Monday, August 27, 2012

Email: 27 August 2012

Hey hey hey!!
Life is so good!!!!! I love being a missionary! I love my companions, Sister Nelson and Sister Fraire, I love the people we are teaching, I love the ward, I love you (yes, I'm talking to you) and I love the Lord. I always find it hard to express in writing how much I love being a missionary here in Oklahoma. I guess I could do an audio recording so you could hear the excitement in my voice. Like I said before, I'm too tired Sunday night to do anything like that. These letters will have to suffice. ;) It's been a great week! For the first time in weeks we have reached all our goals (except for one) for the week. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm saying it's all about the numbers.... every single one of the numbers represents a child of God who we care about.

Anyway, it's been a great week! [Name withheld] has been coming up to Norman the past couple weeks so we've still been able to teach him. He is just about done with 1st Nephi in the Book of Mormon. He is soaking it all in. We should be having a baptism with [Name withheld] soon. He moved down to Dallas but he wants to be baptized into the Norman ward. We were not sure if that was allowed. We counseled with the Zone Leaders and with President Taylor about it. They both said [Name withheld] should be baptized here in Norman since his ward family is here and he is here in Norman on a weekly basis anyway. We are so excited for [Name withheld]! He is so ready to be baptized! We don't have a date with him yet. He is praying about a day to be baptized. We are meeting with him Tuesday and will talk more about it. It's an exciting time for all us!

Jeff was just called as the 2nd counselor in the Sunday School presidency yesterday and passed the sacrament for the first time. Jeff has changed so much in the last three months that I've known him. The Gospel is changing his heart and he is becoming the person God wants him to be. We've also taken Jeff out teaching with us. He is such a great teacher! It is so amazing to be able to see the change that the Gospel has on people who live and act on it. I love how much I've learned about the Doctrine of Christ while I have served a mission. I am sad that after today I have less than a year left to serve a mission. I am comforted to know that serving a full-time mission is just the beginning of my missionary service. I am going to have opportunities throughout my life to share the Gospel, to "bring others into the light of the Gospel" as my patriarchal blessing says. To be honest, my biggest worry is that I won't accomplish everything the Lord has sent me here to do in Oklahoma. I also want to learn everything I need to learn while serving a mission. I don't want any experience to go by that I don't learn something.

The other day I read Jacob 6:5
"5 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, I beseech of you in words of soberness that ye would repent, and come with full purpose of heart, and cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you. And while his arm of mercy is extended towards you in the light of the day, harden not your hearts."

I love that phrase, "cleave unto God as he cleaveth unto you." God wants so badly for us to return back to Him and we need to have that same devotion to him that he has in helping us. (Moses 1:39) I thought of the talk by Barbara Thompson titled "Cleave Unto Covenants". It is by making and keeping covenants or promises with God that we are given the strength to go through life.

I am learning so much as a missionary, and it is amazing! I have already learned so much in the last 6 1/2 months! I know I am developing skills that will be greatly beneficial to me as a wife and mother someday as well as in future callings in the Church. I am very excited for the future and what it has in store.

It's kind of funny. Yesterday I was reading a Ensign article about a lady whose husband struggled with pornography. She told about all the heartache and pain that came from that. My first thought was "that's it, I don't want to get married." I didn't really mean it, but the thought of marriage really scared me. Then I grabbed another Ensign at random and came across a talk called "Confidence to Marry" haha! It was all a very funny experience and my companions laughed at it as well. Oh shoot! I just love my companions so much! Sister Nelson and Sister Fraire are so great!

I feel like more has happened this week... I'm having writers block though. I also left my journal at home. Have a great week everybody! Sorry this is not very long. I love you!

Love, Sister Record

Monday, August 20, 2012

Email: 20 August 2012

Hey family and friends!
This week has been much better than last week. I have truly seen miracles and seen the "Lord's angels round about to bear [us] up". I am crunched on time today, so this email may be kind of short. Today is the first day of classes so all the students are back. It is a marvelous thing to see so many people!! :D Oh sheesh! I don't know where to begin. It has been a roller coaster the past two weeks. We haven't had any new investigators, which was hard.

