Monday, October 31, 2011

Sister Melan in a Pumpkin Patch

Dear Family,

I hope you are having a good Halloween! Halloween has never been my favorite holiday, although you might question why, but it almost seems a relief not to have to worry about finding a costume or feeling guilty for not having one. The only thing that is Halloween-ish that I have done is eat the cookies that you sent me and make pumpkin pancakes and watch other missionaries carve a pumpkin. So, mostly just eat things. I guess we have also been taking note of the different levels of people decorating their houses for Halloween and asking little kids what they are dressing up as, but really it has just been sliding by fairly unnoticed. Tonight, we are not allowed to be out on the streets or use our cars at all, so all the sisters are having a party in the Trail Center. It should be fun! It always is when we get all of the sisters together :) That is one thing that I love about being in a Visitor's Center, we get to be around the other sisters a lot and strengthen and support each other.

Sister Kusnerik and I have been learning a lot this week about attitudes towards missionary work, a lot from Elders. Elders just have a completely different approach to missionary work a lot of the time. Sisters tend to get caught up in expecting themselves and others to achieve perfection and making themselves miserable and extremely stressed in the process. It seems that Elders take a more relaxed approach: understanding the importance of the work but also acknowledging that they do not have to be perfect. That as long as they are trying their hardest, that's ok! When I asked one of the Elders what his one piece of advice to Sisters is, he told me that it is to be yourself. Wow. That's so true. Being a missionary doesn't mean you suddenly morph into a different person. It just means that you are (rapidly) building upon the traits you already have to become more Christ-like. That way, when you return home, you have built yourself to be a better person instead of building on a pretend foundation that disappears when you leave your mission. It also means that you do not have to completely tear down the person you were before your mission. On top of this, I learned from Sister Kunz to find the good in everything. When she came out with us on Thursday, our first appointment cancelled. The only thing she said was to comment on how nice it was to be outside in the fresh air. When something happens that you cannot change or cannot control, there is no point in dwelling on it. Just move on. She also told us that as long as we feel like we are trying to do our best in missionary work, at the end of the day, God is looking down on us and is proud. He loves us and wants to reward us, not he is annoyed by us and is disappointed when we are not perfect.

Last night, we were able to have an amazing experience with a less active from our ward and his girlfriend. When we went to visit them last night, they were very sweet to invite us in and fed us cookies and milk. As we started talking, she quickly revealed that she is agnostic and has been since she was a teenager (now in her 50's). He stopped going to church after his first wife and he were divorced and he felt that a lot more emphasis was put on him because of the priesthood whereas his daughter and ex-wife were largely ignored. Since then, they have been visited many, many times by groups from our ward. They were very sweet to us, but did not seem particularly interested in learning or developing their faith. As we talked, they started to open up to us more and more until he accidentally shared with us a piece of confidential information that she did not want shared. Although the situation seemed a little treacherous at first, it turned out to be a great blessing as we reassured her and built a relationship of trust with them. At one point, she asked us about our limited communication with family members while we are on missions. We explained that the price that we pay by leaving our families is small compared to the reward that we get to help others be with their families for eternity. She was very touched. "Wow. You would do that for me?" By the end of the appointment, she had gone from not believing in God to strongly desiring to have greater faith and to learn more about the gospel. We committed them to pray together every night, which it turns out is something that he had been wanting to do for a long time. We promised them great blessings if they would have that faith. They tried to tell us multiple times that we did not understand the magnitude of the blessings we were promising, that it would be huge. I felt it so strongly. I know that if they follow through with their commitment that they will be so blessed. My heart yearns for them to have that.

Sorry for the length of this message! I just love this couple so much and am so appreciative for the experience we were able to have last night. I am really starting to love the Oakview area. I know that there are good people there that are prepared; they are just taking a little time to find.

Love you!

Sister Melly

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Sister Melanie has a Happy Birthday

Dear Family,

Thanks so much for the birthday presents and cards and letters and everything. I loved them, but it was hard because it made me miss all of you. I would trade all my presents for being able to spend on day with all of you, but I guess I will just have to deal with what I have for now. I love you and miss every one of you so much.

