Monday, July 30, 2012

Yes! Investigators Standing in Line to Talk to Sisters Lamb and Bergeson

Dear Family,

Love you!

What a week of miracles this has been!

After p-day on Tuesday, we saw Madison and Kate at their home. Kate apparently has really bad anxiety with leaving their home and all kinds of things and had thought about calling us many times to cancel, but for some reason (the Spirit) had not, so we were able to teach both of them together. Kate is so sweet, but can be confusing at times because she covers up a lot of her emotions, so it is hard to really tell what is going on in her head and what she is really thinking. Madison is excited to be baptized on the 18th. We still have a lot to teach her, but we will just keep pushing on through!

Wednesday was perhaps the most miraculous day of all. I think that because Sister Bergeson and I served in Oakview for so long, He is giving us a break and letting us see a lot of miracles to reward us for all the long hours of tracting and feeling unaccomplished. When we got to our area after district meeting, we only had two appointments scheduled with about 8 hours of time. We had set the goals of teaching: 1 member present lesson, 3 other lessons, and 1 less active/recent convert lesson. Our first appointment was with Aliyah, but when we got there, her mom said that it was really not a good time and asked if we could come back later, so we rescheduled for 6. We went to eat lunch at the church and while we were there, were able to make an appointment with Fatma and Fatwa for that evening as well. With the 45 minutes that we had before our 4 o’clock appointment, we did some tracting and taught a man named Earl about the Book of Mormon. We then headed to teach Patrick with Sister Staker. (sister Staker reminds me of what I think that Katie would be like in her Minnesota ward. she was a little nervous at first and her husband told us to go easy on her, but she has quickly some to love going on team ups with us. She is in her early 20's, super cute and sweet, not pregnant though :)) When we arrived at Patrick’s apartment building, Sister Staker (Amy) was waiting for us outside and talking to one of Patrick’s neighbors, an older woman named Patti. They made quick friends and were making plans to go to the apartment pool party a couple of days later together. Sister Staker introduced us to Patti and we are going to stop by and talk with her later when we get a chance. What a good little missionary. After seeing Patrick, we went to visit Fatma and Fatwa. When we got there, their mom had friends over, so they told us they had arranged for us to go to Madison’s house, just a couple blocks away, for the lesson. So, we got to teach both Fatwa and Madison together, making a member present lesson! Perfect. After we walked back to our car, we headed to see Aliyah. We talked to her about baptism and she is set to be baptized on Aug 11th, which will be just a couple of days before she goes to high school. It is coming up fast (especially because they now want us to have baptismal interviews a week before the baptism) and we have a lot to teach her, but we feel that it is the best thing for her so that she can have the Holy Ghost when she goes back to school, otherwise it may be a little tough on her. So, we will be teaching her a lot this next week. After Aliyah, we tried a referral that we received from the Skyline elders, a woman named Kellie and were able to teach her as well. She is quite an interesting person. She definitely needs the gospel, but she is going to need some work. She is recently divorced, going through all kinds of trouble with her ex-husband, has three young daughters, is living on disability, etc. so, she is going to be fun. She has met with the elders a few times before and likes what they have been teaching her, so that’s good! The elders are going to bring her to the TC on Tuesday (tomorrow) and officially turn her over to us.

One of the things that has been the hardest for me to wrap my mind around on my mission is setting goals and working hard to achieve them while still loving people and teaching them to help them, not just to check another number off of a list. When we set goals and think about them more throughout the day, we are better able to accomplish them and be focused and Heavenly Father is better able to bless us. It is hard to find the balance sometimes, but I felt like Monday was a good day for that. We were able to set high goals, work hard to reach them, while still desiring to help people.

Sister Melly at the fireside
It was also another one of those weeks where I got to do something a little unexpected. After all of the firesides, sometimes I feel a little jealous of all the sisters that are good singers and piano players and get to use their talents in the firesides. So, I was praying that I would be able to find a way to use my talents this week, and Heavenly Father helped me out with my request. On Thursday morning, I went to the home of a recently reactivated member in the Elmwood ward named Cindy. The guy that she has been living with has been being taught by the missionaries for a while now. I actually taught them once with Sister Pinchak a couple of months ago. They are getting married this weekend and then he is being baptized next week. She ordered a wedding dress from china and wanted some alterations made, so they asked me to do it. I was a little nervous about what she would ask. All she wanted was the neckline lowered, but I had to take off the sleeves to do it, so I had some fun :) it didn't take too long though and she loves it, so I am happy.

