Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 25th, 2014

"We don't serve because of our callings, we serve because of our covenants." -Elder Wilford W. Andersen
This week was wonderful! On Tuesday, we were visited by general authority Wilford W. Andersen and his lovely wife Kathleen. It was an incredibly uplifting, motivating, powerful experience that the missionaries of our mission were blessed to have! He taught us the importance of teaching by the Spirit. He focused on teaching us how to help those that we teach understand the gospel clearly, feel the Spirit - which will help instill within them a desire to choose the right, then commit them to act on the desire they feel and exercise faith! At one point of the meeting, he opened it up for questions. A senior missionary raised his hand and said, "Elder Andersen, when Elder Holland and Elder Hallstrom came to visit our mission, we were told how long they had been traveling and how much they had to accomplish in such a short amount of time. I was wondering if you could explain what the life of a general authority entails and why your schedules are so rigorous?" Elder Andersen was excited at this new question and went on to describe how they had been area authorities over the Caribbean for the past 5 years and some of the adventures that went along with that. Then Elder Andersen got really quiet as he talked about how amazed he has been in working with members of the quorum of the twelve, and the first presidency. With emotion in his voice and tears in his eyes he simply said, "I revere them.... These are men of God." The Spirit sent chills up my spine and tears sprang into my eyes as well, because I knew that his words were true. The leaders of our church are wearing out their lives in the work of the Lord, because they truly understand it's importance. We are SO blessed to have a prophet on the earth today!
Darien is doing really, really well! :) We love him so much! We had a lesson this last week with him that seemed very different from the other lessons we have had. He had downloaded the gospel library and has watched a lot of videos and read a lot of good material about Joseph Smith and his experiences. We were so happy he was seeking good information and putting time into searching. We recognized though, that for him to truly know if Joseph Smith was a prophet of God, he needs to read the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of it. So we read with him, starting right at the beginning - 1 Nephi 1. As we discussed Heavenly Father wanting to help His children and commanding them to leave Jerusalem, the member that was with us felt prompted to share a personal story where Heavenly Father turned a sad, frustrating situation that he and his wife and previously dealt with, and turned it into an incredible blessing! He shared the scripture 2 Nephi 2:1-2 where Lehi is speaking to his son Jacob and tells him that even though he has suffered a lot in his childhood, that God will "consecrate thine afflictions for thy gain." We each testified of how that scripture had applied in our lives, and as Darien listened, he allowed the spirit to teach him as well!! He said, "yeah.... I really like that, because I need to remember that even though things seem bad a lot of the time, there are a billion people out there who have it a billion times worse than I do! So I should be focusing on the positive a lot more." :D Yay! It was wonderful to see the light in his face as he felt the Spirit, and made that discovery for himself. The scriptures can help us find what we need and teach us how to bring our lives in closer harmony with the teachings of the Savior. :)
Kat is also doing so good! Holy cow, I really feel so grateful Heavenly Father allowed me to meet her! She is so prepared, we haven't felt like we are doing much. She had her baptismal interview two days ago, and she excitedly announced to all the women in relief society yesterday that her baptism is coming up fast! So... I can't wait to tell you about it next week!
I know the gospel is true! This past week, I got the chance to read Elder Russell M. Nelson's BYU commencement speech and it was very powerful. My favorite part reads, "Your religion is not just about showing up for church on Sunday. It is about showing up as a true disciple from Sunday morning through Saturday night - 24/7. There is no such thing as a part-time disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ."
I have gained a testimony of this from the lives of so many members of the University Park Branch here in State College, PA. They are anxiously seeking ways to share their faith with the people they study with, work with, teach, etc.. Their lives are testaments of Jesus Christ. At the end of Elder Andersen's time with us, he admonished us to remember that, "we do what we do, because we love Jesus Christ." What has the love of the Savior inspired you to do? I hope it inspires you to be an example of Him, at all times, and in all things, and in places. :) I love you so much! I hope everyone has a wonderful week!!

