October 24, 2010

Amazing Week!! October 23, 2010

Although there are no letters this week from my dear family I decided to write you anyways. I'm sure you thought my p-day was on Tuesday so I don't get one this week, but I do. In fact I get one today, Tuesday and Saturday. That's just because Tuesday will be spent moving into the new place, if I'm still here. I don't know where I will go or if I go until tonight. I really want to stay. I had an overpowering feeling of how much I have learned here. I want to stay here to help these people.  I have come to understand how to teach people here more than anywhere else. I trust that the Lord will put me where people need me the most and where it is better for me to be. Oh by the way, my half way mark is on Wednesday. Crazy huh? I have been out for nine months. Wow times flies when you're having fun.
I hope that you got my package that I sent home. Dad I hope the shirt fits. I know you have gotten skinny but I didn't know how skinny. And Mom I got your letter. You know what is so crazy? The Book of Mormon that you gave her that I filled out, I have been trying to look for forever. I have only filled out one like that and I did it when I was a beehive. I was going to give it to Hannah burns but got too scared and didn't end up giving one to her until graduation night, but that one was not written in. It can be so nerve racking to share what you love with someone because they might reject what you treasure so much. I feel that a lot on my mission. But I have also met a lot of people who if nothing more thank me for sharing something that I'm so passionate and believe in so much. The seeds need to be planted somehow, even when it seems weird. Mom I'm so proud of you! If I was home and not have had the experiences that I have had I don't know if I could have done it. But I get my courage from my parents who taught me never to be ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Book of Mormon that I wrote so many years ago God hid from me so that at that moment when you needed strength the most it was there. We are never alone in this great work that we are a part of. God is ever mindful of what we need at the moment, even when we don't know what we need. I love you so much. Thank you for sharing that with me. It makes me really see how much going on a mission has blessed the family. I can truly say to anyone that is afraid to leave there family behind for a mission, that many blessings are in store for their family, more blessings than if they were to stay home. Oh man I love my mission! I have never felt more so now during this transfer.

This week has been amazing! We have been teaching this guy name Alex who is a very spiritual guy. We met him while tracting and had a very good first lesson with him but we still didn't know where he was at. He believes a lot of different things but is very in tune with the spirit most of the time. He came to church and really felt the spirit, which he said surprised him because he has never been to a church that feels like that. He doesn't believe in organized religion. But he feels he is one with the creator that gives him strength to do all things through love. He has studied in Bolivia and India and he has studied with the monks and the Dalai Lama. He is very smart but still a baby as to the knowledge of the gospel of Jesus Christ because he believes there is no sin and that everyone is perfect the way God made them. So there is no need for a savior. We would have dropped him by now but there is something different about Alex that I just can't explain. Every once in awhile you will meet people who you just know need the gospel and you can see it in them. It forces you to try harder and be more patient and hold on longer. That is Alex, the one that seem like they will be eternal investigators but join sometime in their life. His case is different because he loves so much that nothing can go wrong because anything wrong (or a sin) is really an opportunity to change and become so much more so really nothing is ever bad. It really challenged us in teaching him.

