Saturday, May 27, 2017

Line Upon Line (Week 50)

"God humbles us line upon line. Precept upon precept.

"for capable young people accustomed to accomplishment, a mission may be life's first great challenge."

I learned this week that a lot of things are going to happen in the Russian group, the Russian work, the Bothell ward, and the English work there. I will be training, and in a trio. We will be taking over the Zone Leader's area, and combining Russian work with English work.

I repeat..."for capable young people accustomed to accomplishment, a mission may be life's first great challenge."

I know that there will be some failures and disappointments over this next transfer because there always are. I know that there are going to be a lot of challenges and relying on God to become better. Maybe that's not something that I was accustomed to in my life prior to the mission, but I have been humbled to the point where I understand that we have to hold on tight to the gospel and to the Atonement of Jesus Christ if we expect to make it anywhere through trials and changes. There is nothing that we can do, ourselves.

Something I also learned about myself was that I might be a little bit of a perfectionist sometimes. I just want to be the best that I can be. I was thinking a lot about success and how when we do something right in missionary work and get a new investigator or help to strengthen our area, a lot of the time, we attribute that to ourselves. (Alma 26 relates to this) We look at how hard we worked and how we talked to everyone and we say "It's because of the things that we did that we are having this success." However, when we aren't having success we just say that it's because of people's agency. Or that's what we want to think. But, there is something deep down that tells us that we aren't having success because we aren't being obedient enough or we aren't good enough. But what the heck! It shouldn't be that way.

Disobedient missionaries baptize. Obedient missionaries baptize. Both don't baptize, as well. Both don't experience as much "success." I'm not trying to say that obedience isn't important, but God is not going to let someone's disobedience get in the way of HIS plan. If there is someone who is ready, and they need to get baptized, then they will. It's not dependent on the missionaries. Why would God limit himself and his eternal plan by the standards that the missionaries in a particular area set? He wouldn't. He already knows exactly what's going to happen, and it's all going to be ok.

There was a quote that I really liked when I read it.."Becoming Perfect in Christ" by Elder Gong: "We unsuccessfully try to control out circumstances and the people around us. We fret over weaknesses and mistakes. In fact, the harder we try, the further we may feel from the perfection we seek." Moral of the story? I'm still trying to figure that out. But I know that God doesn't want us to stress out about all of the little things in life. He wants us to have JOY!

This week, I did some manual labor. I used a hedge trimmer and rakes and my hands to pull out a bunch of blackberries and overgrown vines. Blackberries are quite the annoying plant, here in Washington. Honestly, I think we should just burn them all :) It's not worth the berries! It was a LOT of fun to be outside and in the hot sun! (YES it's getting hot here! I love it! The air is so crisp and wonderful and the skies are clearer every day, finally no rain!)

We have some sad goodbyes happening over the next couple of weeks. The Petersons and ([some other]members of our Russian group) will be moving away. It's sad to see the group shrink a little bit, but I know that everything is happening for a reason!

I'm sure I'll have some exciting news next week about all of these changes that are going on. It should be interesting, and I am so excited to meet the new sister coming from Ukraine!"

Seattle Really Does Have Rats (Week 49)

"Some things this week...
-We were casually walking on the sidewalk. Like missionaries do...I see something out of the corner of my eye on the ground. Figure it's just a leaf or dirt. Step on it. Feel something really solid. Realize that it's actually a rat carcass. And, I might or might not have chased my companion with my shoe...
-We watched Russians play chess in the mall
-We ate at a Russian restaurant...I got piroshkiys...bread stuffed with beef and potatoes and cheese. Mmmmm!!
-We street contacted and found a surprisingly large number of Russian speaking people walking around in the park. (you can spot them from a mile away)

I skyped my wonderful family! I'm in shock that this is my last call home, but I guess being in person on Christmas is better than being over the internet. Seeing all of your smiling faces just reminds me why I'm here! I want other people to know the joy of an eternal family just as I know. I loved seeing everyone! It's such a blessing...something that we don't fully appreciate in the moment.

We had a blitz in our area this week. A blitz is where other missionaries come and help us! That was awesome. they were able to meet with some people who we haven't been able to have solid contact with, so that was awesome! It's good to know who is not ready and who we should try back with. We had a cool miracle at a wedding, actually! The photographer was Russian. We were able to talk to him for a while, and talk about the church and about helping him with English as well. We are excited to see that he has potential! We also met with a man who wants to come to church in 2 weeks. He seems really solid and should soon become a new investigator. MIRACLES in Russian South! It's cool to see what comes from sacrifice and working hard. We were debating whether we should spend some time with the widows in our ward on Mother's Day; we decided to just go out and work all night instead! Because of that, we met some seriously awesome people!

