Thursday, April 20, 2017

Latvian Sardines (Week 45)

"...or something like that. All I know is that I ate a fish that still had bones and scales and everything (no head though, thankfully). It was maybe one of the hardest things I've done on my mission, but I survived. The nice lady that fed them to us was so proud of her fancy Riga Latvian sardine-ish things that we just couldn't not eat them. Truth be told, if I hadn't have been able to see what I was eating, it probably would have been just fine because they didn't taste super bad...but I could see it. And I could feel it in my mouth.

Something that I loved from reading this week was in John 15:2-
"Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit."

I remember hearing a talk once that talks about how God prunes missionaries to the max. He takes away pretty much all of the comforts and regular things that we are used to, even the people that we love aren't very accessible. Like a tree being pruned of its branches. God prunes us in everyday life. He doesn't make it easy. He doesn't stunt our growth. He prunes away our pride to make way for humility and recognition of blessings and therefore happiness because pride is what gets in the way of our happiness.

This week Sister Bell and I had a day were three really sad things happened within a space of like 15 minutes. We were both like "what the heck is happening." But, Sister Bell said someting like "...after the bad times cometh the blessings." And, I think that we both attached onto that and just expected that there was something really good in store sometime that day. And then commenced a long stream of meeting the coolest people ever! Most of them were English speaking, but we did meet a Russian who is super awesome! A lady named Ludmilla who is here from Uzbekistan and growing up didn't have a lot of other Christian people around her besides her family. She was taught not to go to church in school. She has never had a chance to read the Bible..but she prays. And prayer is her sense of comfort. We were able to give her a Book of Mormon and give her access to the word of God! It was awesome. She asked why we don't drink black or green tea, because she had tried to give us some and we told her that it's a commandment from God and she replied "okay, then I won't drink it either." and then she asked about coffee and we said the same thing. And she replied in the same way. That was an awesome blessing that came from a day that started out not so awesome. So never fear! Because God has great things in store for us if we just keep persevering.

We met a man who didn't speak much English (or russian) and tried to ask if we could sing to him. He thought we asked him to he started yodeling or native-american singing or ohh-la-la-ing. Not sure what to call it, but it was hilarious. We then sang I am a child of god and had a really hard time keeping a straight face.

A quote that I love:
"Real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us on the altar and letting it be consumed." -neal a maxwell

This transfer, Sister Bell and I are trying hard to focus on the promise that sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven! We are each giving up 10 things that "prick" at our spirit for 40 days with the intent to gain more spiritual power and teaching ability by the end of the transfer. I am excited, even though some of the things that I've given up have already been really hard, I know it's going to be great!

Love you all! Have a fantastic week.

-Cectpa Jenne, ur fave sis mish"

Ice Cream Spit (Week 44)

"Hello all of you lovely people!
I am actually going to send home some pictures this week hoorah! It's a miracle.

The last week of the transfer is always interesting. Even though we were pretty sure things were going to stay the same, there's always that possibility that something would happen. However, here we are! Another transfer in Russian South with Sister Bell, and I'm super excited! She's awesome.

My only concern is my Russian. I really feel like it's declining. We just don't seem to find as many Russians to talk to as I would like to. Well, we find them, but they aren't willing to talk at too much length. Luckily members and other people help me to keep my Russian up to par. As long as I am able to do the work, then I am happy with the skills that I have. I know that it's sufficient. Of course, for me and myself, I want my Russian to be better...but I have my whole life to work on that! We will keep searching for more and more Russians to talk to. It's mostly just because we are looking for new people besides the people in our area book, and so we have a lot of tracting that usually only results in finding one or two Russians in an hour, if that. But, everything is working out how it's supposed to.

Brother Slava has been in the hospital with his problems with his toe and all of that because he is diabetic. He had to get a toe amputated. So, we went and visited him with the Petersons and holy cow that man has so much faith! It's incredible how much faith he has that everything is working together for his good. We were talking about how he needs to rely more on the ward and let people help him and use his resources, but the whole time he just wanted to make sure that we understood that his trust and his faith is in God and God only. I don't know how to explain in words, but it's just amazing how much he truly believes that he will be healed according to God's will and according to his own faith as well. This man believes in miracles. It's an inspiration that will be lifelong for me. I know that I was supposed to meet these people in this Russian group for a reason, and it's going to effect me for the rest of my life.