We also had an appointment with this Christian fraternity that we thought was just a house. They seemed very interested so we went back. When we went back they were more interested in teaching us than in being taught. I finally gave up and took this opportunity to listen to what they had to say. It ended up being a scripture war in who is right and who is wrong. I hated it!!!! There was no spirit there. It was like they took my spirit and put it through a meat grinder. Among others things they believe that still don't make sense to me they said that we are not all children of God. That hurt me the worst. But I told them that I would pray and asked them to pray about it as well. I knelt down in my closet with tear filled eyes pleading to my Heavenly Father for understanding. I have been so conflicted as to what is truth and why it is. I hate one someone says "prove it". I can't show them how I feel but only can tell them and show them what we believe but that isn't enough. At the end of my Prayer I didn't get a distinct answer but I felt comforted that I could find out and understand as I continued to pray.
Through both of these people and many others that we have taught I wanted to understand what they believe. It is important to know where they are at so that we can better teach them. I finally took a white board and went crazy. I put down everything they know and I put down what atheist believe and what that might feel like and I drew out everything to try and understand. My companion was just sitting behind me, she had no idea what was going on but It had to come out on paper. Mom you know I'm visual, so after all of that, I realized how sad and empty I felt with all of that on the white board.
For a moment I felt how It would truly feel to be in there shoes. In my heart I had so many questions that just didn't seem answered. Then I filled in the gaps with what I know and added the plan of salvation. I cannot tell you how much that impacted me. I realized at that moment that we have it all. We really do. I may not understand everything about it. But we have the missing pieces. The spirit bore testimony to me at that moment of the truthfulness of the Gospel and taught me how I can teach from where they are and build to where I am.
 I felt so wonderful! I no longer felt sad, lonely and just empty. Sister Cutler said that she felt the emptiness too as we sat there looking at the board with all the missing pieces. I'm happy to have the Gospel in my life! It truly fills me! Prayers are answered. Not always right away, but they are answered. I love my heavenly father so much and I know that I am a child of God. No one can ever tell me other wise and I'm here so that people may know that and we have changed ever more because of it.

We are still teaching Alex and dropped the Baptist boys. We figured out that Alex just needs more explanation. But he believes most of it. There are two young men that we are teaching Bernardo and Armando. They are amazing and if not for the experience that I had during this past week, I would have not known the difference that there lesson could make for them. I don't have time to write it all but I'm sending what sister cutler wrote about it:

We got a referral from some Elder's who had received the referral, but when they realized that he was single and younger they turned him over to us cuz we're over the Single's ward here.  So we started teaching him, it's cool cuz he called in for a Book of Mormon cuz his friend that he's known for a long time went on a mission, so he got a little curious.  We called him and set up a time to go and he ended up having his friend there.  Our first lesson with them went alright, I thought.  But when we went back yesterday they both said that the last meeting went really well.  So they got something out of it that I didn't realize so that was good.  So when we were there yesterday they kept asking us so many question that were truly inspired one of the questions they asked us was what our favorite part of our mission was and so we both told them stories about how we saw the Book of Mormon change people's lives.  By the end of our stories one of the guys said wow I would read that book.  It was amazing!  Then every question after that was inspired that just led to the nest topic, we never needed to lead the lesson they did it all on their own.  There was only one time that I had to step in and interrupt and it was cuz we hadn't prayed yet.  But after that it just flowed so well.  We even brought a member with us and they found out that the friend of his went on his mission was in fact someone they both knew, it was crazy.  The thing is that we knew we needed to bring a member with us but we had an hour to find one so we started looking through the availability list of the ward members and I came across a few that I thought we could call but as soon as I got to Tatiana, I told Sis Pedersen to call her, totally forgetting that she didn't have a car.  But it all worked out the way it was supposed to.  By the end Bernardo, he's the one with a friend on a mission, asked if he could say the prayer.  It was so sweet and sincere; he even asked that Heavenly Father forgive him of his sins. 

It is so humbling to hear someone pray for their first time. 
It was the most amazing experience. These guys need the Gospel and are so ready to receive it. I love this work!!!!
I love you all so much and I'll tell you Tuesday where I'm going or if I'm staying. Love you all!
Your sister Missionary

October 19, 2010

My Promised Land.... October 16, 2010

So first of all, don't worry, we are on bikes and we are being safe. We almost always walk home together, all four of us. Our new apartment is even smaller than the one we have now and we still have 1 bathroom but we have a washer and dryer! and it is 5min. walking distance from the institute. It is cute from what I can see through the windows. lol it is a two story house but we live down stairs and someone else lives upstairs. It's a girl, don't worry. It should be a fun place to stay that is if I don't get transferred. It's funny cause it doesn't matter who is getting transferred we all have to pack and then pack the apt. to move. lol Our transfers are no longer on Thursdays but are now on Mondays (everyone else's p-day) so that everyone who wants to comes to transfers can. It will be weird to see how that happens being that our p-days are on Saturday. But I think I like it this way because that way everyone can get together and see the people who are new coming in and people that are going home and we all can be enlightened by hearing President and Sister Barry speak. Plus it takes less time away from the week and gives people time to unpack.