Sister Walborn
p.s. Pictures: 1) After the Elder Andersen visit, we went on campus for Forums and the sky decided to dump a lot of rain on us! We were soaked!! Fun adventures. 2) Kat and Codey have a cat named Simba that likes to perch on Codey's shoulders. Codey wanted to see if Simba would perch on other people too... and I was the one standing closest to him. haha we did it! LOVE YOU!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

August 18th, 2014

This last week we got to visit Amish country and meet some Amish families! A week ago today, a family named the Synders gave us a "tour" which included going into the homes of several Amish families that they have become close friends with over their years living in the area! It was such a neat experience!! There is so much that we can learn from the Amish. They live very simple lifestyles, they are extremely hard workers, they love and cherish their family, and they are genuinely kind people. The only part that stinks is that they don't believe in taking pictures of themselves... so I couldn't get any pictures with them. But I was able to get lots of pictures of the whole experience! The Snyders are wonderful people, and part of what I took away from the experience that I wanted to share with you is the importance of the commandment to, "love thy neighbor." The Snyder family have not been afraid of sharing our values and beliefs with the Amish people they have come in contact with, and simply by being friendly and loving, they have fostered real friendships with these wonderful people. The mutual understanding and open minded attitudes have allowed them to learn from one another and really love each other! Heavenly Father has asked us to love all people, and I found out this week that it is easy to love these wonderful Amish people who live here in Pennyslvania!
This week as we met with Darien several times, I felt Heavenly Father helping us tremendously. Darien is having a hard time finding faith, and holding on to it. Because of that, we asked him to read Alma 32 in hopes that he would understand that our loving Father in heaven does not expect us to have unshakable faith right away, but if we have a little faith and are willing to put forth the effort, He will help it to grow! Well.. it ended up going a different direction, which I know is because it is what Darien needed. He focused in on Alma 32:16-17, and was confused that God would ask people to believe and be baptized "without stubbornness of heart." He felt that if he isn't stubborn, but simply accepts everything then it wouldn't stick! He also didn't like that in verse 17, asking for a sign from heaven is NOT good. He looked at us and asked, "is that fair?" He made the point that we live in a world that moves forward based upon the results or evidence that we find, so why would God tell us to go against our nature and NOT look for a sign. Because of this, Sister Bradshaw and I had to really listen to the Spirit in helping Darien with his concern! We answered his question with two reasons:
1) Because God sent us here to progress and become more like Him! In order to do that, we must put off the natural man and instead, do what He has asked us to do. Which in this case, is to have faith and not need to see to believe!
2) Because receiving a sign or experiencing a singular miraculous event does NOT help us to develop faith. Sister Bradshaw and I were able to share with Darien 2 experiences from the Book of Mormon. The first, is the story of Nephi and his brothers when they return to Jerusalem in order to retrieve the plates and because things go wrong initially, Laman and Lemuel become angry with Nephi. An angel appears and and rebukes them, but also tells them that the Lord will deliver Laban into their hands so they must go back once more! The very next verse after the visitation from the angel says, "...Laman and Lemuel began to murmur, saying: How is it possible that the Lord will deliver Laban into our hands?"
The second story, was that of Alma the younger. We explained his experience of persecuting the church and living in wickedness and after receiving a visitation from the angel himself, he turned his life around and tried to do everything in his power to choose the right! It seems at first that this paradigm shift was caused because of the miraculous event he experienced, but we were able to share with Darien that Alma did not have a testimony of the truths of the gospel because of an angel. Alma 5: 45-46 says, "...Behold I testify unto you that I do know that these things whereof I have spoken are true. And how do ye suppose that I know of their surety? Behold, I say unto you they are made known unto me by the Holy Spirit of God. Behold, I have fasted and prayed many days that I might know these things of myself. And now I do know of myself that they are true; for the Lord God hath made them manifest unto me by his Holy Spirit..."
The Lord wants each of us to know for ourselves that this is His restored gospel on the earth, and that the teachings in it are necessary for us to find happiness. I know that if Darien applies himself to a sincere study of the Book of Mormon, and praying to our Heavenly Father to know if it is true, he will get an answer! I also know that promise applies to all of us! :) "But if ye will nourish the word..by your faith with great diligence... by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet.."
Are you ready for a crazy miracle that happened 2 days ago?? One of our investigators named Kat told us that she wants to get baptized on August 30th!! :D We have been teaching her for a few weeks, and last week we committed her and her husband (he is a RM - they were just married this year after he got home from his mission) to pray about September 6th for her to get baptized, and when we came back this week she decided it needed to be even sooner than that! :) They are so cool! She seems more like a member already than an investigator, so it feels really special that we get to help her officially make this covenant with God that will change the course of her life and open the door to so many blessings for them! She is SO wonderful!! She and her husband are wonderful cooks, and for the past few weeks when they have had us over, they have taught us how to make some really good food! She told us that next week she doesn't have a lot of work because of an issue with their building, so she wants to have us over to help bake and then whatever we make we can bring to people along with a Book of Mormon! :) We, of course, loved the idea!
Miracles happen every single day! I am so grateful for the opportunity to be here. Thank you so much for all of the incredible support, I wish you could know how much it means to me! I know this gospel is true, and as we live it day in and day out, we are showing our Heavenly Father that we are grateful to have it! I hope you have a wonderful week! LOVE YOU!
Sister Walborn
p.s. Pictures: 1) Sister Bradshaw and I visiting the Amish! We got to go into their Dry Goods store and try on some of their everyday apparel... haha  2) Me with the literal pizza pie that we made with Kat and Codey - so good! LOVE YOU!!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