This last week, we were finally able to meet with Ellie Farfan, a less-active who is not even on the ward roster, but who we found in a parking lot at an apartment building in our area. She is such I sweet lady. She is 25 years old and wants to come back to church for her three kids, who are 2, 7, and newborn. She and the two oldest children came to church on Sunday and seemed to have a really good time. She is so sweet, but is struggling with why her older brother died a couple of years ago. her husband is a non-member, so when she found out that we are only allowed to have dinners with members if there is an investigator present, she said "Well, then I guess I am one of the only people that can have you over for dinner until my husband gets baptized!" Ha ha. We haven't really talked about her husband investigating the church, but that sounds very positive. I am sure we will have a very good relationship with the family not matter what happens.

On Wednesday, I was having kind of a tough night, just having a hard time communicating with my companion. I was feeling a lot better by the next morning though and thought that everything would be fine. That night, we got a call from our zone leader, Elder Carrier. He said that we had been on his mind all day and was wondering why and what we needed. We had no idea what to say, but he committed us to think about it and he would call us back later that night. The only thing that either of us could think of was that we each had individually been thinking that I should ask for a blessing. Elder Carrier and his companion drove out to the Trail Center on Saturday morning and gave me a blessing. I feel like the purpose of this whole exchange was not just of me to get a blessing. I think that it had a lot more to do with me knowing how aware God is of each person. He knows what we need better than we know. When we are willing or humble enough to ask for the help that we need, he works through other people to get us that help. He will never give up on us. I know that he is doing the same thing in the lives of our investigators. He is working on them individually, but when they continue to refuse his help, he sends us to find them.

On Friday, we cleaned the Trail Center in the morning and then, as a special treat, we got permission from President Kunz to watch the movie, 17 Miracles. Wow. What a powerful movie. I am not sure if I was crying more because of the story or because of the people I know that are in it, Mary Jane and Steph and Gary Riemer if we are going to count him. Ha ha. It made me so happy to see those people I love. This movie has changed the way that I view the pioneers. They were truly amazing people. It really helped me to see the different types of pioneers. There were those that turned back. There were those that turned against leaders or against God. They learned through their trials and took it all one step at a time. Those that persevered and that humbled themselves and learned from their experiences were truly amazing people.

Yesterday was my birthday! Apart from missing my family, it was a pretty good day. I opened my presents in the morning after having to search the apartment to find them. (Our roommates moved out this weekend and left them in a closet so I wouldn't open them early). Then Sister Kusnerik made me cookies for breakfast. One of the recent converts, JJ Holoubeck, in our ward got married, and she invited us to the wedding. We went early and helped make all kinds of Halloween treats that they had for the reception. The wedding was small, just on the back deck with a handful of people there. It was really special to be there and it really helped me to understand how people feel a really strong connection to missionaries, even when they don't know them individually very well. I was so honored to be there and so happy that we went. It was also a lot of fun to help them cook. I really miss baking and cooking. It has been a long time since I have really had the supplies and space to be able to really cook. After the wedding, we went to the Olive Garden for lunch. Sister Kusnerik and I talked about what we want to do after our missions and having families and all that crazy stuff. Ha ha. We are so weird, but we have a lot of fun together most of the time. After that, we went to the Trail Center to do chat for 6 hours, which is a very long time! But when we got there, we walked in the front door and a lady that I had give a short tour to a couple of days before was there taking another tour. I don't know how, but she knew it was my birthday somehow and started singing Happy Birthday, to which everyone else that was in the front entryway joined in and there was some good harmonies going on. It was almost like being with the Young Ambassadors! Ha ha. I was shocked. I am still not sure what to think about what happened. But, it happened.

Well, that's all for this week!

Love you!

Sister Melly

Monday, October 17, 2011

Sister Melly is working hard!

Dear Family,

I love you. I love you a lot. It amazes me every day how I start noticing different ways that missionary work in not only for the people that are brought to the gospel, but also has a lot to do with the refining of the missionaries. While only being able to communicate with you once a week via email is difficult, it makes me so much more appreciative of my family. I miss you. I love you.

