Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Email: 25 June 2012

What a miraculous week it has been! Last Tuesday we went to check on one of our investigators and she was not home. Without even thinking we all gravitated to the door kitty-corner of this one. We offered the person who answered the Heavenly Gift. He refused it, saying he had just woken up from a nap so we gave him a mormon.org card. He looked at it and said that all last semester he had been meaning to come to our church but had not had any time. Then he told us that he has wanted to meet with the missionaries for awhile but hasn't been able to get a hold of us. Of course we exchanged numbers with him. Well, the story gets even better than that! The next day while we were eating lunch we got a phone call from a number we didn't recognize. The person calling was [Name withheld], the boy we met the day previous. He was CALLING US  to set up a time to meet. We set up a time for that evening. We ended up having a great lesson with him. We invited him to be baptized on July 28th and he said he would. He is very excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. [Name withheld] was very receptive to the things we shared with him.  It was really funny though. We had a member with us who has never been in a lesson with the missionaries when they extended the baptismal invitation. Sister Nelson was watching the member's face and said that as I was asking [Name withheld] if he would be baptized the member was cringing and making funny faces. When [Name withheld] accepted to be baptized the member relaxed. Then I asked [Name withheld] to be baptized on the 28th and the member clenched up again.  The member told us later that he was really worried [Name withheld] would reject us and he didn't want us missionaries to be rejected. Our member told us he had not felt the Spirit that strong in a long time.  It was an amazing experience. [Name withheld] is so receptive to the Gospel.  He scheduled us in his phone for every Wednesday at 5:30.

I love the Gospel so much! I love being a missionary. It is the best thing EVER! I can't believe Elder Record's been out for almost a year. That is just bonkers. The time just flys by being a missionary. Last week we went on campus to talk to people. There was a crawfish boil and I ate crawfish for the first time. It was so good! :D I love you all! Hope you all have a great week! Oklahoma is great! It's hitting the triple digits though... haha!

Love Sister Record

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Photos: 18 June 2012

These are the pictures we received from Sister Record this week along with her captions for each. Sheri and I just could not stop laughing at the last picture. What a hoot!

Elder Hendersen and I at the temple conference.
We were in the same district in the MTC
A headless grasshopper.... gross huh?

Sister Record, Sister Nelson and Sister Christensen at the temple conference

I realized the flashing light on the school zone signs are a lot bigger than I first thought.

Email: 18 June 2012

Hello everybody!

We never know what kind of impact we will have on people. I am so happy to hear everything went well with Grandpa's funeral. Was a lot of family there? I enjoyed the pictures you send dad. I have been thinking of the song How Firm a Foundation this morning. I remember hearing that it was Grandpa's favorite song. I love that song as well. It has brought me so much peace and comfort whenever I feel alone. 

So I'm not really sure were to go with this letter.... I left my journal at the apartment on accident. I feel like I left my brain at home and I'm trying to figure out what happened this week. It has been a great week! I love my companions. I'm so grateful I have companions. I have learned so much from each and every one of them, from the MTC to now. I am so grateful for the things I have learned as a missionary. I feel like a completely different person (spiritually) than I was 130 days ago. Yes... I just counted how many days I have been on my mission. 

Okay, I feel like I have waited long enough to dive into this. I kind of told you about it last week. This amazing thing we are doing in this mission which President and Sister Taylor have called the Heavenly Gift. It even has a theme scripture. (Ether 12:8-9) If it had a theme song it would be something like the Superman theme song because it is that incredible.... no... it is more incredible than Superman.

So just a recap on the Heavenly Gift: instead of our normal door approach of introducing ourselves as missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and asking if we can share a message we tell them we are representatives of Jesus Christ (how powerful is that?) and that we would like to say a prayer with them. Once they accept we ask them for their needs and things they would like us to pray specifically for. Once the prayer is over we identify the Spirit, testify briefly that the same Spirit can be felt more in their lives as they learn about the restored Gospel, set a return appointment and then leave. All of this takes less than 10 minutes. 


