Tuesday, March 27, 2012

End of the Month and Short on Miles - the Blessings of Walking

Dear Family,

Love you!

So, this has been another interesting week as usual. There are lots of ways to do missionary work and, it seems, lots of different ways to interpret the rules of missionary work, so Sister Bergeson and I have been working on what version we will be living by. At least several times a day, we have to ask each other how we have done different things in the past and then try to figure out what we think that we should be doing. It is quite a process. We have both always been with companions that are near the end of their missions and who have already figured out what they are going to do, but it has been fun, although sometimes a bit annoying, to figure it all out for ourselves.

So, I love the Oakview ward, but I am a getting a little worried that I am getting to close to some of the members. I love them a lot and they seem to like me a bit too ;), but I have just been feeling like we are sometimes a bit too buddy-buddy. But, maybe that is what they need right now. That has become my common phrase lately whenever something weird/unexpected happens. "Maybe that is just what they needed". We just go with it.

Ok, some highlights for the week. It seems like in the past couple of weeks, all of our investigators have just kind of disappeared. Either they are too busy to meet with us right now, or they are not interested in learning right now, or we haven't been able to contact them for a while. Even our less-actives that we have been teaching have suddenly gotten more difficult to get a hold of. So, this has meant lots of finding. Also, because it is the end of the month, the cars are running out of miles, so we have been doing a lot of walking. Fortunately, it has worked out in our favor.

On Thursday, we met a younger lady named Crystal. She was interested for a minute, but told us that if we could show her in the Bible where it says that we need a prophet today, she would let us teach her. We showed her a couple of scriptures in the Bible that talk about prophets, but she still didn't seem convinced. Just as she was about to shut the door, her husband showed up. We continued talking about modern day prophets. He was shocked. He said that this was something that they had never even considered before and that they were having a hard time wrapping their minds around it. We left them with some different things to take a look at and invited them to pray about it, but the soonest time that they said that they could meet with us and really give us their full attention will not be for about 3 weeks. So, we will wait and we are praying that nothing happens to them in that time before we can meet with them.

On Sunday, we got a ride to church and then had the evening to spend in the area. By the time we had our meeting with the ward mission leader, Brother Loveridge, and ate dinner, the building was pretty much cleaned out of people. We thought about calling a member to drive us down closer to where we wanted to go, but decided instead just to walk there. It was about 3 miles with a busy road on one side and empty cornfield on the other. We felt like real missionaries. We only met two people on our walk. The second person, who we met just before we turned in to the neighborhood we were headed for, was a man named Travis. He has looked into lots of different religions, but still had a lot of questions and seemed a bit confused when he tried to explain exactly what he believes. He agreed to meet us at the church building on Thursday so that we can teach him there. It’s funny how every missionary story with finding investigators seems to happen at the very end. It usually has something to do with the last 5 minutes before heading home, or in this case, the last few steps before reaching our destination. It just reminds us over and over that the blessings don’t come at the beginning. They come after patient perseverance.

Then again, on Monday, we worked in the Trail Center and then had a member drop us off in one of the parts of our area. We knocked some doors and tried to check on some people, and then ended up at the home of a woman who Sister Kusnerik and I met in November. We had only talked to her for a moment because it was during a Husker game (oops!) She had told us to come back the next week, but we were not able to make it and had gone back since. The first thing that she told us when we got there was that her husband just died recently. At first, she was a little bit cold, but we warmed her up and were able to teach her a little bit, leave her with a copy of the Book of Mormon, and are going back to see her next week. It is amazing how timing works out when the Lord is directing the work. We always seem to be in the right place at the right time, even if things happen in an odd way.

The other, not so spiritual, highlight for the week was not a person, but a sandwich! We bought some Caribbean jerk marinade last Monday that looked delicious and decided to cook some chicken with it in a Crockpot. Then, we shredded the chicken, put it on sourdough bread (that we were given from Panera), topped it with provolone cheese slices, grilled pineapple rings (grilled on a George Foreman) and then grilled the whole thing in the George Foreman like a Panini with a little bit of butter on the bread so it got all golden and crispy. It was so good! Yummy. We made it twice. Yum yum!

Well, that’s all folks!

Love you so much!

Sister Melly

Monday, March 19, 2012

Sister Lamb Preaches on the Street Corner and Gets to Go to the Baptism with a New Companion

Dear Family,

Wow! This week has been a very eventful one (or at least it has felt like it!)

