Monday, January 25, 2016

Carry On!

Hello, all!

I think missionaries have Twitter separation anxiety and don't know it. We end all of our text messages, meetings, and conversations with ridiculous hashtags (yes, verbal hashtags are totally a thing). Sister Matealona and I have a collection of ridiculous hashtags we constantly throw at one another, such as: #YouTwirlFlags 


This week has been pretty great! We had interviews with President and Sister Olson, who are inspired individuals for sure. They've been traveling the mission interviewing the missionaries, reviewing their Area Books and planners, and giving suggestions on how we can improve our areas. Each area is different, so I know they have to have inspiration from our Heavenly Father in order to know how to handle each companionship's area. 

As I've stated before, tracting in the Purvis area does little to nothing. We find potentials here and there, but it certainly isn't like what it was in Flowood. President and Sister Olson both had amazing suggestions for that problem! They've encouraged us to work with members and part-member families, as we've planned on doing, but they also suggested we have a "Why I Believe" fireside, where converts tell their stories and bear their testimonies on the truth of the gospel. We thought that was an AMAZING idea! So hopefully we see that unfold in March! 

We've been working with our ward a lot more. The Purvis ward is full of amazing member-missionaries who are ready to spread the gospel. We talked to one member who said he always has five or six copies of the Book of Mormon on him when he goes out of town for work, and he always tries to give them out, and usually does! How amazing is that?! Missionaries aren't the only ones who can give copies of the Book of Mormon away. Have you considered carrying a copy of this sacred book with you? Do you remember how this book has changed your life? Is that something you'd want for someone else? Find and pray for an opportunity to share the gospel, and the Lord will most definitely find a way to make it happen. 

I've been considering a lot of things this week. With few investigators and little opportunities to teach, I've been wondering what I could do better in order to bring my brothers and sisters into the fold of God. The hard part about missionary work (besides, well, the missionary work) is the fact that people have agency! Weird, right?! When you have the burning desire to change someone's life for the better with the gospel, share it with them, and do all you can to help them recognize the Spirit, you still have to sit back and realize that this person has the right to choose, just as you do. Just as you made the choice to talk to them and bear your testimony, they, too, have the opportunity to exercise their God-given right to choose whether or not they will accept what you've told them. 

And sometimes they say no. 

I've mentioned before the feeling of heartbreak for another person's salvation, the ache in your chest when someone looks you in the eyes and says they no longer want to pursue the gospel. It feels like a storm, like the waters of the ocean are piling against you and all you can do to evade it is try and push against the winds and hope somehow that they will see the promised land that they are missing. 

It reminds me of Noah and the ark. Do we all know this story? We read about it in Genesis chapter 5; Noah, a prophet who truly walked with God received revelation that he must build a ship and collect two of every animal and board this ship with his family to be safe from the flood God was going to seize upon the earth. God unleashed a flood so great that "every living substance was destroyed which was upon the face of the ground, both man and cattle, and the creeping things, and the fowl of the heaven; and they were destroyed from the earth: and Noah only remained alive, and they that were with him in the ark" (23-24). 

Can you imagine being Noah? Building a ship and hoping and believing that God would deliver you and your family from this horrible flood. If you didn't build the ship right, the whole thing would fall apart and you would all perish. What about all the animals? Would your family be okay with this? Your friends? Everything would be piled up against you, and yet you still would have had the faith to build that ship. You took a leap of faith, and you did your part. 

I think of Noah during the storms while every living thing was being taken off the earth. Imagine the fear, the anxiety, the turmoil -- I would be terrified our ship wouldn't hold! Sometimes in the storms of life, we get caught up in that. In those moments where the person we love says no, when what we wanted to happen didn't transpire, when your storms are raging against you; beating on the ship you built with your God and you aren't sure if He knows what's happening. This is His storm, right? He knows what He's doing, so why must He toss you around so much and push you to the brink of unimaginable fear and despair?

That is when we read in Genesis 8, verse 1: "And God remembered Noah, and every living thing, and all the cattle that was with him in the ark: and God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters assuaged." 