Last Wednesday my companions and I decided that we were going to find somebody new to teach and that we were going to have the faith to see miracles. As our dinner hour came to an end I got so antzy and excited to go out and knock on doors. (That hasn't happened for a while) With each minute that went by I got more and more anxious to get out and work. We got in the car and Sister Nelson suggested we go to an apartment complex we'd never been to before. We got there and the few doors we knocked on there was no answer. Then I saw an apartment complex across the street that we'd never seen before. So we went to that one. The craziest thing happened! As soon as we stepped foot on the property we knew this was the place we were going to find a new investigator. It was insane! Both Sister Nelson and I could feel it. It was almost tangible. We knocked on a few buildings with no success. We still knew this was where we needed to `be though. I mentioned to Sister Nelson and Sister Fraire that I was so excited to find a new investigator here. We knew that person was somewhere in the complex, we just had to find them.

We knocked on a door and as soon as the girl opened the door I knew she was the one we had been looking for. We offered to pray for her and for her family and she accepted. The spirit was so strong and she felt it. :) We set up an appointment to go back and visit her that Friday to teach her more. As soon as we left her apartment we were all three so stinking happy! We hadn't had this kind of experience in weeks! It was definitely a miracle. :)

The day before (Tuesday) we had been walking on campus and for whatever reason we walked a way we never had before. We ran into our investigator [Name Withheld]! It was so great! He had moved to back to Texas so we stopped teaching him. Well, we were able to set up a time to teach him Wednesday afternoon. It was such a miracle/blessing from the Lord to be able to actually teach and feel like we were fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. Teaching [Name Withheld] gave us the boost we needed to keep going. It was a fabulous lesson! We talked with [Name Withheld] about baptism and confirmation. We talked about how baptism is a covenant we make with God. When we make and keep covenants, God blesses us. We told him we want him to make and keep covenants with God, not just get baptized and then never come back to church. We read him the baptismal interview questions, which he passed. :) He is well on his way to getting baptized. Keep him in your prayers please! He said he feels like he needs to keep reading from the Book of Mormon and be more consistent with his church attendance. Oh [Name Withheld] is so great!!! We love him so much! Well... he also told us about how the day we taught him the Word of Wisdom he prayed in his living room asking if all this was true. He got a very distinct "Yes" answer. From that day he started to live the word of wisdom. Why he didn't tell us this sooner I don't know. It made our hearts soar to hear this from him.

Life as a missionary is hard. There are times where you don't feel like you can go on. However, moments when people are open and accepting to change their lives and come closer to Christ makes it all worth it. Then again, life in general is hard and there are times you don't feel like you can go on. It's not something that happens just to missionaries. As we are faithful though, the Lord provides for us and helps us. I know that Lord is mindful of us and loves us. Although things can be hard, there is so much good, joy and happiness in this life as we live the Gospel. I love you all! Sorry this is so short. I am doing fine. I love missionary work! I am learning and growing so much. :) Love ya!

Love, Sister Record

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Email: 13 August 2012

Hey there!
Well..... I don't really have anything to report. This last week has been really slow.... probably the slowest week of my entire mission. It's been tough. Hopefully things start picking up soon. We got transfer calls yesterday. Sister Nelson, Sister Fraire and I are staying in Norman! woohoo! I am so happy I get to be companions with Sister Nelson another transfer. Sister Fraire is so great too! I love my companions! We already knew we were staying before we got transfer calls, but Elder Hanes, our district leader tried to convince us Sister Nelson was leaving. What a punk. haha! So I will be in Norman until the end of September. I think I will stay even longer than that, but we shall see. I would love to stay here in Norman for awhile. It's a fantastic place!

