My new companion's name is Sister Lauren Andrus, she is from Sandy UT and went to a year and a half at LDSBC before coming out here. She is awesome! We get along so well already! She and Sister Kafu actually ended up just switching areas and companions so that is strange yet cool! And she was Sis Kafu's trainer which means I'm being greenie-busted by my grandma! She is a pretty old missionary, she is "dying" in two transfers after this one, and it's fun for me to learn from such an experienced missionary. She spent her whole mission up to this point down in the southern part of our mission which is central Jersey aka more cows and deer than people aka my kinda place! All of her areas were down there plus she was a Sister Training Leader so she went on exchange or served in basically all the southern zones. But she has been dying to come up to the North and experience a "sketchy" area so she is stoked! She reminds me a lot of a combination of Kelsey Schwab and Danica Pickett, so for those of you who know either of them you know it's a very good thing and I'm in for a party of a transfer!
This last week was weird, Wednesday was district meeting and then we visited Rose and an elderly less-active lady named Sister Mackinnon so Sis Andrus got to see what a softy I am with old people :) The next day was pretty much consumed with getting to know each other's whole lives plus trying to do our weekly planning, and then the next day I was as sick as a dog so we spent two days basically inside all day becoming besties ;) Saturday we taught a great lesson with Karen, kind of a follow up on what we taught her last week with the word of wisdom. Sis Andrus and I already teach very comfortably with each other, so it makes teaching just that much more fun! We taught Relief Society together yesterday, which was also a really good experience, so basically I am just super stoked about this transfer!
Yesterday we had a fireside in Newark for the north english speaking part of the mission so basically 1/4 of the missionaries were there. It was cool, it was mostly musical numbers and testimonies from missionaries plus some mormon messages and of course the Because He Lives video. Everyone was supposed to invite our branches/wards as well as the less actives and investigators we are working with so there was a pretty good group there but none of our people came except 3 people from the branch. It was a really nice fireside where the spirit was certainly felt and of course it was fun to see other missionaries there! This picture is (from right to left) myself and Sister Andrus as well as Sisters Taylor, Robinson, and Ward. Just for the record I am determined to serve at some point with Sister Robinson! She is actually from Centerville so some of you may recognize her but I had never met her before coming here. She was Sis Kafu's companion here in Paterson before I got here and she is just pretty awesome! But I am happy to serve with Sister Andrus for as long as possible before then! Long story short there are just a lot of really amazing missionaries out here!
Love you all!
Rose is getting baptized May 9th!!!! I don't remember what I've said about her process with getting to this point, so I will try to recap. We were really hoping that she would get baptized back in March...that didn't work out, but then we did get her to agree to prepare to be baptized in May, but the way things started to go that didn't look like it was going to be able to happen, so I had just tried to content myself with her getting baptized sometime after I leave the area. The main problem has been that she is not willing to do it without her granddaughter Shushik there and she goes to school in Virginia and is also going to be in Florida most of the summer. But now we have gotten it figured out to the point that the only possible time it would work is for her to be baptized Saturday May 9th in the evening and then confirmed the next day and so we are going to make it happen! She is very excited about it and honored to be receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost on Mother's Day :) I've been basically bouncing off the walls I am so excited about it!!
This last Tuesday we had zone conference which mean's 3 zones combined for a 6 hour meeting with President and Sister Taggart and it was awesome! Sister Taggart talked about simply loving people so much there is no room for judgment. We had a guest speaker named Brother Bean who gave an amazing training on teaching with power and authority and how when we are seeking specific blessings we can search the scriptures to find the law that we need to keep in order to receive the attached blessing. In our case he used multiple scriptures in D&C about how if we want to teach with power and authority we need to truly "obtain the word" and also be willing to boldly declare it. President Taggart trained us on working more effectively with the members of our wards and branches in order to better support our investigators and recent converts.