Read that first line: And God remembered Noah

He remembers you. He remembers us. He's never forgotten about you. He's certainly not forgotten about your friends, your family, everything you hold dear. He knows what scares you, and He knows that you are trying. Sometimes we lack in faith and hope. Those things are not the same and they go hand-in-hand; you must have faith in Christ and all that He can do, but you also must hope that God will fulfill all the promises He has made. And He will, in His own time. 

Doctrine and Covenants 101:16: "Therefore, let your hearts be comforted...for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God." 

He is there. He always is. Know of His great and wonderful power, and know that He will make all things work for your good as long as you work your agency and are faithful, with a full brightness of hope. 

In the midst of losing and reaching for investigators, Sister Matealona and I have been led to people this week. They are those with sincere hearts and open spirits, who desire to know of our beliefs and are close to the Savior. He is who we live for, and I am grateful to be serving in a mission full of people who know that. 

Make no small plans and press on, brothers and sisters. Remember your Heavenly Father and the promises He's made you and ask: what part do I play for Him? What is it that He wants me to do? 

Then, do it. Build your ship, board it, and sail to the promised land. 

Have a good week. 


Sister Rose 

Our district meetings have themes: this week was crazy hair day! :D 

Isn't Mississippi beautiful?

That's one dog while tracting...

...three dogs while tracting....

LOOK AT THIS HUGE BALL OF FLUFF NAMED HERCULES. He belongs to someone we tracted into. He's HUGE and ADORABLE. 

A+ sign


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Into Week 2!

Hello! Sorry for sending this a day late. It was Martin Luther King Day yesterday, so all the libraries were closed! But, school has begun at USM again, and we missionaries are happily e-mailing today. 

Not gonna lie, it's been a weird week! I think that's a consequence of the first week of a transfer, though. Sister Matealona and I can't believe we're already into week two! We can't wait to see what this transfer holds -- for us, the members, and for our investigators. 

We've been dropping people from our teaching pool as they've not kept teaching appointments nor answered our phone calls. And in turn, we've also been dropped by a few people. I deeply appreciate how straightforward those people are, though! One day, they will be able to receive the fulness of the gospel, even if it isn't from my mouth. One of my Sister Training Leaders made a fine point this week: you never know if you're the first, the fifth, or the seventh voice they've heard. For most people, it takes a few tries for them to open their hearts to the gospel. You never know when their spiritual window will be open, so you have to trust in the Lord's timing. 

As we've been working with finding, teaching members, catching mice in our apartment, and trying to plan effectively, I've been finding the Spirit's influence in all things. I remember in the MTC, how strongly I'd felt the Spirit all twelve days I'd been there. I'd felt it in my TRC lessons, in my district classes, even walking down the hallway -- the Spirit was everywhere. In the field, He's there, but you really have to listen for Him, just like you'd do at home. It's easy to miss His promptings; even missionaries miss small nudges in the right direction, but I know that as we continue to strive to listen for the still, small whisperings of the Spirit, we will be able to discern His voice above all others -- even our own. 

For instance, this whole week I've constantly had a less-active couple on my mind. We'd been by their house with a member before. They live pretty far away, and we always miss their road when it's time to turn onto it. We don't know them very well, and part of me was worried about being super awkward since I'd only met them once. Everyday, we set them as back-ups to teaching plans, but a little voice in me kept telling me that that wasn't quite good enough. I tried to push that aside and focus on finding new investigators, but, nevertheless, the little voice kept nudging me, pushing me, putting this couples' name in my head until finally, Sunday evening, I turned to my companion and expressed that we needed to go see them. 

So, we went. 

This couple is old and plagued with health problems. They usually need help cleaning, and they generally don't have the energy to do what they need to. Even so, they let us in, and we chatted a little. I kept asking my Heavenly Father why on earth He had prompted us to come here when I had no idea what to say or do, other than to sit there and ask them about their day, their scripture reading, and so on. 

But, that's what God gives us companions for!

