Monday, October 31, 2016

So Much Potential (Week 21)

I'm thankful for Mondays because I get to email Sister Jenne. :)

"Hello All!! From the cold and rainy, but miracle-filled city of Seattle! It's great to get to communicate with all of you through the wonderful miracle of the internet, once again! I'm in a super great mood because we all got fed Costco muffins and orange juice this morning by the mission presidency. For those of you from Dothan who might not know what Costco is, basically it's a better version of Sam's. I might or might not be turning into a west-coast person ;) I never thought I could betray the South, but I am falling in love with this place!

So this past week [one of the members from the Russian group in Bothell] actually moved back to Ukraine! It was a huge step for her. It was so sad for us, because we have become so attached to her! I think that it's going to be great for her though, because we contacted the church over there and so hopefully they will reach out to her and she will be able to go to church with her neighbors and be able to have a calling and everything. I don't know if I've ever met a person with more faith in God's plan. We could tell that she wasn't too keen on the idea of moving back because all of her family lives here; however (from my limited Russian skills and from what Sis. Orr told me later), she just kept talking about how everything was going to be great and how excited she is to see what God has in store for her!

Speaking of God's plan, this week, after having little to NO success with any of the things that we were trying to do, it was really hard for me to understand God's will in all of this. But, let me testify of the power of PRAYER! Prayer is such a blessing. It's a lot of work and it's really scary to lay our will down and try our hardest to pick up God's will even though half of the time, His plan doesn't align with how we think things should be working out. We can't just kneel there and list off a long line of things that we are grateful for and then ask for things. It has to be a conversation where we are humbly asking our Heavenly Father for help, after we have pondered and studied it out for ourselves! I'm not perfect at this, but I have seen such a difference in my sense of direction in the work as I use my resources. It's so hard when the way that I define success doesn't line up with the way that God defines success!

After a succession of failures, we found a way to find TWO HUNDRED new people to talk with. Yep, you read that right. TWO HUNDRED. God works in mysterious ways. Just when we are getting discouraged, and not wanting to move on, he gives us a miracle! It's just like in the Book of Mormon. There was never a book written more for our day!

Not much more to write this week, but I'll do a great email next week...promise!

Love and miss all of you! Have a fantastic week!
Sister Jenne"

Happy Monday!!

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Space Needle or Donut on a Stick? (Week 20)

Sorry this is so late! Cectpa Jenne had a fantastic week!

"So many things happened this week! Sister Orr broke the vacuum at the car wash...we went and did some very "Seattle" things... the space gardens! It was an awesome experience. I know that a lot of missionaries don't get to do so because it's not in their area. I feel so blessed to be in the Russian work, sometimes. The view from the Space Needle was incredible (pretty sure we saw Canada). You could see Pugent Sound and all sorts of cool lakes and skyscrapers and such.

Tuesday I got to meet Sister Drake! She is the sweetest person ever and invited us to Snoqualmie Falls to meet her Russian speaking house cleaners! Such a great experience, I loved getting to meet my 1st cousin once removed, finally! Now I know that I have a house to stay in when I come back to Seattle after my mission ;)

This week one of our goals was to speak Russian to each other when we are having normal conversations every day. It's like in the MTC when they tell you to SYL and then no one actually does it because you literally don't know how to say anything in your language besides a prayer and a testimony. (I know a little more than I knew in the MTC, now though haha) We have had this goal for probably about 10 weeks now. It never works. We never end up actually doing it more than about 10% of our conversation because it's just sooo much easier to express myself in English. However, this past week we were thinking about how we can change the goal to make it something we would actually do because if you just do the same thing over and over and expect different results, you won't get them! (which is super logical, but it took us 10 weeks to figure out...) Anyways, we made it into a game/fun competition where whoever speaks English when they know how to say it in Russian gets a tally. Then at the end of the day, whoever has more tallies has to give the other a neck/back rub. Works out really well, and I can testify that it has already helped my conversational Russian a ton! I'm more at ease just talking to people now. It's kind of amazing! I can see God's hand in the past few weeks trying to push us toward doing more of speaking in Russian with each other, but I just haven't had the desire to do it! Now that I have some motivation, I am doing it and seeing the blessings! So awesome; it's a lesson that I won't forget in making future goals.

