Thursday, June 28, 2012

Last Words of President Kunz to the Nebraska Omaha Mission

Hello to the greatest missionaries in the Church!
I truly believe that you are the greatest missionaries in the greatest mission in the Church! This is my last email to you, I will miss writing these weekly letters to all of you I love so much! I have certainly loved reading your emails to me. Your email today will be read by me before I leave on Saturday. Your email next week will be read by President Weston. I hope that everyone will write President Weston next week and welcome him and Sister Weston and Jackson to the greatest mission in the Church!

Last Words

I want to summarize what I taught during Specialized Training, so you have it in writing. I tried to share with you some very important life lessons that I've learned and have tried to live my life by. I hope that they are of help to you as you continue your journey through life. The answer the Savior gave to the question, "Master, which is the great commandment in the law?" (Matthew 22:36) sets a wonderful pattern for life. He said, ""Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all they soul, and with all they mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love they neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matthew 22:37-40). You must get your priorities right in life. If you always know where you face then your course is more sure and you are able to make daily decisions that will help you arrive at your final destination. Always face your Heavenly Father and the Savior, keep focused on them in all that you do. Strive to emulate their character traits and think what they would do as you are faced with decisions and life's choices. I have pondered often the definition of neighbor and have determined that the right sequence of importance in life is as follows:

1. Godhead

2. Spouse

3. Children

4. Extended Family and Friends

5. Home / Visiting Teaching and Church Callings

6. Education / Work

I never told my boss at work that he was number six, but for some reason, it never interfered with a successful career, in fact, I know that my priorities helped to achieve my success in business. To help you further, I will explain some principles that will help you to fulfill the top three priorities in life: First, your relationship with the Godhead: Power in prayer; Inspiration from studying and pondering the scriptures; Sabbath day worship (the three R's); Frequent temple attendance; and Live a healthy lifestyle. Sabbath day worship includes the three R's: Repent, Renew, and Recommit. Second, your relationship with your spouse requires: Live the gospel; Place the happiness of your spouse over your own; and Create a strong spiritual bond with your spouse. And third, your relationship with your children involves: Consistent family prayer; scripture study; and family home evening; Establish family traditions, and Create opportunities for your children to have spiritual experiences.

I desire so much for each of you to be happy throughout your life. I know you will face challenges and trials - that's a part of life. I also know that as you live the doctrine of Christ and learn to utilize the Atonement in your life that you will learn and grow from your challenges. You know how to receive answers to prayers, you know how to gain inspiration from studying and pondering the scriptures. You know that by living the doctrine of Christ that you will continue throughout your life to be an instrument in the Lord's hands to help others!

The gospel of Jesus Christ was restored to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. The Book of Mormon is the word of God and is a witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We are led by a prophet today in President Thomas S. Monson. I know that he holds all the priesthood keys necessary for us to receive all the ordinances and covenants necessary to provide us the opportunity to live with God and the Savior again as families. I know these things because I have felt the power of the Holy Ghost in my life numerous times. I have experienced an abundance of the Spirit throughout these three years. I have felt the Lord's influence upon me as I have counseled with missionaries and made required decisions, there has been almost a continuous conduit with the heavens as the Spirit has constantly communicated God's will to me. I am completely dependent upon Them for Their guidance and am so grateful that it has come. I have felt a part of the love They have for each of you . . . you are loved, you are of great worth, you have incredible potential, you are wonderful! Thank you for teaching me, thank you for your example, thank you for all that you've done, thank you for living the doctrine of Christ!

I Love You!

President Kunz
This is President Kunz's last email. He has said in the past that he loves reading the last couple of chapters from each book in the Book of Mormon to read the last words that each wanted to tell, so these are his last words. I wanted to share it with you. Don't worry, its not to make you feel guilty about anything. Haha. Love you!
Sister Melly
( I guess Sister Melly has been gone too long and she has forgotten her family is perfect. Why else would she mention that we should not feel guilty. Silly Sister Mel.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Sister Melanie Gets in Touch with her Theater Roots and Gets Ready to Welcome New Transplants to the Cornfield

