Monday, June 24, 2013

A Peaceful Sleep

I don't really have anything to write in this email for the blog. After last weeks email, I feel like I just don't have a lot. I told my companion that I felt like we rose up to our potential but this week we have faced quite a bit of opposition. I won't go into detail, it isn't important what the opposition was/is. Just know it was very real. We are determined to get back on our feet and have another amazing week! Despite the challenges we've faced I know that God had been helping us. He has sent divine help for Sister Loveland and I. Miracles did happen this last week... but it was more on a personal level than in our proselyting efforts.

I know that when we have hard times, God will ALWAYS be there to bear us up. I have no doubt of that. There was one night this week I was trying to sleep. I was extremely worried about something and getting pretty anxious about it. Sleep would not come. Finally I rolled over onto my side and started to focus on Jesus Christ. I started to pray earnestly for relief. I told Heavenly Father that if things were going to work out I needed to feel peace. Immediately I felt peace come into my heart about the situation. I was able to fall asleep within 5-10 minutes. I was reminded of the scripture in the Doctrine & Covenants section 6

22 Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
23 Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God? (D&C 6:22-23)

Just as a side note, here is additional video that was filmed in the Stillwater stake. President Bowman is an amazing man! He spoke in our ward yesterday and gave a powerful talk about service. He has this incredible talent to get up and quote scripture. 80% of his talk was scriptures and quoted them... not once did he open up his scriptures or look down at notes. It was inspiring. I hope to develop that talent one day. :)

President Taylor is amazing! I am so thankful for the opportunity I've had to serve with him. He and Sister Taylor have changed my life now and forever. I am sad they are going home this week. I will really really miss them. Well, I love you! I will have more to write next week! :D

Love, Sister Record

Monday, June 17, 2013

Miraculous Week!

I decided to share my letter to President Taylor with you. It is everything I wanted to share with y'all. I love you!

President Taylor,
This has probably been the best week of my mission in at least a year. The last time I remember being this enthusiastic and excited was a year ago when Jeff got baptized in Norman. Sister Loveland and I have been working hard this week and trying very hard to be consecrated missionaries. The result has been miraculous! I don't even know where to start. I want to tell you about all the miracles that have happened... we have seriously seen miracles EVERY DAY. One miracle that I have seen is that I am happier. I feel like I have more light in me. 

During my whole mission I have felt like I have struggled with being loving and patient. As I have tried to be consecrated this week, I have realized I never once struggled with it. I felt like my heart was FULL of love and I was patient with those around me. It has been incredible. I wondered why that happened. As I was eating dinner one day, the scripture in Helaman 3:35 came to me. "Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility, and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God." I realized that as I have the Holy Ghost more in my life then he purifies and sanctifies my heart. This comes my giving up our will to God's will. Sister Loveland and I are pretty excited for this upcoming week. Last week was amazing, but we have to be even more consecrated this week to continually see miracles. I know God will provide as we put forth the work. I want to give you an idea of some of the miracles we've seen this week. We've seen a significant miracle at least every day. I'll start with last Monday.

Monday: Sister Loveland and I had an AMAZING comp study where the importance of sharing the gospel was taught to us by the Spirit. We were ready and fired up to be consecrated. My younger brother had a life changing experience at scout camp. He wants to change his life! That was amazing!

Tuesday: We started the day off by getting out of the house right at 10:00am. Even in the day that we had been trying to be consecrated we felt happier. We had more faith to go out and find people to teach. We taught our investigator, [Name withheld 1], and she told us she has been praying about her baptism on July 6th. She said she feels God is telling her to do it. She also told us that she feels once she has the Gift of the Holy Ghost she feels life will somehow be better. She feels like the Gift of the Holy Ghost is what she is missing in her life. (She loves the Gospel! She can't get enough of it!)