At the beginning of last week, Sister Askren started having a feeling that there was on last thing that she needed to do before she went home. What it was was that she felt like she needed to go to a park or downtown or some public place, get on top of a soap box, and preach the 1st lesson. Maybe I shouldn't be admitting to this, but it kind of freaked me out a little. I convinced her to call President Kunz to check with him if it was OK before she got too far into it. What ended up happening was that after working at the Trail Center on Wednesday, we and three other sisters drove downtown, chose a street corner, and three of us sang hymns while Sister Askren and Sister Sakurazawa talked to people as they walked by and we handed out mormon.org cards. It was actually really fun and we got several good referrals in just about 30 minutes. It was great! President Kunz had actually been trying to get something like this organized for a while now and wants it to become a regular thing. It was pretty fun, although we forgot to take water with us, so we were pretty thirsty by the time we were done. That was Sister Askren's last day.

Afterwards, we went to a member's home for a turkey dinner and then to a couple of last appointments before the end of the night. It was a beautiful day. The weather has been so nice here lately. Cool/warm and humid. I love it! The only problem is that it is March right now. If the weather is already like this, that means that the summer is going to be extremely hot and humid, so that is not fun. Hooray for the Trail Center! Ha ha.

Wednesday morning we got our transfer assignments from President Kunz. Because we were working at the Trail Center, we were among the first to find out our new assignments. Sister Askren got sent way out west (Idaho) and I am staying in Oakview with new companion Sister Bergeson. She has been out one transfer longer than me and was just serving over in Council Bluffs in the Greenview ward. We are very, very alike. Our previous companions (Sister Askren and Sister Shelley) both just went home. We have both been companions with Trail Center leaders for most of our missions, our personalities are very similar, and our stories about how we decided to come on missions are very similar, we both have a sister who is about 2 years older who is married and a brother who is several years older that collects Star Wars figurines. (She also has a younger brother, so I am starting to wonder what happened to mine). I think just about every sister in the Trail Center has told us "I wish that I could just listen in on the conversations that the two of you have." I don't know what that means, but I think it means that they think we are funny/weird. We both react to things the same way, we have the same sense of humor, etc, etc.

Our first day together was Thursday. It was a wonderful first day, although both of us felt like our companionship was not real. We kept expecting it to end and go back to our old companions, like we were on an exchange, but it never did. We were able to teach an exceptional number of lessons and find a couple of new investigators. It was a great day! We also did some service for one of our investigators, Carla, which was fun and the team up we took with us ended up having a lot in common with her, which was awesome too!

Saturday was another pretty great day. That was mostly because it was Carol's baptism! I was really excited for her, but it was also a little sad because we got there right as it was starting, so I wasn't able to get a picture with her and Bip (her friend that introduced her to us/the church) and our investigators that we had invited did not end up coming, so we had to leave right after the actual baptism. I am still glad that I got to be there and that she was baptized, but we will have to keep working on getting a picture together.

Let's see, other than that, we have been spending a bunch of time in the Trail Center and trying to fit in our studies between lessons and church and everything else. It has been a busy week. This morning, we got to go clean the temple (it is closed for the next two weeks for cleaning). Sister Bergeson, two other sisters, and I cleaned the chandeliers and mirrors in the Celestial room and brides’ room. Each individual crystal had to be cleaned. The mirrors are also made of crystal. It is amazing how immaculately clean and beautiful the temple is. The elders that were there were assigned to cleaning the hinges on each of the doors by taking each pin out, cleaning it, and then putting it all back together. Absolutely amazing.

So, that has been this week. Lots of good experiences and lots of good things happening! This should be a great transfer.

Love you!
Sister Melly

Sister Melanie also got visited by a friend from BYU who is also from Nebraska - Shelby Luke

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Investigators, Sunshine and (Polar) Bears, Oh My!

Dear Family,

Love you!

Things are feeling better and better here in Omaha. It is getting warmer and  sunnier every day. You just can't help but feel more happy and hopeful with all of the sunshine outside. Transfers are this week. I am excited! Sister Askren and I have become really good friends this last week. We have been discussing lately what animals different sisters would have if everyone was given an animal companion that was with them their whole life as their sidekick/ friend. I would have a polar bear. Sister Askren would have a Pomeranian.