Wow, this week has gone by very quickly. It probably has something to do with the fact that we had p-day last Tuesday and now p-day is on Monday again. I hope that that does not mean that this next week is going to go by very slowly since p-day will not be until Tuesday next week. Wow, I am having a hard time knowing what to day right now. My mind is just completely empty.

Um, something that I have been learning this week is the need for balance. I just never feel like we have time for everything. I feel like I could spend all day in our apartment studying and be perfectly happy with that. I would probably learn a lot. But then, we go out into our area and I feel like we never have enough time to get everything done that we need to do. Even if we spent from 6 am to 9 pm out in our area everyday, I still might not feel like we are getting enough done. But, despite wanting to do a whole lot of each thing, there is just not enough time. That is where the need for balance comes in. We can't do everything we want, but we have to decide how to effectively use the time that we do have.

Last Tuesday, we went to go visit Megan Wigton. She told us via text that she was worried about what her parents would think when they found out that she had been talking to us, so we went to introduce ourselves. They were eating dinner, so Megan’s dad told us they would talk to Megan about it, but that they were Catholic and had their own beliefs. We went back yesterday night and talked to her Mr. Wigton again. He was nice to us, but told us that Megan was confused about who we were and thought that we were Catholic nuns coming to visit her. We know that that is not true. She knows who we are. It just makes me really sad to see people that need the gospel in their lives so badly, and want it, and know that it is true, but others get in their way and prevent them from having the healing and comfort that the gospel can bring.

On Thursday, we got to have some pretty special visitors in the Trail Center. We had Sister Dalton, YW president, Sister Wixom, Primary President, Sister Thompson, RS 2nd Counselor, and our Area Seventy. Sister Bown and Sister Wilson got to take them on tour, but we all shook hands with them and talked to them after the tour. It was funny how excited people got about it. They are very sweet ladies and really have a special spirit about them. After they left, we were going to the temple and realized that we were following them over. We were really excited because we thought we would get to do a session with them, but they were just taking a tour, but the temple was still nice.

Other than that, we have just been trying to get to know all of the members of our ward and meet lots of people. We did a service project for a non-member in our area on Saturday, working in his backyard moving around dirt and moving boxes from the garage to his basement. We had about 10 people there. He originally didn’t want to hear anything about our church, but was very appreciative and seemed to warm up quite a bit by the end. I just really enjoyed doing some good hard work that I could see the results of. I know that we are making differences in people’s lives and that most of that change is happening where we cannot see it, but it’s nice to the fruits of our labors sometimes.

It is starting to get cold here. We have had some rain, but not any snow yet. I had better hurry up and find myself a winter coat before it gets too cold! I keep thinking about the pioneers and just can't imagine how they withstood all of the cold and snow. I just can't even imagine.

Love you!
Sister Melly

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sister Lamb answers more questions

I may have already answered these questions or you may have figured out the answers, but I will answer them anyway.

We cook for ourselves all the time. President Kunz has asked us not to have dinners with members so we can proselytize from 5-9, but last Sunday several people offered to take us out to lunch once a week or once a month, so that is awesome!

We live down a very steep hill and about a block away from the Trail Center.

They gave us debit cards that we use to buy food and stuff.

The number of visitors in the Trail Center varies every day. Sometimes no one comes for over an hour. Other times we have to call in extra people to help take tours. When we are not giving tours, we are studying history from packets they gave us or reading scriptures or look for pioneer stories or just talking. I have not asked about knitting because right now I really don’t have time, but it sounds like it would be OK.

For exercise we go running or do workout videos at the Trail Center.

Last Thursday, in district meeting, we found out that no one in our district knows how to play the piano. Sister Kusnerik volunteered me to play (I don’t know how she knew that I even play a note.) Luckily the song was “Count Your Many Blessings”. I made it through OK. Pretty good for not having played in years. I think that once the Trail Center slows down more and I am feeling a little more confident in my teaching and history and things I will spend some time practicing in case I get called on again.

I love you!