Sister Baker my last companion and Sister Mitchell my read headed companion and Elder Vangenderen my first district leader, are all going home!!!!! I'm so sad! This is the first set of missionaries that are going home that I have personally served with, Lame. But I'm excited to be able to see them before they leave. I have loved serving with them.

Everything is going so much better here. All four of us sat down and talked out our differences and really it all came down to pride. It is so stupid how much we let our pride get a hold of us. After watching a video on pride by Elder Uchtdorf, given to us by the AP's, It really was apparent how I stopped loving and caring like I should and how I let my pride and what I wanted get in the way. I was so blinded by what everyone else's problems were that I didn't take the time to see what was wrong with me. I fasted and prayed so hard for things to change and to see where I was wrong and then fix it. It is so amazing to see the drastic change in the feeling in our apt. and with the four of us. We have seen a lot of success this past week. It has been amazing. We are finding how to better work with members in this singles branch and we are starting to figure out who we can call on to help us.

It is so amazing to me how every time that I have had a problem and have gone to the Lord in prayer It seems that I still do not find direction right away, but then I humble myself and fast for it and really center my heart and focus, and that is when I began to find what I need. It may not always be the answer I was looking for, but my heart is filled with his love and tremendous gratitude for everything He has done for me and I can't help but be so happy, and that in and of itself makes a difference. It pulls me through and gives me strength to go on until that answer comes.

I don't know if I'll be transferred in two weeks or if I'll get to keep Sister Cutler, but I do know that God continues to have a plan for me and he gives me the strength and the mind set to accomplish everything that he has asked me to do. In Nephi he talks about going back to get the plates, and makes the statement, "For I know God giveth no commandment unto the children of men save he shall prepare a way for them to accomplish it." So I didn't quote it perfectly but it's close.

It was so crazy, every time I read through the Book of Mormon, I am reminded of an experience that I had after my engagement was broke off and I read and finished The Book of Mormon on my own without assignment or without family for the first time in my life. I spent a lot of time in the scriptures going through that hard time and I came across a lot of scriptures that really helped me to see how much God loved me and How much he had provided for me. I was reading at the part in the Book of Mormon when Lehi and his family had reached the Promised Land and after Lehi had died and Nephi became the prophet and the people appointed him to be a ruler over them. We know of course that Laban and Lemuel became more wicked again and sought to take away Nephi's life. So they are forced to leave there promised land however God promises them that he will provide for them another promise land.

At that point in my life I felt that those scriptures directly spoke to me and I took comfort that I would be provided for and that I could find someone to love again. It wasn't until a couple days ago that I found out what kind of Promise land God had in store for me. I have been on my mission almost 9 months and never really understood why God wanted me to come out here but yet I have loved and have been blessed forever for following the spirit to come.

