Saturday, August 5, 2017

Do you believe in aliens? (week 60)

"My talk from sacrament meeting:

"Recently, I was looking at a box of crayola markers when I noticed that the slogan on the box reads: "Washability You Can Trust" in big bubbly letters. In small print on the back, it says: "Wash promptly in hot wash cycle. Repeat laundering may be required."

In Moroni 10:32-33 it reads [paraphrased a bit]
Come unto Christ and be perfected in Him and deny yourselves of all ungodliness. If ye, by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not His power, then ye are sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins that ye become holy, without spot."

So, how can we know that the Atonement of Jesus Christ offers the same promise of "Washibility You Can Trust?" We know that our Good Shepherd and Brother, Jesus Christ, finds joy in seeing His sheep progress toward healing. The slogan is clearly stated in the scriptures that we will become "holy, without spot" through Christ's grace.  However, the path to perfection might require some "repeat laundering" before we reach it. Here in church, we celebrate victory; we celebrate the completion of our own search for peace. But, we didn't simply read a slogan, repent, and become perfect overnight. We learned from experience that becoming is a lifelong process. I don't know about you, but I've had to have my own experiences with ink stains to know that it can, with a little effort, be washed away.

The Lord has asked us to "Go forth from Babylon. Flee from the Chaldeans and with a voice of singing, declare: the Lord hath redeemed His servant." Heavenly Father doesn't speak in secret. He has spoken to all. I know that if you sacrifice the time and effort to pay the price of revelation and to know with a surety that the Lord hath redeemed you, then others around you will begin to trust the power of the Atonement to wash away their fear, doubt, shortcomings, guilt, and regret.

Missionary work beings with our own conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that greater light has entered my life through testifying of Christ. To become a shining star in the kingdom of God, we must first allow our own light that is inside of us to shine. As we try to repent daily and purify ourselves, we can trust that the Lord will be there when we don't know what to do or what to say. President Nelson said: "When you reach up for the Lord's power in your life with the same intensity that a drowning person has when grasping and gasping for air, power from Jesus Christ will be yours. When the Savior knows you truly want to reach up to Him-when He can feel that the greatest desire of your heart is to draw power into your life-you will be led by the Holy Ghost to know exactly what you should do. When you spiritually stretch beyond anything you have ever done beofre, His power will flow into you."

Sister Anderson, I and the WML all gave talks in sacrament meeting yesterday. We all left the ward with the commitment to "share goodness." It was a cool experience to talk in church. I actually haven't given a formal talk in church my whole mission. I've borne my testimony, but that's not the same. It's interesting how much I have changed when it comes to talking to a group of people. The goal is more to actually help the audience FEEL something, rather than just fill time.

We had a miracle this week! We met a man a few weeks back who was interested, but he was going to move to Bothell. But, he texted us and told us that he's probably going to be staying in Duvall. We took a walk with him yesterday and we talked about the Book of Mormon and what it would mean to him to become Mormon. It was such an interesting conversation. He is concerned for his son's future, and he wants to make sure that he has answers to his questions when he grows up. I feel like he is sufficiently humble, and I'm sooo excited to see that these people with whom Sister Anderson and I have made relationships are starting to be more solid. I love being here in Duvall!

I had my second Pioneer Day on the mission. This time last year, I was in the MTC. This year, I'm trying to memorize the Rapstoration. I've come so far. Yes, we do have a recording of someone rapping the message of the Restoration.

We met a man who told us he ws a preacher and doesn't agree with us and then sat there, pouting with his back to us while we made friends with the rest of his family, but we could tell that he was listening the whole time...intently.

We were having a lesson with a Finnish man who was embarrassed that his house wasn't "neat," so he and a member sat on the porch steps while we sat on the concrete in the hot sun, in skirts. I'm really glad that I shaved my legs. As we were discussing the beauty of the Restoration of Jesus Christ, he would suddenly ask questions like "So where are the gold plates now?" "Do you believe in aliens?" "What do you do if you pray and the answer that you get contradicts the prophet?" "What if someone does something that hurts someone else and then they say that God told them to?" "Can't I just find revelation on my own, in my own house?" "Why didn't God just let Laban drown instead of asking Nephi to kill him?" "What happens if a prophet is disobedient?" In moments like these, we missionaries like to do something that blows minds. We find their answers in the Book of Mormon. This guy has already read through 1st Nephi, and he definitely has a questioning soul. It's a good thing that the Book of Mormon answers questions of the soul.