Love, Sister Melly

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sister Melly Emails and Answers Questions

Before you get to Sister Melly's Letter - just a word from the Blogger-Mom:

Sister Melly's birthday is on the 24th - less that two weeks. If you can please send her a card and if you have any suggestions or recipes (as discribed below) please send them too. Her address right now is 3110 Willit #5, Omaha, Nebraska 68112 and she will be there at least to the next transfer. It is usually safer to send mail to the Mission Office. Thanks!

Hello family!

Our P-day switches between Mondays and Tuesdays each week, so this week P-day is on Tuesday and next week it will be on Monday again.

This week has been absolutely amazing! We have seen so many miracles happen. I can't really remember exactly what has happened since last Monday, so I will try not to repeat myself. - the days all kind of blend together.

Last week, we met a 25 yr old woman named Megan. We had an amazing first lesson with her on her doorstep and she committed to be baptized on the first Saturday in November. We are going back to teach her again tonight, but she has already cancelled on us twice, so Sister Kusnerik says that if she does not show up tonight, we will have to drop her. That seems a little depressing.

We have also been spending a lot of time visiting less-actives, getting to know a few of the ward members, and just talking to people on the street. There was one man that we tried to talk to that was just like "ah! Why me? Why don't you go talk to my neighbors instead? They are home!" So, we did. We told the neighbor that his neighbor had referred him as someone that he thought would be interested in our message. Sister Kusnerik thought it was hilarious. I was just nervous.

On Saturday, I went on splits with Sister Proctor in her area while our companions went to the temple to see a man they helped baptize be endowed. Sister Proctor knew Jordan Roper in high school and when we were talking, I remembered that Jordan had actually told me about her right before she went in to the MTC. Ha-ha! We taught one lesson with a member and then had her give us a ride to the next appointment. After we had spent a couple of hours in that area, we needed to get back to our car, but could not find a ride, so we ended up walking back. We had to walk about two miles along a busy road and then along a dirt path. No big deal. But then, it started raining. I kept hoping someone would stop and offer us a ride so we could share the gospel with them, but no one did. The only person we saw the whole time was a man who had been trail running in the rain and was about to get in his car. We talked to him and gave him a pass-along card. Hopefully something happens there because that is the only reason that I can think of for why we had to walk all that distance in the rain.

The amazing thing though is what happened that night. As we were leaving an appointment to go do our weekly planning, Sister Kusnerik had a distinct impression that we needed go to Grover St, where we had planned to go, but had run out of time. When we got there, we prayed for help in finding whoever it was that we were there for and then specifically asked who it was we were looking for. Sister Kusnerik felt that we would find two people walking out to their car and I felt that we would find a woman who would be standing out on her front porch. As we got out of the car and started walking across the street, two people were walking straight towards, out of their garage, and towards a car that was parked in the front driveway. We talked to them and bore our testimonies and invited them to look at and gave them our phone number. One down. We continued walking down Grover St. and after a little bit, though we saw a woman standing out on her front porch. As we walked towards her, we realized that it was actually a boy, but we talked to him anyways. He went inside and brought out his cousin who was there watching the game and we ended up getting a self-referral from him to give to some of the other sisters, so I am going to count it. One amazing thing about this experience is that it happened during a Huskers football game. You usually can't even find anyone during the Huskers’ game.

So, I am definitely learning a lot. Sometimes, I can't wait to get back to the Trail Center because I feel more comfortable giving tours than I do talking to every person we see on the street, and other times I can't wait to get out in our area and actually teach people. My favorite thing to do though is still chat. I love it so much! They just told us that that all of the sisters serving in the trail center will be spending one shift of 6 hours on chat each week. I am so excited! I love it! In just a couple of hours last week, we were able to chat with several different people and share the gospel with them and send the missionaries to their home to teach them more. We even have two investigators that we are just teaching on chat. It is so awesome.

Well, I love you so much! Really really. I am sorry that I don't have more time to write everyone a personal letter each week, but there seriously is just no time. I will try to write at least a couple of letters each week in addition to email, but I just can't promise a lot. Love you! Love you! Love you! Love love love!

