Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Sister Melly and the Cornfield of Dreams

Dear Family,

Love you! As always.

If I thought that the last couple of weeks I have been doing things that I didn't expect to do as a missionary, this week may be the weirdest of all. This week, we went to a baseball game! It was Mormon family night and the Omaha Storm Chasers were playing the SL Bees, so they invited the missionaries to sing the national anthem. Apparently, this is something that they do all over the country when the Bees are playing. I wasn't part of the singing (there was a group of 6 sisters and 6 elders who sang) but Sister Belka was, so I got to go along. We also had a booth up in the concourse of the stadium, so I spent the first half of the game talking to people and inviting them to the Trail Center, then we switched with some of the other sisters and got to go watch part of the game. It was so weird. We were shocked that President would let us do it, but there we were in the middle of all the senior couples. We didn't do much cheering (have to stay neutral :)) but in my heart I was cheering for the Bees.

The Bees lost. Too bad. Also, it was very, very windy. So that was fun trying to keep all of our things from blowing away. We just duct taped it all to the table

Think that that is all I have to say about the baseball game. It’s all very disconnected so I will just move on.

This last week, we had 12 hours in our area! But, thanks to many miracles from Heavenly Father, we were able to teach 11 lessons in those twelve hours! It is pretty crazy going from tracting and struggling to find people to teach and having lots of time to have not much time and having more people to visit than we have time for.

We met a family not too long ago, the neighbor of a member of the ward, Sister Blecha. She is vey good friends with her neighbors, the Loftus Family. They have met with the missionaries before, but don't remember much of what they taught tem. We taught them on Monday. The kids (14 year old Madison and 12 year old Michael) are so funny and love to learn and want to be baptized, but the parents are a little more hesitant. The dad, Tom, wasn't home when we taught them on Monday, but when we went back on Friday, he was there and said that he is interested in hearing what his family is learning, so it looks like we will be teaching them all as a family! As long as we can find a time when they will all be home! They are such a great family and so ready for and needing of the Gospel. They have even been to church before several times and they love it! They are so great. I just love them. And I am not the type of person to say that very often.

This week, we also got some really neat opportunities to hear from some of our leaders. Wednesday, Thurs, and Fri, President Kunz, Sister Kunz, and the assistants gave teleconference trainings on having effective studies and planning. The sisters were invited to come listen in person from the Trail Center, so that was a lot of fun to be there. Then, afterwards, we had training with Melanie (weird) from Salt Lake. She is over all of the visitor centers/ historic sites. We talked a lot about focusing on the visitors and tailoring what we talk about to their needs. Although we teach about the history, the real focus is helping people come unto Christ, the same as our missionary purpose.

Other than that, we have just been doing a lot of teaching, a lot of tours in the Trail Center, not a lot of studies (which makes us so extremely grateful when we are able to have time for them) and the days just slip right on by. I can't believe that it is already June!

Well, I don't know where my time has gone but it has as usual!

Love you,
Sister Melly

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sister Melanie Sews up a Storm and Plants and Nurtures in the Cornfield

Sister Seamstress

Dear Family,

Well, this week has been another different week to say the least. it makes me wonder sometimes if all of the different things I end up doing sometimes are a result of serving in the Visitor's Center or if this is a normal thing, but sometimes it seems like we are doing more. Its not really that we are doing non-missionary things, but just things that I didn't really expect to be doing as a missionary (within reason). An example was the parade last week. Never thought I would be doing that one, but we were absolutely fulfilling our purpose by doing it. We were able to find lots of great people to teach out of it (not in our area specifically, but in the mission in general). Getting to do all of these different things definitely makes it more interesting and now that it is summer, I am sure that there will be lots more events going on and various things to be involved in. The only problem is that we end up not having a lot of time in our area. This next week (between today and Sunday) we have a grand total of about 12 hours in our area planned, and by the end of the week, that number will probably be smaller. We are accomplishing a lot in each week, however our numbers are not really showing it.

I forgot to explain something last week in my letter. On Tuesday, before I emailed you, we had the Watson Wagon #2 (the first one was going to the Kanesville Tabernacle) and went to Boy's Town for a tour. Boy's Town is in the Oakview area, so I am sure that I have mentioned it before, but basically what it is is its own town of about 900 acres where boys and girls between 10 and 18 go to learn how to turn their lives around. Driving around the campus, you would never guess that some of the kids are "bad kids". It was begun by a man named Father Flanagan in the early 1900’s who took in young orphans and boys who would have otherwise gone into the jail system. It’s a pretty cool place. They do some really good things. They basically are teaching these kids how to use the Atonement to change their lives. So, that is what the pictures were from last week.