I got called a racist by my district leader because I told him that we grow cotton in the south. I need someone to send me a list of cool things about Alabama because everything that I say ends up being used against me.

That's about it folks. Love,
Sister Jenne"

Morning Glory (Week 59)

"Morning Glory; by: Sister Jenne and Sister Anderson

"His words were smoother than butter, but war was in his heart. His words were softer than oil, yet were they drawn swords."

Imagine big, glorious, white buds popping through the emerald green. Hundreds of them cutting through a sea of leaves. As the golden afternoon sun glimmers through the petals of the flowers, a feeling of peace fills the hearts of the pedestrians. The shadow of the Duvall visitor's center coats the ground, and the only break in the monotonous darkness is the pure snow-like blossoms. The average passerby doesn't even consider the fact that these lavish flowers are slowly sucking the life out of all remaining vegetation. Rhododendrons shrink and shrivel in the suffocating grip of curious curls of luminous vines. The strips of scarlet roots tangle and twist just beneath the surface of the other leaves, slowly cutting off all nutrients. Hands grasp and gut out the twist of twigs from the bushes. The gardener disrupts the virus from spreading. But with each pull and tug; leaves tear, vines break, and the once magnificent bush is left tired and slightly toppled over.

One might venture to ask, "why wait til right before suffocation to rescue the bush?" "why not just cut the weed off in the beginning to save the branches of the Rhodies?"

Nephi counsels us: "He [the Devil] is the founder of murder, and works of darkness; yea, and he leadeth them by the neck with a flaxen cord, until he bindeth them with his strong cords forever." Just as Morning Glory sneaks small tendrils of vine along stems of healthy plants, Satan patiently guides many, even believers, far from the straight and narrow. Rather than shooting up overnight, like other weeds seem to do, it creeps up, unbeknownst. The thriving nature of this plant is completely parasitic. Without other plants to wrap around, growth would be stunted. Without a gardener, there is no hope to overcome.

How often do we fail to recognize our own complex vines and traps, twisting slowly and steadily around our feet and legs, working their way toward our very soul?

We need to do like Elder Andersen counsels and "beware of the evil behind the smiling eyes".  "Temptation will fall in our way without our seeking, and evil will present itself even when we desire to do the most right." (Talmage) When the tangles of the devils binding cords slither towards us we will one day be strong like Christ and be able to say "Get thee hence, Satan..." The prime protection comes from the fervent repetition of pulling the weeds while they are young. Stopping the temptation early on. No matter what dirt you plant it in, or what weed killer you spray, the weeds will come; but we are promised: "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Cor. 10:13)    "The very moment you begin to seek your Heavenly Father, in that moment, the hope of his light will begin to awaken, enliven, and ennoble your soul. The darkness may not dissipate all at once, but as surely as night always gives way to dawn, the light will come." (Uchtdorf)

So, friends "what shall we then say to these things? For if God be for us who can prevail against us?"

Thanks to the counsel of modern day prophets and apostles, we know that "however many chances  you think you have missed, however many mistakes you feel you have have not traveled beyond the reach of divine love. It is not possible to sink lower than the infinite light of Christ's Atonement shines." (Holland) When the sheer blackness seemingly distinguishes the light, when hopelessness creeps into the corners of our testimonies, when it seems the sun will never shine in Seattle, the adversary grins. Of course, we will face injury and trial. Of course, we will experience numbness and pain.  When "the temptation to evade sacrifice and suffering and to follow a more comfortable way," (Talmage) presents itself, faith overcomes obstacles and endures through discouragement.

Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal. No matter how many weeds grow, Christ, the perfect gardener, can, in fact, destroy every one, allowing flowers to take root and blossom, unhindered by the suffocating kiss of the Morning Glory.  