Dear Family,
Love you!
This last week has been absolutely amazing!
To start off, last week after I emailed you last, we headed to downtown Omaha for a tour of the Rose Theater, an old theater which houses one of the largest children’s theater companies in the nation. Sister Maldanado, a woman in the Millard ward, is holding some workshops there right now, so she was able to take us on a tour. We saw their costume storage and costume shop, all the backstage areas, dressing rooms, etc. I jut felt right at home and Sister Belka was pretty funny, she was so excited. After that we had sushi at a restaurant in Old Market for Sister Coats's birthday. We had fun.
A lot of time this week has been devoted to making the blanket for that man that we met at the fabric store a couple of weeks ago. It has turned out to be quite a project. The biggest problem that we ran into was that we lost his phone number, so we had no way to get into contact with him and couldn't remember his name, so we weren’t sure what to do. On Wednesday, we had Specialized Training with the Omaha and Papillion Zones and in between some of the trainings, Elder Powell from the Skyline Ward told us that the guy had come into his church building looking for us and had talked to some of the members of his ward, but they hadn't gotten any contact information for him, so we were still at a loss of what to do, but I just kept working and figured that it would work itself out eventually. On Saturday, we got a call from him. We had written our phone number on the back of a pamphlet and given it to him. He said that he had read the pamphlet but that after he read it, he lost it for a while, but he found it between the seats in his car that day and then called us. We were so relieved! I finished the blanket this morning. I don't have a picture of it right now, but it has a cat embroidered on it and little hearts quilted every so often and is very soft and cozy. I may have a hard time giving it back, but we are meeting him on Wednesday for lunch and then hopefully we can get some other missionaries over to meet him since he does not live in our area.
The other highlight of the week was the musical fireside that we put on on Sunday night. This was the first of a series of 4 firesides called "Pioneers Past and Present" that we are doing for the Omaha, Papillion, Lincoln, and Council Bluffs Stakes. Sister Coats and I narrated and then we had about 15 musical numbers- mainly solos with some group numbers- performed in the cultural hall. President Kunz recorded it so; hopefully I can get you a copy some time soon. The first one was for the Omaha stake. We had a lot of people from our ward there, including many of our recent converts, but best of all was that Aliyah and Walter (two of our investigators) were able to come! Aliyah we met a couple of weeks ago. She is 15 and just really needs to find some direction in her life. She came to church and loved it and then came to the fireside and really felt the spirit. She is so great! So trusting and humble and ready for some good changes in her life. Now we just need to get the rest of her family on board. Walter is the husband of Julie, who was just baptized a couple of months ago. He is so supportive of her and he says that the only things that are holding him back from being baptized are that he doesn't have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and he says he has felt the Spirit before in his life, but not yet in the Church. He is expecting it to be an overwhelming, cleansing feeling, so we are continually trying to help him understand that what he is feeling is the spirit, because we know that he has felt it, including at the fireside.
I have really come to realize what a unique and special opportunity that I have to serve in this mission and at the Trail Center. We have so many talented sisters and being here together allows all of our talents to combine so that we are able to do all of these neat, neat things. My view of missionary work is completely different than what you would probably hear from most other missionaries, but I am so grateful for the opportunity that I have to participate in these great things. Almost everything that has meant the most to me on my mission has come as a direct result of serving at the Trail Center. It just reminds me that there is not just one way to do missionary work that different people are touched by different things and need to different experiences for their testimonies to develop.
The Lord just keeps putting a lot of awesome people in our path lately. There are so many people that are prepared for the gospel living in the Millard area. We also keep finding awesome people for other missionaries to teach. I feel like the experiences that a couple months ago I would qualify as great miracles are now becoming almost commonplace. They just happen all the time!
Oh, also, I met Katie and Cody’s new ward mission leader from their Minnesota Ward. He came into the TC last night on their way down to Arizona for the summer.
But, this is President and Sister Kunz's last week. They leave and the Westons arrive on Friday. It makes me a little nervous, especially with all the things that we have going on right now. I feel like we are doing some really great things now and I hope and pray that he catches the vision of what we are trying to accomplish. But, President Kunz keeps telling us, the only reason we would not feel completely loyal to President Weston is because of our own disobedience. So I am sure that everything will be fine in the end.
Love you! Have a good week!
Sister Melly

Monday, June 18, 2012

Cornfield ABC's: Accountability, Baptism and Cleaning

Dear Family,

Love you!

