Monday, December 16, 2013

Stumbling Blocks

Holla Familia!
This week has been an up and a down one. At the beginning of the week we had Specialized Training in Penbrook We talked about Covenants. How are we in danger of Breaking them? are we trying to be like Christ in all that we do? President Pitt talked to us and told us that Covenants 1) Turn us Outward - we learn to love and care more about those who are around us. 2) Takes us to action - We do things, we serve others, thus when we turn outward we do something about the things going on around us. 3) Heart & Mind; Becoming - We change how we are as we strive to become more like Christ. The more we see what we can become, what our real potential is. Our thoughts and our desires will change leading us to 4) Increased Blessings, Decreased Condemnation - When we do more to come unto Christ, then we will receive the blessings that are there for us. We will be on a path that will keep us safe and protected. We will have faith that the Lord will bless us for our righteous actions. As we do what is right, the bad things that could happen in our life due to wrong decisions lessen, because we are doing everything in our power to become more Christ-like. We all know what is right and what is wrong. We all have that agency to lead us the way we want to go. Which way we will go is up to us. The Spirit can lead and guide us - if we let it.   There was an interesting point that President pointed out: God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost - they have all kept their Covenants to us, so we need to keep ours. Keeping a Covenant requires Worthiness and Willingness; it requires our Mind, Might and Heart.
Then President Related it to all of us as missionaries: If one of us has done personal Apostasy, then it affects the blessings. We receive greater blessings if we are acting as one. That doesn't mean that if one missionary is apostate that all of us are doomed because of their decision. When we are United in a cause then we receive the greatest of blessings. When we are all Worthy and Willing to work toward something together. When we build Zion all together. It all starts with YOU. Once you have started building Zion within yourself, then are you able to build it with another; a companionship (missionary or marriage). Once you have built it into your companionship, you can work it into your district (family, ward). So on and so forth until we are all united. Until we are all united that full blessings of the Gospel, I personally feel, will not come until we are all United. Which is a lot easier said then done. Now that I am trying to unite with just one other person! haha
After President spoke to us Sister Pitt got up and pulled out her guns: One step out of the covenant, and we are in the devils territory. A "little sin" is the devils territory. Once we stick out our big toe across the line - He grabs hold of it with an Iron grip. It's just one toe though right? NO it is all of you. and you will be pulled across because we all justify with a "little more sin" we keep going until it isn't just our big toe - it's our entire leg - both our legs. It reminds me of the Boa Constrictor poem in the Other Side of the Sidewalk. "Oh my, Oh dear, I'm being eaten by a boa Constrictor... it's up to my knee... it's up to my thigh... it's up to my neck!... It's gulppp.... All gone. Strange. I know. The Boa Constrictor just started at my toe... and then I was gone. So yeah. Covenants are hardcore. Keep them and you will be blessed. Don't... and well, you won't be so blessed. I also thought of the Story of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:1-11. Imagine if that happened whenever we did a "little sin"... well I guess there would be no more sin to do. There aren't three strikes and your out. Good thing we have Repentance - the process by which we progress. Christ is the most important to focus on because if Christ isn't part of the equation then why does it matter? Christ made it possible to have the restored Gospel, to have the Plan of Salvation, to be able to make and keep covenants because we can repent when we do something wrong. The Assistants to the President told us that when we give people commitments it isn't us that is asking them - it is Christ. We are the Representatives at this time, we have that power and authority. Which is awesome and frightening at the same time.
Anywho, that was an interesting mind blurb. of what I learned and felt at part of the Specialized Training :)
I also learned that right now I don't have very good teaching Unity with Sister Thomson, She still doesn't have the confidence, or the willpower to talk to people.     I was in the same position as her a few months ago, but I tried and yeah I stumbled and yeah I said a lot of stupid things, but I have learned from mistakes. If we don't do we will not learn. I look back on how I was, I did not talk - even in College I rarely talked about things or even feelings. So I have not talked for quite a while. Now I feel like a freaking Social Butterfly because how else am I going to share the Gospel with people. I do have a few struggles, I have a hard time speaking cohesive sentences, or knowing the correct words to use because my vocabulary is.. well growing right now (ha,ha). I also have the panic feeling on the initial approach because it is so important. They will either say yes or no. It's awesome. but yeah I have my struggles. But I feel like I am now the Social Butterfly in the conversations with people. It's awesome... in some cases (ha,ha)
Anywho, Sister Thomson is an awesome viola player. She doesn't think so, but I know so. So it must be true. She played during the meeting and Elder Raffensparger accompanied her on the piano. It was really good. I get to listen to her play the viola quite a lot at the apartment. Music: it has a very powerful impact on how you feel. Which is both good and bad. But yeah, They were awesome. We have some very talented singers and music player people in our zone. I'm working on my singing normal voice right now... :)
So Specialized Training was pretty awesome... pretty much the highlight of the week if you did not notice.
Ooo something else that we did that was interesting. We went to the Church for a Service project it was the Bishop’s Storehouse. I had no idea what it was. Well I did, but I didn't know exactly what it meant. Now I do! Well at least I do for here in Virginia. It was like shopping... only in the cultural hall (ha,ha). It was fun setting everything up and watching the people come in with boxes and using shopping carts and different things.
So this week has been pretty interesting. I didn't even get through it all because I keep writing my thoughts down about things, but this week has been full of ups and downs.... laughs and tears and so on. But I know this is the Lord’s work and that it is awesome! So everything will work out in the end.
I hope everyone is having a wonderful Christmas season. It hasn't really hit me yet but maybe soon :) I love you all, If any of ya'll need help with anything let me know! Be good, Read your scriptures, pray with faith, have Charity towards all. Stay Classy!!
The Church is True, The Book of Mormon is Blue, and Jesus loves each and every one of you.
Sister Karen Call