On Thursday evening, I had a unique experience. We went to visit a less active and as we left her apartment, we started talking to a man named Aaron. He has MS and is in a wheelchair. We gave him a copy of Finding Faith in Christ and set a return appointment. He said "Wow! I have never had two pretty ladies meet me, give me a present, and then want to come see me later!" It was pretty funny. As we finished up talking to him, another guy came up behind him, so we opened the door to let him through, but he said “No thanks, I want to talk to you." Have you ever had someone wait in line to talk to you before? Someone who you don't know? As a missionary? I never heard of it happening before, but that was what I would say it was. The second man, Joe, said that he had seen us around before and wondered what we were doing/what we talked to people about. We taught him right then and then again last night. He seems pretty sincere in his intent, so that's good. We are planning on turning him over to the elders soon.

So that was some of the miraculous events that happened this last week, although if I had more time, I could probably tell you some more. Those will have to wait. Pretty good I’d say! I liked it.

Well, I LOVE YOU! As usual. Have a happy 30th of July!

Love, Sister Melly

Sister Melly's mission car?

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sister Lamb Celebrates the 24th with Lunch and Shares a Pioneer Story

Dear Family,

Happy Pioneer Day! I hope that you are doing something pioneerish! Quick! Go have a stick pull!

Are you surprised that there is a subject to my email this time? I kind of surprised myself as well. :) I always put smiley faces at the end of everything now, well not everything, but a lot of things. I picked that one up from Sister Belka, although sometimes when I do it, I surprise myself as well. I can't decide if I like it or not. :) Ha-ha.

So, today is Pioneer Day! We celebrated today by having a pioneer celebration at the TC. Just barely, we had a hamburger lunch with all of the young sisters, the senior couples, and a couple of elders in the basement of the TC. Elder Lund sacrificed himself to cook the hamburgers in the heat outside (he looked pretty hot and sweaty) and then we toasted smores over the grill and had ice cream. A few people shared stories about the pioneers and bore testimony and had a few musical numbers. I convinced Sister Atkin to sing a song that they she and Sister Arnold wrote. The lyrics are a poem that they found in the library and put to music, so you can listen to that one once you get the flash drive. I am sending you my flash drive with all of my pictures (its really not too many more than what you have seen already) but it also has recordings of a few of the songs from the fireside. I am not in any of the ones on there (almost all of the songs in the fireside are solos and duets), so don't get too excited, but there is just so many talented sisters here that it drives me crazy! I love it. A lot of the songs that we sing in the firesides were written by the sisters serving here.

Ok. So, this last week  even though I am no longer with a trail center leader, Sister Bergeson and I have only had about 4 hours in Millard since we have been companions because we have spent so much time in the TC, but I have had some neat experiences.

The first one was completely unexpected. It was a family from Utah, the son just gotten his mission call, and they were on their way to Missouri for dad's business trip. As they were watching "Zion in the Wilderness", the 15 minute film that we show most tours, I was looking through my pioneer stories and had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to focus the tour on and what stories I wanted to share with them. As soon as we started into the gallery, things just kind of fell apart. Everyone scattered and it felt like no one was really listening to anything I said. Usually if this happens, I go back and forth between people, talking to them about what they are noticing and sharing with them individually. But every time I went to talk to someone, I just didn't know what to say. Sometimes, I would think of something that I could share with them so I wasn't just being silent the whole tour, but I just felt like I shouldn't. The whole 2nd half of the gallery, I didn't say a word and as we reached the end, I just wandered away from them. It was so odd that I just didn't know what to think about it. The father came over to me at the desk to thank me for the tour, but I just assumed that it was because he felt bad for some reason. Before they left, they were talking to Sister Herzoff for a moment, and as I talked to her after they left, she said that they had also expressed their thanks to her and that they had loved the tour. I still felt odd about the tour, but apparently it was what they needed. The Spirit instead of me  was talking to them, which I guess is absolutely fine, I just felt kind of awkward about it.