Seriously! This Heavenly Gift is a miracle in our mission! It works so well because the people of Oklahoma LOVE to pray! They pray in restaurants over their food. They have no problem praying in public. It is amazing! I wish I could share with you how excited I am about the Heavenly Gift and have you feel that same excitement. :) The Heavenly Gift was introduced to the mission at zone conference last month. As they demonstrated how to do the Heavenly Gift you could feel the excitement among the missionaries. This is a huge change in our mission. The Heavenly Gift is a way to spread the Gospel to more and more people because more and more people will give us the chance. 

Friday was temple conference and President Taylor told us how the numbers in our mission has changed since the introduction of the Heavenly Gift. The number of new investigators in the mission in the last month has jumped 76%. That is insane!! This means more people are allowing us to pray with them and then allowing us to come back into their home to teach them an actual lesson. Thanks to the Heavenly Gift Sister Nelson, Sister Christensen and I have found 17 or God's children to teach! This would have NEVER happened without the Heavenly Gift.

I have compiled a list of why the Heavenly Gift is such a miracle, some of which I've already mentioned.
1. Since January the mission has been fasting each fast Sunday that the Lord's work would hasten in the mission, The faith of the missionaries, investigators and the members would increase, that the missionaries would have faith that there is much people prepared to hear the message of the Restoration and that the Church would be more firmly established in our area. Well my friends, President Taylor being inspired by the Lord to introduce the Heavenly Gift was an answer to that fast. (Just a side note, telling us about the Heavenly Gift was not a part of zone conference until the drive to zone conference. Sister Taylor gave it the name Heavenly Gift literally en route to zone conference.)
2. Even after we have given the individual the Heavenly Gift and they don't want to have us come back we were able to plant a seed more effectively than before. They were able to feel the Spirit and they now have that image of us as missionaries. They more fully understand that we are Christian.
3. At the end of the day, our faith and attitudes are usually still pretty high. We have felt like we have ministered to God's children regardless of if we found new people to teach or not.
4. The Heavenly Gift can be given to anybody, anytime, anywhere. It is great to use the Heavenly Gift with members, less active members, investigators, and anybody we may meet.
I am so thankful I have been given this opportunity to give people the Heavenly Gift so early in mission. President Taylor is going to continue to give trainings on how to best give people the Heavenly Gift. We are in no way perfect at it as missionaries but even with how imperfect we are at it, it has been working. We still sometimes hold on to our old ways because it is what is comfortable (even though it wasn't working).

On Friday at temple conference we had the opportunity to give another companionship the Heavenly Gift. It was a way to practice, but not really. This was a real Heavenly Gift and we prayed for the needs of the other companionship. We were paired up with a senior couple who had just arrived in the mission a few days prior. We were able to find out their needs and then pray for those needs. Wow! What an experience! :) The Spirit was so strong and within a matter of 10 minutes there was such a bond between us and the senior couple. Then they said a prayer for us. It was such a sweet prayer. 

As I sincerely pray for people and their needs I have felt my ability to love others grow so much. I have felt closer to my Father in Heaven as I pray for others and their needs. I love praying! I have never prayed so much in my life! For those who have served missions, you know how much you pray as a missionary. Now just imagine that every door you knocked on you offered to say a sincere genuine prayer for the person who opens that door. Now imagine half of those people accept a prayer. That is a ton of praying! I can't get enough of it! It makes me so happy! :D

I love being a missionary so much! I will never ever regret my decision to serve a mission. I realized today that it has been just over 9 months since I made that decision. What a fantastic 9 months it as been. :D I love you all very very much! Have a fantastic week!

Love Sister Record

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Grandpa Rowley's Funeral

Gene and Alva Jean Rowley
Sister Record's maternal grandfather, Gene Haws Rowley, Sr., passed away on Thursday, 7 June 2012. He was born 28 June 1925 and was laid to rest in the Salem City Cemetery on 12 June 2012. His eternal companion, Alva Jean Farnsworth Rowley, preceded him in death by 12 years. They are joyfully reunited again.

Gene served in World War II and received full military honors at his funeral. We are so proud of him.

Sister Record is doing well and has a lot of support, see her post below.

Gene Haws Rowley, Sr. Funeral

Full military honors provided by the American Legion

Email: 11 June 2012

Hey family and friends! This week has been nothing short of miraculous. Last Monday and Tuesday Sister Christensen was sick so we didn't really do a whole lot as far as missionary work went.