Wow! What a week, but I guess I say the same thing about every week. Lately, we have been so rushed with everything it feels like I hardly have time to take a breath. We get up at 6:30 and exercise and try to wake our bodies up- that is probably the most relaxing part of the day. Then we hurry to get ready by 8 so we can get started into personal study time. It seems like it gets harder and harder to get ready in an hour. We keep saying that it would be so nice to be an elder and not need very much time to get ready in the morning, but I suppose that is the same thing that all women say - how nice it would be to not have to get ready every morning :). Some days, we get to have personal study and companion study, but those days seem to become less frequent than we would like. Between having to be at the TC at 9 most mornings and then a night full of appointments, it is hard to find time for our studies. I can definitely tell the difference. I tend to feel a lot more stressed and overwhelmed when we are not able to have our full two hours of studies. I may be in quite a predicament when I get home and no longer have that time set aside, but I guess that will be up to me. Speaking of home, I keep having dreams about going home. It is the weirdest thing. Anyways, then we work all day, usually get home at 9:30, plan for the next day until 10, phone conference with the elders and Brother Jensen until 10:15, and then quickly get ready for bed. And then do it again!

So the highlight of this last week was the baptism of Erika Dallon on Saturday, although it all came together so quickly that by Sunday when we were adding up our numbers for the week, Sister Belka had to remind me that we had had a baptism. We saw Erika on Monday to teach her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, then on Wednesday she came to the Trail Center and Sister Belka and Sister Sakurazawa (who speaks Spanish) taught her about some of the commandments, and then on Thursday Sister Jones and I taught the rest of the commandments with the Council Bluffs elders as translators. They interviewed her right after the lesson. It was so perfect because Erika tends to be a little shy at first, but by the end of the lesson, she had warmed right up to them. She is so smart and sassy! The elders were telling her that they probably wouldn’t be able to come to her baptism because they were doing service for an investigator and she told them "Well do it fast!" While hey were interviewing her, it was taking a really long time, so I was a little worried about what was going on, but when they finished, the elders said that when they asked her about the sacrament, she started quoting a whole bunch of stuff from the Bible and at some point was reciting to them the story of Moses and the Red Sea. She is so funny. So on Saturday, we got to the church and it was pouring rain. We went in to the church and there were a good number of people there 15 minutes before the baptism was set to start. As we were running around getting some final preparations made, they had to keep adding more and more chairs for people to sit in the Relief Society room until finally, we had to move into the chapel and it was pretty full. All the speakers spoke mainly in Spanish, but translated parts of their talks so the rest of us would know what was basically being said. The Spirit was so strong! It was such a reminder to me that the power is not in what we say, but it comes from the Spirit. Even if we have no idea what is being said, the Spirit can still testify to us of the truthfulness of what is being said. It was amazing!

Let’s see, other great things that happened this week. We have been working on lots of stuff at the Trail Center, figuring out how to make the sisters more personally accountable for the miles that they drive (all the sisters are given an allotment of miles that they are allowed to drive each month). Because we all share cars, this has been difficult in the past because the sisters tend to just do whatever and then hope that at the end of the month, all of the miles work out. This has worked for the most part in the past, but we have to be more careful now because of more shifts at the Trail Center, meaning more driving to and from areas, and an extra companionship because we got more sisters than we lost this last transfer. So, Sister Belka and I have been working on a better system of accountability for each companionship. It was pretty exciting, but also reminded me of how important accountability is between us and God. For the most part, we are responsible to be accountable on our own and then to be the one to return and report. We have to take action and not wait to be asked to go and do or to report what has been done.

On Thursday, we had the Great Cleaning Day. We spent the whole day cleaning our apartments and getting them looking fantastic for the new mission president (even if he will never see them:) ). But, it was so nice to get it all clean. I feel so much better now. That is one of the major downsides of having no time: it seems like the cleanliness of our apartment tends to be neglected, but we just never have time! President Kunz is leaving next week! It’s hard to believe that it is already time!

So, another busy week as usual, and it looks like this coming week will be busy as well! It’s crazy because all year it seems like everyone would be referencing what summer would be like, saying "just wait until summer! The Trail Center will be so busy! It will be so hot! etc. etc." and now it here, and before I know it, it will be over. But, the busy hasn't felt too bad. I am more tired at the end of the day, but that’s not too bad. It is definitely getting hot, but it’s not too bad so far. We will see how it goes from here.

Well I love you! Happy June 18th !


Sister Melan

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sister Melly Shares Wealth with the Elders

Dear family,

I don’t feel like writing a letter today. I just feel like taking a nap. I was lying on the floor of our apartment for a little bit a while ago and I think my brain fell asleep even if my body did not. But, I have a lot to tell you about this week, so I had better get started.