Another tour that I was able to take was part of a big family reunion. Sister Bergeson took half and I took the other half through the gallery, then we met up and headed for the cemetery, where we helped them locate the graves of two of their ancestors. Gathered around the graves, the grandpa addressed the whole family and added his testimony of the pioneers, then the grandma spoke for a few minutes, sharing a story about the cemetery that she had written and was published in the ensign in 1978. As we stood with them, I just felt like I was part of their family. It was a neat feeling to be there with them, connected by our common forbearers, the pioneers. It is the stories of the pioneers that connect all of the members of the church. They give us an example to follow, an opportunity to recognize what we are capable of accomplishing with the Lord on our side.

In honor of Pioneer Day, I want to share with you a story that I share frequently on tour. It comes from a talk given by James E. Faust, printed in the April 1979 ensign.

Stillman Pond . . . was an early convert to the Church, having come from Hubbardston, Massachusetts. Like others, he and his wife, Maria, and their children were harassed and driven out of Nauvoo. In September 1846, they became part of the great western migration. The early winter that year brought extreme hardships, including malaria, cholera, and consumption. The family was visited by all three of these diseases.

Maria contracted consumption, and all of the children were stricken with malaria. Three of the children died while moving through the early snows. Stillman buried them on the plains. Maria’s condition worsened because of the grief, pain, and the fever of malaria. She could no longer walk. Weakened and sickly, she gave birth to twins. They were named Joseph and Hyrum, and both died within a few days.

The Stillman Pond family arrived at Winter Quarters and, like many other families, they suffered bitterly while living in a tent. The death of the five children coming across the plains to Winter Quarters was but a beginning.

The journal of Horace K. and Helen Mar Whitney verifies the following regarding four more of the children of Stillman Pond who perished:

“On Wednesday, the 2nd of December 1846, Laura Jane Pond, age 14 years, … died of chills and fever.” Two days later on “Friday, the 4th of December 1846, Harriet M. Pond, age 11 years,… died with chills.” Three days later, “Monday, the 7th of December, 1846, Abigail A. Pond, age 18 years, … died with chills.” Just five weeks later, “Friday, the 15th of January, 1847, Lyman Pond, age 6 years, … died with chills and fever. Four months later, on the 17th of May, 1847, his wife Maria Davis Pond also died. Crossing the plains, Stillman Pond lost nine children and a wife.

Having lost these nine children and his wife in crossing the plains, Stillman Pond did not lose his faith. He did not quit. He went forward. He paid a price, as have many others before and since, to become acquainted with God.

The Divine Shepherd has a message of hope, strength, and deliverance for all. If there were no night, we would not appreciate the day, nor could we see the stars and the vastness of the heavens. We must partake of the bitter with the sweet. There is a divine purpose in the adversities we encounter every day. They prepare, they purge, they purify, and thus they bless.

I am so grateful to have the opportunity to be able to serve at the Trail Center and to be able to learn and share the stories of so many great pioneers. The Church does not put so much into making sure that these stories are known just because it is interesting or a good thing to know. Their stories are a guide by which are able, even expected, to live our lives. There are three parts to the success of the pioneers. 1 Vision of what Heavenly Father had told them they were capable of accomplishing. 2. Faith that they could accomplish it, and 3. The hard work necessary to achieve their vision. Their stories prove that we, too, are capable of accomplishing great things through our vision, faith, and hard work. I know that the pioneers could not have accomplished all that they did without God on their side. We too are not able to reach our greatest potential without turning our lives over to the Lord.

Love you! Happy Pioneer Day!

