okay. Hopefully we will get to see her a few times this upcoming week.
Mikey is doing okay. We had the plan of committing him to baptism this week but it wasn't the right time. We had a really awesome lesson with him because we brought a member from our ward who has had some similar experiences as him and could really relate. She did an awesome job of explaining the principle of utilizing the Atonement she said, "If you feel really good now after going through AA, you will be amazed to see the huge burden lifted off of your shoulders and how much more incredible you can feel when you use this gospel and turn to your Father in heaven. You can feel completely clean." :) The power of members never ceases to amaze me! Even though the lesson went really well, Mikey said he had a previous commitment on Sunday and wouldn't be able to make it to church. We want Mikey to have a little better understanding of baptism and the covenants he will be making before we invite him to make those sacred promises with God. It will all work out, as long as we put our trust in the Lord's timing!
We had a really good lesson with Dalitza this week!! She has told us details about her past in previous lessons that scared us a little bit but she has never truly shown a desire to change. But on Saturday we had a lesson with her that we had planned on re-teaching the Plan of Salvation and talk about her purpose in life a little more, but the Spirit changed it up for us and took it a different way. We began teaching the Plan of Salvation but when we were talking about our time here on earth, we talked a lot about repentance and the Atonement. Dalitza opened up to us and expressed a desire to be free of all her guilt through repentance. We were so grateful! She told us the different things she would do to start repenting and we were so thrilled for her! We received bad news yesterday though, an awesome girl in our ward (one of our ward missionaries- she is SO GREAT) had texted Dalitza to see if she could pick her up for church and Dalitza told her that she really didn't want to go... :( We didn't get any other details, so we are hoping it didn't have anything to do with church itself but that something else was going on.
Yep. That's a simple update. This week was pretty low for us numbers wise, but our District Leader told us on the phone last night after we gave them to him that if we know we worked hard, then we had a good week. It also helped Sister Thomas and I sit back and realize that even though we didn't reach some of our goals, Heavenly Father blessed us in other ways. We had sensational unity this week! We have had an awesome companionship with practically zero problems but this week was exceptionally great. I feel very blessed!
I hope all is well at home! I love you all so much! Put God first and all other things will fall into place! :)
p.s. Pictures: Me at Nissley Vineyards - apparently it is well known? Not sure, but it was beautiful! Another picture is of a random place in our area that was just stunningly beautiful.. so we had to stop and take a picture. And the last one is of me in the middle of some HUGE sun flowers! They were growing if front of the apartment building a few down from us and thought they were pretty cool. Yep, that's it for this week. LOVE YOU!!
Wednesday, September 4, 2013
Well, this week had some super awesome moments... and some not so super awesome moments. haha Sounds a lot just like life in general, right?
Well, I want to start off with the awesome moments first. One that I really wanted to share is how much I appreciate the members of the Elizabethtown Ward! They are so amazing! One of the days this past week, we had 3 appointments set up with investigators fairly close together.. We had made arrangements for members to come with us to the 2nd and 3rd appointments because they were both with single men and therefore would not be allowed to go in their house without someone with us. We got a call the day before these appointments were happening from a member (SHE IS SO AWESOME), asking us if we would like to have lunch at her house and she would go pick up our first investigator for the day so we could have lunch with her there too and just teach the lesson in her home.... so cool. So, we had a lesson with Dalitza in this member's home and it was wonderful. Dalitza is so sweet but struggles with a lot of stuff in her life. We taught her about the commandments God has given us and the blessings we receive when we are obedient to those commandments. The member we were with was so great in perceiving when Dalitza was struggling to understand certain things, and would come in with exactly the right explanation to help her (and therefore help us!). So that was wonderful. Just as we are leaving her house to head off to our next appointment, we find out that the lady we were planning on having at our 3rd appointment could no longer make it... We were bummed and frustrated because we would have to call and cancel since we didn't have time to call different sisters and ask last minute for them to tag along! The member whose home we were leaving turned to us and said, "hey I'll come!" ..What's the address and what time?" ......she rocks. She totally saved us! :)
Our next appointment of the day went smoothly and our awesome Ward mission leader's wife came with us to that one. She is so sweet and bore sincere testimony of what we were teaching.
