Thursday, December 19, 2013

December 16, 2013

Dearest Family and friends,

This week has it had some of the best experiences I have had, and then some of the worst! I don't even know where to being so I will start with the bad, cause it's easier to get that part over with and then end on a good note haha. Well one of our less active couples we are working with almost dropped us, I don't know what stopped them really. We went to see this couple who are so amazing we love them. We asked them if they had read from the Book of Mormon, cause we had previously challenged them, their response was "no" with sort of this attitude. We brushed it off and continued to talk and then sister Taylor got up and left, which was odd. Then Brother Taylor started going off on how he will not read until he comes back to church, because when he stops going to church("they never come to  1 pm church, but they come when it is earlier, that is what they say) anyways when he stops going to church he puts everything with the gospel on hold also. I asked him why, and he asked me why I did not understand. I explained that I did not understand how if he can't make it to church he stops living the gospel, because it is so important to me that if I could not come to church I am sure to live the other parts of the gospel even more. He got frustrated when I said this, and told me no one understands but his wife. His wife came in and told us to stop because she did not want an argument...I seriously only said like 2 sentences and he was the one arguing. We changed the subject and shared a message on charity and we were sure they would say not to come back, but they did not. I know that Heavenly father made sure of that, which was a huge blessing. They actually ended up coming to the Christmas party too! Which was so awesome, and I hope they will start to come around.
So the next story starts out happy. So remember Jody, I have mentioned her before and how she had a son on a mission in Texas, and she was not a member. Well we were walking out of the church one of the nights..I think it was Thursday? Well there is this young man who totally looks like a missionary, but he was with this old lady so I did not think anything of it. We walk past and then we hear "sister?" and we turn around and it clicks! It is her son! I say "Charlie!" and we start to talk, he had just gotten released as a missionary I think, anyways he knew our number already and we got his and wanted to talk more about his mom. The next day we called him and figured out what we could do to help her and decided to meet that night with his mom. Well we went to Jodys and she said her phone still had not been fixed. Then later that night we get a call from Charlie saying he just had a long talk with his mom, and she loves us so much but feels like we were pushy....we have never been push with her...and it was so sad. He gave us her new phone number, the one she would not give us and he told us that she needed a break for like 2 weeks. This seriously broke my heart! I think what is happening is that Jody has been making so many promises saying she will come to church when charlie is home, and now that he is home she is panicking a little since she made all these promises. I really hope she comes around,  I really love her so much and it is hard to see her like that is the bummer story.
Now to the best stories. Well one of our investigators Dawn, I don't know if I have told you a lot about her. She was a former investigator that we decided to go see and now is taking the lessons again. Well this week we helped her clean and also set up her Christmas tree. Dawn is amazing, we really were able to connect while setting up her tree. I found out she lived in Switzerland for a little while and it was so fun cause we were talking about all the Christmas traditions we have. She is such a great lady. She came to the Christmas party! Then yesterday we helped her decorate her tree, and it reminded me of ours back at home, all different ornaments and it was so fun! It was adorable I  took pictures. We then taught her the 3rd lesson, and we decided to use just scripture for the lesson. Wow that was the best lesson I seriously think we have ever had. She had a question about faith, and it was one I had not heard before and I did not know how to answer it. Some how we answered it and it was amazing cause we didn't think we did, but she looked at us after pondering what we had said for a minute and she said " I have never heard it explained that way....that