1) so our bishop owns a hot dog stand. We were in the area and we realized that we forgot bowls for our salad that we had brought to eat for dinner. Of course, that just won't do! So we stopped by the hot dog stand and picked up some french fry trays and, ironically, ate our salad out of french fry trays. It seemed extra yummy ;)
2)We met a man who just really wanted us to praise Jesus. After a hard day, it was a really great tender mercy from God to just smile and laugh because of his enthusiasm. He was really excited that we are spreading the good word of God!
3) we role-played back to back the entire restoration. We couldn't look at each other and we had to switch off every other sentence. It's cool how much it reallyu forced us to listen to each other and become more unified!
4)On April 6, we HAD  to celebrate the  birthday of the church! So we got DQ ice cream and then we had to drive home. I couldn't really drive and eat and so mine was just sitting in the cup holder melting. We had a 45 minute drive. It was really depressing, so Sister Bell started feeding it to me. We were getting to the last few bites, and she missed my mouth halfway with the spoon which of course made me laugh. Let's just say that there was ice cream all over the steering wheel and we almost died.
5) on district meeting we showed up and in every district, someone had bought cake to eat. So we had about 5 cakes and cupcakes to eat. We all stayed and stuffed ourselves with cake. It was quite satisfying.

We found some new potentials this week, and it seems like our area is going to start getting stronger over this next transfer! I have the faith that we can baptize this transfer and the next in order to reach our mission goal. It's just going to take a lot of prayer, faith, obedience, and hard work!

Love you all!
Cectpa Jenne"

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Drink It Up! (Week 43)

"It was so fun for all of us to watch Elder Choi speak at conference! Even though I never met him or served with many of the missionaries who were under him, I feel like his mission culture is still alive in some ways. I can't count how many times I've heard "Look up, and Live" while I've been here in Seattle, and it's really changed the way that I see things! The eternal perspective that that phrase offers is irreplaceable and brings so much hope and peace into life...when we focus our concerns and questions on Christ rather than ourselves, or those around us, we can lay all our cares upon Him because He cares about us!

Conference was incredible. Probably the missionaries' favorite thing ever. I don't even know what I would call my "favorite" talk or was all so applicable. I did feel like a theme of the conference was God's plan and the spirit. There was some pretty doctrinal stuff said that I had actually had questions about. Like what to say when someone tells you that the Bible says that God and Christ are the same person and whatnot...because a lot of people do believe that! And, it is believable upon reading certain verses. So, I loved the talk that was about the Godhead.

Some of my favorite (paraphrased) quotes were "Light comes from the devotion to keeping ourselves unspotted from the world" -Elder Cook and "Keeping our covenants is always independent of our situation" -Joy Jones

Clearly, keeping covenants is a really important part of the gospel. Sometimes I feel like my life is too easy...that I'm pretty comfortable where I am and it's not even that hard to keep my covenants. Then that leads me to feeling frustrated because I don't feel like I'm growing or stretching a lot. So, I have been praying for God to send me a trial or something harder that I would have to overcome...because we know that those who overcome will be with God in the last day. The answer I got was that maybe I need to do it myself. I need to challenge myself more and expect more of myself. What's bold today, won't be bold tomorrow. We all get comfortable if we aren't in a changing environment.

Something that we do every night, is compliment our companion 3 times before saying a prayer at night. Right before bed. When we do compliments, I noticed that my understanding of and appreciation for my companion grows in a way that it otherwise never would. Sometimes it seems hard to think of 3 specific things that you loved about that person that day. As I take the time to ponder the day and remember moments that I felt their love, I feel like I am "beholding" them and being able to feel that love. (Read Elder Palmer's talk from conference)

This week, we did a lot of driving! There was a day when our daily mileage was 113 miles. I've only had more than that once or twice in my whole mission. We had some awesome miracles. First, we were in a parking lot and a lady rolled down her window to tell us that someone wasn't home. She didn't look Russian. We went over to talk to her and she told us that she's from Ethiopia, and then she consequently started speaking Russian. It was a shock. But, it was a miracle! We never would have found her if we hadn't felt prompted to go into that parking lot. There were countless other miracles, but I am running out of time!

I love you all! Have a wonderful week,
Cectpa Jenne"

Sunday, April 2, 2017

When in doubt...send quotes:) (week 42)

"Fair warning, my email might be short this week!

We had zone conference, and I learned a usual! Especially about the sacrament and prayer. Here is one of the favorite things that was shared: (it is from the BD about "Prayer")

"As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part."

Prayer should be instinctive!