August 11th, 2014

Becoming attached to people then having to say goodbye, is one of my least favorite things. Luckily, I am not the one leaving (I am NOT getting transferred! Woohoo!) but their are 2 couples from the University Branch here in State College that are both leaving for grad school in Texas. They, the Hatchs and the Boyers have both taught me so much!! In the email from my mission president this week, he was counseling us missionaries (in regards to transfers) to focus on what our purpose truly is and not get caught up in worrying about what area we are in, if our companion is right, and what leadership we have been asked to fulfill. Instead, he quoted President Clark who said, "In the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve, but how." This immediately struck my heart because I have been given such great examples to follow! Tim and Tavhata Boyer were those members that my companion and I felt comfortable asking for help no matter what the situation was! They were our "go-to" fellowshippers for so many people we were/are teaching because they served so diligently at all times. They have strong testimonies of the Savior and our Heavenly Father's love for each of His children, and they are not afraid to share it with those around them. :) I have truly come to realize that Heavenly Father sent me on a mission, not just to learn how to be a good missionary at this point in my life, but to teach me, by the examples of those I would meet here in Pennsylvania, how to be a good missionary for the rest of my life! When we truly love this gospel, our desire to share it with others will grow! I feel blessed to have met these wonderful people.
Sister Bradshaw and I had a wonderful week! We had a lesson with Darien at the beginning of the week that was a total answer to my prayers. We felt unsure about what to teach Darien, because of the suggestions that we were getting from other people, but after praying about it we decided that the Plan of Salvation was what he needed. As we prepared and studied, we felt more and more confident this was the right decision. As we sat down for the lesson and asked to begin with prayer, Darien decided that he WANTED to say it!! :) It was a beautiful prayer in which he asked God to help him better understand what he needed to do in his life, and asked to feel His love. Darien started off the lesson by asking us a question that had been on his heart, "I've been thinking a lot about why God would send so many of His children here just to have them never learn about Jesus Christ... I mean if there are 7.8 billion people out there and only a small percentage know about God, doesn't that seem unfair that they didn't get a chance?" ....holy cow! The plan of salvation answers that question perfectly Darien! :) It was a wonderful opportunity for us to teach and testify of God's merciful plan, in which he accounted for all situations and circumstances, providing each of His children the opportunity to learn about and accept the gospel of Jesus Christ - whether in this life or the next. We are so blessed to have this knowledge!
The most beautiful part of our Heavenly Father's plan, is the Atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ. I have been reminded of this over and over this week, through my studies, our lessons, and the conversations I have been able to have with many people. The Atonement is not just to pay for our sins, but any change that we desire to make, can be made through the enabling and strengthening power of the Atonement. I KNOW this is true! I hope we can all more anxiously apply the Atonement in our lives :)
I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!
Sister Walborn