Wednesday: We had been wanting to teach [Name withheld 1] about the Restoration and the Priesthood for a while. We knew today was the day.. however during comp study while we were preparing and real playing for her we felt totally unguided and uninspired. Seriously, it was like running into a brick wall. When 10am came we still felt super jumbled and like we had no direction. We prayed that God would give us the words to say to help [Name withheld 1]. After the prayer, I felt a peace come into my heart that everything would be ok. We took Elder Jensen, the new CES missionary on OSU campus. We got into the lesson and Elder J. taught ended up teaching the whole Restoration and the priesthood. We would give comments here and there, but he was on fire! He explained it in a way that Sister Loveland and I never could have done. However, [Name withheld 1] understood when Elder J. explained it. I wish you could have seen this moment. [Name withheld 1] was on the edge of her seat the WHOLE time Elder J. was talking. It was truly miraculous! 

[Name withheld 1] is a wonderful woman! She is one of the prepared, one of the elect. She is a former investigator. She told us that she is more open this time because we came back. She told us she had felt like she had been forgotten. The exact moment we knocked on her door she was praying for peace in her life. She told us that in the last two weeks since she's been meeting with us she feels so much more peace in her life. She is amazing! I don't have words to say how much I love her. She has been an answer to our prayers and fasting.

We had more miracles on Wednesday. We were out knocking on doors and we weren't sure if we should be at this place. We didn't feel super guided by the Spirit. So we left... THEN we felt the Spirit distinctly tell us to go back. So we turned the car around and went back. We went and knocked on more doors. The third door we knocked on a guy answered and he wasn't interested. He shut the door and we went to go on to the next door. Then a woman ran out of the house. [Name withheld 2] told us she wanted us to pray for her. We talked about the Atonement and that she could be cleansed from sin before we prayed. She was in tears. We learned that she had been baptized in the city over a year ago. She stopped going to church but really wanted to come back. She just hadn't come back because she didn't know anybody here. It was an 8:50pm miracle!

Thursday: We got weekly planning done in TWO HOURS woohoo! :) In the evening we were tracting and found a less active who is engaged to a nonmember. She really wants to start coming back to church. She is a couple years younger than me, but we went to the SAME elementary school and lived in the same small town at the same time. It was crazy! She has a real desire to come back to church. She recognized something is missing in her life.

Friday: We did exchanges.... it was really hard to have Sister Loveland not be with me. We had been seeing miracles all week and our excitement slowly died as the day went on since we didn't have each other to bounce off of.

Saturday: Saturday was tough! Sister Loveland and I had been on fire all week, but discouragement really set in today. EVERYTHING we had planned had fallen through. We had tried all day to get hold of [Name withheld 2] because she REALLY wanted to come to church on Sunday. Both of us were having a hard time staying positive. We were driving our member home from a teaching appointment when I saw [Name withheld 2] walking on the side of the road. We turned the car around and went to talk to her. She was so excited to see us. We confirmed that she would be coming on Sunday. This happened at 8:45ish. It totally renewed mine and Sister Loveland's faith. We were so happy!! The fact that this renewed our faith and energy to be consecrated was a miracle in and of itself. We really needed it.

Sunday: ALL OUR INVESTIGATORS we were counting on coming to church came to church! So many miracles on Sunday. [Name withheld 1] and [Name withheld 2] met at church and became best friends! [Name withheld 1] really encouraged [Name withheld 2] to be better and do better. After Sacrament meeting [Name withheld 1] told us that she had been praying last night. She had been telling Heavenly Father that she believed all the things she had been taught were true but she wanted to KNOW they were true. She told us that as she was praying she heard and audible voice say, "yes! it is all true!" :D She said she had to turn to see if anybody was there. (there wasn't) She said she not only heard the voice, but she felt it strongly in her heart. She said she was so excited to tell us about it. She also calls us "her sisters". :) 