I actually sang a song with the other three Russian sisters in front of everyone! It went really well, and part of it was a duet of me and Sister Christensen which also went well. The spirit was definitely there. I don't know how it wouldn't be with there being so many missionaries in one place!

Something profound that I read in an amazing talk...

The most common counsel is to be patient. Patience is a virtue, yes, but not always. Any virtue taken to the extreme can become a vice. Patience allows us to never begin. Patience allows us to mindlessly wait our turn, believing that this is the hand we have been dealt, that this is the cross we must bear, and that there is nothing we can do about it—it is meant to be!

No, no, no! When life gets tough—and it surely will, because if you are not failing a few times, that means you are not pushing yourself hard enough—what you need is an unshakable commitment to persevere. Perseverance is patience with a purpose, when you willingly and proactively take your turn because you know why you should.

Sorry that this email is mostly quotes...ran out of time!

However, I love you all! have a wonderful week, and I'll do better next time. Repentance is real ;)

Sister Jenne"

How Great He Is (week 41)

"BIG NEWS I am singing a duet in zone conference. Well, there are four of us, but I have a duet part. You all know that singing isn't a huge thing that I love doing, but I guess the mission stretches us in more way than one. We are singing How Great Thou Art. Mostly in Russian. However, I just wanted to share the last verse, which we will be singing in English...
Okay, it doesn't show up on, so I actually will not be sharing it with you. BUT LOOK IT UP! 4th verse of the hymn "How Great Thou Art." I love how it talks about the adoration that we will all feel when Christ comes again. Adoration is a very strong word. It's stronger than Love in my book. When you adore someone, you would do literally anything to help them out or to please them.

Rain rain rain and more rain this week. It's really easy to see how people can get down when the weather is like this! But luckily, we are here to scatter some sunshine into their lives! I know I've seen how much a person's demeanor and mood can change after we talk with them about Jesus Christ. It's a really cool calling that I have... Such an honor to be here.

The power and authority of my calling as a missionary came up a lot this week. Promising specific and life-changing blessings to someone is a really scary thing to do. Let me explain...We met a man who wasn't interested in listening to our message. However, when we expressed a desire to help him with any other aspect of life, he readily shared a health problem that he had. He expressed how he has tried "everything" to overcome his struggles. He said that he even prays about it. Now, inside my mind, I was thinking...that's haven't tried everything if you haven't learned about the gospel! I got a distinct prompting from the spirit that I needed to promise his that if he would learn about and apply our message, he would be completely healed. The next thought that came to mind? Doubt. Doubt that that could actually happen. Fear that if he accepted it wouldn't happen. So, I chickened-out. Completely. Didn't even leave him with an opportunity to learn about the gospel...simply told him that we would be praying for him. Well, I was feeling pretty downtrodden and disappointed about that failure. Maybe even a little worthless as a missionary.

Luckily, the next day was interviews! So after talking that over, Sister Bell and I decided that we would follow counsel from our leaders, and head right back over to this man's house and promise him the blessing as we feel prompted to by the spirit. Sister Bell was so awesome, she totally supported me, and said that we would do it together. Even though, I was pretty scared the whole time. It all worked out in the end. I don't know what will come of it, but I know that it changed how I will be on my mission forever.

Basically, we walked up and knocked. He answered and asked why we would come again. And, I told him that we prayed for him and felt strongly that we should return and tell him that if he learns about the gospel, he will be healed. In the name of Jesus Christ. As representatives of the Lord. And, I read something in PMG that struck me about power and authority. It's on page 11. It goes something like this: "Your calling gives you authority; keeping your covenants gives you power." That really motivated me. Because I did feel power behind my words as I exercised my calling and we stood there together and told him how this gospel could sincerely change his life. I felt like I could literally feel physical, emotional, spiritual, and mental support flowing through my body during that short 2 minute conversation. He reached out and took my by the hand and said "thank you so much." and that's pretty much all that he said. But, I know that he felt the spirit because I could see how much softer his eyes were. I hope that he will remember this experience. He didn't commit to doing anything, but something happened inside of him, I know it.

That feeling of something outside of me, bigger than me, that was literally holding me up and supporting me was Heavenly Father. I testify that He is there and He is so great. When you step out on a limb, and you feel really uncomfortable and scared HE WILL HOLD YOU UP, if you are doing His will. And how do you know His will? You practice! You just go and do what you feel is right. And then you'll realize how the spirit talks to you through a simply game of trial and error. Patience is one of the hardest things to develop., I believe. Because not only do we have to be patient with others, but we have to be patient with ourselves and with God. 