Sister Melly

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Transplanting in the Cornfield after a Crazy Week

Dear Family,

Today, we don’t have a lot of time because it has been a crazy day! We spent the night with the Lakeview Sisters last night at a member’s house. They were on vacation and told us we could sleep wherever, so we all had a sleepover in their living room. It was a lot of fun. We visited Katie Ford this morning. She got an eviction notice on her door yesterday, but we got that all sorted out :) We were kind of nervous for her, but it is turning out to be a good thing. Hopefully she learned something through all of this, even if it is only that when we put our trust in the Lord, He will help us. We also played soccer with the elders and some of the young men in the ward. That was fun :) ha ha. We grocery shopped and cleaned our apartment. And most importantly, we heard about transfers! I am . . . . . staying in Millard and will be companions with Sister Bergeson (again!). Kind of crazy. Apparently there was something that we didn't learn from each other the first time, so now we are getting another opportunity to learn. I am excited for Sister Bergeson to be in Millard because she has been serving in a rough couple of areas, so I think that it will be a relief for her to just get in and teach a whole bunch of lessons. Sister Belka is going to be opening up Rockbrook (just to the east of Millard) with Sister Sakurazawa. So, tomorrow will be the big change!

This last week, we had a fireside on Sunday with the cast of Come Home to Kanesville, which we are going to see tonight with Julie. We will see how this goes.

We have also spent a lot of time with the Elmwood Sisters this last week because Sister Atkin has been sick. It has been absolutely amazing! We took turns staying with Sister Atkin and going out with Sister Jarman to either our area or theirs. We saw so many miracles! It is amazing how even when we have less time, Heavenly Father is able to direct us to the most important, most effective things that we need to do so that we are able to get about the same amount of things done in a much smaller amount of time. In Elmwood one morning, we went to go check on a less-active that was not home. Then, Sister Jarman and I each choose a house to go knock on (keep in mind that it is often hard to find people at home during the day). We went to the one I chose first. They opened the door, the husband invited us right in. the wife was about to leave but decided to stay to talk to us. They had a million questions about everything, so we did our best to answer as many as we could and keep relating everything back to prayer and truth and feeling the Holy Ghost. They are such a neat couple! I just wish I was serving in Elmwood so I could go back and teach them again. Then, we went to the house that Sister Jarman picked. We met a young, college-age man and also taught him about prayer. Heavenly Father blessed us so much to be able to go straight from one prepared person to another and teach many lessons in the few hours that we were together. So amazing!

Let's see, other miracles this last week. Madison, the 14 year old, who we have been teaching for a couple of months now, is dong great. We had her read a scripture and then she called us an hour later and says that she got addicted to the scriptures. we shared a song with her from and now she listens to it all the time and plays songs for us over the phone :) Yesterday, we taught her about modesty as she was sitting in her short-shorts and a swimming suit top and she just expressed to us how much she wants to keep the commandments and was instantly coming up with ways that she can make the clothes that she wears more modest. She is so cute! She is set to be baptized on August 18th. Aliyah, the other young girl that we have been teaching has been out of town for a couple of weeks, but will be back this Saturday, so we are excited to start teaching her again so that she can be baptized as well :) there are so many great things happening.

Well, I love you!

Sorry for the short email this week,

Sister Melly

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Sister Melly Mermaid Under the Sea and Sister Belka Comes Out of her Cocoon

Dear Family,

Love you! So much!

Today we went to the zoo! Yesterday, there was a bunch of people that went, but today it was just Sister Belka, me, Sister Brown, Sister Jones, Sister Kirby, and the Openshaws. It was nice because we were small enough that we could all stay together and do what we wanted to do. The Openshaws and the Watsons kept referring to us as their grandchildren, which was cute. All the senior couples are a lot like our grandparents. We have a lot of fun together. Unfortunately, my camera made it through the entire zoo, but died as I was uploading the pictures, so I only got a couple of them, but I will send more next week.

I keep having dreams lately about coming home, which is the weirdest thing, but it reminds me over and over how quickly this time is going and how quickly it will soon be gone. Next week is transfers and then only 5 transfers after that, but I should stop talking about that.

It seems like last Monday when I emailed you last was an eternity ago. Wow.