Wednesday, we had Zone Conference. Sister and President Kunz trained us on repentance and true conversion, making sure that our investigators understand how to repent and have truly repented of their sins before baptism and that they are converted to the Gospel before they join the church. They are such great people. They will leave at the end of next month and it will be sad to see them go, but President Kunz is already preparing us for it to happen. We told us that the minute President Weston arrives our loyalty should instantaneously switch to him. I can't imagine that it is easy for the Kunz's to be preparing to leave, and I am sure that it doesn't make it any easier for them to have to prepare us for it.

On Thursday, we had a movie night at the church. We watched The Testaments. We set it all up and invited our investigators and recent converts and some ward members, borrowed a projector from someone in the ward, and popped popcorn. It was fun! None of our investigators were able to come, but almost all of our recent converts were there, and we had a good time! It was definately worth it. None of them had seen it before and it was really powerful to watch the Savior visiting the American Continent and pondering what it will be like when we meet him one day.

Friday was another interesting day. Sister Belka was in meetings all day long, so I got to help out Sister Wright all day. She is working on several quilts for Elder Watson that he is going to donate to a quilt auction to represent the Trail Center. She has a lot of work to do, so we decided it would be a good use of time for me to help her! The Trail Center has a sewing machine, so I set up shop in the basement and sewed away all day, happy as a clam. You can see from the pictures what the quilt will look like eventually. I was working on sewing together little patches that will make up the border around the outside of the quilt and around the larger squares that she is making. I love to sew! I loved it so much that I didn't want to stop, so I sewed straight from 10 am to about 6 pm without stopping at all, until they called me upstairs to help with some tours that were coming in. Then I went back and sewed some more.

In our area this week, we have been doing a lot of finding. We were able to find several great new investigators, as well as some good potentials. We even found a family that has been taught before, has neighbors that they are good friends with that are members of our wards, have copies of the Book of Mormon, have been to church many times and love it, etc. They are so great! The only problem is that the husband is not supportive, so we need to figure out how to get him on board and we will be set! (Or rather they will be set). Ha ha.

Well, that's about it for this week, other than to say I love you! I hope you are having a great time in Hawaii!

Love, Sister Melly

The Squares

The pattern

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sister Melanie Visits Boy's Town, Parades, and Skypes!

Sister Melly at Boy's Town with the World's Largest Ball of Stamps - 4 million!
Founder of Boy's Town - Father Flanagan
Boy's Town Visit with the Watkin's Wagon

Dear Family,

Love you! Happy Mother's Day! It was so good to talk to you on Sunday. We spent Mother's Day running around doing all sorts of things. We had church in the morning. They gave all of the women little forget-me-not grow kits. We are going to plant them and put them in the window of our apartment. If they live, I will send you a picture, but that may be a pretty big if. After church, we had lunch with the Gunn family. They also invited Katie, our recent convert, over. They have seven kids who were all very sweet. Then, we went and stopped by some of our investigators' home and took them Mothers Day cards and some of the Oreo balls that we kept inheriting from the families at church. We had dinner with the Kmieciks, Skyped, and finished our weekly planning. It was a bit of a crazy day, but most days are pretty crazy.

The Trail Center has recently made a big change. Instead of having the Trail Center Leaders and then everyone else, we now have 6 committees. Each Committee has 2 sets of sisters and at least one senior couple. The Trail Center Leaders are each assigned two committees to oversee. We are on the Education Committee with Sister Proctor, Sister Hawks (Bellevue 2nd), the Johnsons (a senior service couple) and the Wrights. The idea of the committees was to lighten the load of the Trail Center Leaders and to help us all be able to contribute and better use the talents of the sisters. Ha ha. When I think about being on the education committee, I remember before my mission when dad asked me teach something or explain something and I said "I don’t want to. I'm not good at teaching." and Dad said "Well, what are you going to do when you are on your mission?" "I don’t know. I'll figure that out then" ha ha. How things have changed. I am certainly not a perfect teacher, but I think that I have gotten a lot better. Our current projects on the education committee are helping the sisters develop master lesson plans for the Trail Center (coming up with ideas of various things they could talk about, scriptures to share/ questions to ask, etc) it seems like that is one of the hardest things in the Trail Center: not being rote in giving tours. I learn something new and start sharing it on tours but then I share it all the time and suddenly it doesn't seem very new or exciting to me. We have to constantly be learning and finding new stories to share so that we don't become robots. When I do this, the Spirit becomes a lot more present on my tours. I am able to learn new things and gain new insights from the Spirit because I am able to approach the things that we talk about with an open mind

Let's see, I don't know much what else to say about this last week. We have spent a lot of time in the Trail Center between getting ready for the parade and serving there and everything else. Although the Trail Center has always been my home, it is even more so now. I love the Trail Center.