It was after having a huge argument with all of us girls trying to sit down on Monday and fix whatever was going on. It didn't quite do the trick. I was really coming to wonder why I was sent here, because I knew it wasn't for this. Elder Preze Our new AP whom I served with before he was an AP was talking about attitude in our district meeting on Tuesday. We talked about the attitudes of Laban, sariah, and Nephi and the attitude we must all have. When someone said, "But Elder Preze It's easy for you because your in Orange Park, the promise land, right?" He laughed and said, "no Elder, we are all in the Promised Land, we are on our missions, set apart to do his work, how promised can you get?" It shocked me to the core. I was in the Promised Land that God had made for me. I have wanted to be married since I can remember, and when that didn't happen it was like my promise land was stolen from me and I was being asked to leave. It hurt but through the scriptures I found that I could find another promise land and that God was providing (Him) for me. Little did I know God was not preparing me for my promise land but for His, which is far greater than I could have ever imagined. I was called to come and so I did follow with exact obedience not knowing why. I have struggled through this transfer wondering the same thing I had wondered three years ago. Why? When God said to me, "because I have prepared this promise land for you, I have promised you one, and so I sent you here."
Coming on a mission was not what I expected or ever thought I would do, but Elder Preze was right. This is God's promise land, his working field of missionaries, how much more promised can you get. I am supposed to be here. I have been called here not by chance but by appointment. I love this work with all of my heart. I truly am in the promise land because it is God's land and as long as I am following him, on my mission or when I return home I will continue to be in that promise land. So again whatever may happen next transfer, God will always provided a way.

I love this work!! We have some people we are working with but no one super solid yet. We are seeing a lot of referrals coming our way so it makes me feel like I'm doing something right, although I have a lot to change. I'll let you know by next week which ones become solid. I don't share a lot of names because the turnaround rate is very high here. People drop us like hot cakes. No one is too fond of giving up there party life, but there are some who are sick of it. We like to target those people who are the few and far between.

I love you all so much! Sorry about the bad address.
Love you all!

Till next week, I'll be praying for you~

~Love Your Sister Missionary~

October 12, 2010

Counting My Blessings!! October 9, 2010

Well our p-day is back to normal. This week went by really fast because we had p-day on Monday and now today is our p-day again so we had a day taken out of our week but I think Heavenly Father knew what he was doing. This week, no matter how short it was, was a stressful one. Living with another companionship can create a lot of drama that really is not necessary. This week was drama driven and I hated it! It makes me realize how much hold Satan can have on us when we get mad or frustrated and how much one companionship or person out of the four of us can affect the whole bunch. It really creates a void in the apartment and a bad spirit that can last for days, as it has done this week. It seems that I'm being tried and tested on every hand with every sister in the apartment, even sticking up for another causes contention. It just has been a very hard hectic week because you cannot teach without the spirit and nor would I ever try. It is the same thing in the home one person brakes the chain and ruins the day. Needless to say extra prayer on behalf of my roommates and companion would be amazing. I just want to do the work. It gets hard when all you hear is negativity all day long, no matter how positive I am or how much I try to change the subject or let it roll off, it starts to break down my spirit and I give into frustration. Even bringing up that I don't like it causes more drama because people just will not let go of their pride. Pride ruins everything and gets you know where!

I'm really starting to understand what it means to FIND joy in the journey. My prayers have becomes less of a plea for help and more of gratitude for the things that I do have and love. I have listened to the motabs version of "You'll fall asleep counting your blessings." I love that song for many reasons but it helps me to get through the hard times when things are tough to realize and know how truly blessed I am. Now I say it every transfer that this one I think I'm going to grow the most, but it is true and I do grow in many different ways and this transfer will be no different from the rest. I hope to get a lot of laughing in this transfer and a lot less tears, unless they are tears of great joy.

The missionary life here is a little different. It's like we have our own little world down here and we don't have the same schedule as everyone else. The branch is doing much better and a lot more helpful. We decided the best way to do some kind of service is to bake cookies and bring to them with the new pass along cards. The plan was to also teach them a lesson about teaching friends through using the new website mormon.org, and have them put up a profile.