The End.

Yes, Sister Anderson and I wrote an essay together this week. We were discussing Satan as we pulled out morning glory from among the Rhododendrons by the Duvall visitor's center. See if you can guess which parts I wrote and which parts she wrote. We have different styles of writing for sure. That's about it, folks!

I discovered that there is a restaurant here called "Pickletime" and anyone who comes to Washington with me after my mission will be eating there with me.

I love you all!
-Sister Jenne"

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Missionary Work=Giving Trainings (Week 58)

"This week we planned and gave 3 separate trainings. One was at district meeting, one was at new missionary training (with all of the new missionaries and their trainers) and one was with our whole zone. Some of the things that I learned from all of that planning and stressing is that being in a position when other missionaries are going to listen to you and try to receive personal revelation from the Holy Ghost as you are talking is seriously one of the most pressure-ous things on the planet. But, it's also pretty rewarding. To be able to know that there might have been someone in the room who felt the spirit when we talked and received a confirmation of their testimony is a priceless blessing. We also had 3 separate exchanges. We had exchanges with our STLs and then 2 other sets of sisters. It was like Sister Anderson wasn't even my companion for half of the time and the other half, I was sleeping.

Bite Sized Goals
We learned in general conference from Elder Ballard that our goals and Heavenly Father's goals are aligned, as long as we are trying to follow His will (to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man)...a goal is a motivation. It's something to get us up out of our seat. It gives us an optimistic outlook on the activity that we are about to do for an allotted amount of time. However, if we have no plan on how to reach that ultimate goal, we will never get there. I love this quote from Elder Hartman Rector Jr: "We are permitted, even encouraged, even commanded to assist in bringing to pass the eternal life of man, which is, of course, the continuing part of His great mission. His promise to us of things which I do, ye can do, and greater things than I do, ye can do [see John 14:12], rings loudly in the ears, stimulating the amazement of everyone who reads the holy scriptures." How could we possibly reach our potential when our flesh is weak and we are susceptible to the temptations of Satan? I believe that we don't have to be susceptible to him. It's a choice. God is God and I am Sister Jenne and you are you, but isn't that the beauty of it all? Even though we are all different, we are all connected to each other. We can encourage, inspire, lift, and bless each other. This week didn't turn out (big goal-wise) exactly how Sister Anderson and I had planned. But, we set small, bite-sized goals and we found small ways that we were assisted from Heaven in our work

I love Duvall to death, but sometimes it's hard for me to feel like I know what I am doing sometimes. White-washing takes longer to get going that I had anticipated. However, I am able to receive some revelation, and I know that it will continue to come as long as I am trying hard and have righteous desires to help the people in this area. Sister Anderson definitely needed to be my companion. I am learning so much from her about having deepening relationships with all of the people around me. I am learning to be more vulnerable and just be myself. I think I have a fear of opening up too much to people because then they are more likely to hurt me. It's going to be a slow process, but it's coming. It's really hard to give your whole self to someone when you know that 6 weeks later, you might have to start over completely again. But, then you aren't being authentic. You aren't being yourself. In holding part of yourself back, you are limiting your own growth, as well as the growth of those who surround you. I like the quote that says something like "When you let your own light shine, you are unconsciously giving others permission to do the same." God won't protect us from something that is going to perfect us.

A couple nights ago, I wrote in my journal: "to me, feeling like I am where I needed to be, when Heavenly Father wants me to be there is the definition of success."I wrote this after a hard day, which I hadn't considered very successful. Good thing Heavenly Father knows how to pick us up when we are down. The very next day, we just happened to meet a member that was really needed a spiritual boost. He didn't live in our ward...he didn't even live inside our mission boundaries. But, God sent us there to help him to feel the spirit. All in all, we came out of that conversation with a referral for his good friend that he has been thinking needs the gospel that lives in our area. We weren't at that trailer park to meet a new family that's ready to read the Book of Mormon and get baptized, we were at that trailer park, because we weren't even supposed to make it out of the parking lot! We were supposed to meet him. And, it all came from talking to everyone in our path.