Our 3rd appointment (the one that the member from the first appointment said she would come to) was with Mikey! :) After coming to church on Sunday, he knew this member and he liked seeing a familiar face - besides us of course. We were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation. He thought it was so wonderful that EVERYONE gets the chance to learn about the gospel and have the opportunity to accept Christ into their heart, whether that chance comes here on earth or in the spirit world. When we taught him about resurrection and explained that everyone who has ever come to earth will be able to be resurrected, he responded, "I want to come back as a cat!" And he busted up laughing. Sister Thomas and I had no idea where that came from and all that was running through my mind was "...uhm... what?" The member just laughed and politely said, "they are talking about resurrection, not reincarnation." We all laughed for a minute and then got back to the lesson. Mikey has a very genuine heart and Sister Thomas and I are planning to invite him to be baptized at our next visit. :)
Oh my goodness guess what?!?! Probably the MOST exciting news of my week - DEB CAME TO CHURCH FOR THE FIRST TIME ON SUNDAY!!! :D She had surgery this past week on Wednesday, and because of that her boss gave her time off (she works Saturdays and Sundays at the Market) and she was able to come to church! She brought her husband and after the meeting, we talked to them for a little bit and Deb said that she loved it very much. Her favorite part was when the little kids got up and bore their testimonies because they were so sweet :) Aw man, I love her.
Anyway, the last super cool thing I wanted to tell you about is a family in my ward. They are so awesome, they feed us consistently every week and we LOVE their family!! Yesterday, since it was labor day and the Dad didn't have to work, they invited us over in the middle of the day for a lunch/barbecue/hang out time.... we got to go to our house in our "pday garb" and it was so great. We arrived at their house at 12:45 and didn't leave until 5:30! It was so nice to be in a home, surrounded by awesome people, and be in normal clothes... :) Another family from our ward came as well, and after the meal all the kids were outside, the elders and the dads were in the living room, and the mothers plus us were in the kitchen chatting. The couple whose home we were at both attended BYU, but the Dad doesn't overly love BYU... and he knows very well that I DO overly love BYU. Haha So, in the middle of our chatting sessions in separate rooms he yells, "Yo Sister Walborn, did you hear the news?" ...I responded, "uhhhh what news?" and then he proceeds to shout, "BYU lost MISERABLY in their first football game a few days ago because their team made a REALLY lousy play at the LAST second!" All I could say was, "greaaaat. Thanks for the info!" Haha They are so fun. This ward really is amazing, and I hope I get to stay here for a lot longer!! :)
I love you all so much! Always do your part to uplift those around you, you never know how much they need it or how much it will mean to them. Hope you have an AMAZING week!!!
p.s. Pictures: One is of this really goofy sign we always pass on our way to church... We finally stopped to take a picture. Haha and the other is just a picture of Sister Thomas and I that we took one day for fun because we were totally twinning - Sock buns and pearls :) LOVE YOU!!
Monday, August 26, 2013
What a week!!
So, my testimony of priesthood blessings, the power of obedience, and the powerful love of members GREATLY increased this week! So... where to start?
Well, a week ago today. Sister Thomas and I had been feeling the need to ask the elders in our district for priesthood blessings. We had been feeling like even though we had been working hard, there was so much more we wanted to accomplish and could accomplish if we set our minds to it. So we set very specific goals, practiced perfect obedience, and received priesthood blessings. What an amazing thing. We now have 3 new people who are taking the lessons and interested in the gospel of Jesus Christ (3 new investigators).
One of them, his name is Mikey, came to church on Sunday after only taking one lesson. He came to church and felt so welcomed and loved, he was greeted by so many kind people in our ward who were sincerely interested in him and wanted to make his experience wonderful. This week in sacrament meeting, a boy in our ward was giving his homecoming talk since he had just returned home from his mission in Brazil on Tuesday. He gave a fabulous talk and when the meeting was over, Mikey turned to us and said, "wow that was so amazing." :) It was incredible to see how quickly he was able to feel the Spirit, and how touched he was by the kindness of everyone there.
On a different note, there is a lady who we have been in contact with for a while now and I'm not sure if I have ever mentioned her. Either way, I wanted to share an interesting experience we had with her. This lady, Terrianna, is very interesting. I met her about a month and a half ago and she loves the missionaries. We have taught her all the lessons, but she won't come to church. She has told us many times that she would come, but always ends up dropping off of the face of the earth Sunday through around Tuesday and then we get a call about some crazy experience she had that prevented her from going to church. We were really frustrated, but could tell that something else was going on behind the scenes. We would continually ask her if there was something holding her back that we didn't know about and she would always quickly say no. Sister Thomas and I were become more frustrated with every lesson/meeting with Terrianna because we could feel the Spirit and knew that she could feel it too, but yet she wasn't taking the necessary steps to do what she knew was right and follow her Savior. So, we decided that it was time we needed to tell her that we couldn't teach her any longer because we only have so many hours in the day and as missionaries, we have the responsibility to find all those who are ready to learn about their Savior. When we got to her house, she told us that she had bad news for us and that she only has 3 weeks to live. She told us that her doctor had given her the wrong medicine that she normally receives for headaches and now she is going to die.... holy cow. We didn't know how to take this information. Terrianna just broke down and kept saying how she doesn't want us to leave her, but that she loves us so much. So, we had a to change our plans and instead of telling her we couldn't come to teach her any longer, we just talked to her about how she can obtain peace. When we left that night, Terrianna kept expressing her deep appreciation for us and how much love she has for us both. I'm not sure why I wanted to share this story but I feel like we can learn at least one simple lesson from it~ we don't know the problems that people around us are dealing with.. but, we can do our best to love everyone, no matter what, and do our best to lighten someone else's load.