makes sense." She understood and it was amazing, she was completely diving into the lesson and was so entranced! Then at the end we committed he to baptism and she thought about it and said "maybe.."but it was like a "I will really think about it" maybe it was so cool. I know she did not accept, but I don't care because I think we finally got through to her in a way the other missionaries could not and now she really is thinking about it rather than just learning she is feeling the holy ghost testify to her. That was the best lesson ever!!! I love being a missionary, there is nothing better than this. Dawn also gave us a ornament for our future trees :) she is amazing and I will never forget her. I really don't know how to express how happy I am, how much I love Dawn and how special that lesson was.
Another amazing thing happened, we walked in to church and the Baldwins (active members) wave us down and point to the side of them, and there are the Jensen. I had the biggest smile on my face. The Jensen's are an older couple who moved from Vernal 14 years ago, they never were very active, but since being here they are completely inactive. They came here 14 years ago. They have not been for 14 years, and yesterday they broke the pattern and were at church. Brother Jensen looked to darn cute in his adorable suit and tie. I prayed like I have never prayed before, I think I prayed every second during sacrament to thank Heavenly Father. I started to tear up several times  during that meeting. The Jensens were holding hands and it was the most adorable thing ever. I lvoe them so much. Since the moment I met them here in Riverton I have felt so close to them, especially Brother Jensen. He sits right next to me during the lessons so that I can read loud enough for him to hear. We have just bonded and he had become a grandpa to me. When I saw them in church it meant the world to me. I am so thankful that they came. I love me Heavenly Father so much. Yesterday was the best day ever, it seriously was. 
Yes missionary life is hard a lot, but it is so worth it when you have days like yesterday, Being a missionary is the best. I have started to realize that more than likely this will be my only Christmas here on this mission, and it is awful. It is amazing to be here for this season, being able to completely focus on service and the birth of Christ and nothing else, there is nothing like it.  It is so spectacular, I don't want it to end.
The ward is so stinking sweet also. The young women gave each of us a stocking with little presents in it for the 12 days of Christmas, and Sister Adams that houses the other missionaries also gave us a 12 days, and it is so fun!!!!
Now  to the absolute best part! Dacey was baptized!!! The beginning of the day was crazy cause our ward mission leader forgot about it and went 4 hours away to Sheridan! so we did  not have any keys to fill the font and we had an hour an a half, I was freaking out. Luckily the elders came to the rescue and had keys we could use. Then after that chaos was over the baptism was so amazing! This sweet 10 year old girl was baptized by her grandpa, she had waited 2 years till her dad finally said it was ok,. She never gave up, if anything she got more persistent. After her baptism she had that glow about her, that is my favorite thing to see. She was the closest one in that room to our Heavenly Father at that moment. She is beautiful. Her mom started crying as soon as she started talking on baptism, she was crying and crying and it was the sweetest thing. There was something different about Dacey being baptized than any other baptism I have been to, and I think it is because of the struggle she went through to get her there, and the hardship her mom also went through while trying to get her there also. Dacey's little brother Jordan is 8 and hopefully he can get baptized soon. He is my little buddy, haha.   I took a picture with him also haha. Oh Dacey's older brother was there, and I think he saw the difference between his baptism into another church and his sisters. When she was confirmed he had this peculiar look on his face, you could see how he was realizing that he doesn't have the Holy Ghost. Till now he has thought he had it, but I think he realized she received it after the baptism..and he never had a confirmation. I think he is starting to see that :) Saturday was so amazing to see her family  rally together to support her.
Even though we have had a couple rough experiences this week. I think this week was the best.

