Wednesday, February 26, 2014

February 24, 2014

Dear Family and Friends,

Well this week has been great. Well it was great during and then we looked at what we did..and well it was not a this week we want to do a lot better. Sister Austin and I love each other, but we have noticed we have gotten quite comfortable, and not so on our toes with each other and the area. That is not a good thing cause we are doing good, but we really have not pushed our selves this week, we know we could do so much better. I love Riverton so much and thinking about leaving the people here really breaks my heart, but I want to do better, and so in some ways I really hope I will be transferred next week. 3 like 4 and a half a lot of time in an area haha. I don't know maybe it's not, but it feels like I have been here forever, which I have, half of my mission so far haha.
I am so happy Josh enjoys the Bulbasaur shirt. You should take a picture of him in it and send it. Does it even fit him? I loved the little valentines package thanks for the mascara, I needed some. I am almost out of that cover up stuff. And I have so much chap stick and eyeliner it is I don't need any more of those for the rest of my mission haha.

Ok so last week I told you that I was going to the Karikers house and make king cakes. Well I did...and it was ...SO SO FUN! I have so many pictures to send home. So we each decorated a king cake and so did Sister Kariker, and her granddaughter Kaylee.  So 4 king cakes haha. They gave us masks and it was adorable. I decorated mine with all the colors of Mardi graw and sprinkles and beads and feathers :) so much fun. One of the best parts was after we had decorated them, Brother Karikers calls us over, because he was in the living room, and says "Now I know it's great to have fun and all, but we know you have a purpose, so will you share a message with us" :) I could have squealed right then. I was so excited. Sister Austin and I talked about it after. Brother Kariker loves us and is so great. They are not members and they love to talk to us and have fun and think of us as grand kids. We have tried to teach them, but he especially says he doesnt want to be converted. It was so awsome to have him recognize we are missionaries and that he wanted us to share a message.
This week we also had exchanges. Sister Sheratt did exchanges with me for 2 days and Sister Austin went with Sister Omealy. Sister Sheratt is a sister training leader. She is actually a temple square missionary. We had a blast, at least I did hearing all about her temple square mission. I think it would be so cool to serve there for just a transfer! She has access to tons of stuff that normal people don't haha. Plus it would just be cool to be at temple square
So yesterday! Was such an amazing Sunday. There is a less active, Connie who we have been working with since coming here who has not been to church in over 5 and a half years. Well when we first met her, honestly we were so frustrated with all of her excuses, and so for the first while we just called her to repentance. Then we took a different approach and listened and really loved her, excuses and all. So guess what happened? She came to church on Sunday! People in the ward and other missionaries have been working with her forever and she finally came out. She has a lot of health issues and when we saw it was snowing on Sunday we were so sad thinking she would not come. She told me when i was on exchangs that she would be there this week. She even had us look at her dresses and help her choose what to wear. Then she actually came! WOW! I was so so so thankful to Heavenly Father, and I still am. I love seeing those miracles happen. She used to just tell us all these excuses and about a month ago something just clicked and she said, "I need to be at church for me, I need to be there." and she was. I think the biggest thing that helped her have this change of heart was that she kept her commitments. From the first while she did not read her scriptures cause she was sick, or she couldn't ever remember what she read, but finally when she started studying everyday, and praying all the time and acting on that faith, Heavenly Father was able to bless her with a change of heart. Keeping commitments is seriously everything. If someone doesn't keep commitments then how will they learn what we are asking them to do?  I think that really applies in normal life also. When we say we will do something we need to do it . Especailly the covenants that we have made at baptism and also when we go through the temple. How can we be blessed by the covenants we make if we don't actually keep them. We can't. We must keep those covenants and be obedient to them in order to grow and learn and strengthen and persevere in the gospel. So many times we run into people who have a stag-nit testimony. They believe but they are not doing, and therefore they have fallen away. If we are constantly learning we will constantly be growing. It's just like school if we aren't learning we are not growing. Also if we only use and apply what we are comfortable with we will never grow either. It just becomes habit and we don't get anything out of it. Just like the gospel, we have to keep pushing our selves to learn and grow. I have no idea if that made sense, but anyways. We need to be keeping our covenants and one of the covenants at baptism is to keep the commandments and one of those commandments is to go to church. Therefore we need to be going to church as well as keeping all over our covenants to be receiving the full blessings of the covenants that we have made to Heavenly Father and the covenants he has made to us. Anyways I loved seeing Connie at church and being able to see the change of heart she has had.
I love this gospel. I know that it is the one and only true church on the earth and that it blesses out lives so much so we don't even see all the blessings. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior. I know they love me as well. 
I love you all so much have a wonderful week! I will write you all next week :)
 Our fun little King Cake making day! Such a blast! This is Ingrid and Garland Kariker and their grand daughter Kylee and her adorable baby boy Tracen
We went on a hay ride today and it was so fun! so so so freezing cold but such a blast and that sweet little calf was born on Saturday!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