So basically church was amazing! I haven't even shared all the miracles that happened. I have one more miracle I want to share though. One of our members has a granddaughter who, back in April, decided she wanted to go to girls camp. She is not a member but has consistently been coming to church since April. She just went to girls camp and got back on Saturday. After church we went to her grandma's house to visit her. We didn't know [Name withheld 3] was there. We started talking about the Holy Ghost. [Name withheld 3] told us that she WANTED TO GET BAPTIZED! It was amazing! When I saw her at church today I recognized that [Name withheld 3] had more light in her eyes than she ever had before. We talked to [Name withheld 3] about the Holy Ghost and about testimony and about her experience at girls camp. She wasn't sure she had a testimony. We told her to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know it's true. Then she quickly told us that she already knew it was all true. Sister Loveland told her that was a testimony. You should have seen how [Name withheld 3]'s face lit up after that! We are excited to start teaching her this week.

Well President, I finally feel like I'm living up to my potential as a missionary. I feel like I'm being a missionary, not just playing missionary. This is how I want to live the last two months of my mission. I want to live as a consecrated missionary!

Love, Sister Record

Monday, June 10, 2013

Miracles Are on the Far Side of Obedience and Hard Work

This morning if I were to put a theme song on how I feel it would be "Oh What a Beautiful Morning!" Actually, that is not the best theme song. I think it would be "On This Day of Joy and Gladness!" (p64)

Sister Loveland and I had a powerful companionship study this morning... and yesterday. I'll start with yesterday. We talked about the parable of the 10 virgins and how the oil and the lamp are comparable to the Doctrine of Christ. It is living the Doctrine of Christ that prepares us to one day meet God again.

I drew a picture on our white board, but never took a picture. I'll see if I can describe it.
1- the flame of the lamp represents faith
2- the wick represents repentance. If we are not constantly trimming our lamp, the wick folds over on itself and the flame goes out.
3- Our reserve oil that we need to constantly be pouring into our lamp is baptism. To take that one further, it is making and keeping covenants with our Heavenly Father.
4- The oil in the lamp is like the Holy Ghost. As we keep our covenants, we have the Holy Ghost with us which leads to continually put the oil in our lamps which is enduring to the end.

Today we were preparing for a lesson with a potential new investigator. (I'll tell you how we found him later.) As I was in my personal study the quote from President Benson came to my mind from Chapter 1. He said, "We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family.” The Spirit testified to me very strongly that we needed to tell this man we are going to teach this.

We were talking about how important the How to Begin Teaching Points were from Preach My Gospel. One of the points is that our message is centered on Jesus Christ, which make it of great value and importance. Why is it so important? Because the gospel is the only thing that will unite ALL men. It is the only thing that will bring joy and happiness. It is the ONLY thing that will bring salvation to all of God's children.

It was a very powerful moment to have that really sink deeper into our hearts. Sister Loveland and I made some goals to be more obedient and more consecrated missionaries. We are praying and expecting miracles this upcoming week, so it is important that we do our part.

In ward council yesterday each member made specific commitments to somehow share the gospel with a friend. It was AMAZING! Us and the Elders told the ward council that we were going to be 100% obedient and consecrated because they were putting a lot of trust in us as missionaries. It's hard to describe the spirit that was there... but it was exciting and nothing short of miraculous!

Sister Hunt and Sister Record
So about this guy we are teaching today, I was on exchanges with Hermana Hunt on Friday. We were in my area. We had a lot going on and didn't have a whole lot of time for tracting. Before we went out we prayed that Heavenly Father would provide us with a miracle, even though we didn't have a whole lot of time to be out tracting. We got to the place we had planned to go. I told Hermana Hunt that we needed to follow the Spirit in finding so we could use the time we had effectively. The first door and second doors we knocked on nothing happened.