PS mom I got Debbie and Diana's packages and letters :) I have not opened the gift from Debbie yet though, I figure I will wait till Christmas haha
I love you all and I am so happy to hear that everything is going great! I love you and I will talk to you soon, have a good week!
Love, Andrea
Sister Vanessa Wigington (her mom), Dacey and Us
Me and Jordan
Dacey in her dress after.

December 9, 2013

Hey mom and paps :)
This week has been good. Our numbers were not good, but like I said before I don't care about numbers. I feel like our mission is very revolved around numbers lately and I don't really care haha. My week was amazing because of a couple of different things. 1st off it was great because we saw the Karikers, they are the ones who made us pillowcases. Well they love missionaries but are not too interested in the church, but anyways Brother Kariker started asking questions! We have dinner with them tonight and hopefully we will be able to teach the restoration. They are so amazing! So their house is all decked out with Christmas and they have a ton of nut crackers and I was saying how great they all were. Then Bother Kariker says "Which one is your favorite?" and I told him and he said "it's yours."  I would not take it but then they made me take it before I left. Sister Austin got one too. It's just a little nut cracker but it's cute and I love it!  It reminds me of home.
The 2nd thing was that we met Cody Joy, she is about 26 and has a daughter, and her and her boyfriend  have a son, and her boyfriend has a daughter. Cody Joy has been taking lessons for about a year, but she didn't feel comfortable with elders so the sisters were teaching her, and now since we are here and she is in our boundaries the sisters gave her to us. They thought she was married so she had a baptismal date, but during our lesson with her we found out she is not. Cody Joy is so sweet and just amazing. Her boyfriend is less active but his family is active and that is how she was introduced. She is so excited to be baptized.
3rd I had a really cool experience with the less active Max Twitchell. We got into the appointment and Sister Austin decided to share D&C 18:10-17, well I had no idea why she shared that and then I realized she was going to tell him to repent, and come to church, but I didn't know how to really do it. Well I opened my mouth and it was not me speaking, like I had no idea what I was going to say, but words came. I explained how every soul is important, how he is a brother, husband, son...etc and we called him to repentance but out of pure love!!!! I really don't know how it, worked but it did, and it was sincere. He committed to reading with his mom everyday for 10 minutes. This was the first real commitment we got out of him ever! It was so amazing.
This week we had some good appointments, but we also had some interesting ones. On Wednesday we went to see Jody and Dan, and we were able to teach the plan of salvation, because Dan had so many questions, but Jody kept in interrupting, so I pulled her aside and distracted her while Sister Austin taught. They invited us over for breakfast the next day. Well we went over Thursday morning, and I swear Dan was just a little tipsy in the beginning but by the time breakfast was cooked he was all out drunk..I swear I didn't even see him take a swig..but he must of, because he was drunk! We tried to teach the restoration, but he was out, he went off on how the wise men followed Venus, how it actually was not a special star...then at one point he said "You probably think I am a drunk..well I am...but I have a heart of gold...." We were so ready to get out of there...haha. He is not at work in the oil fields for two weeks..hopefully we can sober him up when we come back. Jody's son Charlie came home on Wednesday from his mission in Texas, I really hope we can meet him because I would love to talk to him about his mom. After breakfast we went to help the native lady Charlie move. She was stressing and we were able to help her, we got some guys in the ward, and the elders to help us move her. There was this really scary guy though in her apartment who was not helping and all he did was hit a baseball bat against his hand. When we went outside to load some stuff up, Brother Ringer who was helping said, "Sisters that man in there is very dangerous and the only reason I am staying is because you sister are here." Brother Ringer is an ex cop from here...he knows all the bad people...that really scared us, we ended up leaving about half an hour later. That guy was scary, he must of been part of a gang, cause of certain tattoos.
A couple days ago we had dinner with the Nielsons who are pretty much the best family ever. They are so cute. They have two little girls and are so bubbly and energetic. After dinner and the lesson Sister Nielson asked, can you stay 5 minutes, because she had us paint some ornaments, it was so fun! The 5 minutes turned into 45 min, because Sister Austin is very slow. I love her to pieces, but when it comes to anything, talking, cleaning, walking...and painting ornaments she takes FOR-EV-ER!  Haha but it was ok that time because we had the funnest time. 
Yesterday was awesome! 1st we had meetings then church, and at church, Sister Wignington, who is Daceys (who is getting baptized on Saturday) mom spoke in church and it was great! Except that no one came to church today :( sad, like we had a couple but not our normal amount. Sister Wignington gave us Dacey's announcement, which was darling, but she only gave us one. After church we had an hour before dinner so we booked it around to Some people's houses to talk to them. We then went to dinner which was yummmy, and then booked it to the church to watch the devotional! WOW IT WAS AMAZING! I did not cry, but my eyes were watering during Elder Nelsons talk, wow that was powerful! Then we went caroling after which was so freaking fun! We went with the other missionaries in our district. We then got transfer calls..and our district is staying the same..except Elder Linton is leaving...such a bummer..he's so great. Yesterday was nice!
Oh I forgot that on Tuesday we taught the book of Mormon study class we have started with the other missionaries. Brenda, Renee, Anthony and Bro Jaure showed up! Then 4 of the elders investigators showed up! The elders could not make it but the sisters came. The class was so good.  We read the intro and the witnesses. We got off on some random things like why is Christ called Christ, and were the plates gold or brass. The class did really well at figuring out he answers, but after the class was over we found out the other sisters were really frustrated cause they got off topic and decided they wanted to shorten it to half and hour. Sister Austin and I said no, because either way the will get off topic, and at least the questions they have are being answered. Plus I figure they didn't have anyone show up so they have no say...haha!  Aren't I nice? haha. Anyways it was amazing! I loved it. Well that was my week! I love you all and I hope you are safe! I will see all your faces on Christmas!!!
  -love  Andrea