Last week, I was looking through a lot of the old records in our area book (most of the records are from more than 3 years ago). I found one that had an Elder Young on it. . . It was from 2006, which would be about right I think. It was kind of fun to see his name on it. I don't know if it was really the Elder Young, but I am going to assume that it is.

So last week, I probably mentioned that we had had a lesson with Carol, the friend of a member in the Oakview ward. We were teaching her for a while, but stopped when her mom put up some resistance. Carol stopped investigating for a little while to avoid any more conflict with her mom. A couple of weeks ago, she came to a homecoming in our ward and we starting talking to her again. The missionary who returned home, who knew Carol a little before his mission, gave his talk on the necessity of baptism and later talked to Carol more about it. I guess that jumpstarted her again and on Sunday, she asked us to come see her. We saw her that night and the next night we went back with the Singles Ward Elders (because she will be in the Winter Quarters Singles Ward). They have been teaching her since then, and she is getting baptized this Friday! Hooray! She is so amazing. She knows the Church is true and has decided that this is really what she wants. Her prayers are so sincere and she stopped smoking, etc. practically on her own. She is so awesome and is a great example for her family, especially her younger sister, Miriam. So, Carol is not technically a baptism for us, but I am counting it since I have been with her from the very beginning up until just a bit before her baptism. Now we just need to find an investigator to go to the baptism so that we can go.

We also have another investigator named Carla who we have been teaching for a while now, although we have only seen her 4-5 times. We also saw her on Monday night. We had not seen her in about a month. It was completely different than any other lesson we have taught her. She finally just got it! Everything was making sense and she was finally seeing how this can help her. We were able to set her for baptism and she was so willing to accept. She knows that this is what she needs right now. It is amazing to see. The only problem is that she does work a lot as a nurse, so it is difficult to meet with her very regularly, but slowly we will get her there. What was really neat to see was that even though we did not intend to not see her for that large amount of time, it was exactly what needed to happen. She just needed some time to come to those realizations on her own so that now she is ready to progress. Things are starting to move ahead very well in the Oakview Ward and I can just feel that there are more good things coming.

Also a few weeks ago, we met a man named Patrick in the parking lot of an apartment building where we have been teaching a few different people. We taught him a lesson right there while he was sitting in his car talking to us out the window. He had recently been fired from his job and was in the process of looking for a new one, but wasn't having too much luck. We promised him that if he would read a passage of the Book of Mormon that we left with him, he would find a new job before the end of the week. He wouldn't give us any of his information, but we left him with our phone number and he said he would call us if something happened. Later, Sister Askren realized that she had written down the wrong phone number on the card, so we thought our only hope to find him again would be to tract the whole building where he lives and pray that he would be home. Yesterday, about a month later, we were at those same apartment buildings trying to visit a less active member of our ward, but no one was home. As we walked out to our car to leave, we saw a car pull into the same parking stall where we had met Patrick. It was him! We yelled after him across the parking lot and went to talk to him. He had read the section of the Book of Mormon we had left with him and had gotten a job the very next day. It was amazing. Unfortunately, though, he kept trying to blame it on coincidence and just didn't feel like this was something he wanted to pursue right now. Even though he could clearly see that this could help him, he just didn't want to put forth the effort. That is one of the hardest parts of missionary work. When someone really needs the gospel (well, everyone does) and have seen the blessings from it in their lives, but just don't want to put forth the effort. They think it is just too hard. It is hard to see happen, but God gives people opportunities and it is their choice to accept or reject it. That doesn't make it easy though.

Well, those are the highlights (or lowlights) of the week. As usual, I cannot figure out what happened to the rest of the week, but I am sure that it was good too.

Love You!

Sister Lamb

Sister Melanie had a very special visitor at the Trail Center today and she brought a hug from Sister Lamb's mom. Thanks, Sharon!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sister Lamb's Exchange Miracle and Cornfield Wildlife

Dear Family,

I love you!

I have noticed that when I write in my journal, I always start with the phrase “today was . . . ". I don’t know if I do the same thing with my emails, but I slightly suspect that I do.