Thursday, August 7, 2014

August 4th, 2014

Family! :D
Holy cow! I'm sorry that I have not sent an email home for a few weeks, they have been very eventful! Heavenly Father has been pouring out the blessings on Sister Bradshaw and I! This has been a huge testimony to me of Heavenly Father's willingness to help us when we are in need and providing opportunities to accomplish the desires of our hearts to help fulfill his work and share His gospel. Last weekend, I got sick. It got to the point that my mission president's wife sent me to urgent care, and because they didn't know exactly what was wrong but my symptoms were worrisome I was then sent to the Emergency Room. It was not a fun experience, and I felt frustrated with my body! There were things that were much more important than laying in my bed at the apartment trying to heal! BUT I learned that by relying on Heavenly Father, trusting that it will all work out, and being humble enough to recognize that I can't always accomplish everything I want to - it all fell into place. Because of that experience, as frustrating and miserable as it was, it allowed me to see even more clearly the incredible blessings and miracles Heavenly Father was waiting to pour out on us!!
On thursday, Sister Bradshaw and I had the opportunity to teach a law student studying here at Penn State, originially from Cameroon. His name is Idriss and he is very concerned for his eternal salvation and is willing to commit to truth when he finds it. He is absolutely FULL of questions about every aspect of life and the gospel, which initially seemed like it was going to be hard to manage but as we opened the lesson with a prayer and invited the Spirit, Idriss was able to focus on the questions that would be most important at this time for him to know. We talked about the need for living prophets, the restoration of Christ's church, and the role of the Book of Mormon in helping us grow closer to the Savior and knowing Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. It was so cool because at one point in the lesson, Idriss told us that he is hesitant to begin reading and praying on a daily basis because every time he has tried in the past he has had a hard time having the motivation. He said that when he would go to read the scriptures, he would begin to feel really sleepy or want to be on facebook instead! haha We all kind of paused at that moment, but I felt the Spirit nudging me because I felt I could really relate to him. So as I opened my mouth to help Idriss, the Spirit brought the words to mind that he needed to hear. I continued with a work out/gym analogy that had already been used for a different reason in the lesson and asked him, "Idriss, if you want to get strong and have big muscles, would you go to the gym once and expect them to be the way you want?" He looked at me with a shocked expression and laughed saying, "No, definitely not!" So I went on to explain how it would be hard the first few times going to the gym because your body wouldn't be used to it! But that over time your muscles would get big and it would become easier to exert yourself when working out - it is the same with reading the scriptures!! It is hard to develop the habit and pattern of reading and praying on a daily basis, but when we do our relationship with Heavenly Father grows stronger and it becomes easier to do it regularly - especially because we are able to see the benefits of it. The most gratifying thing as a missionary, is being able to feel the Spirit working through you and then seeing the recognition on someone's face as the Spirit helps them understand! :) Idriss committed to reading and praying, and the member who came to the lesson invited him to watch a Brigham Young video with him the next day!
Later thursday evening, I was talking to a girl on the bus when I saw one of our former investigators named Chris! Chris is a very strong christian that really only had a lesson with us for information, not because he was interested in joining the church. He came and stood right in front of me (the bus was full) and was very friendly, wanting to talk about how things have been going for us. We chatted for a few minutes and naturally the conversation drifted to the gospel. I asked him how an interview had gone for an internship he had wanted and he told me it had gone very well! He said he knew it was because of a large number of people who had been praying for him, that he was really grateful for! When he said that, I had remembered in my studies that morning I had read in Mosiah 27 about the dramatic paradigm shift of Alma the younger. I told Chris