Thursday we went to Ellis Island and had a blast as always! It has been a year since Sister Andrus has been able to serve there which made me really appreciate that I've been able to go 3 times already now! We had a little time to explore the museum displays and of course I love learning about history so I was very happy :) That evening one of Sister Andrus' former companions surprised her by showing up and taking us to dinner! She was visiting New Jersey because a family she had worked with was getting sealed and she stopped by to see us! It was super crazy and made both of us slightly trunky but was a fun experience overall! Serving with Sister Andrus continues to be a huge blessing! She is an amazing missionary and makes up for all the ways that I am still very inexperienced! Our companionship study time each morning is always powerful and enlightening and I love it! Plus we just have a lot of fun ;)
New Jersey is starting to prove why it is called the "garden state" and of course I appreciate that! Random side note: I think I've managed to make myself lactose intolerant...is that possible from drinking too much milk? No fun and I can't google what to do about it haha so if anyone wants to send me any words of wisdom I would appreciate it!
Hey mama! I'm glad you had such an amazing week! Sounds like women's conference is always great, so you went with Sherry? And then with her to the Timp temple? Is that the one that looks like the bountiful temple? Does it look similar inside too? That is so amazing that you and your buddies were able to go to the temple with Nicole. What a blessing! I know how invested you are in her and I am so happy for you! So you are doing role plays for FHE? Hahaha oh man that will be an adventure! Role plays are great! Haha I still am not a huge fan of them, but they are still good!
I'm so sorry that I have not been good about sending you a personal email every week. I don't really know why, and don't have a great excuse for it, maybe just because I know it will take more thought than my other quick emails to people and so I put it off and then run out of time! :( I promise to do better. So here is a real letter to you.
I miss you mom. I'm looking forward to skyping with y'all this week, but I'm also kind of nervous about it because I know in some ways it will be hard and distracting. I love being with Sister Andrus. She is amazing and has been exactly what I needed in a companion right now in a million ways. Basically on our first day she asked me what my top "love languages" were and we realized that our top three are the same 1. physical touch 2. quality time 3. words of affirmation...so that makes things a lot easier and we often end up sitting on the couch and just talking. Basically exactly what I need to feel connected and loved plus lots of random hugs. It has been such a blessing! In some ways it has been kind of hard though because she is such an old missionary and a little trunky, which makes me slightly trunky and I still have have a million years to go!
We also tend to struggle getting out the door on time but justify it because we are having legitimately strong spiritual experiences and discussions that are hard to just cut off mid conversation to go spend that time trying to talk to people that don't want to talk to us or trying to find less-actives who are never home. One just feels so much more productive than the other... :( We are working on sticking to our plans better and being more motivated to be anxiously engaged in fulfilling our purpose 100% of the time. It's just hard sometimes. You know how I struggle with being self-motivated especially when the "best" thing is so hard and the "good/better" thing is so much easier and more fun! If you have any wise words of wisdom for me I would appreciate it. There are still really good things going on with the work, I will just write them in the group email (which might be a little short today). I promise I'm not being a total bum though! I just am getting down on my self because I'm not quite living up to the high expectations I hold myself to.
I hope this email was a step in the right direction on giving you insight to how I am doing! I know that's important to you and I've been slacking!
Wish I could just give you a big ole hug right now!
Love you mama!
This week was the hardest one so far on my mission but it also ended the best! Tasting the bitter truly makes you appreciate the sweet! Within the space of 3 days we went back and forth like 4 times on whether or not Rose would be getting baptized. First Satan got to her and she got cold feet and called us crying saying she didn't want to get baptized anymore :( and so we rushed over to her home to talk to her. I was pretty upset about it all and I think a big part of it at that point was that I didn't want to have "my" baptism canceled. Then later that day she got feeling better about things and wanted to be baptized after all :) but we were afraid she wouldn't pass her interview :( Then she passed and we were sooo excited! :D And then Elder Franke talked to President Taggart and once again it looked like she wouldn't be able to be baptized :( That was Thursday evening and once again I was devastated but this time as I examined why I was so heartbroken I was pleased to be able to recognize that my sorrow was completely at the thought of Rose's disappointment if we had to tell her that she wouldn't be able to be baptized, and not at all for any selfish motives. Purely on behalf of someone I have learned to love with all my heart and want the best for. I have never fulfilled the commandment to pray without ceasing so well in my life.