Love you! Don't get sick!

Sister Jenne"

Oh y'all. The irony of that last line. Several of us got sick that week. 

"the van guy" pt 2 (Week 40)

"привет всем! Hello all!
я вас люблю. I love you

Title explanation:
We had a really cool thing happen this week that confirmed my knowledge that I am where I need to be right now in Russian South! I don't know if you remember, but in my 1st or 2nd transfer, Sister Orr and I stuck an articles of faith card on a Russian looking van, and the man called us. He was super excited to get a Book of Mormon and to meet us, and it was such a miracle. He and his fiancee were prepared to hear about the gospel. However, due to the fact that they lived in Puyallup (FAR AWAY) and he was a truck driver, constantly in another state, we had to drop him because he was never in town. But on Friday morning, we get a call from Ivan, and he was at the Provo City Center Temple! He was making a delivery there. He handed the phone to a temple worker, I think Brother Parker, and he told us how excited Ivan was to be there. Honestly, I couldn't 100% understand what Ivan said on the phone after that, but we are planning on calling and following-up sometime this week and see if we can get him to church with his fiancee or a temple walk. The reason that I say that this increases my testimony of where I need to be is because I am the only missionary left who knows who Ivan is. Anyone else would be confused until they looked in the area book for a while. And he actually remembered me! When I answered he said "Is this Jenne?" (they all call me by my last name only...). Also, this phone that we are using has just been sitting in the mission office for 2 transfers. And 2 weeks after I have this phone again, he calls. Any other time and no one would have answered. I don't know, it was just perfect timing!

Something that Sister Bell and I have been working on is trying "new" door approaches. Trying to mix it up, and get out of the regular thing that we always say at doors. I think it is a better way to practice and role-play inspired questions. I also feel pretty strongly about the H2BT use them in the first contact...instead of waiting until the first lesson (they should be one in the same anyways, right?).

I saw something from way back in the MTC this morning and it talked about how when we are being a good missionary and thinking of ourselves, we are obedient; when we are thinking of others and being obedient, we are sacrificing; and when we are aligning our will with God, thinking of others, and being obedient, we are consecrating. That's something that I am working on. Praying to align my will with His. To actually feel His guidance every single day. And, I do! It's incredible. Scriptures and talks and hymns and all things spiritual are bringing me to tears sometimes. Like at least a few times a day. Which is really strange, but not in a bad way! The sacrament is more sweet. Church was very spiritual yesterday. I don't know..I just feel like I am progressing a lot in this area because I am having to stretch and rely on God more than every. There is a difference between being obedient, sacrificing, and being truly consecrated.

"I am a Child of God"--does this phrase ever seem to become every day or maybe even a numb repetition? Something that we don't even keep at the forefront of our minds? Why? Satan's biggest job is to attack our very identity. WHO WE ARE. We all have certain ways that we define ourselves or see ourselves. "When I cling to these identities [the ones we set for ourselves], I'm building my foundation of self-worth on sand. Sure, sometimes they are sand castles, but they never seem to last (and they never seem to be grand enough anyways),. It;'s an unsustainable and unreliable foundation, and frankly it's exhausting. Each of my self-schemas are barraged by threats daily. Each of them, except that I am a child of God." (An article that everyone should read:
My favorite part goes like this:
"the identity of a Child of God can never ever be threatened or taken away from me. In fact, it's the only identity I have found that can't."

Misc/Funny things?
This week included...a baptismal font that was too hot and steamed up a whole room, a man who was shaking so hard from the cold that he looked like he was having a seizure (it wasn't even that cold...), turning onto an exit ramp instead of an on ramp..into oncoming traffic, sore muscles, sketchy trailer parks with screeching birds, spilling compost all over the floor, being offered holy water vases and money for our singing by an old babushka, Bishop's hot dog stand, a lesson at NINE IN THE MORNING, rain every day all day except weekly planning...the one day we stay inside almost all day, exchanges, zone sports day, and no Russians at church (not even our members because of the time changes and surgery).

A little Russian for ya:
я знаю что иисус христос-мой спаситель.
Он любит всех людей.
Через его силу, мы можем творить чудеса!
I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior.
He loves all people.
Through His strength, we can work miracles!

Okay, honestly that^ took me forever to type, and I don't know if it's all 100% right (grammar/spelling...) So, that's probably the only Russian testimony you're ever going to get from me typed out in an email, so enjoy it this time(:

Sister Jenne"