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"