So Thursday was day one of having the elders in our area. We love it! We met with them on Thursday to fill them in on everything that is going on and to give them some of our contacts and investigators for them to visit. I think that they were in heaven. Elder Miller, who has been out 22 months (sometimes I feel like an oldie in the mission until I hear someone say something like that. Then I don’t feel so old any more.) He kept laughing the whole time and saying that he had never been treated like this. We just handed him a list of great potentials and less-actives to visit and investigators, ward lists, everything they would need to get started. Brother Jensen’s wife made them pancakes and we talked about how everything works in the ward. He was so shocked. I am very grateful for the great support we have from the ward and the many miracles that we see, but it just made me realize how lucky the sisters are in this mission. We are all centered right around Omaha, where the most teaching and finding is done and where there is better support. I don’t know if the success is because of the sisters or if the sisters are here because of the success, but something I have realized this last week is that the reason for why things happen is not as important as what we choose to do with what happens. I have long been wondering why I am always paired with Trail Center leaders. I finally realized that it doesn't matter at all. Even if I could figure it out, the knowledge wouldn’t be getting me anywhere. What is most important is for me to look for the unique opportunities that are available because of being with a Trail Center leader and then make the most of them. As I have been doing that this last week, I have been feeling a lot more satisfied with the work that I am doing.

Let see, other great things this week. On Friday, I was with Sister Rhoades (Sister Proctor, Trail Center leader #2's companion) in the Millard area. We went to go check on some old potentials at a couple of different apartment buildings that are fairly close to each other. As we were walking in between the two buildings, we ran into a younger girl probably about 14, named Aliyah who was walking to a gas station to buy some candy for her little sister. She wasn't super interested in what we were saying, but told us to go meet her mom, because she "loves that kind of stuff". We went and knocked on her door and she said that she would like to talk to us, but was really busy cleaning her house and just didn't have time at the moment. However, another one of her daughters- Rainee, begged her mom to let us in. so she did. As we talked to Shawna, the mom, Rainee went and got her bible and reading glasses and sat next to us and listened. After a while, Aliyah came back and listened for a minute and then we wrapped everything up and headed to another appointment. 1/2 an hour later, we got a text from Shawna. She said that Aliyah was really comfortable with us and wants to join our church. . . So that's great! We will let. her :)

Now for an update on Erica. She is the recently adopted daughter of the Dallon family. When we met her for the first time, we set her for baptism for the 23rd of this month. Before we saw her the second time, Brother Dallon called us and asked if she could be baptized instead on the 16th because of some logistical issues on the 23rd. So, surprise! We have a baptism on Saturday. We taught her last Tuesday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, we will teach her tomorrow and on Thursday, then she will have her interview on Thursday and yeah. . . baptism, on Saturday. It is/ has been quite a whirlwind, especially because she doesn't speak English, so we have to have an interpreter when we teach her. But, hey! I am learning some Spanish!

There are just too many good things going on to explain. Even with the Elders, we still feel a little overwhelmed with all the people we are teaching! I think that I have finally adjusted from being in Oakview to now, so hopefully it just all keeps on coming!

Love you! Have a good week and Happy Father's Day!

Love, Sister Melly

My release date is February 14, so just about 8 months from today! I know I told Katie that, but I guess she didn't tell you :) We actually only end up serving about 17 1/2 months because of the way that transfers line up. Most full proselyte sisters go home a few weeks after their 18 month mark, but because of the Trail Center and being in the MTC an extra week, they send us home earlier.

I haven't had time to work on the blanket yet, but hopefully I will soon. I am still not sure if I really know what I am doing, since I am not much of a quilter. The other quilt is almost done. I think it just has the binding left to do. Sister Wright showed it to me last night.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Sister Aunty-to-Be Gets to Work with Vision and Talent

Dear family,

Love you!

This last week, I finally got Katie's letter about her good news. It was postmarked on the 22 of May, but I did not get it until the 1st of June. I immediately ripped it open and read it. Hooray! Baby! I told Sister Belka and she said "Sister Lamb! we are going to be aunts!" I guess she was a little confused about who was having the baby. I told her that I was not sharing. Every once in a while, I will remember and look at Sister Belka and say "baby!".. It makes me happy.

So, today we found out about transfers and tomorrow is the day when we make the switch. After a long wait (we were some of the last ones to find out what was going on) we found out that. . . Sister Belka and I are staying together in Millard. She will still be Trail Center Leader with Sister Proctor. We are also getting a second set of missionaries in the Millard area. It will be Elder Miller and he is training a new missionary. So that is awesome! We are so excited! There is lots of work to be done in the Millard area and we are trying to figure out how this will work, but its going to be so fun!