Sister Matealona, my wonderful companion, somehow managed to gear the conversation right to the Savior. It was then that we discovered a large need in this family's wavering testimony. Right then, amidst the distractions of anxiety and uncertainty, I felt the Spirit prompting us to bear our testimonies and ask questions that only our Heavenly Father would know to ask. I left that home feeling assured and confident, knowing that my Heavenly Father had guided us there to help this family. We can't take credit for what transpired in that house; we only have the Lord to thank. If not for Him, it may have been weeks or months before we would have made it to their home. If one more day had passed, who knows what would have happened? 

I don't know if this family will keep the challenges we left them. That is up to them and their right to choose. But, I have faith that they can make it through this. Through Jesus Christ, all things are possible. 

This reminds me of something else I've been studying this week: faith. We had been talking to an investigator one night, and he mentioned how he'd needed to see something to believe in God, in the love of Christ, and in Their love for Him. He reminded me of unbelieving Thomas in the book of John, after Christ has been resurrected and is visiting His disciples. The disciples were rejoicing and spreading the good news that Jesus Christ was resurrected, walking among them. They told Thomas, who doubted. 

Thomas says in John 20, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe." 

It's easy to criticize Thomas for his lack of faith, but remember what he's been through. He's seen his Savior and Friend crucified, beaten, betrayed, and killed for beautiful miracles and good works. He saw his hope fade into nothing, and I do not doubt that that affected his faith. So, to be sure, he established that he would not believe until he could touch the Savior's wounds. 

But we know that Thomas did exactly that. With love and kindness, Jesus Christ allowed Thomas to touch the prints of the nails, and said, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed." 

Many times in our lives, we want our faith to be reaffirmed by miracles. We beg our Heavenly Father, sometimes even demand, that He show us a sign or something to reinforce what we already know to be true. We want miracles, even though we've witnessed them before. If there's one thing you must know, brothers and sisters, it is that miracles are what solidify faith, not create it. 

Remember the story of the brother of Jared in Ether 3. Because he knew of the glory of God, he was able to see the Lord's finger. Because of his faith, he witnessed a true miracle. 

All things work according to your faith. But do not think that just because something doesn't happen the way you thought it would, doesn't mean you didn't have enough faith. The voice that whispers, "You did not have enough faith" is not of God; that is from the father of all lies. Do not listen to that voice. Remember your Father loves you and knows that you are walking by faith, which is not a blind sense. By closing your eyes to the world's methods and allowing yourself to walk by faith, you are opening your eyes to a world of eternity, a world of miracles, a world full of Christ's light. 

How are you strengthening your faith? And how do you show that faith? It is a principle of action. Share with me your faith-building methods! Tell me how you build your faith everyday! Without faith, we can achieve nothing. How has faith helped you achieve the things your Father would have you do?

I love y'all! All is well in Purvis! I'll talk to you next week!



Sister Flower

P.S. Thank you, Brother Gwin, for that nickname ;)


This dog always follows us when we tract! ALWAYS! 

The roads in Mississippi are really cool. This is where we were tracting the other day! #SidewalksAreForTheWeak

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Let's Zoo It!

Good morrow, brothers and sisters! This heading comes to you from a conversation I had with my companion: 

Me: "We should go to the Hattiesburg Zoo." 
Sis. M: "It's closed on Mondays." 
Me: "Okay, but since it's transfer week, we can go on Tuesday." 
Sis. M: "LET'S DO IT." 
Me: "LET'S ZOO IT." 

It's been a good week! I struggle to remember all that I did! We've been tracting and trying to improve our finding methods since our teaching pool has been shrinking ever-so-slowly with people we've found dropping us, ignoring us, going out of town... And, we've honestly been struggling with just finding! Who would've thought! If you've always been a stickler for tracting hours, let me remind you that tracting is not always the most effective method of finding in an area. I am going to stress again the importance of member involvement! I am gaining an ever-growing testimony of members in missionary work. You members have no idea how truly effective you are in teaching and preaching the gospel. 