As far as food goes this week, we tried a new Russian food called Halva. It's sunflower seeds crushed up and sugar (essentially). Sounds really weird right? It looks absolutely disgusting. It's so good! It's such an interesting taste. We found a cute little shop that is full of Rusisian and Ukrainian foods. I can't wait to go back on Pday sometime and try everything. We also tried something called a "beef samsa" that was pretty yummy. Russians love to stick things inside of bread like meat and mashed potatoes and then eat it all of the time. (I am not complaining!). I also ate Falafel. Very yummy. My eating experiences have expanded a whole lot. 

Yesterday we didn't get a transfer call and so that means I'll be sending Sister Orr home and so I'll have been with her for 3 transfers. That's the second longest amount of time she's been with any companion, which makes me probably her second favorite ;) She also just got called this morning as a sister training leader and so we will have a ton of exchanges in our area. Exchanges are when a set of sisters comes over to our area for a day/spends the night and we switch companions for the purpose of learning from each other. That means I'll be going out to do Russian work with companions that don't speak any Russian at all. Lemme just say that I am super nervous about that.I know that it will be a tremendous growing experience.

Love you all! Have a fantastic week.

Sister Jenne"

Stay tuned!!! :)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Overwhelmed By Kindness (Week 19)

Sister Jenne had a really awesome week! Here's her recap:

"I don't know if this is an experience that is solely unique to missions with a bunch of different cultures like here in Seattle, but we seriously never see Americans. Any white people that we see are usually European or Eastern European (Russiaaaa). So far I've met people from: Nepal, Afghanistan, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, France, China, Thailand, Israel, Somalia, Africa and many others that I can't exactly recall at the moment. It's a giant melting pot. There are a lot of people from Afghanistan and the other countries in the middle east. Most of them don't know very much English at all. This was the case with a family that we met this week. They have been here for 7 months from Afghanistan. We walked up to this apartment complex in the pouring down typhoon rain and it was the first door that we knocked. Of course, when you knock a door and they don't speak English you usually smile and then say goodbye and walk away. Give them a picture of Christ or something and hope that one day they will remember that you smiled at them.... but this time, they insisted that we come in out of the cold rain into their humble apartment. I don't know why they wanted two random American girls to come into their home, but they sat us down and proceeded to bring out tea and food. It was interesting explaining to them that we aren't allowed to drink the tea, but it worked out and we ended up with mango juice instead. Their apartment wasn't nice by any means, and they didn't seem to have much, but they gave us a ton of food and also insisted that we take it with us when we left and gave us these cool leather bags also. With the limited communication, we were able to find out that they are Muslim and that they pray. It was very peaceful when they were showing us how they pray. There was a special spirit among this family, I am telling you! We fell absolutely head over heels in love with them! There was this cool Afghani bread that the wife made. It was a little spicy/peppery and it was kind of like naan (that indian bread stuff), but it had some sort of spinach inside of it. Anyone who's been to Afghanistan might know what I'm talking about...Brother Clark? anyone? I don't know who else would know. Anyways, we were completely overwhelmed by their kindness and willingness to serve us, whom they had never met. Hopefully, we will be able to find someone who will go and teach English to them. They were so excited when we said that we are "teachers," because they want to learn English. I cannot imagine how hard that would be to live somewhere where you don't know what is going on or how to speak the language. Oh wait, actually I do kind of understand...thanks to Brother Hale my first day in the MTC haha those were fun times.

Radiating the Light of Christ
We did a day with Sister Peterson going out with us. Every time we get out of the car, we pray. So if Sis. Peterson is there, we take turns praying. She prayed that people would see the way that we radiate the light of Christ. The cool part is that after she said that prayer, a lady complimented us on how we were just "full of light." Heavenly Father answers prayers! the church is true haha.

