My new companion's name is Chelsea Pexton, she is from Murray UT and did a semester at the U studying ballet before she came on her mission. She has been on her mission for 16 1/2 months so this is her last transfer before she goes home aka dies. She was companions with one of my past companions (Sister Andrus), so she and I had gotten to know each other before we became companions and were stoked when we found out she was getting transferred to Secaucus to do a one-and-done and die here!
Transfer conference last week was awesome because they made it a couple hours longer and invited the whole mission to hear a training from President Taggart's son Spencer who was in town. Spencer is a professor at LDS Business College and a very entertaining speaker along with being very insightful and sharing some incredible spiritual experiences with us. Here are just a quick collection of thoughts from his trainings. One of the themes he talked about was humility. The definition he gave for humility was "caring more about what God thinks than about what others think". I had never thought of it that way, but it adds an interesting dimension to that Christlike attribute. He also talked about being something verses doing something. The Lord's self appointed title is I AM. He IS light, he IS charity, he IS truth. An interesting thought that another missionary mentioned is that as missionaries we are given certain gifts in order to do the work. When we go home we don't get to keep those spiritual gifts unless they become a part of who we ARE. He also talked about faith, hope, and charity and why charity is the greatest of all. Faith and hope are both things that we have, but they end with knowledge and with the things we hope for being fulfilled. Charity on the other hand never faileth because it never ends. Another thing he talked about was what it means to truly counsel with the Lord. His main bit of advice that stuck with me was that we need to invest in our relationship with the Holy Ghost. We will only get out of it what we are willing to put in. Just some food for thought.
Yesterday we had our summer all mission conference. It was a blast! We all got together in Morristown and played sports at the park (only two black eyes, some stitches, and at least one concussion that I know of) then had lunch at the church and each zone did a skit. It was really fun to see everyone and just have a good time! I've made lots of good friends out here and we so rarely get to see everyone!
We have two investigators that are doing really well right now. Hopefully Vladimir will be getting baptized this Sunday, and we have another investigator named Gladys (I mentioned her last week) who we haven't been able to have a lesson with yet (she has been taught before) but she has come to church the last two weeks and says she wants to get baptized so now we just have to do our part to get her prepared! We are working on establishing if she should be taught in Spanish or not, but she wants to come to the English ward and be taught in English so hopefully she will be able to understand everything well enough!
Thank you Julie for your letters! I look forward to them every week! And thank you Mike and Gina for the package!
Love you all!
Sister Pexton is awesome, haha that is funny that you talked to her mom! I think I am at a pretty good point in my mission to be killing. Kind of crazy that I have been out 6 months! A year left is still quite a while, but when I think about it in terms of 8 transfers it's not that long. Sister Pexton is really an amazing missionary, already she and I teach together more easily than sister Loseli and I did. She is a lot of fun, sometimes a little higher energy than my tired brain can handle haha but we get along really well. And our companionship studies are great because we both enjoy deep doctrine conversations :)
Sounds like Abby is still Abby haha I'm glad you guys had fun going to the homecoming, it's weird that I've now been out about as long as she had before going home. Did her 6 months on a mission make very obvious changes in her? Or mostly just a lot of good experiences and learning to teach the gospel better? I should only have one mission president, President Taggart only came out 6 months before I did.
I still would appreciate it if you would send me the 5 Love Languages stuff I emailed you about last week! And did you ever send my credit card? I was up in Morristown yesterday and got a package Mike and Gina sent me, but still no card! I'm pretty good money wise, still haven't done the clothes shopping I need to do though (Sister Pexton is planning to remedy that) so that will make a dent in the cash you sent me!
Love you lots!
Our investigator Vladimir got baptized yesterday and it was a very cool experience. He was so excited for it and you could just tell that even though it was an unfamiliar experience for him he was just trying to soak it all in. In our lesson preparing him for the baptismal interview we realized that he hadn't been taught about tithing by previous missionaries like we thought he had. Knowing what a difficult commandment that can be for people to understand and have the faith to act on I was nervous about whether he would still be prepared to get baptized this week. He has a very limited income, but he hardly batted an eye when we asked him if he was willing to live this law. He trusted that it was a commandment of the Lord and so he answered that he knew he had to. He wrote a check right then and tried to give it to us because he just wanted to get it over with right away! We then taught him about how to pay tithing and explained that we couldn't take his money, he needs to give it to a member of the bishopric. It was very moving to see his faith and complete willingness to sacrifice whatever the Lord asked of him. He has been through a lot in his life including working like 2 blocks away when 9/11 happened. The trauma of that kind of derailed his life and he has been looking for meaning and a place to belong ever since then and now he found it!
On a funny note, he is a big guy. Like former college football lineman big. And we accidentally filled the font up a bit too high so the front row became a splash zone :) It wasn't actually as bad as we thought it might be, but I think one of the witnesses might have gotten a bit wet!