Tuesday June 5, 2012-
A guy in our ward was selling pest control on Monday. He started talking to this lady who wasn't super interested in it. So he started talking to her about the Book of Mormon and she said she would like a copy. She said we could come back but that she wasn't going to let us in the house. Well we took her a Book of Mormon today and with in 30 seconds she was letting us into her home. Her name is [Name withheld 1]. She isn't a student... she's an older lady but boy oh boy is she incredible! She doesn't want us coming and telling her our beliefs. She wants to figure it out on her own by reading the Book of Mormon. She doesn't want to be influence by anybody. However, she really really liked the three of us and wants us to come back to just visit. Before we left we ended with a prayer. As I was praying she interjected her own things. She said she was grateful God had sent us to her because we gave her hope for the rising generation. One thing I will miss about Oklahoma when I am home is how people interject their own things into prayers. I love it! :)

Sister Christensen, Sister Record and Sister Nelson
with the oily birthday cake.
Wednesday June 6, 2012-
Today was Sister Christensen's birthday. I attempted to make her a cake....but read the directions on the cake mix box wrong. Instead of water I put oil in the cake... oops. We baked it anyway. It smelled like a ritz cracker. We tried a little bit... it was more or less edible. We took the cake to the institute building and had cake and played games with the Elders for a little while. We had a little piece of the cake, but didn't tell the Elders what was wrong with it. They all kept mentioning that the cake with really good. We couldn't help but laugh. We had an incredible lesson with our solid progressing investigator. He is amazing! He is going to have such an incredible conversion story when he is baptized. He signed up for institute (without us asking him to), he not only reads the scriptures-he is studying all the standard works and he is going to church every week. He didn't have to work today so we got to meet with him. He told us about how he was studying and read from the teachings of the living prophets manual that faith is built by hearing the testimony of the servants of the Lord. So he wanted us to tell him personal stories of how we each came to know that God is there. It was a fantastic lesson and the Spirit was so strong. :D

Pooh Bear ready to work!
Thursday June 7, 2012-
We went out tracting today and met a lot of great people who let us give them the Heavenly Gift. ( I need to explain what this to y'all. Heavenly Gift; noun; the most amazing door approach known to missionaries in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission. In a nutshell, instead of your normal door approach "we are missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints....." you say "We are representatives of Jesus Christ." then something along the lines of we are out sharing the gift of prayer. You learn about the person and their needs and then pray with them. After the prayer you ask if you can come back to share more and then you leave. It is SO EFFECTIVE!) So we were out giving people the Heavenly Gift and the first 5 doors we knocked on people let us pray with them! Not all of them were interested in us coming back to share more, but they were all thankful for the prayer and it was always a positive experience. We were able to find four new investigators as we shared the Heavenly Gift with people.

Saturday June 9, 2012-
We met with [Name withheld 1] again today. What an amazing woman she is! She was feeling really sick when we first came over. She said she wouldn't be much company, but allowed us in. She told us about her husband who passed away a few years ago. She told us about all the times she has seen God's hand in her life. The spirit was so strong as we spoke. Sister Christensen finally asked [Name withheld 1] if we could come back and just share some things about what we believe. She told [Name withheld 1] that she already knows so much, but there are just a few pieces we have that we'd love to share with her. [Name withheld 1] was a little apprehensive at first. She doesn't want anybody preaching to her. We assured her we wouldn't and she has agreed to start taking the lessons. She got really excited about it actually. She is so anxious to find out the pieces she is missing. She told us to come back and tell her what she doesn't know. She doesn't want to talk about the things she already knows. haha! She told us as we were leaving that she didn't feel good when we first got there but as we visited with her she felt better. It was incredible to actually be able to see the difference of when we first got there to when we were leaving. There was an actual physical change in her. I know it was the Spirit that was there as we talked with her about Christ and about families.