Sometimes we just need to open our eyes and see that life is dang beautiful! God is our loving heavenly father. The gospel is true, and it does work. If you are scared, if you don't know what to all of the things that you've been taught. Read your scriptures, pray and ask your family and friends for help.

Sister Jenne"

Nowhereland (Week 57)

"This was actually my first time leaving the Bothell ward in my entire mission. I mean, I've been to other wards, but I'm actually assigned to a different ward, and we go to their ward council and everything. Basically, it's pretty trippy. Partly because we are also in a really small town, and it reminds me of a mixture of Utah and Alabama. Sister Anderson, my companion, is from Logan, Utah, and she says that it looks like Cash Valley with a lot more trees and some bigger mountains. We stand in the middle of our area and look toward the rest of the mission, and there's just this giant wall of trees on a hill. It's like we are completely cut off from everyone else and they're just having a party over in Redmond, Bothell, and Kirkland. The name of the town that we are covering is called Duvall. It has a huge population of Mormons. It's about 10% LDS. So, everyone and their dog has a Mormon friend...we have to get creative and go a different route than typical missionaries. The area has been tracted many times.

The other cool part, though, is that we are the first sisters in the area in a couple of years. There are some things about "pink-washing" that are really dang fun. The Elders that were leaving weren't told that sisters were coming, and so no one in the ward knew. We keep getting texts that say "Hey, Elders, welcome to the ward!" And then we get to reply and tell them that we are sisters. And then we get texts back with no small amounts of exclamation points and promises to sign up on the dinner calendar. It's awesome. It's not only with members, though, we'll be looking through our area book and just see a bunch of formers that say something like "dropped us because they liked the sisters better" or "needs sisters." Those people are at the top of our list.

A little bit about my companion, since I know mom and dad will want to know. First of all, she has a "NEO" board where I can type out experiences and then just plug them into the computer and email them. Basically, it's like we are iPad missionaries and emailing becomes way way less stressful. It's what I'm using right now. So, that's helpful and legit. Sister Anderson is about 9 months into her mission. She has served in way different parts of the mission than me, and so I didn't really know her. But, she was companions with Sister Bell too! Basically she's hilarious, and we were instant friends. I'm so pumped to work hard and build up the Lord's Kingdom in this area together. It's kinda nice to be with someone who has been out a while and we are both pretty used to being missionaries. There's nothing holding either of us back from just working really hard.

Here are some reasons why I know that we both need to be here with this companion in Duvall.

1) We were looking through our area book and writing down people who were sticking out to us that we thought we should visit on our first day here. Basically trying really hard to get our feet underneath us due to the lack of information that we had due to white washing in. We wrote down about 10 people. Then, on Saturday, we were at a pancake breakfast that the stake presidency was putting on for all of the missionaries. One of the counselors was talking about working with the youth, and he was talking about a girl that had almost gotten baptized. We recognized that it was one of the girls from the area book that we had written down. So of course we talk to him afterwards, and find out that she is going to the same college, playing softball where Sister Anderson's sister is currently playing softball. Connection. Then he tells us that she is really good friends with his daughter. And then he tells us that his family lives on a farm. His daughter rides horses! Connection. There are a lot more details involved in the situation that are proof that we are meant to meet this girl. God's hand is so obviously involved in His work.

2) Being a sister training leader is weird. And scary. Sister Anderson and I are both completely new at it, and so it's definitely an adventure. We have to account (call our sisters on the phone) every other night. At first it was pretty awkward, because we hadn't even met half of them face to face. (We are over 3 brand new sister missionaries and their trainers). We're learning as we go. But, we ended up having to do an emergency 2 hour exchange with one companionship. It was really interesting to see how both of us were able to do and say exactly what we needed to do and say. We've never been trained to be STLs, but it was almost like an instinctive thing. It was one of the strongest times I've felt the spirit working through me on my mission. It was like I knew exactly what I was doing. All of the sudden, I felt confident. The power of God working through His missionaries is pretty cool. I was nervous about being a sister training leader, but I've figured out that it's exactly what God needs me to be doing.