Another funny story of the week, one Wednesday we had a member that was supposed to come with us to a lesson. She is brand new to NJ but a recently returned missionary so she was excited to come with us. She texted us before the lesson saying she was running late because she was stuck in traffic. That is a very normal occurrence around here especially because it was 7:00 pm and there is a lot of traffic every evening with the commute to and from New York City. So we weren't worried about it. About 20 minutes later we get another text from her saying she thinks she is in the wrong place...we called to see if she had gone to the right address and discover that she got lost and ended up in NYC! I had to apologize for laughing at her on the phone, because she was audibly a little bit distressed, but it was just so funny and I felt so bad at the same time! This poor girl is trying to help us out and ends up lost in the big city her 2nd week! Part of why I was laughing is because there have been many times that I have panicked a little bit because I took a wrong exit and almost ended up in the Lincoln Tunnel on the way to New York too! Which would be really bad as a missionary because that is obviously out of the mission and I would not be allowed to drive anymore on my mission! So I'm glad it was her and not me ;) She was at church safe and sound yesterday though and is still willing to come out with us again so no harm done!
Missionary life is always an adventure, but it is a great adventure!
It's amazing how Satan really works on people after cool spiritual experiences. Last Friday we saw one of the coolest miracles of my mission. We have a recent convert who fairly quickly went less active because of some points of doctrine that he doesn't understand. The biggest one for him is grace. It is apparently very difficult for him to wrap his mind around the fact that while we cannot be saved without grace, we also cannot be saved without works on our part including obedience to the commandments and ordinances. The last couple times I have taught him we were feeling like we were butting our heads against a brick wall because he was determined that because of the deeply held beliefs he has about being saved by grace regardless of works that he can't in good conscience keep attending our church. So we went to teach him expecting that our lesson would be similar to the last few. But it was amazing! He admitted that he realized he had not been handling his doubts very well. He had read the chapters in the Book of Mormon we invited him to read (Alma 40-42) and it reminded him of the powerful answers to prayer he got when he was investigating the church. We had a really cool lesson with him about faith where he basically showed us all the things he loves in Alma chapter 32, and he committed to come to church this Sunday. I walked out of that lesson on cloud 9 and knew what a miracle it was that he had recognized through his reading of the Book of Mormon that he needed to act on his faith rather than doubts.
Then comes Sunday and he once again doesn't come to church. We text him after and he says he intended to come but things came up and he schedules to meet with us again this coming Friday. Then this morning we get a text from him saying that he needs to take a bread from meeting with us so he can figure out his doubts on his own. That is never a good idea! We cannot figure out spiritual questions by taking a break from things that invite the spirit into our lives! Satan is a bum. That doesn't take away from the miracle of our lesson last week and of course we are not going to give up on him, but it was a sobering reminder that there is a very real opposition to the work of the Lord. We can never stop being watchful and prayerful because Satan desires to have us.
Sorry this is kind of a depressing email, but experiences like this just show me how important it is to hold tight to the things that we know to be true and doubt our doubts before we doubt our faith! Satan is the author of confusion and the only way we can get through that confusion is by cleaving unto God. We do have a loving Heavenly Father, but he will never compel us to obey him. He can only draw near to us if we are willing to draw near unto him!
Thanks for all the fun videos and pictures you send throughout the week, I love seeing the fun and funny things happening at home :) Sad to hear that you re-aggravated your back :( I can see how roller coasters would not be good for that, but you forget to be careful about those things when injuries feel mostly better and the constant pain isn't reminding you to be careful! Depression-wise I am doing ok, it's less of a battle than when I was home, but still something to be dealt with on a fairly regular basis. It seems like anxiety is becoming more of a struggle than it has in the past. Not necessarily social anxiety like back in high school, but more of just generalized anxiety. So that is something I'm trying to learn how to cope with. It's not super severe, just another thing to learn to deal with I guess. My knees haven't really been much of a problem, my back sometimes hurts but so far mostly resolves itself. Part of the anxiety manifests itself as tension between my shoulder blades.
Thanks for sending my credit card, I will try to have my zone leaders pick it up when they are in Morristown this week for a leadership thing. It will be good to have my credit card, because I'm planning on going clothes shopping with S. Pexton today which is good because it will be far more successful than if I tried to pick out clothes on my own, but I anticipate it will probably take a good chunk out of the cash you sent me! Haha it's ok though because I really am low on clothes that work in hot/warm weather!
Love you mama!
Sorry my email last week was a little bit depressing! Not all of my experiences are like that, haha the problem was that last week that was fresh on my mind and I ran out of time to talk about other stuff :) This email will be more fun partially because we did a lot of fun stuff this week!
Last Monday we went to the original Carlo's Bakery in Hoboken NJ. Yes. Home of the Cake Boss. It was ridiculously crowded, but it was fun to see!
Tuesday we had our district meeting in Bayonne. It was crazy because we drove right past the church without recognizing it! I thought I had gotten used to some pretty unconventional chapels in NJ, (the Jersey City chapel is on the second floor of an office building), but Bayonne takes the prize! It is on the back half of a Quick Check. The chapel is about the size of a normal relief society room and has a sink, refrigerator, and microwave in it. I couldn't tell but I assume there was at least one or two other office size rooms in there...it's amazing though because it doesn't really matter where it's at, the church adapts and the spirit is felt.