Last Tuesday, we had Meet the President with the Westons (which, by the way is very confusing between President Weston, Elder Watson, and Elder Westover.) The Westons are great. President Weston is definitely different than President Kunz, but both have been and will be awesome, I am grateful already though to see the way that two different people do things and to understand that there is not just one right way to serve. We each bring something different to the table, and that is just fine! Some things that he is very focused on is working with the members, new member retention and seeking out the lost sheep. He is already doing away with the 4 pm dinner schedule so that we can spend more time strengthening and encouraging the members in their work, which I think will be good. It’s kind of a special place that missionaries are in with members feeding us. It gets us into their homes to be able to talk to and strengthen them. Other people in the church can't send around a sign up sheet and expect people to feed them everyday for a long period of time (although I have never tried it, so who knows), but missionaries can! It gives a unique opportunity to be in the homes of the ward members. President Weston is also vey big on obedience. He said that as his life work, he has been reading through all the scriptures and counsels given by the prophets and apostles and looking for everything they have told us to do, then implementing all of those things in his life so that he can be more obedient. So, you can tell what kind of a person he is. We also had interviews with him that day, which was kind of neat. We talked more about obedience, in fact. He said something interesting, that for missionaries, the amount that their family is blessed is in relation to how obedient they are. So, I will be being trying to be more exactly obedient in the future :).

The Fourth was not a huge deal for us. In fact, I felt a little bit like a Jehovah’s Witness because we did so little to celebrate and Sister Belka kept telling people that we talked to that we were not doing anything to celebrate. In the morning, we went to the Bellevue 2nd Ward breakfast. A group of 6 sister and 6 elders sang the National Anthem, including me :) Ha ha and then we had breakfast and a little program. We worked at the Trail Center, had dinner with a family in the ward, did some tracting, and taught a few lessons. It actually didn't turn out to be too bad of a night, even if there were a lot of people out partying.

On Thursday, we were visiting Fatma and Fatwa Luka, two teenage recent converts. Fatma has come with us a couple times to some appointments and apparently has made Fatwa (the younger of the two) jealous by telling her how much she enjoys it. Fatwa wanted to come out with us so badly, so took her with us and did some tracting a couple of blocks away from their house. After the first lady that we talked to, she said "So that is what it is like to be a missionary. That was so great!” It made me think about what my view of missionary work was before my mission. I think that I didn’t really think about what missionaries do because I was so focused on what missionaries don’t do, but I have since realized that there is a lot more to it than just that. After a few months of being away from all of the things that you leave behind to go on a mission, you kind of forget what it was like to live that way. And then there is a whole new world of opportunity that opens up.

We had another fireside this Sunday and have another next Sunday for the cast of Come Home to Kanesville (which we get to see on the 17th), then another the Saturday after that, so they are keeping us busy! That has been a lot of fun, and apparently, we have had 7 baptisms already that have come out of the firesides in the last couple of months. I know that it has also been a huge factor in the progression of some of our investigators. When President Weston first came, I was a little nervous about what he would say/do about the firesides or if he would stop them all together, but that fear was quickly set aside after he told all of the missionaries "if you can find a way to mix music and testimony in your teaching, please do it!" That was even before he knew about the firesides, so that is definitely a good sign!

Love you! Have a great week!

Sister Melly

Monday, July 2, 2012

Change of Guard (Scarecrow?) in the Cornfield and Sister Lamb Sends Home Some Extra Hugs

Sister Melanie with President and Sister Kunz

Dear Family,

Love you!

Not a lot of time this week, I was making sure to write a really good email to President Weston for his first week here. :) I know what Ryan is saying right now. . . suck up! Ha ha.

But, maybe that is a good thing that I don't have a lot of time because I will have to be more concise. This last week was so great! We didn't have a lot of time, as usual, but the time we had was good.

On Wednesday, we met up with Cory, the man I made the blanket for, and he bought us lunch at the cheesecake factory :). I had to stay up late a couple of nights to get it finished, but now it is done and I don't have to worry about it any more! We talked to him for over an hour while we were having lunch about the Restoration and then had to leave to go to the Trail Center, so he met us up there a couple hours later and we talked for another couple of hours. He is an awesome guy, very philosophical, and a lot of things that he said are right in line with what we believe, but we just don't know what to think because it just didn't feel like anything that we were saying was really sinking in with him. He said we could have the elders in his area come over and talk with him some more, so we will see how that goes. I think that he will do well with elders. There are just certain types of people that need elders and others that need sisters, so hopefully the elders work out well for him. If not, maybe we will be seeing him at the Trail Center some more.