Despite how slow things are right now, we were able to give away two of the Books of Mormon this week. One guy we met on campus. He was just sitting on the bench and we knew we needed to go talk to him. We went over and started to talk to him. We showed him the Book of Mormon (Karla Johns wrote her testimony in this one) and we explained what it was. I gave him the copy and as soon as I handed it to him his face lit up! He was so excited to get the copy of the Book of Mormon. I have never seen anybody more happy and excited to read it. He took it from us and said "I am going to read this today!" He was so happy and excited to read. It was pretty great! We talked to him the next day and he had started to read the Book of Mormon. We haven't been able to meet with him since, but hopefully a really good seed has been planted. :)

The second Book of Mormon has Monica Rudd's testimony in it. On Sunday we had a girl at church who is dating one of our members. She told us she is planning on coming back to church next Sunday. She really seemed to enjoy church. I gave her the copy of the Book of Mormon. I didn't get a chance to really explain a whole lot about it, but I'm sure her boyfriend will. We are hoping to start teaching her soon.

On Friday we went to visit a less active member of the ward. On the way up I noticed two people in a cemetery and thought "we should say a prayer with them" but didn't mention it to Sister Nelson of Sister Fraire. Our less active member was not home so then I mentioned to my companions that we should go pray with the people in the cemetery. We drove by and Sister Nelson mentioned that this was weird, I agreed and we drove past the cemetery. We got to the stop light and talked about it briefly and decided we needed to turn around and go talk with them. We got into the cemetery and discovered Sister Fraire's fear of cemeteries! :) We walked up to the two people sitting next to the gravestone. They were obviously distraught over the loss of a loved one. We offered to pray with them and they accepted. After the prayer we shared a little bit about the plan of Salvation with them and about how family relationships can go beyond this life. We prayed with a brother and a sister who were in their 20's. Her son had died 2 years ago to the day at only 5 months old. It was a really neat experience. After we left Sister Nelson mentioned how she felt really awkward as we were driving up but as soon as we started walking towards them she said she felt really calm and knew this was going to be a really good experience.

Well... that's about all for the week. Thanks for all your support and your prayers I love you! Please continue to keep the missionaries and their areas in your prayers. :)

Love, Sister Record

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Email: 6 August 2012

Smoke cloud from fire
Hey everybody! I want you to know I am safe from any fires. Honestly, as missionaries we were hardly affected by them at least our companionship. I am assuming everybody else was fine too. I don't even know if the fires are still going. There is no more smoke in the sky, so that's a good sign. We did fast for rain yesterday though. We got a text from President Taylor on Friday telling us to just be aware of the fire. There were a few people in our ward who were near the fires but I'm pretty sure they are all okay. I haven't heard anything.

This may be the most unexciting letter ever... brace yourselves. Hey, you kept reading! Good job! ;) It has been pretty dead here. There is a two week break between the summer semester and the fall semester and all the students have left. Except for the sororities who are getting ready for rush week this week. We can't tract the sororities or fraternities though (obviously) so there really are not any people here who are student age to talk to. 

We are so excited for students to come back! Basically we are preping the area for the return of the students. We still go out tracting because it is a way to show our faith, but we are focusing on our teaching skills. We are doing this by teaching the members the lessons. Yesterday we explained the situation to the members of the ward and sent a sign up sheet around to have us teach them. We have quite a few people signed up for the week. We are pretty excited about it. We will be able to practice our teaching skills with the members and improve on things. We will then be "master teachers" (as President Taylor says) and the work will explode in this area. At least that's the vision. haha! It may take more than two weeks to become master teachers, but we are always striving.

We had a meeting with our ward mission leader. At the beginning of the year the ward set a goal of 12 baptisms for the year. The ward is only at three. The ward mission leader, as well as us, feel very STRONGLY that finding those who are ready to hear the Gospel are going to come through the MEMBERS. We were talking about all the baptisms that Sister Nelson has been a part of and they have all been through the members, except for one and he was a self referral. I'm not saying we are not going to be knocking on doors ever again, what I am saying is that those who are introduced to the church by their friends and family are those who usually stay active in the church.... which can easily be translated into they make and keep their covenants with God.
Sister Record at district meeting
I never realized how important member missionary work was until I became a missionary. I also never realized how important visiting teaching was until I came on my mission. There is a quote by Harold B Lee in Preach my Gospel that says "Missionary work is but visiting (home) teaching to those who are not now members of the church, and visiting (home) teaching is nothing more or less than missionary work to church members."