There is a man at the Food Bank who spent 5 minutes talking with me about how I need windshield wipers for my glasses because it's Seattle and it rains a lot and I'm always having to clean my glasses. I decided that I'll just wear contacts on the rainy days that we are planning to spend a lot of time outside lol.

Miracle of the week:
We had the first investigator that we have been able to get to church since I have been here. That was a really cool experience. She said that she felt like she was at home and liked it a lot more than the other churches she has gone to because she felt comfortable and felt that no one was judging her. I feel kind of bad though, because we might have come on a little bit too strongly. She's pretty shy, and I think she was feeling a little bit of pressure from us. However, I guess that we have to be bold! If she's ready, she's ready and we have to establish those expectations so that she knows our purpose. It's just that she is a little bit shy and so we might need to be more delicate in the future. She said that she will come to church next Sunday and continue to pray and allow us to meet with her this week as well, so we have a progressing investigator! In the Russian work! So excited about that. It was perfect also because she made friends with one of our members who sometimes feels a little bit lonely! Please pray for [her!] :)

last P-day we made really cool shirts at a member's house. They have a heat press and vinyl and a huge industrial vinyl cutter. She's a graphic designer and so we could do whatever we wanted. So basically I had her do the temple and then in Russian it says "choose truth and high expectations" on it. Then I made one that was the Seattle skyline with a gold mount Rainier in the background. Everyone here is obsessed with Mount Rainier. I didn't take a picture though sooo sorry you don't get to see the cool t shirts.

Every person that we met this week (well,. every person worth mentioning...) was sooo nice and kind to us! I really really have seen God's hand in our work this week. The rain can be tiring and it hasn't been sunny which is an adjustment that I am having to make. I'm glad I have Christ to lean back on when I don't feel 100% great! Loving life and having a great time here in Seattle! I wish everyone the best this week! Don't forget that you're a child of God 

With Love,
Cectpa Jenne"

Lots of pictures this week! I love being able to see how happy Sister Jenne is. She is changing so many lives and I'm so proud. <3 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Everything is a Metaphor (Week 18)

I so thought I already posted this, but today at church, I was told that I didn't. Oooops. Here we go though. :)

"We were so blessed this week to have Elder and Sister EchoHawk come and do a mission tour! Basically, it was like a special zone conference, where the west and east halves of the mission had meetings with them for several hours. It was very inspiring and uplifting, and everyone always leaves all fired up to go out and share the truth! Some of my thoughts from the meeting: The Lord is working to change us in this life. We didn't come here to simply stay how we were and then go to heaven! We go through the exact things that we need to in this life in order to return to Him and have learned the things that we needed to! But, we aren't alone in doing this! We have our Savior Jesus Christ, and He will meet us exactly where we are. No matter our challenges or concerns, they will be resolved through Him. I think that that is evidence enough of His love for us.

Something else...think one of my favorite parts was when Sister EchoHawk had missionaries come up and teach her 15 year old self. That really made me realize that we truly cannot assume things about people! Just because someone says something about themselves, it doesn't mean we have a right to place them in a box based on stereotypes. I think that sometimes I label people immediately as soon as they tell me that what religion they belong to or don't belong's like I have this cookie cutter reaction to them because of their beliefs! However, I know that that's not the right type of attitude to have and so I am planning on working on seeing people as individuals and figuring out how to show them my love. Last night, we contacted a referral, and all she really wanted to do was tell us that we do NOT need the Book of Mormon. And somewhere in my head, I just thought. "I don't even know this woman's name, how can I expect her to feel my love when I haven't even asked her name?" So I stopped saying things to "prove" that we need the BOM and asked her her name. Then I said that we were very glad to see her and be talking to her. And then I tried to very personally testify of how the Book of Mormon is from God and how I personally found out. Of course, it didn't convince her, but I know that I felt the spirit a lot stronger when I felt myself trying to see her as an individual.