about it because one of the things I loved most about the chapter was how the angel specifically told Alma that the reason he was there was because of the prayers of his father! Then later when Alma is struck dumb, many more people were fasting and praying for him - and of course, their prayers were answered. As I shared that story with Chris, my purpose was to validate his experience with a teaching from the Book of Mormon. He looked at me and said, "yeah I'm sorry but I'm never going to read the Book of Mormon. The more I think about it, the more I don't like it!" .... I was so taken back! He went on to tell me that he has read things in the Bible that disprove the Book of Mormon and he encouraged me to read them. As I sat there saddened by the direction the conversation had taken, I felt Heavenly Father strengthen me and help me say, "Chris, to be completely honest, you know more about the bible than I do. I can't pull a lot of random things from the Bible to prove it's validity. But what I do know is that every time I have prayed about it, I have felt in my heart that the Book of Mormon is from God!" He smiled, and even though I could see he didn't agree, he no longer seemed to want to argue about it. I was so grateful! When he got off the bus and for the short minute between his stop and ours, I thanked Heavenly Father for that experience. No one can take away my testimony of the Book of Mormon or diminish it in any way because it belongs specifically to me! If we hold firm to the truths that we know, we will be blessed with the opportunity to learn more. I hope someday Chris will give the Book of Mormon a chance, but if not, he helped me strengthen my testimony :)
Friday we got to have a lesson with Garett and that kid is on FIRE! After his baptism, he decided that he wanted to read the Old Testment before the summer was over and he is currently in Isaiah - which has become his favorite book! Crazy awesome, right?!
After the lesson with Garett we got to do Forums in front of the Pattee library, where miracles happen :) We got to meet many wonderful people, and we even ran into Idriss! He had watched the movie about Brigham Young that morning and when we asked him what he thought this is how he responded (reminder* - he is from Cameroon and speaks french, so imagine him saying this in a french accent), "Well, at first I was little confused because I didn't realize that the prophet's name was BRIG-HAM Young! The first thing I ever heard about your church was about polygamy and someone told me that your prophet's name was BRING-THEM Young!" hahahaha ....it was hilarious. We were happy that that was able to get cleared up!
Saturday... more miracles! :) The biggest news - DARIEN IS BACK!!!! There is SO much that has happened with him in the last few weeks, and my love for him has grown so strong! He is incredible!! Darien is desperate to find happiness and because of that, he keeps getting drawn back to the gospel and to the people here. So, you know how there are moments in life when you meet someone and you instantly feel a deeper connection? Well, that is how I feel! I know that Heavenly Father placed him in our path that day because I needed to learn something from him. Darien is willing to commit, to lay it all on the line in order to see for himself if God is real and if this is something that he needs in his life! We had a lesson with him Saturday night, he came to church on Sunday and our "break the fast" activity afterwards, and wants to meet with us everyday this week! I wish I could explain him better and the happiness I feel as I am testifying to him of the truthfulness of this gospel! I can FEEL Heavenly Father's love for him so strongly, and I know that Heavenly Father is ready and willing to work miracles in his life :) Just like He is for each one of us!
I know this gospel is true. I know that God lives! He knows each of His children on a personal level and wants us to feel confident that He is there. I know the scriptures can bring us answers to our prayers and will help us every single day in so many situations if we are trying to apply them in our lives. I love you all so much and I am so grateful for your prayers! I have felt them lift me up, especially in the last few weeks. Have a wonderful week!
Sister Walborn
p.s. Pictures: 1) the ducks on campus are our best friends. haha 2) Us huddling together as it randomly started pouring during one of our Forums - gotta love the PA rain! :) Oh! And Sister Larsen (my companion in Butler) is here serving in one of the State College family wards so I get to see her all the time! Tender mercy!!! LOVE YOU!!