That is pretty intense! Visiting teaching is vital to the building up of the kingdom of God. I would challenge you to go and do you visiting/home teaching and don't do it for the numbers. Really become that person's friend. Help them know you care about them. I love this quote by President Monson "Perhaps when we face our Maker, we will not be asked 'how many positions did you hold?' But rather, how many people did you help? In reality, you can never love the Lord until you serve Him by serving His People."
Anyway, I wanted to thank everybody for the testimonies in the Books of Mormon! We are excited to give them away. Yesterday we got a text from a ward member who talked to his neighbor about the Gospel. He told us that he just felt prompted to share with him. His neighbor was very receptive and wants a Book of Mormon and our member is going to teach him the 1st lesson and then maybe we will be able to teach him. I am giving away the first copy of the Book of Mormon with the testimony inside. I will keep you updated on what happens with that. Our member is giving him the Book of Mormon that Valerie Evans wrote her testimony in. Thanks for all the missionary work you are doing Canyon Ridge ward!! Y'all are great!!! I sure do love you! 

Sister Fraire shared a great scripture this morning. It was from 1st Nephi 8, Lehi's vision of the Tree of Life. 

12 And as I partook of the fruit thereof it filled my soul with exceedingly great joy; wherefore, I began to be desirous that my family should partake of it also; for I knew that it was desirable above all other fruit.
13 And as I cast my eyes round about, that perhaps I might discover my family also, I beheld a river of water; and it ran along, and it was near the tree of which I was partaking the fruit.
14 And I looked to behold from whence it came; and I saw the head thereof a little way off; and at the head thereof I beheld your mother Sariah, and Sam, and Nephi; and they stood as if they knew not whither they should go.
15 And it came to pass that I beckoned unto them; and I also did say unto them with a loud voice that they should come unto me, and partake of the fruit, which was desirable above all other fruit.

Sister Fraire pointed out that after Lehi knew of the Joy of the fruit of the tree he was desirous to share it. Not only did he want to share it, but he called out to them with a loud voice.

It is important to share the Gospel through our example. However, we should still speak up to our friends and family about it. Share with them why it makes you happy. We don't have to be preachy, just share the truth about how you feel about the Gospel. :) The Gospel of Jesus Christ is such a HAPPY message! We should be happy to share it with all those around us. We can share it so many different ways too! Sure some people won't want to listen, that is their choice. Our choice and duty is that we share the Gospel and when we share it with those who are ready to accept, "How great shall be your joy." I feel like this is something I am really coming to learn as a missionary.

OH YEAH! there was something really exciting that happened this week. We taught [Name withheld] twice, once on Wednesday and once on Saturday. On Wednesday he expressed his concern about prophets and apostles. We talked to him about that and his concern was resolved. On Saturday we showed him 5 video clips from the Prophet and the apostles. (I'll include the link to the ones we watched with him) As he watched he told us that all the things they talked about were things he already believed in. At the very end of the lesson [Name withheld] told us that he really liked the videos and that as he watched he had this "feeling in my rib cage that felt like something expanding and I feel warm inside." I'm pretty sure the smile on all of our faces were huge. We explained to him what that feeling was and that it was the Spirit. We told him to pay attention to those feelings as he goes to church and reads the scriptures and meets with the missionaries.
[Name withheld] is so great! He is moving back to live with his parents in Texas so we won't be able to teach him anymore. We're sad about that because [Name withheld] is just starting to have great fellowship in the ward and is really progressing. I'll send a picture of us with [Name withheld] as well.

Yesterday [Name withheld] came to church for the 3rd time! And he stayed for the first two hours. Turns out he needed somebody he felt comfortable coming to church with. Jeff has been the perfect friend for him. [Name withheld] had accidentally packed all his church clothes and wasn't planning on coming to church. He asked if he could wear regular clothes. Of course the answer was yes! :) Then Jeff told [Name withheld] he would come in regular clothes too so [Name withheld] wouldn't feel so weird. It was great! Oh! and Jeff got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday!! :D

Oh shoot! I just LOOOOOVEEE missionary work! Thanks for everything y'all are doing to do member missionary work! I really appreciate it.... even though I'm in Oklahoma. haha! I love you! Have a great week!

Love Sister Record