Sunday June 10, 2012
Elder Hansen, our district leader, told us that if we were to knock on every single door at Campus Lodge (one of the huge apartment complexes with a whole bunch of students) we would get five new investigators this week. We didn't start knocking on those doors until Thursday. We knocked on almost all the doors there in four days. It was AMAZING! We were able to give so many people the heavenly gift and meet so many great people! We were able to find much more than five new investigators. I am so thankful for my companions these last couple days. I'm thankful for Sister Christensen's fun and upbeat attitude. I'm thankful for Sister Nelson's diligence. None of this would have happened without them and of course the Lord.
Yesterday Sister Nelson and I went to teach one of the girls we met the other day. Her name is [Name withheld 2]. Sister Nelson and I went with a member while Sister Christensen and another member went out and knocked on more of the doors in Campus Lodge. Sister Christensen and the ward member (who I discovered I'm related to! Her last name is Haws and is related to William Wallace Haws and a bunch of Rowleys.) were able to find a new investigator and have a member present lesson while Sister Nelson and I taught [Name withheld 2] with a member and set a baptismal date with her. Oh boy was it exciting! The lesson with [Name withheld 2] was very much guided by the spirit. As we shared with [Name withheld 2] the first vision I could tell she was feeling something. Sister Nelson asked what she was feeling. [Name withheld 2] told us she got chills and wanted us to tell more of the story. :) We were able to explain to her that what she felt was the Holy Ghost. We invited her to be baptized on July 21. I really feel like teaching that lesson with Sister Nelson deepened my love for her, something I've been praying for. It was incredible to meet back with Sister Christensen and hear about the young lady they met. As we told each other our stories the spirit was so strong. We were all so excited for the other person(s). I feel like that experience really unified our companionship.

As I was sitting here typing this, I was reminded of when Alma met back up with the sons of Mosiah after going their separate ways to preach the Gospel. When they met up again Alma was so happy to see them and I'm sure to hear about what they had been doing. I feel like that is how I felt as Sister Nelson and I met back up with Sister Christensen. I was so excited to hear what had happened with Sister Christensen and the member who went out with her.

Well.... I don't know how to express how thankful I am for the opportunity I have to be a missionary. I love it more than words can express! Sometimes I feel like bouncing off the walls I love it so much. I am thankful for all the people I've been able to meet, for all the prayers I've been able to say with people. I am thankful for the person God is shaping me to be. I have felt my capacity to love people grow so much! I know that he loves me and that each one of us is a son or daughter of God. I love teaching people about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I also love to learn about it! I am so thrilled that I have my whole life a head of me and more to study and learn the Gospel. I love you so much! 

I hope all is going well with funeral arrangements for Grandpa. More importantly, I hope you all are doing okay at this time. Especially mom, Aunt Rebecca, Aunt Darlynn, Uncle Gary, Uncle Richard, Uncle David and Uncle Gene. I wish I could be there, but I know this is where I need to be.

I hope all goes well this week!
Love, Sister Record

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Email: 5 June 2012

Hey everybody!

Sorry I didn't write yesterday. It was quite an interesting day we had yesterday. So the reason I didn't write yesterday was that Sister Christensen got really sick on Sunday. So we stayed home with her yesterday to let her rest. I started to get a little restless being in the house all day... so I started to play with playdough and made this for Sister Christensen. She liked it. :)

We taught a girl named [Name withheld] on Sunday. She is roommates with one of the recent converts and both of them are from China. It was a very powerful lesson. First thing she asked before we even started was if Sister Christensen was feeling okay. [Name withheld] could tell she wasn't feeling well. [Name withheld] doesn't really believe in God, but wants to know for herself if He is really there. We taught her about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and that he wants to hear from us. We taught her how to pray and what to pray for. We invited her to pray at the end of the lesson. She was a little nervous about praying, but she did. She read the format of prayer in the Restoration pamphlet and prayed out loud for the first time in her life. It was incredible! She gave such a great prayer. Sister Christensen was just starting to get sick and [Name withheld] prayed that Sister Christensen would feel better soon. After the prayer [Name withheld] was all smiles and gave Sister Christensen and then all of us a big hug. :D