This last week went very quickly. On Thursday we had exchanges with the Cold Spring sisters, so Sister Brown spent the day with me in Oakview. We spent a lot of the day tracting, without a whole lot of success, but we still had fun, which was good. Exchanges are always fun because you get to see the way that other missionaries teach and get a fresh view on what is going on with investigators, less-actives, or whoever you are teaching or whatever you are doing that day. Towards the end of the afternoon, we were heading down a street to a referral we had gotten that morning and stopped to  try some houses on our way. The woman who answered the door was a little short with us, saying that she was about to leave to go pick up her kids from school and did not have time to talk to us. So, we continued on and finished up what we were doing on the street. We headed back for the car and started driving to a different area for an appointment, but decided to stop and use the restroom at a gas station. While we were there, we decided to buy gas because we only had about 1/4 tank left. Then, we ran in to the Batins, members from the ward, and talked to them for a minute. I decided to wash all the windows of the car because it was looking a little dirty. We went inside, used the restroom, and were looking for a drink, when guess who shows up? The woman who we had knocked on her door. She walked right over to us, apologized for being rude, and told us to stop by any afternoon next week. It was crazy. And by crazy I mean such a miracle. First of all, that we were both at the same gas station, that we were still at the gas station when she got there and that she came over to talk to us. I would not even had recognized her if she had not said something and I surely wouldn't have said anything to her. So amazing. So that as our exchange miracle. They say that miracles always happen on exchange days.

That evening we also saw Michaela, the niece of the less-active family in our ward that we have been teaching. She is so great! Both she and her cousin, Aavyn sincerely want to do good things and be good people, but their lives right now are not headed in the best direction. I am so excited to see the changes that happen in their lives as their testimonies develop and they come to understand the Savior and what He has done for them. They are such sweet girls. We talked to them about all kinds of things, from feeling comfortable at church to goals and dreams and desires and the Plan of Salvation. It was a great lesson. It is interesting to see how different people need different things in lessons and need to be taught with different teaching styles and the Spirit is able to direct us how to be able to teach them to their needs. The lesson that we taught to Michaela and Aavyn was very different that how we would teach a lesson to other investigators and different than the other lesson we taught that night, a lesson about prophets and Joseph Smith to a family with two little kids. And it is not just age that makes the difference. Sometimes we are very bold in lessons and other times we are not, sometimes we use lots of analogies and examples, other times we use lots of scriptures. It just depends on what that person needs and what the spirit directs us to say.

Sunday was another awesome night. After working at the Trail Center in the morning, church at 1-4 and dinner with a member (yummy!), we had three appointments to go to and three hours left in the evening. However, not everything went as planned. First, we had an appointment with Tom, the son of a less-active member of the ward. Tom is not a member of the church, but we met him a couple of weeks ago and he was interested in learning from us. Unfortunately, he was not home when we got there, but his mom was home. We have never met her before and no one in the ward seems to know anything about her either. It was perfect, especially because she said that she is hardly ever home, so we were so blessed that Tom set up an appointment for that time and even though he wasn't home, we were able to meet his mom. Then, we saw Sister Sanders, another less- active that we have been working with for a while. Bip Gill, one of the YW in the ward came with us and it was perfect because Sister Sanders used to teach in the YW, so Bip was happy to see her and was able to remind her what a good influence she was on them. After that, we had another appointment with a man named Jeremy who we had met earlier in the week, but Bip also told us that if we had time, Carol, Bip's friend who we were teaching, would really like to see us. It may be bad, but I don’t thing I have ever prayed so hard that someone (Jeremy) would not be home. Turns out, he wasn't, and we were able to go see Carol. When we got to Carol's house, we invited her little sister to come in with us. Miriam was not too excited about it, but came in when Carol demanded that she come. She was skeptical of everything we said at first, but after hearing Carol talk about how much this has helped her and feeling the Spirit as we talked about baptism and the Holy Ghost, she was super interested by the end of the lesson. We left her with her own copy of the Book of Mormon and she told us that she was very excited to read it. I am excited to see what happens. Carol is set for baptism on March 16. The only thing that will stop her from making that date is if her mom prevents her, but we will keep praying for her. We are turning her over to the YSA elders tonight. I know that she can be ready by the 16th, but it is going to take some work so I hope that they are ready for it.

Something I have noticed about Nebraska is that there are a lot of animals here and very different animals that we have in Utah. The other day, we saw a group of 6 or 7 wild turkeys running around by the side of the road. I don’t think I have ever seen a wild turkey before. There are also lots of wild bunnies and squirrels as well as deer.

Well, that was about all for my week! It was a pretty good one! Can’t wait to hear from you!

Love you!

Sister Melly