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!!