Monday, December 9, 2013

A Softened Heart Brings Strength to Endure

Holla Familia!!!
This week has been a interesting long one; longer than ones in the past. Things are starting to drag for the first time on my mission. There are several things that I feel like we could have done more this week but things just moved by in such a strange way. The first thing was that I have been sick for a few weeks in the morning, and I decided to stop being so stubborn about not letting people help me. So I talked to the Mission Nurse Sister Cloe (who also happens to be in the Christiansburg ward) and got a few ideas to try out this week. So far I have started to feel better so it must be working. Strange, how when you ask people to help you things start to get easier *sigh* silly me.
At the beginning of the Week we had dinner with a less-active family, the Romney's. They are an interesting Couple. Jen is really personable and nice (when she isn't in a bad mood), and her husband, Jared is like the complete opposite, he doesn't talk to people, and is blunt and kind of rude. but maybe it is just his personality that is weird. Jen told us that she isn't sure if the church is true anymore, because she has been getting a lot of anti especially about the early authority of the Church. She told us that they go to church because it is the right thing to do, and that it is a good environment for her kids to learn and to grow. She wants it to be true. She said something along the lines of that if it isn't true and heaven is different, at least she lived a relatively good life and that at least she was a good person. It is strange to see her have so much hope to believe that it is true, but she doesn't use it. She is looking into "neutral" sites about the church, but she isn't doing anything to build it up or make it true. I know for at least me that if I looked at "neutral" sites about the church I'm pretty sure I would not have learned very much from my hope that it was true. I had a good example to follow in college that helped me a ton! but I also had to act on the desire to change and learn more about the church! To find out the Truth for myself. Now I know quite a bit, not everything, not a whole lot, and most of it is random facts that aren't very helpful on a mission, but being able to study the scriptures and talk to people all the time here has really helped me see how much the Gospel has blessed and will bless my life as long as I am obedient and strive to be the best that I can be and serve those around me. President Pitt Missionary Truth last week was: A Softened Heart Brings Strength to Endure. I know for a fact that this is true. When we finally are able to let go of the things that will hold us back and not let us progress, then is the time that we really become who we can become.
Another Less-Active that we see is Paulette. She is doing really well, her husband died a few months ago and she found out where to bury his ashes, and she found out a few days ago that they got his marble tombstone at the Veterans graveyard thingy all set up and that it was very nice. We were able to teach her the Restoration - and she knows it is true, and she wants to find out more about the Plan of Salvation. She isn't sure exactly what happens after death (her husband was not a member) so she has a lot of questions on what happens. Where he is and what he is doing. She is really interested in the Temple, she shared how she had a very spiritual moment for herself there and knows that it is the house of God. That good, special things happen there. So it is good that we know what she needs to learn and hear. I realized that I have taken advantage of having a Temple so close at home. There is no Temple in our mission, and I won't be able to go to the Temple for another year. The importance of the Temple is more than anyone can understand. It is missionary work. It is Important. It needs to be done.
We haven't been able to meet with any of the Investigators that the previous missionaries left for us, One said to try back in January, another keeps canceling appointments with us (which we might just stop in and teach her; might be better that way), Another one was having a hard week and told us that she didn't have time to see us. The fourth one was sick so we will try her again this week and hopefully she is feeling better.