When we found out from you that it was still possible for her to be baptized I was excited but my elation was subdued by my awe at how clearly I could see the Lord's hand in this event. I had almost resigned myself to the idea that she wouldn't be able to be baptized but it broke my heart because I could so clearly see her faith and pure desire to do what she knew God required of her. The day of the baptism was crazy and the service started an hour late, but the spirit was so strong and it just felt right. Even our Relief Society president who knows very little about Rose's history could feel that this was a long time coming and a fulfillment of a lot of faith and prayers.
I know that this is the Lord's work and that His will is done and it is just our privilege to be a part of it.
My mission scripture is D&C 123:17 "Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed." Getting ready for Rose's baptism we definitely were doing all things that lied in our power to pull that off! It was intense...we found out the day before that we wouldn't be able to do it in our building and so we had to do it at the church in Passaic. Which is literally a converted office building. Obviously the building hadn't had a baptismal font originally so the font is like a giant installed tub that is not set into the ground at all so you everyone had to watch from the mirror above it, and there are 7 steps up to the font and then 3 to get down into it so we were slightly worried about Rose with that. To add to the fun the water didn't heat up for whatever reason so we were literally boiling the biggest pots of water we could find and rushing back and forth trying to add as much warm water as possible so we didn't give this poor 83 year old woman pneumonia! Needless to say I was sweating profusely.
The baptism was scheduled for 7:30 pm which is already unusually late..yeah..never doing that again! Shoushig's (I've been spelling her name wrong) father was nearly an hour late to the service and Rose was not willing to start without him. Sister Andrus and I were a wreck trying to get everything figured out and then having to wait an hour for it to start! The baptismal service was beautiful though and the spirit was felt by all present. Brother Cotton did a great job of helping Rose get totally immersed even though the water was still fairly cold and she was nervous about leaning backwards! Afterward Shoushig's mother had brought TONS of food and so everyone had a good time eating and talking and congratulating Rose. Unfortunately by then it was 9:30..AKA our curfew but the party was still going strong and we were responsible for making sure the church was locked and clean and ready for church the next day! So back to running around like chickens with out heads cut off trying to encourage everyone to wrap it up and then trying to get all the extra food cleaned up and given to people and transported to cars! Goodness...yeah we got home a bit later than we would have liked. But the next day Shoushig and Taline brought Rose to church and she was confirmed and all is well!
This was a week of tears for sure, but I know that God answers prayers. That this is truly His true church. And that baptism by the authority of the priesthood is a necessary step in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And I will be eternally grateful that I was able to be a part of Rose's journey in entering into sacred covenants with our Heavenly Father.
It was so nice to be able to Skype with my family yesterday! I am grateful for the love and support that I have from all of you! Congrats to Hannah, and good luck on your mission! And Kate, I'm excited for you too!
This is the last week of my third transfer! Most likely that means I will probably be getting transferred next week, but I'm praying I don't! I know that 4 1/2 months in one area is probably long enough, but I don't want to leave all these people! Yes I know...that's mission life and I am going to have to get over it, but I have really come to love the people here and would appreciate some more time! Plus I would love to have Sister Andrus as my companion for another transfer, she is amazing and has taught me so much!
It seems like every week I'm talking about Rose haha but here is another funny Rose story from this week. We taught her with Sister Oliphant (our Relief Society president) for her first new member lesson, and when we were pulling up before hand we saw that Sis. Oliphant was already there and it looked like she and Rose were arm in arm taking a walk. Turns out Rose had randomly decided to take a walk over to the Oliphant's apartment! I'm glad she didn't tell us that she was planning to do that because I would have been very concerned! They only live a couple blocks away, but at an 83 year old walking pace apparently it took Rose almost an hour to walk there! We were just glad that she made it ok and amazed that she didn't get lost! She is doing great though, it seems like getting baptized revitalized her because before she got baptized she had never really felt well enough to go to church but yesterday she not only came but she took the initiative to find herself a ride and stayed the whole 3 hours! When we were talking to her about her baptism she just kept saying what a special day it was and when we tried to teach her about temples she requested that we give her a little time to "daydream about the feelings from her baptism" before she learns something new. I am inspired by the excitement and reverence she has for that ordinance she was able to take part in.