I'm running out of time, but I love you all very much! Blessings continue to come every single day and week and I am just glad that I am able to be a missionary. I am eternally grateful to be here in Seattle.

Love, Cectpa Jenne"

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Apartment Sharing is Fun to Do! (Week 48)

"Fun to do, fun to do...
So we got a call on Friday night. The two other Russian sisters (my previous companions, Sister Christensen and Sister Hamon) are staying with us due to an issue with their apartment. They showed up at our apartment at *GASP* 11:25 on Friday night! It was the craziest Friday night I've had in a whole year! So for 3 nights now, we've been having a slumber party. The hardest part is that we only have one key. And, being inexperienced with having to share keys, we weren't sure how to handle that and so we would give whoever was going to come home first the key. What we didn't think about what that we would then not be able to lock the door from the outside upon leaving. So, Sister Bell and I locked the door from the inside and then climbed out of our porch (there's a 5ft. fence around it). I locked both of the locks. But, one of them doesn't have a keyhole on the outside. Soooo, upon the return of the other sisters, they couldn't get inside and had to climb over the fence as well. Now we've found a better way; no more climbing over fences in skirts! So, it was a crazy last couple of days!

This week was also Zone Conference!!! We had to practice street contacting people who were holding random objects and then keep referring back to those objects and relating them to the gospel. It was a lot of fun! Our first object was play-doh eggs, and so we related those back to how we are shaped and molded throughout this life to become the best that we can be through the gospel of Jesus Christ, but at the same time, we have to stay true to who we truly are inside and hold onto that firm foundation of Christ. It goes perfectly with Helaman 5:12. The other object was a weird clamp. Luckily, Sister Bell knew that it was something to so with weight-lifting and so we were able to compare the gospel to weight-lifting. Actually, everything in life seems to be a metaphor if you take a few seconds to think about it. We talked a lot about the importance of being ourselves in missionary work. It's really easy to become a robot when you are doing something all day every day. But, that's not how life was meant to be! We are all given gifts and talents that we have a duty to share with others.

We played Preach My Gospel Jeopardy at zone conference, and our table came in 3rd place out of about 13 or so tables. Not too bad! Russian power! (Funny side note: all of the missionaries always ask us "how is Russia?" aren't in Russia...and half the people we talk to aren't even from Russia anyways...haha) I was having fun answering every question, until I realized that they subtract points for the wrong answer :| I guess I didn't pay enough attention to all of the time we watched Jeopardy at Grandma and Grandpa Williams' house!

We had our ward carnival this week. The missionaries were in charge of a photo booth. So, that was right up my alley! It was a lot of fun to watch all the members of the ward with silly props, and hold so many iPhones (I swear, they just keep getting bigger and bigger...also what on earth are live photos?!).

There was a "big" storm this week. The 3rd or so time I've seen lightning on my mission here and the only time I've heard thunder. It was pretty rainy and crazy outside, and so driving was interesting. And then, it was beautiful and sunny the next couple of days. Today, it's fairly warm and just a little cloudy. I feel summer coming, and I am so excited not to have to wear tights and feel like I'm in high school again trying to stay warm in a skirt every day.

I had a lot to say today! It was a crazy busy week. Happy Mother's Day to every single mom out there! Especially Annette Jenne <3 I love you! I am so excited to have the opportunity to skype with my family on Sunday. Have a great week.

Love, Cectpa Jenne"

TEMPLE (Week 47)

"This morning, we had the pleasure of going to the temple! And so P-day is on a Tuesday. One of those rare instances when the life of a missionary is disrupted from the typical...JUST KIDDING, that happens every single day. P-day on Mondays might be the single most constant thing in the mission field. And waking up at 6:30. Speaking of such...I've learned that miracles are unplanned. They never happen in the way that we expect them. Little bits of sunshine pop up in the most obscure corners of our lives. It might be as simple as a smile or a hug, and it can be monumental.

Birthday shout-out to Maddie, Emily and Justin! You're all amazing; Happy Birthday!