We had a Zone meeting this week and a few missionaries talked on Faith, Repentance, Baptism, and the Holy Ghost. Faith was based off of the talk Faith on Jesus Christ which helped me remember what is needed to build faith and get things moving. Repentance is a lot bigger than we think it is but it is super simple if we just start doing it. Baptism, how it is an ordinance and how we make a Covenant, and if we keep our promise, God will bless us. If we are not obedient then we miss out on them. The Zone Leaders talked on mostly about Endowment. How it is Obedience and Sacrifice to obey the Gospel, to be Virtuous, that we are Consecrated and most importantly Sealed. To become born again. It was super uplifting and a bit of a smack down on me for a few things that I have been forgetting to do. It was a nice reminder to get things going.
We also had a baptism this week!! We didn't know about her till this week, but it was a nice surprise! Her name is Ellen and she is 8 years old. Her father is a member and her Mother is a catholic. I have been told that she is a super smart little girl, we tried to see her before her baptism this week, but weren't able to get a hold of them. We set up a time to come and see them this week so we can start going over and talking to her and her family. The Baptism was really good. A family that had grown really close to Ellen's family (that had moved out of the ward) came to her baptism and did all of the talks and everything it was super sweet of them. It took them about 4 hours to get here. The mother in that family looked just like Joslyn!! only she was really, really tall. (So I know what you would look like if you were really tall Joslyn, just sayin).
We then also attended the Blacksburg Baptism and that was super neat to have been able to see two baptisms in one day!
Everything has been going pretty good this week, Sister Thomson is still getting frustrated with herself sometimes, but we made a promise this week to both become better. We set new goals to improve on. She wants to become like her old self and be able to talk to people again. I don't know what she was like before, but if that is what she needs, then getting her back to a comfortable zone will be nice. She has been difficult to get moving in the mornings. but she knows that she needs to be obedient in things in order to receive blessings. She expressed that she was frustrated that she couldn't feel the Holy Ghost as well. That there was something different. I helped her make a list of things that needed to be worked on. That she felt like that she wasn't doing that she needed to do in order to be obedient, in order to have that feeling of the Spirit with her again. I also discovered a few things that I have still been holding onto that I need to let go of as well, and start doing things right. So we are both working together on getting things moving.
So This week has been pretty interesting. Yesterday Church was canceled. The roads weren't icy, but all the cars and houses were covered in ice - so that was an interesting thing to see. Lots of Ice - like every time we went inside for a while we had to re-scrape our car. it was funny.
Oh Yesterday was really good for Sister Thomson, we went over to a members home, the Hallows. and they were talking about the Come Follow Me program that the Church has started to do that I'm not sure if it is being implemented here. I haven't even heard of it till yesterday! Sister Hallows and Thomson were very excited about it as they talked about it. It is something that Sister Thomson knows so I think that will help to use something she knows. We also watched the Christmas Broadcast and that was wonderful as well.

But the thing that tops this week off. Is that it was Sister Pitt’s birthday last week and President Pitt’s Today!!
I love everyone, and I hope they remember the importance of the Christmas season, and what it is really about. Do something awesome for someone else. Stay Classy. Soften the Hearts of those around you and It will bring you and them the Strength to Endure!

Until next week!