Love, Sister Melly

How many missionaries live in your apartment?
There are 10 sisters that live in our apartment building. There are four in my apartment, four below us, and two in a different section of the building. We have a senior couple living next door to us and there is at least one set of Elders living somewhere in the building. The senior couples are so great. They take good care of us.

Where are your roommates from the MTC?
Sister Bown is one of the two missionaries that live in the other section of the building. I see her pretty often because we all share cars, so we always have to go over to either take  keys or give them keys. Sister Wilson and Sister Pinchak both live other places, but I see them at the Trail Center at least occasionally.

Are all the Sisters in the mission also in the Visitor Center?
All the sisters in the mission eventually serve at some time in the Trail Center, although some of them are called as full proselytizing. President Kunz has everyone serve in the trail center no matter what.

Have you made it back to the young woman with the newborn?
No, she is in the West maple area, so the other sisters are teaching her now. She told them that she usually would not have opened the door to missionaries, but for some reason felt that she should let the two of us in and that there was something special about us.

Where is your companion from?
Chicago, but her mom was in the navy so she has lived all over.

Do you eat at home most of the time?
So far, pasta and sandwiches and salads and stuff that is really quick. We usually don't take the full hour for meals.
What recipes do you want?
Recipes that I can make on p-day and keep in the fridge to eat through the rest of the week. Also, stuff that doesn't need any preparation right before it is eaten because we lots of times just have to take our food with us and eat in the car.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Sister Melanie's Companion

This is a picture of Sister Melanie's Companion (on the left) 
that I borrowed off of Sister Kunz's blog

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Pictures of Sister Melanie's arrival in Omaha

Sister Melanie with her Mission President Milan F Kunz and Sister Leslie Kunz
Missionaries arriving in Omaha on September 27/2011: Elder Powell, Elder Cosens, Elder Mendel, Elder Thompson, Elder Hancy, Elder Evans, Elder Harris, Elder Wallace and Sister Unice, Sister Wilson, Sister Kunz, President Kunz, Sister Bown, Sister Pinchak, Sister Lamb

Sister Kunz writes:

Upon arrival, the new missionaries are taken to the
Pioneer Cemetery on the Temple Grounds.There, President Kunz issues a challenge:If you are willing to servewith the same conviction and faith
as these wonderful men and women did,
then step around the monument and face the temple.

As faithful young missionaries,
they all step around toward the temple.
I can feel their silent prayers
for the same faith in the face of adversity
that those brave pioneers had.
It is a sweet moment to see their beautiful young faces
so full of hope and determination.
These are incredible missionaries
and seeing their faith,
strengthens mine.

Sister Melanie is living in an apartment about .5 miles from the Visitors Center and the Mission President has asked that all mail be sent to the Mission Office on Arbor Street and they will forward it on. Mission events and pictures are posted on the Kunz's family blog -


Monday, October 3, 2011

Sister Melan - First Week of Growth in a Nebraska Cornfield

                                                                                                            October 3, 2011

Dear Family,

It has been a long time since my last p-day and I am sure ready for it! So much has happened since my last letter. On the Monday before we left for Omaha, we had a TRC appointment for Visitor's center that was leading a tour. We set up little displays of pictures a in few different rooms in the TRC building to take people around and talk about prophets, the restoration, the Book of Mormon, families, temples, etc. Right before we were going to give the tours, they told us that they had about 30 people waiting to participate in the tours. With four companionships, that meant each group would have 7 or 8 people. We were planning on 2 or 3 per group, so we were a little nervous but thought we should be OK. When we got our groups, it turns out that they had the 2 Spanish speaking companionships take Spanish speaking tours of 2-3 people each and the other two companionships (including Sister Pinchak and I) each took a tour of about 20 people. That is probably how it will be in the summer at our Visitor's Center (in Omaha), so I guess it was good practice but I was real nervous. I think that my face and neck turned bright red about 2 minutes in and stayed that way through the rest of the tour! Luckily, that was the worst part and the rest of the tour went really well.