So we only have bikes and people live so far away, so we got going early and put dots on a map to find them and took off, all three of us. We biked almost 7 miles and no one was home. lol It was a very crazy day but we are going to finish our list since we didn't get it done, it takes a bit longer on a bike but it was way fun even though sister Johnson's bike is going crazy and sister cutlers chain keeps coming off. In fact on our way home sister Cutler was trying to go up this huge hill to our apartment and we usually try to go fast so that it's done before we know are legs are burning when all of the sudden sister Cutlers chain came off and flung her with her bike sliding on the pavement into a parked car. Luckily she didn't break anything. We were all freaking out asking what was hurt and she wasn't talking so I helped her up asking the same question and through tears and laughing she said "my pride." lol it was a scary but funny moment. Don't worry I'm very safe on my boy bike. It was a crazy day. Sister Cutler scraped her left arm really bad along with a huge bruise on the side of her upper leg and her ankle is swollen and cut up pretty bad. We had to ice it and wrap it up. It has slowed our work down a bit because she needed to rest and recover but we are still working hard. We still ride our bikes even though our buns are bruised from the bike ride. I was so sore. lol man it told me how out of shape I am and how I need to work harder. This place is up hill both ways. lol literally~ SO this week has been crazy and stressful but full of hope and faith for the next week and this upcoming Sunday.

Our teaching pool has become a zero because they all dropped us this week but we have some referrals from pass along cards and salt lake as well as from the ward so next week should be full of excitement. Plus Yogi, who is from china, dropped us because we are girls and he didn't want to start over but we called him the other day and he said he tried to stop by the institute to see us and it was locked and he wants to meet us. So I took it as one more of Gods little blessings that I can count before I go to bed. I really do love this place and seek everyday for inspiration on how to talk to the students who are very smart by the way, but the spirit is smart still, so I don't worry, but most people don't believe in God nor do they care what we have to say. I can't tell you how many times I've heard someone say after we tell them our message, "I drink too much for that." I tell them that they shouldn't drink at all and they say "what is the fun in that." so I'm continuing to learn what to say as directed by the spirit.

I love you all so much! I'm so excited that Kenny is doing so well in school with his straight A's and don't worry, I wrote Kellin, Daniel and McKenna a letter. Hopefully it helps. I love everyone and give them a kiss and huge hug for me!

Till next week, ~ I'll be (writing) seeing you

~Love, Your Sister Missionary~

October 4, 2010

General Conference was Awesome!! Oct 4, 2010

It cracks me up every time I read Christopher's letters. He has already changed so much! lol I love him to death! Imagine Kenny going there next? That would be amazing.

Conference really made me think of the things I will limit or do with my children. There were so many talks I just loved! They seemed more bold this time than ever before. Maybe because I'm on a mission and being out here I have come to understand further the importance of God's plan.

On Saturday we were able to go to the Barry's home for both sessions of conference. Then in the break we had lunch and training about our experience and how we see the mission as sisters. We finally have our new dress code! I'm sending it to you in the package because you say you never know what to get for me. (Christmas is coming up ;) Really we have become sloppy as a mission as to what we wear as sisters. We have been wearing normal shirts and really anything we wanted that was modest because it wasn't really given what we were to wear. But that got cleaned up really fast on Saturday. I have gained a little weight so when he said not to wear tight clothes I kind of had a meltdown about my weight because everything is tight. Stupid boys don't ever gain a thing. But I have made a resolution to lose weight because I don't have money to buy more clothes. If so, I would need to go to D.I. because so many girls here give away things that are not stylish that we as missionaries wear. So shopping at D.I. here will be like shopping at murices. Anyways, it was an amazing time with just all sisters. We took pictures and had a blast~

Christopher seems to be able to write a book but I never seem to so I have my president's letter that I will send with this. This is some insight as to what I received while listening to Conference.

President Berry~

Thank you so much for letting us come to your home for General Conference. The food was great and it was nice to see the rest of the sisters all together. It was even better to be there and experience a home away from home. I really felt the spirit there and to top it off getting to hear from the Prophet, Apostles and other General Authorities speak and then receive more training from sister Berry. It was the spiritual over load of the best kind. It was a fantastic weekend all together. Thank you again.