There is a quote from President Monson that I feel like helps explain the beginning of my mission a lot. It says "Work with out vision is drudgery. Vision without work is daydreaming. Work coupled with vision will insure your success." I like that quote a lot and I share it with people all the time. The beginning of my mission felt a lot like Work Without Vision. We worked really hard, but it felt like it was to no point. We just put in a lot and got nothing out. But a big part of that was that I didn’t really know what it was that I was trying to accomplish. I did not have any vision of what we were working towards, so the work was terrible because I had no motivation. The second part of my mission was a lot of fun and we still worked, but we still were not accomplishing a lot. At the beginning of the transfer, Elder Watson told us that we were supposed to have a lot of fun that transfer and we did just what he said. We got along very well, we had fun, we tried not to worry too much. It’s not quite like vision without work, but its kind of the same idea. Now, I am in phase 3 of the mission. We work hard and we accomplish a lot. We have a very clear idea of what we want to accomplish, we have a great support system from the ward, and we are seeing so many miracles! We see many of them every day. I think that what I have been learning this last transfer is really love the work and how to work hard and have fun. I am so grateful for the time I have been able to serve with Sister Belka and I am so excited to be able to spend another transfer with her. We were both really nervous that we were going to get split up, but we ended up being one of the only companionships that did not get switched around, along with our roommates the Lake View Sisters. So, our little family is going to be staying together.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to serve in the Trail Center. Before I came here, my idea of what visitors centers are was just like a tour where they tell you nice things and then pressure you into giving a referral. I hated visitors centers. But, I have come to realize that that is not what visitors centers are for. They serve the same purpose as the missionary purpose, to invite others to come unto Christ- both members and nonmembers. Although there are people that come into to Trail Center just looking to learn about the history and don't need much, there are many people that come in that need a lot more. They may not have come in looking for answers to their questions or to gain a new perspective on life or for a desire to change, but that is what many of them leave with. I remember a college teacher saying "Treat everyone you meet like they are going through something serious and 90% of the time you will be right." That is so true. There are so many people that are in need of the Savior and we have the unique opportunity to help them find that relationship through the example of the pioneers. The Trail Center isn’t just where people go to learn about the history, it is where lives are changed every day! It took a man coming into the Trail Center and saying some really rude things to me about missionaries in Visitors Centers for me to realize that, but I am grateful now that I was able to step back and evaluate what we do here because my testimony of the power of the Trail Center has grown so much. I am so grateful to serve here.

Well other than that, we have seen so many miracles this last week. With only 8 hours in the area this week, we were able to accomplish so much! We have a ton of referrals from other missionaries and members and it is so awesome! Sister Belka took a nonmember from our area on tour at the TC and he wants to continue meeting with us. We met a man who was so thrilled to talk to us because he saw the commercials and really wanted to know that we believe. A family in the ward just adopted a girl from Peru and she is getting baptized on the 23! So many miracles! I can't even list them all. Its so great!

Sorry if I say the same things over and over again. I feel like I think about things a lot and then I am never really sure what I actually say and what is just rolling around in my head. I guess if you hear it more than once, it means that I think about it a lot.

I am always amazed how Heavenly Father puts us in the path of the people that need us the most and that we personally will be most able to help. A couple of weeks ago, Sister Belka and I bought some dresses. They have long, sheer skirts, but the slip underneath is too short, to we decided to buy some fabric to add the the length of the slip. We stopped at Hancock today and as we were walking in, a younger man and his daughter were following us in and he asked us if we do alterations. We were both kind of confused and said no, sorry. In my head I was just thinking, I can’t do that because I am on a mission. Then later, we saw him at the cutting table and started talking to him about what he was doing. His daughter had a blanket that she had had since she was born that was totally shredded and dirty, so he was buying some new fabric to make a new one. The only problem was that he didn't know how he was going to put it together, which is why he was asking us if we do alterations. Still in my mind, I was thinking, that's too bad. I hope that he can find someone to do that for him. . . After talking to him for 10 minutes or so, it finally hit me and I told him that I would put together the blanket for him. (basically just two sheets of minky fabric) - Hello service project. I am so glad that Heavenly Father was patient with me and gave me enough opportunities for me to realize what was going on and that it is OK for me to sew, it just has to be for the right reason. So, I will be getting to work on that. We gave him a restoration pamphlet and he said he was interested in learning about the church, so that good. Let's just keep the sewing service opportunities coming! It has amazed me lately how so many of the sisters in the Trail Center have been finding opportunities to use their talents, so I am happy that I am able to use mine too!

OK! Love you so much!

Sister Melly

I hope that you are doing so great!