Sister Melanie (on right) in the Florence (Nebraska) Days Parade

The time we had in our area has been mostly devoted to visiting recent converts. They are so fun to visit because they love us and they really need the extra attention to their testimonies, but we are working on getting them more integrated into the ward so that we can focus our efforts on finding and teaching! We have already been able to find a few good new investigators and potentials.

Yesterday morning, we met a man named Pat. I am excited about him, although I can sum up everything that we know about him in just a couple of sentences. He lives in an apartment building near a less active in the ward. We knocked on his door. He is kind of a recluse and seems afraid of people. We were surprised that he opened his door. He hasn't been to church in 30 years, but took a restoration pamphlet, said he would read it and let us come back later this week. We only talked to him for a few minutes, but we both just fell in love with this guy (in a missionary sort of way). We were both so excited.

So, yeah, things are going great! I still don't know where all the time goes, but I am enjoying it!

Love you!

More Missionaries in the Parade

Missionaries waiting for the parade

More Missionaries

Have fun in Hawaii!

Love, Sister Melly
Skypeing with Sister Melly

The other day, we were on out way to our area and passed a building that was under construction. I looked over, and saw the crane hoisting something on top of the building. "Wait a second; is that . . . the letter 'e'?" It was the letter e. A giant letter e being hoisted into the air. It reminded me of something from Sesame Street. Sister Belka says I am going to be on Sesame Street on day. Take that as you will.


Sister Melly

Monday, May 7, 2012

The 11+ Miracle Baptism and Sisters Rock Out in the Trail Center

Dear Family,
Love you!
This week has been a pretty good one. I think that I am pretty much adjusted back to being a Trail Center Leader companion. Sister Watson (Elder Watson’s wife) was telling us a while ago that in her mission call letter it says "You are called to be wife.". That is her calling in the mission, to be wife to the Trail Center Director. That is kind of what I feel my calling is to be right now: companion. And that’s fine.
So, this last week I had my first official baptism! The funny thing about saying that is that no one baptism can really be labeled as my baptism or their baptism. It seems like missionaries try to do that a lot. Really the only difference is when you actually get to count the baptism in your numbers. Every baptism comes as the result of many different people's influence and input, even many different missionaries. You have the missionaries, the ward leaders, ward members, people who come on teams ups, people they meet at church, friends, etc. Even within the missionary category, you may have more than one set of missionaries who teach them because of transfers of exchanges, they probably have come to the Trail Center and another sister has taken them on a tour, etc. There are so many involved and each one can have such a great effect that it would be easy to count every baptism as "yours". That is one thing that I love about the Trail Center. our circle of influence becomes much greater when we not only get to teach and inspire and bless those in our area, but also investigators that missionaries bring to the Trail Center, members that are travelling through, nonmembers that come into the Trail Center, etc. It is great! I love it!

The main focus of our time this last week has been preparing Katie, Lindsey, and Samantha for their baptism on Saturday. Katie is the mom, Lindsey just turned 12 this last week, and Sammy is 9. We definitely felt the pressure of making sure that they were really ready for this step and prayed many times about whether we should postpone it to give them more time to really gain a deep conversion, but over and over we felt that they were ready.

Katie and the girls had an awesome baptism on Saturday. We were able to see many, many miracles that made everything work out that day. There were so many that I made a list of them:

1. We didn't have any baptismal records, but were able to break into one of the other sister's apartments (after much effort) and get some.

2. We needed keys to our church building for the interviews and were able to find the Lakeview sisters and borrow their keys.

3. We got to the interviews 7 minutes early

4. Katie and Lindsey and President Kuntz were in a little room in the building with the door closed and we had no idea they were there, but we found them!

5. Everyone passed their interviews!

6. A man walked into the church building and asked if he could rent the building for birthday party. We took his info and called him later to tell him you have to be a member to use the building. He said "Well how do I become a member". Ha ha. We are going to teach him in a few days.

7. Lindsey was at a friend’s house when she was supposed to be being interviewed because of some poor communication, but we were able to find her and she was interviewed

8. Our ward mission leader fed us lunch! Yum!

9. We were able to find enough baptismal jumpsuits for everyone

10. The font finished filling up 5 minutes before the baptism

11. We needed to get into the library to copy the programs, but didn't have keys for the library. A man randomly showed up with keys 15 minutes before the baptism.

There were more miracles, but I am running out of time to write them :)

It was amazing to see how Katie and the girls changed so much in that last week before their baptism because of the atonement. Their baptism was a very powerful experience for them and they are so excited to be members of the church. They were so excited that when we came out of the building after the baptism, they were yelling "We're Mormon!"