On Saturday, we had an appointment with one of Aliyah's neighbors, but they were not home, which worked out perfectly for us because we went to visit Aliyah instead and taught her. She is set for baptism on July 28th! She is so fantastic. The Jensen’s (aka our ward mission leader) got to spend a lot of time with her on Sunday when they took her to the fireside and they agree that she is so solid. Her willingness to believe is amazing; we just need to get her family on board!

Saturday was an interesting day. We had dinner with the Young’s (I don’t think we are related), who live all the way out by the Elkhorn river, the very outside edge of our area. They picked us up from the church, which is in the middle of our area, and it took 20 minutes to drive there, a lot of which was through cornfields and through a very hilly, wooded area where their house is. We felt like we were in the mountains for a little bit. Yes, please. They had invited Maria as well, who has been investigating the church for a couple of years now and we had dinner and taught them about repentance. After they took us back to our car, we spent an hour trying to find a referral we had received and everyone we tried was not home. Everyone was out celebrating the 4th of July, so we will see how this next week goes. We finally ended up at Julie and Walter's home. Julie is a recent convert and we have been teaching Walter. Walter sees us as his daughters. He is so cute, always watching out for us and making sure that we are being taken care of. Walter was in a really bad mood and they were leaving to take some thing to Goodwill, so we followed them there with a few things that didn’t fit in their car and then they took us to 2nd dinner at Village Inn. And it was a good thing. By the end, Walter was in a much better mood and we taught them while we were eating, so I would say it was worth it, even if we were very full by the end of the evening. Nutella crepes. Yes, please!

I have been learning a lot about prayer this week. rather than leaning over my bed and falling asleep while I am praying, I have been saying my prayers out loud, kneeling in the living room, where there is nothing to lean against and fall asleep on. I felt really awkward at first, but after the first couple of days, my prayers have become so much more effective. I think I felt a little of what it is like for investigators praying for the first time, but once I got over feeling awkward, it was so worth it. I am so grateful for prayer.

Well, that's it for this week!

Love you!

Sister Melly

Some answers to some questions I asked Sister Melly:

For the Fourth, we and a few others are singing the National Anthem for a ward breakfast (I know, right?) and then we are working at the Trail Center until 3, then having dinner with the Gunns in our ward, then we have a few appointments set for the evening, but we are not really sure what to expect because we think that they probably forgot that it was the 4th when they set them up, so we will see what happens. We thought that President Weston may not want us out on the roads that night, but we have not heard anything yet and I am sure that he is so overwhelmed right now that he won't think about that. Tracting probably won't be super effective that night, but we will see what happens.
The next fireside is this coming Sunday for the Council Bluffs stake. I will just be singing in that one. Then we have one on the 21st in the morning for the Papillion Stake's Pioneer Day celebration, then I think the 19th of August we are going down to Lincoln to do one there. Once we get through the next couple, I think that they are going to start planning some more maybe at the Trail Center or round 2 for some of the stakes now that the word is getting out more. I think a lot of it will have to do with what President Weston thinks about the firesides. He could love it and want us to do more, or tell us not to do any more. That is the same situation with the Come Home to Kanesville. We are supposed to be going in a few weeks, but they haven't said anything about it yet because ultimately, it is going to be up to President Weston to decide.

The next Watson wagon is going to be next Monday. We are going to the zoo! So that will mean that p-day will be on Monday again next week - they are figuring out the schedule so that everyone that wants to go can go on Monday instead of breaking it up into two days. The Watsons will go home at the end of January, so I will spend almost my whole mission with them. Don't worry; I am getting plenty of hugs. Every time we walk into the Trail Center, you would think that we hadn't seen each other in years and there is an obligatory round of hugs from everyone we see. You are probably the one who needs more hugs, so here are a few for you OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

I think that should cover you until at least next week :)

Love you!

Sister Melly

Sister Lamb at the Children's Theater Costume Closet

Sister Missionaries on Stage