We did a Mormon Helping Hands service project this week at a Catholic rehab center in Paterson.
We were just painting stairwells and railings, but it was a lot of fun and there were about as many members there from the different wards and branches in the area as there were missionaries which is good! Normally with that kind of thing it is hard to get members to show up. I'm sending a picture of us on the roof of that building that we painted 6 floors worth of stairwells of! The building is on the corner of Straight street and Narrow street! The other picture is us before a 7:00 a.m. meeting yesterday. Aka super tired yet happy which is basically mission life!
Tomorrow we are having a 8 hour meeting with the whole mission in Morristown about getting iPads! We have to be seated by 7:30 am...which means we will probably have to leave our apartment by 6:30...plus getting ready before that. Yeah I'm not real excited about that, but I am excited to see everyone plus we will be getting trained on using iPads so that is exciting! I'm a little bit apprehensive about all the changes that are coming and worried that it could be a big distraction, but it is also exciting because there will be so much we can do with the amazing resources the Church has like mormonchannel.org, and the gospel library app! Tomorrow will be a big day, plus it is Sister Andrus' birthday! :)
Love you all!
This has been quite the week. To start off we had an all day training in Morristown about how to use iPads as a tool for missionary work and just like that now we suddenly have iPads! They have been telling the missionaries for over a year now that they would get iPads "soon" and now we have them! The training focused a lot on how even though the iPads have a ton of filters on them the only true filter we have is our conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They emphasized that using this kind of technology in a mission environment can help us learn self control that will continue to be a blessing after the mission. It's going to be a 9 week process slowly implementing different ways we will be using the iPads. The first 3 weeks is learning to use the Gospel Library app as a tool for teaching and studying. We only have access to the internet when we are somewhere that we have the wifi password or it's free (like the church, libraries, and Dunkin Donuts) so when we are in those places we can download things like Mormon Messages and then use them to supplement our teaching. Mostly I am absolutely loving having access to years and years worth of conference talks! IT'S LIKE CHRISTMAS!!!! We are also able to receive and read emails that we get throughout the week, we just are not able to respond until P-Day. So that was the highlight of the week!
Other than that it has kind of been rough. Particularly last night. We found out that I am getting transferred tomorrow to who knows where with who knows who. Which I know is just a part of mission life, but it was really tough on Sister Andrus and I. We both had been feeling a sense of growing dread as the week went on because even though it is not unusual for someone to stay in an area for 4 transfers we both felt like I would be leaving. Last evening it was ironic because we were both getting on each others nerves for the first time and it was because we were both just out of sorts dreading the text that we knew would be coming and confirm our fears that I would be getting transferred. When we actually got the text we both just cried for a good long time. I'm trying to focus on the fact that it is such a blessing to have had a companion and people in this area that I love so much that it is so sad to have to leave.
Tomorrow I will be packing up all my stuff and we will head to transfer conference. I will find out where I am going and with whom, and Sister Andrus and her mystery new companion will head back up here. Sad day. But I know that change is a part of life and that I will love my new companion and my new area. I will get back into new routines and all will be well haha I just have to survive this little rough patch!
Tonight I get to go say goodbye to Rose and have one last lesson with her. I'm happy to be able to say that she is doing really well! She has been to church now 4 Sundays in a row and she loves it! Sister Andrus is concerned about what is going to happen when I leave because Rose and I have such a special relationship, but I know that it will be just fine. I'm fortunate to be leaving all these people I love so much in her hands. I have full confidence that she will do a great job!
Today we got to go to a barbeque that our Branch President and his wife do each year for the branch and it was a blessing to get to say goodbye to a lot of the people I have gotten very close to in the branch. The pictures are of me and Sister Andrus and Sister Pexton (one of S. Andrus' former comps) at the iPad training, and me and sister Oliphant (our RS president) at the barbeque.
Thank you all for your love and support Love yous Sister McConkie