I have really prayed and fasted about what is to be done in this area and how we can change it. For me I was looking for some kind of program to put forth or activity that might get it going, when I received my answer it came to be something of a shock to me. In response to all my worries with my companion and sisters I’m working with, to the branch and the branch president the answer was so simple and yet spoke volumes. Love them. Serve them. Thank them. Complement them. In this world of hustle and bustle especially here in Gatorville, how often do you see people really take the time to show that they care? I have yet to see it. Nor do I hear thank you’s, sincere complements, service, pure appreciation, love or respect for one another. I may be too hard on those around me but really I’m not speaking of them, but of myself. How often do I take time to show my appreciation for people in all that they do? Not very often.

With the exception of hearing from the Prophet I look forward to hearing from Elder Jeffery R. Holland every General Conference. He speaks with such conviction and passion. His testimony is so pure and strong I find it hard not to be touched by every word that he says. I was surprised to hear that most of his talk consisted of thanking everyone for their dedicated service in the church. It showed to be a great example for what I should have been doing. It struck a cord with me when he spoke of the old woman who said that she was only a helper. I cannot tell you how many "helpers" I have had help me on my mission that I will be eternally grateful for. I guess you could also call them the seed planters. But because of their little words that they found so insignificant, one of God's children was baptized and on the path to eternal life. I think about how many people are not thanked for their efforts, no matter how small or great they are. Do they know how much they are appreciated? It would break my heart to ever find someone that thought their role in this life was not important because of only the small things they've done to help. I hope that no helper would stop doing the small things, because with the small things, great things can come to pass. I know of many people who have stop doing those small things because no one seems to notice. How sad is that, that no one took the time to say one word of thanks.

When Elder Holland finished his talk a quote came to mind. "Complements strengthen the heart and put fire in the bones." That is so true. When people are being complemented or thanked for all there good efforts, you only want to go out and do more because it made you feel good. I believe if I incorporated this into everything that I'm doing, I would find that not only will I remain positive and keep that enthusiasm going but I feel that others will be drawn to the gopsel to be taught, or if a member, will continue in wanting to help. I want to live gratitude. When you live the life of gratitude, miracles follow. “Refuse to remain in a negative attitude but have the attitude of gratitude.” President Monson. (His talk was so amazing too! In fact I think I mixed the two talks together but they work hand in hand.)

There are so many other things that I’ve learned but I would take up way too much memory in your computer. I do want to thank you for everything that you do and for being completely genuine in your manner toward me and everyone around you. It makes it so much easier to come to you with any question and want to work harder in everything I do. So thank you again.

Until next week
~Sister Pedersen

I loved conference so much! It taught me so much more than just that, but I don't have a lot of time today. I hope all is well at home and that all the kids are doing good. How did you like conference? It answered all my prayers. I cannot tell you the peace that I found through listening to the many talks, it was interesting how they even mentioned text messaging and video games. Amen to that! Someone was blunt and said it. I think all parents around the world gave a hallelujah chorus. Through the years it's amazing to me how more and more blunt and specific they have to be for people to listen. I think they also talked a lot about listening to the prophet. Like it was said, a living prophet is more important than a dead one. People will keep the Ten Commandments but they just can't give up there coffee. No wonder with so many people deciding what is best for them and not listening that the prophet, Apostles and general authorities would testify so boldly about the true and living prophet today, Thomas S. Monson. I had a hard time at first with the sustaining of a new prophet after President Hinckley But the more I listen to the words of President Monson and the more I pray about it, the more the spirit tells me and the stronger my testimony becomes that he is a prophet of God. I don't know what it was about this time at conference but I could see it in his eyes when he spoke. I gained such a great respect and love for him that filled my whole heart every time he spoke. It was hard for me to keep from crying. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know it! The spirit testifies to me every time he speaks. I also know that prayers are answered if we but ask, listen and wait for the answer acting in faith until that sure knowledge comes through the Holy Ghost. The waiting and the acting is the hard part but I know that through that course in time, Heavenly Father is preparing us for the answer, whenever it may come.

I love you all so much! Give everyone a big hug and kiss for me, Love you all!

Your sister missionary~
Love you!

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