I asked Hermana Hunt which one we should go to next. She went into the parking lot and closed her eyes. She opened them and walked straight to this one door (it was the one I was hoping she would choose because I felt we needed to go there too.) The guy answered the door and we told him who we were and what we were out doing. He let us pray with him. He wanted us to pray that he would be able to have more love for people and also that people would have more love for others. He said so many of the world's problems would be solved if people had more love in their hearts for other people. (As I thought about what he said, the quote from President Benson came to my mind during studies this morning.) Sister Loveland and I are really excited to teach him today.

We taught Sister H this week! She is still as amazing as ever! She is getting baptized on July 6th! Sister Loveland and the other sisters set a baptismal date with her on Wednesday while Sister Pfister and I were in the city for a meeting with President Taylor and the Zone Leaders. So many miracles have been happening and we feel like this is just the beginning! I hope I get to stay here until the end of my mission. This area and this ward are fabulous! I love each of you! Thank you for all your prayers!

Love, Sister Record

Monday, June 3, 2013

Tornado Shelter in the Backyard is a Good Thing :D

It has been a week FULL of miracles. I do not know where to start. I was so excited to write you yesterday and tell y'all about what has been happening. First off... I am thankful for my safety and for the safety of all the missionaries in the mission. Stillwater usually doesn't get much... but Friday evening we got put on tornado watch and then it went to a tornado warning. President Taylor told all missionaries in the mission to get to their underground shelters. That was the first time I got to use a tornado shelter for reals. We were only in there for about 20 minutes. Nothing touched down in Stillwater. I'm sure you know a lot more than I do about what has been going on in the weather. I want to assure you that we are safe though and when the next wave of storms come we will be safe. :) Here is a video clip of what has been going on with the tornado clean up. I'm not in it... but missionaries I know are. They interview Elder Fee. He is the AP and we were in the MTC at the same time. 

We got to teach our amazing investigator, Sister H, three times this week. SHE IS SO READY FOR THE GOSPEL! We finished teaching the plan of salvation and when we asked when we could come back she said "tomorrow". So many miracles have happened with Sister H and with the members we have taken to teach her with us. The other day we invited her to be baptized after teaching about baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost. We taught her the difference between the power of the Holy Ghost and the gift of the Holy Ghost. You could see that when we described it to her it made so much sense. When we told her that the power of the Holy Ghost comes in and out. She said that is how she feels. When we described the Gift of the Holy Ghost she got really excited.

Picture of clean up in Carney, OK on 5-25-2013
She didn't say yes when we invited her... she asked a question about the priesthood. She told us it made sense. Then in her prayer at the end she prayed that she would be able to get baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. :D I wish you could meet this woman. She is so sweet. She has been through a lot, but has AMAZING faith in Christ. She told us she feels hungry for the things we have to teach her. Over and over she has told us that she wants to be humble and learn about all these things. Last fast Sunday Sister Loveland fasted and prayed that we would find those who are PREPARED and who are ready to get baptized.

Well... Sister H has been an answer to that prayer! Sister H told us how thankful she was that we came back (she's been taught by missionaries before) and how much of a burden has been lifted from her as we taught her the Plan of Salvation. We have told her how much we love her and how much of an answer to our prayers she is.

Another miracle that happened this week is actually kind of funny. We were preparing to go to a lesson with our investigator from mainland China. She has been taught EVERYTHING multiple times. She has such a desire to know if all of this is true. I've been teaching her for 6 months and don't really know what to do anymore. We feel like we should keep working with her and just helping her recognize the hand of God in her life.

Now we are reading the Book of Mormon with her. We are in 2 Nephi 12... an Isaiah chapter. I was telling Sister Loveland (I regret it now...but the Spirit taught me a good lesson.) that we should just skip the Isaiah chapters because the person we're teaching wouldn't understand and I barely understand it. I won't be able to answer all the questions she had. Sister Loveland (being the awesome missionary she is) told me that even though the Isaiah chapters are hard to understand they are in the Book of Mormon for a reason.

