Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26th, 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

August 19th, 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!
Sister Walborn
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!

Monday, August 12, 2013

August 12th, 2013

I am continually amazed at the miracles our Father in heaven performs in our lives if we have the FAITH necessary to make them happen!
This week, Sister Thomas and I had a lot of failures but also some of our greatest successes. One of the days this week we had almost everything on our schedule not work out. It was rough, and we were both feeling a little frustrated with ourselves. So, that night we determined that the next day would be the best yet and began a fast. We fasted the next day and by the end of the day, we could see all of the blessings that came our way because we sincerely desired to do our best and put that desire into action!
One of the biggest blessings that has happened thus far on my mission happened yesterday. The little 10 year old girl that I have been teaching for the past few months (since I arrived my first week in E-town) was baptized!! It was so humbling to look back and see how the Lord worked in her life as well as her mother's life, so that all of this could happen. Athena is the name of the little girl I was able to teach, and her mother is an amazing woman. She has been through SO much in her life and simply wants more for her daughter. I was able to bear testimony over and over that I KNOW this gospel will help Athena achieve that happiness that her mother desires for her so greatly. Also, because of the openness of their relationship, Athena is able to see the choices her mother has made and been able to recognize that she can be better, that God can help her be better.
The most amazing part about this whole experience with Athena and her mother, is that there is so much working against them. They are moving later this week and just about everything that could go wrong for them in preparation for the move has gone wrong. So, Athena was feeling tense going into yesterday and it was very apparent how nervous she was to be baptized. Sister Thomas and I asked Athena if she would like to pray with us before we head into the Relief Society room for the baptism to start and she said yes please. So, we went into an empty classroom and knelt down to pray. Little Athena felt so nervous that she couldn't collect her thoughts and asked if I would pray for her. I said a simple prayer asking Heavenly Father to give her peace and comfort. Afterwards, I felt prompted to ask her if she would like to say a prayer in addition to mine. She timidly said okay, but asked if I would help her. What I would say, she would repeat. Towards the end of the prayer, instead of giving her a line to repeat, I said, "Now tell Him how you feel," and she said, "I feel scared." Then I continued, "Tell Him how you want to feel..." and she said, "I want to feel not scared about being baptized." We ended the prayer and went into the Relief Society room. As Sister Thomas and I led little Athena back to the steps where she would enter the font, she turned around and gave us a big hug and whined a little, making us very nervous that she was going to decide this wasn't something she wanted to do. But she turned around and took the hand of our bishop and went into the water. When she came up out of the water, she turned around and smiled at us. As soon as we wrapped her up in a towel and led her back into the restroom, she said, "As soon as I got in the water I was totally fine!" Sister Thomas and I just beamed at her and each other. Heavenly Father answered the prayer of that little girl, and helped her feel peace and comfort because that is a decision He wanted her to make. :) That was such a wonderful experience!
I feel so blessed to be serving in the Elizabethtown area. This ward is amazing, it smells like brownies all the time because of the MARS factory 2 miles(ish) from our apartment, everything is green, I have a wonderful companion, and most of all - I know that the Lord wants me here because there are people here who need to learn of Jesus Christ from ME.
I love you all so much!! I need to give a special thanks to my adorable little cousins David, Ammon, Sydney, Katelyn, Seamus, Layla, and Genevieve(sorry I'm not sure how to spell it haha) for sending me those special pictures and letters. They are pasted on my wall above my bed :)
Sister Walborn
p.s. Pictures: Little Athena and I at her baptism, me posing in a random person's yard one day while tracting because of the random group of ducks waddling around (so goofy but reminds me of the turkeys in MI), and just a goofy picture of Sister Thomas and I one night after planning - I think we were really excited for the next day! haha LOVE YOU!!!!! 

Monday, August 5, 2013

August 5th, 2013

Ahhhhhhhh! I'm so filled with joy!

Okay..... so, I have received the biggest blessing this week, and her name is SISTER THOMAS!!! Kind of weird since my first companion was Sister Thompson, but anyway, she is so amazing!! :D Sister Thomas is from Payson, UT. She has 2 little brothers and is the only active member in her family! So amazing right?! Yeah, she has such a fire for the gospel missionary work that, coupled with my still-burning greenie fire (haha), we have been able to work our butts off non-stop! It has been such an amazing week! I feel SO BLESSED!! And on top of it all, we have a lot in common and have become instant buddies :) She is so receptive to everything I have been teaching her about our area and about the work, she just absorbs it all and then turns around and applies it right away. I LOVE IT! Sheesh, Heavenly Father was looking out for me- I got the best one! ^_^

So, I wanted to tell you about the most amazing experience we had this week! Friday night at around 8:40pm, Sister Thomas and I were driving to our last planned visit for the evening and she asked if we could stop really quick to grab a Dr. Pepper. We were right next to a Turkey Hill (really common gas station here) so I said of course, no problem!  So we go in and grab a Dr. Pepper, no big deal and then continue on throughout the night. The next day we get a call from an awesome member in our ward who frequently lets us have lessons in her home. She calls and lets us know that a girl named Ciara posted on the ward facebook page that she was home for the summer, had previously investigated the church off and on, saw the missionaries at the gas station the night before, and took it as a sign that she needed to restart taking the lessons! So practically everyone in the ward responded with our phone number! So exciting right?! So Sister Thomas and I are so stoked to get the news and were anxiously awaiting contact from this girl. We go throughout the day not having heard from her, which wasn't a big deal because it hadn't even been 24 hours since she had received our number. So that evening we felt prompted to go tracting on a random street in Elizabethtown that an older potential investigator lived on. We were tracting for a little over an hour before it was time to head home. One of the homes we tracted, a family was sitting on the couch watching TV with their house door open and just the screen door was separating us from them. As soon as we approached it and made it known who we were, the father immediately said, "We're not interested." So that was that and we continued on our way. We only had success with one really nice guy named Rob, but that was the extent of it. As we headed home and began our planning session, we received a text message from a random number that said, "Hi my name is Ciara, I'm the one who asked for your phone number on the facebook page because I saw you at the gas station. Thank you for trying to come and see me tonight so quickly after me asking for your number, my parents don't know I am investigating the church and that is why my Dad turned you away so quickly! I would love to meet up with you guys sometime this week if that is okay? Ah, I'm a mess! haha"
......Sister Thomas and I about started crying with excitement and gratitude!
We asked Ciara if we could give her a quick call and she agreed. We told her right away how happy we were to hear from her! We also told her that we had no idea where she lived and that it was not intentional for us to come visit her that night. She paused in awe and said, "Oh my gosh that is so amazing.." I felt prompted to tell her that her Heavenly Father loves her dearly and is desperate for her to learn of the plan He has for her. She agreed to meet with us on tuesday at the local park and told us how excited she is to meet us in person.

This increased my faith and testimony that Heavenly Father is so mindful of each of us. I know now with all my heart that the Lord is preparing the heart's of the people in this area and it is our job as missionaries to be in the right place at the right time in order to find them. Obedience and faith bring blessings into our lives and as a missionary it is impossible to do this work without them. I love each and every one of you! 

Love you!!!
Sister Walborn

p.s. The 2 pictures this week: 1 is of Sister Thomas and I being goofballs... I love her! And the other is a panoramic picture of Pittsburgh that I got to take monday night before heading to the Pittsburgh 7th Sisters apartment to sleep. Hope you all are doing wonderful!!