Random observation: Americans and Russians are more different than I had previously thought. You can just be a lot bolder with Russian people, and they won't think it's weird. Why can't you just tell someone to do something and they'll tell you whether or not they will do it? Why is it so hard to just be honest and say "yes" or "no?" Hm.

This is easily the longest email I have sent since the MTC. And, there are 400 more things I could say. I could write a book about this last week. Luckily, I have a journal for that very reason!

I love all of you! I hope that you are having a wonderful summer. Don't overheat. Take it easy. Drink water. Don't forget about me (even if I'm in the middle of nowhere). Don't forget about Jesus either.

Sister Jenne"

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Tttttransfers!? (Week 56)

"Yep. real transfers this time. I actually won't be staying in the Bothell ward. It's so sad. :( I've been called as a Sister Training Leader and will be transferred to a city called Redmond. It's a different zone! I don't even know what to do with myself because I have ALWAYS been in the Bothell zone. This is a new adventure, and somehow I just feel completely calm. I'm excited! I know I'll come back to Russian work eventually, so it's not a good-bye, only a see ya later! I'm going to go and visit Brother Slava (my favorite Russian grandpa!) one last time tonight, though. It's almost like I am leaving home again.

Missionary work is the same work, no matter the ward or the city, we still have to trust in the Lord and serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength.

Cool story:
One of my old investigators who was supposed to get baptized a while ago, came back from his trip to Ukraine this past week, and he was at church on Sunday! It was awesome to see him already building more relationships with members of our ward and with Sister Piddubba. While he was in Ukraine, Sister Piddubna and Elder Karpunkno's (an elder in the mission) parents were able to help him attend church and to see the temple there. It's so evident that there is a network of people just waiting to help each other in the church, and that's what the church is all about. I cannot wait to go to his baptism!

With the close of another transfer, I try to reminisce on some things that I have learned.  Something that I learned about Jesus Christ this transfer was how when we have experiences that are from our past, and then we meet people with a similar struggle, we are able to sympathize with them. Because we somewhat understand what they are going through, we can grow closer to them and also help them to overcome whatever it may be.

The cool part is that Jesus Christ understands everything completely perfectly. He had every experience. He experienced temptation, pain, suffering, joy, love, peace, and many other emotions. He was a human, physically, but he was also the only Begotten Son of God. It's something that never has nor ever will nor ever can be replicated...the Atonement and sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I feel like I can taste a little bit of what it must be like for him to see people from God's perspective.

To see them as something bigger than just this little trial they are going through right now...because I've been through it too and there is an end! There is always, always an end. There is always hope for something better. God places people in our lives for specific reasons, and we are placed in theirs for specific reasons.

With love,
Sister Jenne"

Sunday, July 2, 2017

B-b-b-baptism?! (Week 55)

"Greatest news of the week...we found some giant containers of strawberries for $2 each!!!!! It was a miracle... the best part of the whole week...just kidding..

While, yes, that was a pretty cool tender mercy from the Lord, BUUUT what made me smile the most this week was hands down [a] BAPTISM! This tiny little 9 year old is such a shining beacon in the kingdom of Heavenly Father. From not knowing God existed to believing with all her heart that she is a daughter of God, this girl and her family have been changed forever. Our mission president says that no one can enter the waters of baptism without a miracle...and that was definitely true with [her]. As she came out of the water, she took a gasp of fresh air, and it was me..a symbol of this new life for their family. Not only has she been blessed, but her entire family has been able to return to church and are on the pathway to the temple. I know that I have lifelong friends in them. GOD IS SO GOOD.

We were running around like chickens with our heads cut off, trying to figure out why the heck planning a baptism is so hard, when I realized that Satan did not want this to be able to happen. He was absolutely against it. That's where the power of prayer and the scriptures and our ward comes in! The only reason we were able to have everything run (relatively) smoothly was due to prayer and the awesome people in the ward! I am so grateful to be surrounded by wonderful people. Mom, you have nothing to worry about! Bothell is my home. It's so cool to know that I may spend my entire mission in just the Bothell ward. That's not something most missionaries are able to experience.