We met a cool man from Africa who was the caregiver at a home for older people. One of the men that lived there came out and told us that he was a missionary like us once and that he had 4 sons who all served missions. It was cool. We asked if he had any advice, and he simply said "don't forget that the gospel is true and that we will be happy if we live up to it." I thought that that was an all-encompassing statement that we all would do well to remember about many different things in our lives!

This morning I ran into a screen door. I think I've gotten so used to following Sister Orr around, that as soon as I try to go first I just run into this screen door instead of opening the door all of the day. It's a good metaphor. We shouldn't be content with just following people around and being content with our lives! We have to act and find things out for ourselves and discover new knowledge and find out more and more every day! Like I said earlier, we are on this earth to learn, not to follow blindly! Since I've become a missionary, I've realized that literally everything is a life metaphor.

Miracle of the week! Remember the van guy? Well we called him on Saturday and he told us that he watched General Conference! All we did was text him the link because we knew he was out of town, but he watched it! Super great news :) How could anyone not enjoy hearing from men of God?

I got to write in Brother Slava's infamous book. I'll attach a picture. Also, I love my new dress :) Also a picture is attached!

A lot has happened with my personal testimony in my time as a missionary. I have heard the Holy Ghost clearly speak to me as answers to prayer. I cannot believe how below my privilege I used to be living. Take advantage of all of the small blessings that God places in your life every single day! I know that we are more blessed than we realize and that if we open our eyes, we will see countless blessings and tender mercies that our Heavenly Father has given us.

With a lot of love,
Sister Jenne"


Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mafia, Huckleberry Squares & Conference (Week 17)

"This week we did something that Sister Orr has been wanting to do her whole mission. (well we are pretty sure we did anyways). We MET THE RUSSIAN MAFIA. There were probably 50 cars and trailers out in front of this HUGE house, and a bunch of men walking around. They all looked 100% Russian (it's the nose) and we just basically spent 20 minutes contacting a bunch of different men in front of this house. It was hilarious. So many people walking around. What an interesting experience. None of them really wanted to talk to us (imagine that), but I think that it's a good place to practice our Russian. Never in my life would I ever think that I would be in that situation. In other news, we also reported a man to the police for suspicious activity. It was weird, he was ratching around in a back pack really suspiciously and he had a child's pink bike and we just felt weird about it and so we called the police. I have no idea what happened, but it was strangely fulfilling to call 911.

A cool experience from this week was when we were searching in Federal Way for some new Russian people to teach. It was cold and starting to get dark, but not quite time to head home yet. We knocked on a few doors that we heard were Russian in an affluent neighborhood, and they were not humble and did not want to listen to the point where they were actually pretty rude to us. It was all good though, but we weren't really sure why God would have us there in that neighborhood. We were just walking down the road and about ready to turn around, but a couple was walking and we asked them if they knew of any houses that are Russian. Luckily, they pointed out a house quite a little bit down the road that we probably never would have even gone to if they hadn't told us that it was Russian. Turns out there were 3 very nice men standing there who were happy to talk with us! My Russian has never been better and I've never felt more confident in talking to someone. It was a great feeling. They were all pretty much interested in learning more about the Book of Mormon and it was weird for me because none of them were arguing or anything, they were just genuinely curious. I really felt like I was able to teach with the spirit and that they really did feel something as I was testifying! So awesome.

I got to drive the car this week. Let me just say that for having barely ever driven on freeways (much less in Seattle) and for having not driven in about 4 months (or really at all for the past year)....I didn't do that badly. I avoided death and even drove on the freeway without freaking out too much AT NIGHT. I know it's a sin to be prideful, but I might just be a little proud of myself for keeping our car safe and not getting yelled at for aggressive driving.