It is amazing to see how individuals can change and what they power of the atonement can do. It truly blesses lives. On Sunday, they were confirmed and Katie and Samantha bore their testimonies in Sacrament Meeting. We were a little nervous because Katie tends to be a bit of a talker, but they both bore beautiful, powerful testimonies. It was probably the most rewarding part of their baptisms, along with standing with them next to the font as they came out of the water, so happy and united as a little family. It was a great experience.

So, wow. What a crazy week. I spent most of the rest of it on exchanges with Sister Pinchak, going between our two areas. But, it was a fun week. We enjoyed it!

Love you!


Sister Melly

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Sister Lamb gets her First Transfer and Moves One Row Down

Dear Family,

Love you!

This week has been another very busy one. On Wednesday morning, we got our calls for transfers. It was quite a relief when we finally got them around 11 because before then, I was having a hard time focusing on anything.  All I could think about was what was going to happen. By that point, I was trying to convince myself that I was going to stay in Oakview, even though I knew that that was not much of a possibility. But, the results are: I was transferred to Millard, serving with Sister Belka. So, I had to move all the way to the apartment downstairs. We didn't even bother going to transfer point because Sister Graham, who was serving in Millard with Sister Belka before, moved up to Oakview. So we switched Lamb for Graham. Sister Belka is still having a hard time getting the right name. Ha ha. The Millard Ward is out in Southwestern Omaha, just a few miles south of where the Oakview Ward is. It is a much bigger ward and there are lots of good things going on there right now. Sister Belka is also a Trail Center Leader, so we will be spending more time in the TC this transfer.

So, Millard. It’s funny that I am serving there because my trainer, Sister Kusnerik, began her mission there, then went to West Maple, then Millard. So who knows, maybe after a few months in Millard I will go to West Maple and hit all the same wards that she was in! I guess we will see what happens.

One of the first people that I met in Millard was a woman named Katie and her two daughters, Lindsey (who turns 12 today) and Samantha (9). They are getting baptized on Saturday. They are a neat little family and have really been turning their lives around in the last year. They are great. We have seen them just about every day since I got here and will continue seeing them everyday until Saturday, so we are getting to know each other quite well. Today, we are going over to celebrate Lindsey's birthday and go over the baptismal interview questions. On Sunday, when we saw them, we told them about the interview and said that we would go over the questions after we taught them about a commandment. At the end of the lesson, we needed go, but had yet gone over the baptismal interview questions. Sam got really worried and said "what about those questions! You said that you were going to tell us what the questions are!" It was so cute, but also really good to see that they are taking this seriously. So we gave them the list of questions and they were relieved to see that there were not any math problems included.

Also in the Millard Ward, I was talking to one of the ward members-Sister Bates- and we figured out that she is Michelle Strong's sister! She said that Michelle was just here a couple of weeks ago. Oh, how the world is so small. Sister Bates is coming with us tonight to see Katie and the girls and is bringing cake and ice cream for Lindsey's birthday!

Let's see, what else. . . A lot of our time this last week has been eaten up by Trail Center Leader responsibilities.  But after this week, things should be a little more normal (I hope!)

Let's see. . . .This week has gone by so quickly. I feel like we have been really busy, but at the same time I am not sure with what.

On Sunday, there was a musical fireside thing at the Trail Center. After it was over, people were coming upstairs and amid the groups of people, one group of four people asked if they could take a tour and then headed into the gallery before we could say anything. I chased after them and took them on tour. A few minutes into the tour, I saw Sister Bown sneak up behind the group and throw me a bunch of thumps ups and mouthing "Yes! Yes! I love you!" I later found out that they were  three of her investigators (that they have taught once) and a ward member who had brought them to the fireside. Throughout the tour, they were absolutely stunned by everything. Everything that I said came straight from the Spirit and I said a lot of things that I have never said or thought about before. The whole thing felt too natural, like a dream. In the Memorial Room, the first thing that the woman said was to ask what the temple was. I explained it to her and she stood, looking out at it for a little while and then said. "I feel something filling me and I feel drawn to the temple." I explained to her that it was the Holy Ghost that she was feeling and she was absolutely in awe. The rest of the tour was equally awesome, so filled with the spirit. It was awesome! I was so glad that I had chased them down to give them a tour.

Well I love you!  Hope you are all doing great!

Sister Lamb

This picture was captured from Sister Lamb's Mission Mom's Blog
Her new companion is one of the Sisters on the left.
These are the missionaries that arrived in Omaha one transfer before Sister Melly