Since I've been in Purvis, I've realized that not all missionary work has to do with investigators. Spreading the gospel and teaching it to those who have never heard it is most certainly one of the greatest things you can do to feed the Lord's sheep. However, we must also not forget about the sheep who have already been welcomed into the fold of God, those sheep who know of the true Shepherd and who still need love, still need feeding -- because their testimonies and their hearts are lacking in spiritual food, and the Lord has placed these people into our care for a reason. 

We visit plenty of less-actives in Purvis. We have members who are more than happy to go with us, and that is amazing! Always go with the missionaries! You members are so personable on a level we missionaries can't be, and that is something others need, especially less-actives. There's something that's tweaked at their testimony, that's poked at their heart, that's slid them away from the gospel, even if it's just a little. They're less-active for a reason. And while you probably in most cases should not outrightly demand why this person hasn't attended still have to find out why, and Sister Matealona and I had the privilege of finding out why about a certain woman in our ward. 

I am so grateful to know that these people trust us enough with their concerns to share them with us. And for that reason, I will not disclose who this person is or what exactly her problem was. There are some issues with some less-active church members that are beyond the powers of a missionary to fix. We are not testimony repairers. But, through the power of the Spirit and the love of Jesus Christ, we can find a way to mend the tears in the hearts of members who have wandered from the fold, as this woman had. I remember the Spirit filling my heart as she spoke of her concern, and as we talked, I saw something in her eyes. I saw a glimmer of hope, a light of faith rekindle as she gripped her Book of Mormon. 

There is always hope, brothers and sisters. This week, I have been made aware of the lives changed through visits from members, active challenge-extending, and love of fellow brothers and sisters. You have no idea how your testimony can change the life of another. You really have no idea. I have seen a visible light return to the eyes of members who I did not see for the first few weeks of my being in Purvis, and now they are beginning to come to church diligently. I have seen Christ touch these people with every visit, every phone call, every time they set foot in the chapel -- I have seen it. 

Our Savior's love is so real. He so sincerely cares for each and every one of us, even those who have strayed a little, or a lot. You are not a lost sheep. You will be found if you call for your Shepherd, and He will find you. 

In light of my last e-mail, my mother always taught me to never pray for patience. Why? Because it will always be tested, and you will feel like a failure. Knowing this, I've been consistently praying for patience so I can better understand this heavenly virtue of our Savior. In response, my Heavenly Father has been teaching me the things of eternity little by little as the map of my mission unfolds, and I see the light of the Savior illuminate the world around me. How have you been able to see the Savior's light more abundantly in your life? If you can't see it, pray for it. Look for it. It's there. He is always there. 

I love y'all, and I hope the week brings fantastic things! 



Sister Rose 

P.S. This transfer is going to be SEVEN WEEKS!!!!!! With the new MTC policy, the transfer times are all being changed! AH! So this will be a seven-week transfer, and we'll go back to a hearty six weeks right after :) 

Look! My companion took a beautiful selfie on my camera without my knowing while I was cleaning the pool!! So it gets to go on my blog!!!!!!!!!!!! (Love you, Sister Matealonaaaaaa)

 Sis M. hung her new flag!

COWS!! while tracting 

I have no clue what this is, but it's in a yard of a member's home! 

We cleaned a pool for Pre-Transfer Day of Service :) It was freezing :) 

trees! That still have leaves! In January!

Monday, January 4, 2016

And a Happy New Year!

Happy 2016, all!

First off, thank y'all who sent Christmas cards my way! I so appreciate them, and they now have a permanent (well...until transfers) home on my wall, just by my bed where all my photos are. I loved getting those cards, so thank you!!

Being a missionary over the holidays is such a brand new experience. I hardly even registered that we were going into a new year until I was writing "January 1, 2016" in my planner. Weird! But I am super excited about it all! A new year brings promises of new beginnings, resolutions, and waves of change. A lot can happen in a year. A lot can happen in a week, too!