Monday, December 2, 2013

I Do Freaking Hard Things!! Cachow!!

Holla Familia!!
I need to work on getting things done in time! I don't have much time to write cause it is timed!! I have never had this before!! Anywho!! Christiansburg is pretty awesome. It is really pretty and very nice!  The members are awesome as well!! So things have been pretty crazy and I found out I am having a hard time balancing everything out from being doubled in and training! But I love Sister Thomson she is pretty awesome. I have learned a ton from teaching her!!! Hopefully she is learning stuff :) So I will get straight to the points that were interesting this week!!!
Thanksgiving! We had two meal appointments. The first was with Bro and Sis Self! They are interesting... very interesting... Their family all came together. They are an interesting bunch. Several of them are in the police force; Brother Self was a chicken farmer. Like really a chicken farmer!! well.. he genetically did stuff to them so that they would lay more eggs, and get bigger and all of that fun stuff. Anywho, He has two daughters and a son. One of his daughters is a body builder, and she continually made interesting comments throughout dinner... such as I know this because I went to college... I just laughed and nodded my head. Don't argue with Body Builders.. even if they don't really look like they are a body builder. Anywho, The other daughter had brought her boyfriend with her. He was a Catholic Jew??? anywho He asked us a few questions about the factual stuff about the Mormon religion.... Then Brother Self did something very... well not very happy in the eyes of a missionary. HE brought up the most negative examples of members of the church! like a senator that is a democrat that is doing not very good things, but he is a member. HE just brought up several... well interesting people. But hey The guy knows a little more about Mormons... very little more. XD IT was an interesting meeting with the Self’s. HE kept telling us about all the days that he 'bent the rules' as a missionary. Ahh!!! *tear* oh well. I just told Sister Thomson not to listen to anything they said, and she agreed that it was a weird experience not to be repeated hopefully ever again. After the Self’s we went over to the Burningham’s! Now the Burninghams are pretty awesome!! They had invited the Skinner’s over as well. They are younger families in the ward so they were easier to relate with and they are going to school here. It was a lot of fun to be at their place. After we ate dinner and talked for a while Bro Burningham said "Time to play Army men!!" So that was pretty interesting. We got a bucket of Army men and we set them up all over the floor. Then it was us Missionaries (Elders and Sisters) against the Burningham’s and Skinner’s. We used rubber bands to shoot the army men down.   Whoever knocked all of the army men down won. I'll just say the Missionaries totally rocked it and won!  It was a pretty fun and uplifting experience after the Self’s (ha,ha. )
On Friday we had a Special Sister Meeting. All of the Sisters in the Southern Half of the mission got together and President and Sister Pitt had a meeting with us. They went over D&C 103:36 and emphasized the words Victory and Glory. That Victory was toward the kingdom of God; toward eternal life. and as long as we know that He knows us, and loves us. Our steps toward Victory will become easier.
They also emphasized that a successful missionary is measured primarily by our commitment. Wanting hearts to change. That Discouragement on a mission can turn into Depression. When we fall down we need to get back up and laugh about it! We need to have Laughter, Ponder and Pray, and do Service, We need to Celebrate the small victories, we need to do something else if things aren't' working. That when we work, we need to stop comparing ourselves to others. Because we naturally compare, criticize and complain.
Never become a victim of circumstances.  You can control it by your Faith!   We can call down miracles! A lack of faith is what leads us to despair. We are meant to Do Things That Are Hard To Do!
President Pitt talked about how Sisters and Elders are different. Men and Women are different. That women are the crowning Jewel. that we are the most important thing, We were created last. WE have the blessing and opportunity of loving and opening the hearts of people. Even if we don't have children we still naturally mother those who need help. We don't need the priesthood to save people. We are just awesome that way and do everything with the power we already have.
The message that we learned that day was very important for me and Sister Thomson. There is a lot that Sister Thomson and I work on. But she is awesome. WE have pretty deep conversations in the evening that have really opened my eyes to certain things and have solidified my love and understanding of this gospel and how much God loves me and everyone around me!

Well Family I got to go, Stay Classy, Share the Gospel and Love ALL!!!

Sister Karen Call!!