I learned something about faith this week. Actually, it relates to baptism. The morning before [the] baptism, I decided to study about the reason that baptism is necessary. We have so many conversations with people that don't understand the importance of ordinances and covenants with God. long as we believe we are saved, right...? Why baptism? Yes, we know that it's only through Jesus Christ that we are saved. However, what is faith in Jesus Christ? If it's simply believing, then what's the point? We are here to fulfill our divine potential. We are here to become something. We believed in Christ and God before we came here and obtained a body...there has to be more to it than that.

2 Nephi 9:23 says "and He commanded all men that they must repent and believe in his name and be baptized in his name, having perfect faith in the Holy One of Israel, or they cannot be saved in the kingdom of heaven."

and James ch. 2 expounds on what it means to have "perfect" faith...

"Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect? and the scripture fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed in God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only."

We can have faith that is perfect when we are willing to act, not only to be acted upon. Isn't that what we are learning? How to just do it. Nike was on to something when they came up with that slogan!

There's something that they tell missionaries to do. They tell us to break life down into simple steps...for example: "all I have to do right now is ________." I like to also ask myself, what's the worst thing that could happen, and would I be able to overcome that through Jesus Christ? If the answer is yes (which it always is), then why not do it? What's bold today won't be bold tomorrow and what's uncomfortable today will become comfortable over time. I thought that I would be a lot more perfect after being on my mission for a year, but instead I realized that I just learned how to recognize the peace in my imperfections. I wish that all of you will be able to do the same.

I love you all! Have a blessed week <3
Sister Jenne"

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Place the Book of Mormon in your Heart... (Week 54)

"Not on your bookshelf.

This week was so great! We had Zone Conference! Seems like yesterday when we were having Zone Conference in May...but, time is flying here in Bothell. The topic for zone conference was the Book of Mormon. I learned some really interesting facts about it. First of all, I learned how quickly it was translated! Incredibly, the Book of Mormon was translated in about 70-ish days. That's about 10 pages/day. Modern translators using computers and modern technology translate about 1 page/day from one language into another. Furthermore, it would take even longer to actually compose a 500 page book teeming with literary and Semitic complexities... so the notion that Joseph Smith somehow wrote the Book of Mormon is an interesting one.... If the Book of Mormon wasn't translated by the gift and power of God, I don't know what was! Notwithstanding all of the miracles associated with the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, people still have a really hard time believing that it's true. Yesterday, we watched a talk by Elder Holland called Safety for the Soul with one of our investigators. We were teaching him about the Book of Mormon and figured that Elder Holland could do it a little better than we can. I love this part of the talk:
I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pagesespecially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readersif that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit.

Not sure why the spacing is weird, but you get the point...The Book of Mormon is important. It gives us a better understanding of the mysteries of God. It testifies of Jesus Christ and it literally helps us in our lives when we read it every single day. I know that's true! I love the Book of Mormon with all my heart because I feel closer to my Savior Jesus Christ when I read it. I learn of Him. I learn to be like Him.

This week, we ate ribs for dinner from a member...ribs for lunch the next day (leftovers) and then steak for dinner that same day. After not eating much red meat for the last little while, my body felt a little weird, but it was so yummy! The men in the Bothell ward really know how to cook some great bbq.

Most exciting news! Our investigator is hopefully getting baptized this week! Her family has become so much closer to Jesus Christ and learned how they can become active in the church again. It's amazing to feel a bond with someone so strongly through the spirit of Christ. We heart-attacked them for the father's birthday, and a couple of days later they said thanks...we asked how they knew it was us and the reply was "because one of them said Jesus Christ on it." it's amazing to know that just a few months ago [her] and her parents didn't really know much about God or Christ. Now they are taking steps to become more like Him every day. I love this family!

Light and knowledge is given unto us by the Lord. If we lose that, it's our own fault. I challenge all of you to gather more light! He will give it to you.

Sister Jenne"