At Zone Conference a couple weeks ago Sister Taylor talked to the Sisters about how its really easy for us to look too casual in our dress. She asked us to please wear a nice jacket or blazer to Sunday meetings and other church related meetings. We need to look a little more professional at those kinds of things. On Sunday morning I was getting ready for church and was thinking to myself that on Monday I need to go get a jacket to wear to Sunday meetings like Sister Taylor had mentioned at Zone Conference. I had looked for a jacket the previous P-day when we were shopping, but couldn't find one. As I was getting ready I said a quick prayer that I would be able to find a jacket on Monday and that I wouldn't have to spend a lot of money on it. Immediately after the prayer I think I mentioned out loud to my companions that on Monday we needed to go to the store so I could find a jacket. Sister Christensen told me there was an extra jacket in the closet. I tried it on and it fit perfectly. An answer to prayers? I think so. :)

On Tuesday (May 29) The whole mission was under a tornado watch, but nothing really happened. We did have some pretty sweet lightening and thunderstorms. I took a video clip of it (from inside the house). It was just constant flashes of lightening and a lot of thunder! It made me so HAPPY!! I will miss the thunderstorms when I come home... in over a year. haha! It is crazy to think Friday is my four month mark! August will be my 6 month mark. Jason hits his year mark in July. Oh man how time just flies by!

On Wednesday (May 30) I came across this from David O McKay. He is talking about how he visited a sculptor's yard in Florence Italy once. He says, "Scattered about were unbroken, irregular pieces of granite from which a sculptor was preparing to cut out a vision which he saw in his mind... If you had stood in that yard, and a man had placed in your hands a chisel and a hammer, would you have dared to take one of the shapeless blocks of stone and carve a human image our of it? You could not do it. Or if someone had placed before you a canvas and given you paints and put in your hands a brush, would you have undertaken to paint on that canvas the picture of an ideal soul? You probably would have said to the first, 'I'm not a sculptor' and to the second, 'I am not a painter. I cannot do it.'
Nevertheless, each of us is carving a soul this very minute- our own. Is it going to be a deformed one, or is it going to be something admirable and beautiful? Your's is the responsibility. Nobody else carves it for you. Parents may guide, and teachers may help with suggestions, but each young man and young woman has the responsibility to carve his own character." I said it before and I'll say it again, I love that the Gospel of Jesus Christ challenges us to become something. The purpose of the Gospel is to "make bad men good and good men better." -David O McKay
On Friday (June 1) we were sitting on a bench on campus reading out loud from Moroni 7 since our investigator would be calling us that evening to talk about what he had read. We were reading these verses:

12 Wherefore, all things which are good cometh of God; and that which is evil cometh of the devil; for the devil is an enemy unto God, and fighteth against him continually, and inviteth and enticeth to sin, and to do that which is evil continually.
13 But behold, that which is of God inviteth and enticeth to do good continually; wherefore, every thing which inviteth and enticeth to do good, and to love God, and to serve him, is inspired of God.
14 Wherefore, take heed, my beloved brethren, that ye do not judge that which is evil to be of God, or that which is good and of God to be of the devil.

I looked up and couldn't help but laugh. There was nobody outside, just us. However, right across the street from where we were sitting were all these fraternities and sororities. I just couldn't help but laugh and interrupt whoever was reading to tell them. :)

I have felt my love for people and for missionary work grow even bigger this week. I love the peace and direction that the Gospel brings. The love I feel from my Savior as I am out here serving in Oklahoma has been incredible. I know I've shared this scripture before, but I love it. "...I the Lord build the ruined places, and plant that that was desolate: I the Lord have spoken it, and I will do it." -Ezekiel 36:36 Sometimes we feel like we're torn down in life. We feel like we have given everything we have to give. As we turn our burdens over to the Savior He is able to build us up into something better and stronger than before. I know without a sliver of doubt that God lives and loves each and everyone of us. I know Christ is our Savior and that by relying on His mercy, merits and grace (2 Nephi 2:8) we can become the men and women God wants us to be. I know that not only does Christ's Atonement cleanse us from sin, but it strengthens us and enables us to do things we wouldn't be able to do on our own. If I didn't know this before my mission, I certainly know it now. :) If it were not for Christ's strengthening and enabling power (AKA Grace) I would not be serving a mission right now. I would not be the person I am today. I love my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ more than words can express. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father loves me enough to give me trials so that I can become a better servant of His.

I love y'all very very much! :D Have a great week!

Love, Sister Record