This week, we've spent a lot of time doing service and trying to recover from the flurry of the holidays. If you'd like a funny story: Sister M. and I were helping a sister in our ward move out of her house and into a camper. She only had a few things left, one of them being this small, wheeling clothes rack. There was no room for it in our car nor in hers, but we were determined to get it to her new home in one trip. Being the innovative sister missionaries we are, I hopped into the passenger seat, rolled down my window, and gripped the clothes rack while Sister M. drove slowly (in theory. In practice...not so much) to this sister's house (which was only down the road, mind you). 

I don't think I've laughed harder in my life. My fingers were freezing in the bone-chilling air, and I watched the clothes rack bounce and drag its way to this camper while I tried my hardest to keep it wheeling and upright. 

We managed to get it there! And we only lost one wheel :)

Last week, we didn't have a P-Day, which is why this e-mail is coming a week late. Our Christmas week involved two P-Days, so on Friday, I had the privilege of talking to my family, seeing their beautiful, smiling faces, and telling them in verbal words what life is like in the MJM! It was fantastic! And since then, much has happened in Purvis. I've learned a lot, and I have seen the Lord's hand in everyday since then. 

Sometimes things fall apart. This happens normally, and on missions, the things that fall apart are always the things you absolutely do not want to fall apart. Like an investigator coming to church, members cancelling on you for a teaching appointment, going over your monthly allotment of miles; things happen the way you don't expect them to. Yet, even so, the Lord has an odd, amazing way of piecing everything together again. 

In the book of Alma, Ammon has endured many, many trials in trying to preach the gospel to the Lamanites. As we near the 26th chapter, the Lamanites begin to convert to the gospel and join the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. Ammon begins to rejoice! These brothers and sisters of his who were trapped in darkness with seemingly no hope of being freed saw the light of Christ and converted. He endured so much to help them get there, and in Alma 26, Ammon begins to bear his testimony on the mercy and love of God toward His children, even to those who threaten the righteous. As Ammon recounts the Lamanites' initial want to destroy the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi, Ammon reminds the people of the Lord's solemn promise to them: 

"Now, when our hearts were depressed, and we were about to turn back, behold the Lord comforted us, and said: Go amongst thy brethren, the Lamanites, and bear with patience thine afflictions, and I will give unto you success." 

I cannot tell you how much this scripture has resonated with me, especially over the past few weeks. As things don't always work out the way I expect them to, I ask the Lord for guidance as to what I can do better, how I can help my investigators, and plead with Him to give them the desire to read, to pray, and to come to church. 

Just when I think things are about to fall apart, the Lord blesses me, my companion, and our investigator with success. 

The Lord always has your back, brothers and sisters. Have I said that enough? He's always got your back. You can trust in your Heavenly Father no matter what! He will tell you what you need to fix. He will tell you how to make yourself better. He knows what's keeping you from progressing and He will help you. Throughout the few months I've been serving, my Heavenly Father has made known to me the things about myself that hinder me from progressing. He has brought to light the needs of my investigators when I couldn't possibly do it all myself. 

I cannot do this work alone. I cannot do this work alone with my companion. We are instruments. This is the Lord's work, and I am so grateful to be able to do this throughout the whole of 2016. What a blessing it is to be able to see others progress spiritually -- and I'm even seeing that with those of you at home, too. How do you want to progress this year? By December 2016, where do you want to be? Who do you want to be? And more importantly: who does God want you to be?

When considering your resolutions, always have the end result in mind. Before I write a novel, I always have the ending in mind, even if I don't quite have the specifics of it yet. I know where I want to go, and from there I can decide how I'm going to get there. 

How are you going to change yourself? How are you going to let the Lord help you?

This year, challenge yourself. You will not grow if you do not allow yourself to stretch. Do not stunt your growth -- spiritually, emotionally, mentally, or even physically! Do your very best this year. I won't accept less, and neither will your Heavenly Father. 

But the wonderful thing about Him is that He will make up for the rest when you feel like your best just isn't enough. 

Do your best, and He'll do His, too. 

I love y'all. Have a lovely week!



Sister Rose 

 We went to Louisiana for a baptism! These are all the missionaries that taught Dolcia, the recent convert :) 

Happy 15th, Sara Cardenas! 

Check out this neat driveway!