Conference was so wonderful. I loved the Washington Seattle mission shoutout from Elder Yamashita. It was cool to hear conference as a misisonary because every single thing that the Brethern say can be applied so well to missionary work! It's so amazing to see how much it really does affect peoples' lives! I never realized how central to the gospel, sharing the gospel is. I love that when we understand the Atonement, it makes us want to share it more and more! When we realize the pure joy of Jesus Christ, we can't help but have "no other object save it be the everlasting welfare of souls." That verse from the Book of Mormon has been my personal theme for this transfer (which is already halfway over what!). Our suffering can be swallowed up by the Savior! Death has no sting! It's incredibly beautifu..this plan that Heavenly Father has for us. We went to an amazing restaurant called Huckleberry Square in celebration of conference. I couldn't help but order biscuits and gravy. Reminded me of home! Not quite as good as some of the Southern biscuits and gravy that I have had before ;) still a southern girl at heart.

Love all of you so much! I am doing well and hope the same for all of you :)

Have a wonderful week

With love,
Sister Jenne"


EMP & Mission 5K (Week 16)

"Hello everyone! Another fantastic week and another email session where I don't have enough time to possibly put it into words. I'll try.

I loved a bumper sticker that I saw this week. It read "Do you follow Jesus this close?" Now, it's pretty simple, and humorous as well. But let's honestly think about it! Do we follow Jesus closely? Do we serve and love others rather than thinking about ourselves and getting caught up in our own world? Do we constantly strive to improve everyday and recognize that it is only through Jesus Christ that we are able to do so? I've been asking myself these questions. Every morning and every night and all throughout the day, I find myself praying for guidance on how I can improve. It's been an amazing experience as I have tried to follow as closely as possible the teachings of Jesus Christ. The only constant thing about this world that we live in is our faith and the gospel. I had the wonderful opportunity of watching the Women's Session of General Conference and I cried during almost every talk because of the amazing things that were said. We don't have to be perfect. Not even close! Christ and the Atonement MEET US WHERE WE ARE. We can be empowered through our faith to do amazing things. I've realized that through humility and gratitude to my Heavenly Father, I have been able to recognize every small tender mercy in my life. I love that bumper sticker.

Funny stories this week:

1) We screamed for a solid 3 minutes when a giant spider crawled behind my desk and almost went to go get Elders to kill it. Eventually through careful planning we were able to kill it. I wonder what our neighbors were thinking when they heard us haha.

2) There is this saying here that if we role play situations, God will give us a chance to use that role play in real life. Well. It happened. But not in the way we expected. We were role playing and Elder Peterson was pretending to be a Russian man who had a black adopted son. Which is not something common at all. Sis. Orr said that she has never met a black person who spoke Russian, much less a child. It was weird and we just kinda forgot about it. LATER THAT DAY, we totally ran into a babushka that was talking to some little kids. A SMALL AFRICAN AMERICAN CHILD TURNED AROUND AND STARTED SPEAKING RUSSIAN TO US I SWEAR IT WAS SO WEIRD. So hilarious. God is mysterious.

3) One of our zone leaders is a known mumbler. He mumbles so much. He was praying during a meeting and he said "We are grateful for Jesus Christ's atonement." However, a few people thought that he said "In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen" it was so funny because everyone was really confused saying Amen and then he was all I'm not done...and so he KEPT praying. It doesn't sound funny when I type it out, but I promise that it was.

We met a wonderful couple this week. They are busy, but thought that our message is really cool. They are really cute and said that they couldn't go to church because they were giong to go mushroom picking. I mean that's a pretty cool excuse, not gonna lie. The man said that he wants to read the entire Book of Mormon. When a Russian says that they will read an entire book, they mean that they WILL read the entire book. So excited to hear about what he thinks! However, they live about 45 minutes from where we live and an hour and 15 minutes from the Russian speaking group at church, which makes it a little hard.

For anyone who has a dork dot/orange dot from the MTC I have some advice for you, stick it on the back of your tag and then paint over it with clear nail polish. Works like a dream.

Love everyone! Sorry for a slightly short email, but everything is going wonderfully! We had a great mission "5k" this morning where we walked around and were able to get JDawgs at the end (it's a Provo thing). It was fun to be with all the missionaries and have a chance to unwind and have fun with everyone (and we actually did jog probably the last 0.25 miles haha)

With love,
Sister Jenne"