Also, Sister Bell tripped walking into the baptismal font in the temple today. She told me I could tell you all that ;)

This week we went to go and do something that we do all of the time....drop by a member and ask for referrals. A simple thing that missionaries do. We had no idea that those members had moved, but we walked up to two men walking out of the vacant apartment after having cleaned it. Lo and behold, they were speaking Russian. Now, I wish I could say that we found two Russian speaking men who are interested in the gospel, but we didn't. However, the Lord placed us right there for a reason. And we were able to give them a Book of Mormon and invite them to read. There is power in promising people blessings.

I have a testimony that we are guided by the spirit! the experience above is just one of many that we experienced this past week! I think I talked about this in my last email as well.

The infamous Brother Slava had his birthday yesterday. It was so fun. I've never seen so many different kinds of Russian food in one place! He insisted that we eat special dill and cucumber soup, and cottage cheese/date-filled crepes and some other various Russian foods. I am glad to be in America! I don't know if I would every get used to eating like that. We had a dinner with a member right after our dinner with Bro Slava. Then we went back and ate even more at his house for a few minutes. Let's just say I could probably survive for a week without eating. Don't worry mom, I am being well taken care of.

Quote of the week
Jewish man: "You know, the more you girls talk, the more I start to actually believe you"
us: *thank you Holy Ghost!!!!*
There's power in pure testimony of the gospel of Jesus Christ! It just makes sense.

How to know if you have faith in Jesus Christ:
-Do you trust Him?
-Are you confident that He loves you?
Simple questions. Faith in Jesus Christ is a simple thing, but one of the most important things, if not the most important. When we have faith, then we can find peace in our own imperfections, and the imperfections of other people!

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

Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear (Week 46)

"My singing of "I am a Child of God" brought one babushka to tears this week. (Sister Bell likes to "oo" as I sing) She even gave us some beautifully painted golden eggs. There was also another babushka who was so hard of hearing that I basically had to yell the song at her. However, she loved it, and so I'd say my mission has been accomplished because I can help grandmas to feel the spirit and be happy, even when they are part of a sometimes quite stoic culture.

"I am a Child of God" is something that a majority of people don't understand. I've had several people this week try to attack that identity. Another point of doctrine that seems to be confused is the reason that we are here on the earth, with our bodies. Our bodies aren't something weak or bad or something to be despised. If that were the case, why would Jesus Christ resurrect His body? I love this quote from Elder Holland:

"If having a body is not only not needed but not desirable by Deity, why did the Redeemer of mankind redeem His body, redeeming it from the grasp of death and the grave, guaranteeing it would never again be separated from His spirit in time or eternity? Any who dismiss the concept of an embodied God dismiss both the mortal and the resurrected Christ."

Christ was resurrected so that we too can live again. God's plan is perfect. There is no reason to fear. We meet people every single day who live their life in fear, instead of in the joy taht comes from the knowledge of Jesus Christ. If fear is something that you struggle with, I invite you to read the talk that Elder Utchdorf gave at the last conference.
Perfect Love Casteth Out Fear

I've been reading some deep doctrine in Jesus the Christ (James E. Talmage) lately. It's an incredible read, but something that I've realized is that Jesus Christ was the perfect leader. He wasn't afraid that people would think of Him as corrupt. He knew that He was a light of perfect example unto the nations. He was able to lovingly reprove and build up His followers. He wasn't afraid that close proximity to Him would cause men to lose their confidence in Him. In fact, He asks us to come unto Him and get as close as we can! We do have the potential to be like Jesus Christ! I know it, and I see it in other people and in myself in small moments when we are exercising love and serving others.

Cool experiences this week! Mostly, they just had to do with being in the right place at the right time. Which is basically just exactly what we are trying to do as missionaries.

1) we drove to a park in the rain and were going to leave when we saw a lady walking her dog. We went and talked to her, and it turned out that she 100% needed to talk to us because she was having problems with being bipolar and receiving answers to her prayers. She was so prepared and willing to learn about the gospel! Not Russian, but still a miracle!!

 2) We also saw a lady who we thought probably wasn't Russian, but looked European while we were eating dinner in the car one day...sooo we went and talked to her! Turns out that she was an Olympic athlete for Russia in the 2008 Olympics. She opened up to us about her life and her struggles. It was a neat experience that was preceded by a bunch of small decisions that were able to lead us to the right place at the right time.

It's great to be here as a missionary! Every single day is a blessing. I love you all and hope the best for you! Have a wonderful week, and never forget that life is full of exclamation points!!!!!!

Sister Jenne"