Playing in the rain (don't worry... there was
no severe weather warnings when this picture was taken)
So... we went into the lesson praying that we'd be able to answer her questions. We read 2 Nephi 12 and the Spirit was very strong! We got to a verse 10 which says, "O ye wicked ones, enter into the rock, and hide thee in the dust, for the fear of the Lord and the glory of his majesty shall smite thee." Our investigator just started laughing because the verse reminded her of a parent getting after their child. (I must admit, her enthusiasm about the verse surprised me.) After we finished the chapter she told us that the verse made her feel like God was more human than she had felt before. (She wasn't trying to demean God, but to say he seemed more personable than He had before.) She told us that as she read that chapter she really felt that God was close to her. WOW! That was definitely the Spirit working with her! :D Lesson I learned: Everything in the Book of Mormon is there for a reason, even the Isaiah chapters. :)

On Saturday the whole mission went down to Moore to do tornado clean up. Before that Elder Rasband of the 70 came and spoke to us. It was very powerful. He told us that President Monson wanted us to know three things. 1- He loves us 2- He is Praying for us 3- He thanks us for our service over the past couple weeks. It was very inspiring and very touching!

Us and our wonderful ward missionary who came looking
for a family with us. We ended up not being able to find
the address. so we just took a picture.
Yesterday we tried to go find an inactive family. We had an address and vague directions, but they were not on the map. We took one of our members out with us. Well... we never found the address. We just ended up in the middle of nowhere, OK. It was very pretty.... just nothing there. So what do we do... we took a picture of course. :) The member we had with us was a trooper!

On June 23 2013 there is going to be a worldwide training by Elder Andersen. Elder Andersen sent a film crew to our mission to film a couple missionaries and the work they did in the Edmond 3rd ward in the Stillwater stake. They filmed Elder Byrd and Elder Cutler. Elder Cutler is my current Zone Leader. Elder Andersen was impressed with all the work done in this ward over the last couple years to turn it from a non baptizing area to a baptizing area. It is kind of cool. :)

I love you! Have a great week! I will talk to you next week.
Love, Sister Record

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Mission President Update 6/1/13 11:05am

Dear Parents: 

Your sons and daughters are safe.   Thursday and again yesterday we experienced severe storms and additional tornados in our mission area.  Yesterday’s storms were more dangerous and destructive than Thursday’s storms.  Our missionaries were never in any danger on Thursday but yesterday caused us more concern because we had missionary relief crews out working in the morning.  As is my practice, I sent the work crews home well in advance of the approaching storms so they could be near their local weather contacts and shelters.  My practice is to personally monitor the storms and alert missionaries directly and through our mission leadership.  Local weather contacts are also very helpful to us. 

Based on preliminary reports, yesterday’s storms caused substantial new damage and sadly, additional lives were lost.  103,000 homes in the City (including the mission home) are without power.  The damage, downed power lines and traffic have prevented me from communicating with you earlier this morning.   We also had all our missionaries in South Oklahoma City this morning for a meeting with Elder Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy.  Now all of our missionaries are out working on tornado cleanup projects for the day. 

I will generally not communicate with you after every storm.  I will reserve these communications for storms that strike near where we have missionaries stationed.  If power is out and I am prevented from emailing you I will call the Church operators and let them know the missionaries are safe.  I will also inform the Missionary Department of the safety of our missionaries.  As you can imagine, we have a lot going on out here right now.  The safety of our missionaries (your daughters and sons) is our paramount concern and priority.  We will tend to them first and inform you once I have verified their safety and tended to other priorities related to the missionaries.  Thank you for your patience and prayers.

We are grateful for the Lord’s protection and your prayers.  Many miracles are occurring through these events.  The Lord truly does make all things work together for the good of those who believe. 

Warm Regards, President Taylor

Missionaries are Safe

I just spoke with the missionary department, and all missionaries in Oklahoma are safe and accounted for. I have not received an email from President Taylor, but power is out in many parts of Oklahoma City.