I love you all so much. This week was a tremendous week and I'm sorry I shared the one sad thing that happened, I'm not sure why I felt the need to share that. Well, I'm so grateful for all of you! I hope you have the most amazing week!!
Love, Sister Walborn
p.s. Pictures: Sister Thomas and I with Terrianna, a picture of Sister Thomas and I in the car after the most wonderful day of our week where we saw so clearly the hand of the Lord leading us along, and a picture of the beautiful Susquehanna river.
Monday, August 19, 2013
Holy cow. Missionary work is the best.
I'm not quite sure where to begin.... umm... I'll start with Ciara.
Two weeks ago, I wrote home with the most incredible experience about a girl named Ciara. She wrote on the Ward Facebook page and we tracted her house, etc. Well, we have been meeting with her consistently ever since we first came in contact with her and she is phenomenal. Our first time meeting with her was such a special experience because we automatically felt this amazing love for her and she felt the same for us. She told us that she felt like we were, "kindred spirits" and that she just knew that, "we are going to be best friends forever." It literally melted our hearts.
So anyway, last week on Monday (yes we met with her in the middle of our Preparation Day - we love her THAT much) we talked about baptism. She said she knew that she felt it was right but she was nervous about what her parents would think. We bore testimony that if she knew this is the path that God wanted her to take, then he will help her get through any obstacle that came in her way- including angry parents. So, she committed to talking to them about her decision to be baptized. On Tuesday we got the chance to meet with her again - I was with Sister Berry because we were on exchanges - and she had not talked to her parents yet, and also seemed a little downhearted. We had felt impressed in our preparations to teach about the Holy Ghost specifically as a comforter and it was incredible to see how her countenance changed as she learned about this special blessing available to her. She renewed her promise to speak to her parents and we left with an abundance of care and concern for her. Wednesday night we received a text from Ciara right before "lights out time" (10:30pm) saying that she was so overwhelmed because she talked to her parents and they were totally supportive of her being baptized!!! We screamed with joy and quickly called her - all three of us squealing with joy together - to let her know how happy and proud we were of her. :)
Thursday comes along and we had zone training, in which President Topham came and spoke to us. It was such a wonderful lesson, we studied from 1 Nephi 3, and Jacob 5-7 and discussed the lessons that could be learned and applied in our missionary work. The greatest lesson I learned is how important it is to have a non-murmuring attitude, but always be positive no matter what hard things come our way. This was specifically important immediately after the training was completed because President Topham told us that Ciara is not allowed to be baptized with us in the Elizabethtown ward... He said it is more important for her to move (oh I forgot to mention she is moving this coming Saturday back to Pittsburgh for school - she attends Penn State-Altoona) back to her other ward, make friends, and be baptized where she will be planted. This was really heartbreaking because we have developed such a deep connection with her that we wanted to be with her through this wonderful step in her life. But, applying the non-murmuring attitude I had just learned the importance of, I thanked Heavenly Father for allowing me to have whatever time I have been given with her.
We got to meet with her again on Friday (the day after the zone training) and told her the sad news.... She said that even though it was disappointing, she knows that our friendship will last way beyond our missions so it will all be okay. She is so flipping awesome. :) Being with her, ever since our first meeting with her, I have felt that Heavenly Father has a very special purpose for her. She is so in tune with the Spirit and open to the guidance that Heavenly Father sends her (that ultimately sent her to us) and I could easily see the tremendous potential that she has as a daughter of God. One of her biggest goals in life is to be a mother and she said she has always been confused why she has never had a steady boyfriend, but that she just has never found one that she could see herself settling down with. AH! I know it is because Heavenly Father needs her to find a boy who will take her to the temple, so they can raise a righteous family in the ways of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Ciara came to church with us yesterday and everyone in the ward thought that we had become a trio because she fit right in with us. :) I love her so dearly and I feel so blessed to be in this area, at this time, with the opportunity to meet her and be a part of her journey towards eternal life.
I love you all so much!
p.s. Pictures this week: Sister Berry and I in the car before tracting... she is SO HILARIOUS!! haha Sister Thomas and I outside of a really popular restaurant in our area that was recommended by a member of our Stake Presidency - which we thought was funny because of the name of the restaurant. And a picture of us yesterday at the church with Ciara :) (sorry it's a little blurry) LOVE YOU!