Thursday, December 12, 2013

December 2, 2013

Dear Family, and friends,
I did get your cards and the advent calendars, we love them. It makes me so happy that we still have that tradition going haha. This week has been great. Thanksgiving was a lazy day but besides that we have done great. On Monday night we went to see the Karikers.  Ingrid and Garland. They are refugees from hurricane Katrina and the sweetest old people ever. Their daughter converted years ago and is a member but she has gone less active. Anyways the Karikers are so nice to all of the missionaries, they have never really been taught, so we decided we would try and they were like "no thanks, she's Lutheran, I'm catholic." We were able to clear up some of their thoughts about us, nothing big though. They love Mormons haha.  Sister Kariker made us pillowcases that she drew on and gave us them as our Christmas present, and had us open them :) mine has Captain America on it haha, and Sister Austins has Rapunzel from Tangled. They're so darling! She also gave us some soup, like real new Orleans kind of soup. It was amazing, it has polish sausage in it. Every time they give us food it is the best. I think that we could still try and teach them, cause they would be the best Mormons! I will have to get pictures with them.
On Wednesday we went to visit Brenda Niedo. She started Reading the Book of Mormon, but backwards and had read a ton, like she is really studying and so we just shared what we have been studying also! It was so cool. She really has had a change of heart. We saw her on Friday also and she came to church on Sunday, she has now been re activated!!! She has told us every time that we saw her this week that before she met us she thought she lost her chance and had no chance of the celestial kingdom, but now she realizes she did not have enough faith in the atonement, and that is what she has been missing. She now knows that she has a chance because of the atonement. :) she is amazing I love her so much! I will have to get pictures with her also.
Thanksgiving was awesome!!!! We went to the college branch building to have thanksgiving with The DeVries, and her side of the family also. They were hilarious I don't think i have laughed that hard for a while. I only ate one plate!!! I was so full, I was sick though, which I think is a blessing in disguise that I didn't eat more that one plate haha. Then we went home and took a 2 hour nap, that is why I said my Thanksgiving was lazy. We were so exhausted and I think that was the nap that I had been waiting for for about 5 months haha. After our nap we went up stairs and had more dessert with the bakers and the family that they had over. Their one So- in-law, Phil,was a crack up. He and his wife have two kids on missions. I said that I had not laughed as hard as I did until being with the DeVries, well I lied, I could have peed my pants,  he was so funny. Elder Ashcroft and Linton stopped by and we all just had a good time talking for like 2 or three hours. We were supposed to go to the sisters house and watch a movie but we got too distracted, but we did go over there finally at like 8:30. That was a good idea, we were able to talk and we found out that the sister training leaders were the ones who totally exaggerated the drama and then told them, that we hated them, and then they told us that the sisters thought they were better than us and didn't like us. 1st off the interviews we have with leaders and the stuff discussed in them should not be gossiped about, so that is ridiculous that the sisters told private info to other people and then blew it out of proportion. Everything is happy go lucky with us and the other sisters now, and I have come to the realization that it is ok for them to teach Sam. I was jealous cause I love Sam but that is ok. We cleared everything up and decided that we need to be up front with each other and not really use the sister training leaders. like we still need to respect them, but we are not going to take what they say very seriously. So Thanksgiving was amazing!
Oh also on Tuesday before the sister training leaders left, we still had the one with us on exchanges and she took up like our whole day, we did not get a lot of work done because she had to "train us on the ipads" they do this every time. Anyways she found out that we were using our actual scriptures in the appointment and told us that was not ok, we need to use the ipad.  Sister Austin and I told her no, and so she texted the zone leaders and then called them about it. I think that nothing will replace my physical sripitures, and when with an investigator it is better to look it up in our scriptures rather than an ipad, cause you can't mistake scriptures for anything, But an ipad is just a cool toy. We use the ipad for the pamplets and teaching, but if i am going to pull out a scriptures I want to use my scriptures. Sister Black was so mad. She told us that is we don't use them properly they will take them away. Sister Austin said "ok, go ahead" and sister black had no idea what to say! They didn't end up taking them away but still she was being ridiculous, Sister Austin was pretty much in tears cause Sister Black made us feel like we were the worst missionaries on the planet, which is ridiculous cause we are working hard! Anyways  that was the drama there, but she is gone now and we don't need to worry, haha.
So Brother Jaure is ready, well he wants to be baptized so we taught him the word of wisdom yesterday and so pray for him this week that he can stick to it, he also visited with the bishop to start his repentance process! He also is writing a letter to Pres. Mecham so that Pres. Mecham can understand the situation better and then set up an interview and then we just have to wait for permission! So hopefully he will be baptized later this month, or early January. Brother Levon is so amazing please keep him in your prayers, he is so strong and I know he will be a great member of the church. I can't wait for him to be baptized. I have some pictures with his adorable daughter Kordillia (Kordy) I will send.
We thought that this week had been rough, but then we added up our numbers last night and we had 25 lessons! We are so exctied, and the best part to me is that we know the people we have taught, I love every single one of them, and the number was good cause we met our goal, but besides that I don't even care. I sometimes miss home and it is hard being away feeling like everything is changing, but then I realize how many amazing people I have met and it is worth it. I love it here so much. Mom the pictures of you and Eva and Claire and Gavin made my day. Also Vicky Wilkins went me a card! She is such a sweet heart, please tell her thank you for me.  It means so much.
Remember Proverbs 3:5 "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding, in all thy ways acknowledge him and he shall direct thy paths" The Lord has a plan, a plan better than ours, we need to trust in him, and everything will work out the way it needs to be. Heavenly Father loves us so much we are his children. Tell him everything, let him know what is happening, thank him for what you have been given and let him, let him know your struggles. I have really been working on this this week and I want you all to also. I love my Heavenly Father.
I love you mom and paps :)