Wednesday was quite an adventure...we have had a little mouse roommate we call Brownie that we have been trying to catch for a while. Tuesday night we came in for the evening and as I sat down on my study chair he ran out from under it into my closet! I was slightly traumatized, but ran and got our two sticky traps from the kitchen and threw them in there with him hoping to get lucky and catch him. Wednesday morning I cautiously opened my closet door but no luck. We figured he had disappeared through one of the holes in the walls so I put the traps right in front of the holes in case he came back out that way. That night we came in from a dinner appointment and we hear squeaking! We caught him! I stayed in the hallway while sister Pexton went in and stared at the poor little thing struggling to get loose. We called our zone leaders and tried to calmly explain the situation while making it clear that they needed to come over and get rid of it for us! Fortunately they only live two blocks away so they kindly came over and took care of the situation. Thank goodness for elders, I really really hate mice!
Thursday was a fairly normal day filled with weekly planning.
Friday we had a laurel "mini missionary" from the Jersey City Spanish ward come with us to teach our investigator John. Let me try to explain John...he talks like no one I've ever met. He literally never pauses to take a breath and talks so fast and excitedly that the spit flies! He jumps from one topic to the next with little explanation of the connection and has an opinion on everything! That being said, he is awesome! He loves the church because he loves the lifestyle of Mormons who live the values they are taught. If we ever get around to teaching the commandments that will be the easy part even though he will of course have some adjustments to make, but in the meantime we are just trying to get through the basic first three lessons. He has an amazing desire to believe and accepts everything we tell him. We just have to learn to interrupt him often enough to teach him a principle at a time! I will keep you in the loop on John, but he is great!
Saturday we got to go to Ellis Island to do service and it was even more fun than usual because one of my former companions, Sister Andrus, and her companion were also there. Sister Andrus and Sister Pexton both finish their missions in a couple weeks and so I appreciate any time I get with them before they leave me!
Sunday was wonderful as always! New Jersey fast and testimony meetings are a unique experience to say the least!
I hope that gives you a fun little glimpse into my life in the New Jersey Morristown Mission. This week had a few more adventures than most, but it's always a good time :)
The mouse is just the little brown thing between my two socks that it dragged onto the sticky trap!
Us at Carlo's Bakery
Hello everybody! Sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday, my companion S. Pexton was on her departing trip to the statue of liberty and so I was on a temporary exchange in Englewood NJ. I had two half day exchanges in the past week with S. Egan because both of our companions are going home soon and so they had a departing trip and a temple trip with all the "dying" missionaries. It was a lot of fun being temporary companions with S. Egan because we were in the MTC together! Now we are just hoping to get a chance at some point to really be companions! S. Egan is a hair dresser and so I took advantage of her talents and got her to cut my hair yesterday. I think she cut off 4 or 5 inches, but it is still pretty long! That shows how long my hair had gotten! 9 months is too long for me to go without a hair cut!
As you can see from the fact that I am talking about my hair this week wasn't too exciting...we had 3 meal appointments with members in one week so that was awesome! Haha and one of them is a part member family so that was really good. It is a lady just barely older than me who is married to a guy who is christian, but non-denominational. He is so awesome though! He and I have got a good little friendship going because we are both country folk stuck in the city! He isn't interested in investigating the church right now, but the fact that he enjoys having us come over for dinner is progress. He got pretty offended by the way her family responded to her marrying someone who isn't LDS, so we are just happy to see his heart softening toward the church. We have another dinner appointment with them today actually because they are going to be out of town for a little while and he wants to give us pepper spray before they leave. His career is in executive security so he is worried about us taking care of ourselves around here!
Our investigator John is doing well. He is very tentatively planning on getting baptized in September. This week we are hoping to spend a significant amount of time just trying to find new people to teach because our teaching pool is running pretty low, but it's hard because S. Pexton has a lot to do with her last week before she goes home! This upcoming transfer is the first where I have known for sure that I would be getting a new companion ;) now the only question is whether I will be staying in this area or not. I'm assuming I will be because I've only been here 2 transfers so far.
I love you all! Thank you for your prayers and support.
Today starts my 6th transfer out of 13, kinda crazy. Since S. Pexton is going home wednesday tomorrow I will get another new companion! That will be 5 companions in 6 transfers which is not that unusual, but still a lot especially compared to the other missionaries who came out with me! So once again, next week y'all will get an update on who my new comp is, but I'll be staying in this same area for sure for at least another transfer.
For anyone who remembers my email a couple weeks ago about the less-active man we are teaching who we had a great lesson with and then he stopped wanting to meet with us, we had another little miracle with him this week! Friday morning as I was doing my personal study I came across a scripture that reminded me of him and his doubts. I felt prompted to text him just to see how his search for clarity was going and he responded that it was going well and he wanted us to come teach him that night! We were able to and once again it was a really good lesson which concluded with him committing to come to church! I was cautious about getting my hopes up, but lo-and-behold he came! It's the little things that bring the most joy as a missionary!
In other news...not too much crazy stuff this week. We caught another mouse, that is sadly becoming less traumatizing and more normal :P We got to play Saturday morning soccer with the ward again which was so fun and a great stress reliever for me! It reminded me how much I miss it though!