The next day, we left for Omaha at 6 am. Our other roommates were so cute and got up early with us to walk us to the Travel Office and say goodbye. When we arrived in the airport, President and Sister Kunz were there waiting for us. President Kunz mentioned that mom is from Omaha. I don't know how he knows that, but the first thing that came out of my mouth was "Yeah, and I thing we're related. . . . Distantly". That's pretty much all we said about that. It was kind of awkward. I think it’s funny though.

We spent the rest of Tuesday and all of Wednesday with the Kunzs. On Thursday, we went to downtown Omaha where a bank has placed statues of a wagon train with three larger than life wagons. There are also animals placed randomly throughout downtown Omaha. Sometimes, you can only see parts of them because the artist wanted to symbolize how the animals were here before the city was built, so you will see only the front half of something hanging out the side of a building. We also visited the Kanesville Tabernacle and made our first visit to the Mormon Trail Center. In the afternoon, they had us go out with other missionaries who are serving around Omaha. I went with Sister Kusnerik. First, we visited a lady that she had met on the street a few days before. The lady wasn't home, but her daughter and newborn were at home. She invited us in and we taught her the whole first lesson and committed her to baptism. It was amazing. The spirit was so strong and she was so accepting of everything we explained to her. She said that that very morning, she had been praying for a change in her life and she knew that this was it. Then, we went to visit another lady, but she wasn't home either. We talked to her husband for a very long time. He was quite knowledgeable about the Bible and lots of religions. We spent a lot of time talking to him and didn't get to teach him hardly anything.
That night, President Kunz gave us each a letter that told us who our companion is and where we will be serving. Turns out, the person we went out with earlier in the day is actually our companion. So, my companion is Sister Kusnerik. We are opening up the Oakview area, which has been closed for several years. It is about twenty minutes away from the trail center, where we are also serving.

Pretty much every day since then, we have been in the Trail Center a ton. Sister Kusnerik is also a Trail Center trainer, so she has been working on scheduling and getting ready for training (which will be this Tuesday) and all kinds of other things to get ready for the rest of the transfer. So far, we have only been able to make it out to our area once. We met with the Ward mission leader, who sounds excited to have missionaries in their ward again, but expects a lot from us because the last sets of missionaries they had were not very committed to the work. We have also been calling lots of previous investigators and referrals from 3 or 4 years ago that were never contacted. We have a couple of appointments set up and hopefully will get more soon! We will be out in our area tonight for a few hours, so we are praying that some good things will happen then!

In the vast amounts of time I have been at the Trail Center, I have given my first few tours by myself and gotten to do some good studying of the history. The numbers of people that come the Trail Center is different every day. We usually have at least one or two tours going on at a time, but there was one day where we had to call in extra people because we had four or five groups of families show up and a school group of 80 kids on their way. My first tour was kind of an embarrassment. I don't even know what to say about it, but things have gotten better since then. I feel pretty confident about giving tours to members of the Church, but the hard thing is non-members. They just usually come in only wanting to get history, but it is impossible to talk about the pioneers without talking about religion and it is our responsibility as missionaries to share the gospel with everyone, so I am working on that. The sad thing was that yesterday, during conference, we kept having member families show up for tours. We invited them to watch conference with us in one of the theaters, but they all declined. So weird.

That reminds me, James Conlee, who is a former Young Ambassador and performed with the YA's at the reunion tour last year, keeps showing up at the Visitor's Center. He is working with the Manheim Stream Rollers, who are conveniently located just down the street. So, we're pretty much best friends now. Ha Ha. Right before one of the sessions of conference, we realized that the projector in the theater wasn't working. No one was doing anything about it, so I went to work trying to figure out what was wrong. Brother Conlee came over and helped me because he could see that I didn't really know what I was doing. I think he spent at least half of the session trying to figure out what was wrong. I felt kind of bad that he didn't get to listen to a lot of conference, but I think that he was enjoying himself. We will have to see if he turns up again.

Well, I feel pretty solid about this letter. It is pretty long, but a lot happened this week, so I guess that is partially justified.

That's all folks!

Sister Lamb-baaaa

PS. I have only seen one cornfield so far.