February 17, 2014

Dear Mom and Paps and everyone,

Well this week has felt like forever! It was a great week, just really long haha. We had zone training up in Worland, that was pretty good. I saw Elder Rasmussen from the Mtc so that was fun. I had an interview with President, which is always nice. As a mission he has asked us to take a Book of Mormon and mark references to Christ, and the next time reading find the doctrine of Christ, and the 3rd time Christlike attributes. Well I did the first one and marked the references to Christ. Then I decided I wanted to just read and mark what I wanted. Plus I didn't want to have to use one of the paper back books of Mormon. He told me in the interview I needed to start.  I did not understand why and he said that (I think it was Elder Holland)...promised that if we do this, by the end we will have gained so much more knowledge and understand of the Book of Mormon. I did not realize that this promise was given and that it was that important to mark a copy of the book of Mormon with all these references.
When I left on my mission I had 2 main personal goals, one was to write in my journal everyday, which I have done..ok with, I have written about everyday. The 2nd goal was to come home with a much larger knowledge of the scriptures and to retain the information I have been reading.  When president promised me that I would have this knowledge and understanding that I have been working on, I Immediately promised president that I would begin. The next day I started and it was awesome! I normally have a ok personal study, but this time I got so much more out of it! So for the last 4 or 5 days, that is what I have been doing during my personal study and I have been able retain so much more information and learn a ton. I have felt for a couple months that I have been at a plateau in my personal study and now by marking the references and doctrine and Christ-like attributes I have finally overcome my plateau! I have also been really bad at keeping a study journal because I just like to write in the margins, but well there is not always room, so I have started a detailed study journal! I absolutely love studying and I am so thankful I have an hour of personal study everyday, even though I tend to always want more haha. I would encourage all of you to do the same just get a copy of the book of Mormon and start making the references to Christ. I personally chose to make references Heavenly Father as well.
The mission recently decided that missionaries need to tract for an hour a day, which to me is probably a great idea, even though I do not like tracting. Usually we have enough work, lessons, service and contacting referrals that we never need to tract, and so I have only tracked about 2 times my whole mission up til this rule was created. I have only gone twice because it was something we did just to have the experience. Tracting for an hour a day is a great idea because it gets us out in public so people can see us. Second There are a lot of missionaries who will do everything possible to make sure they don't have to tract because let's face it, tracting is scary! It really is for me at least. I will admit this rule was implemented about a week ago, and for the first couple days I really did not want to do it and we did not, mainly because we had so much stuff to do we didn't have time, which is ok. We only tract if we don't have appointments. Well finally I think it was Thursday we decided to tract. Let me tell you, I was not happy about it and I was so nervous. We knock on doors and all of them are not interested. We have been tracting for 45 minutes and nothing, I was fine with that cause really I did not expect any success from tracting.  We then knocked on this door and this little girl sees us from the window, she is about 3 years old. She yells "missionaries" and runs away. Her mom comes to the door and said "Come on in!" We find out that her parents are members but she is not. She is currently going through a really hard divorce but she would love to meet with us and talk. So we set up a return visit for tonight! A couple of doors later this blind man tells us we can come back the next day. So we came back on Friday and well he was not interested but he sure enjoyed talking to us and was very kind, and we tried to clear up that our clergy are not paid. So hopefully we got through. He was super nice though. That same day we tracted again and we ran into this guy, Clark, he is probably about 26. He works on the rigs he has two little girls. We met him and we asked to share a message and he said of course. I had no idea what to say, cause normally people just say come back later. We talked about prayer with him...I know lame...I am still working on the whole tracting thing. We also talked about Christs Original church and we asked if we could come back. He said come back Saturday at the same time. So we went back the next day. 
When we met with Clark on Saturday we sat on his porch (cause it is like 55 degrees here, so nice!) and we taught him the restoration. We talked about the priesthood and that it would bless his family and children. He talked about how he would love to have that authority of God to bless his family. The lesson honestly was not super amazing on our part, we stumbled over words and it was kinda awkward, but because the spirit was there and he could feel it and is prepared he was able to really learn and the lesson went fine. it was not because of us though. We committed him to reading the intro and the first chapter of the Book of Mormon. He agreed.  Sadly since he has 2 weeks on and 2 weeks off, he was leaving the next day for North Dakota. We were really bummed out cause we were worried he would not want to set up a time for us to come back BUT he said  "Come back on March 3rd at the same time." This is the same day he gets back, he is super excited to learn more, so much so that he wants to see us right when he come home! How cool is that! How amazing is tracting. I really did not have any hope for it and then we got 3 potentials out of it! One was not interested, one we have an appointment with and another is officially an investigator. I have gained a testimony of tracting. I love knowing Heavenly Father makes sure that his children who are prepared to hear the gospel will hear it. So if no one refers them to us, or they don't have a way of being contacted then we will find them through tracting, even if it is is just to invite them, even if they say no. Tracting has a purpose and I just learned that this week. I AM SO THANKFUL FOR TRACTING! I never thought I would say that.
This week Dawn one of our investigators, who I love so much, got a priesthood blessing, which was so powerful! Everything is going well here! We got dropped by a less active this week. It was a blessing for me, because every time we left her house I just felt empty and awful, I don't know how to explain it and last time I was just praying to find a way to get out of that appointment and when we finally left I practically ran out of that apartment. So I am really grateful that she dropped us. I could never go back there it was just a empty feeling, plus she was not going to change.
Well this past week has been awesome and this next week will be great also! Tonight we are going to the Karikers, who are not members. They are from new Orleans and were in hurricane Katrina. Super sad stories they have told us about that. Anyways they have been telling us all about Mardi Gras, the good parts. They said that it has gotten bad within the last couple years, and only certain parts. Anyways!  they have given us a ton of Mardi Gras beads and tonight we are making king cakes with them!!! so I will take tons of pictures and send them home next week :) or email them :) So I am so excited for tonight! Well I love you all so much.  Have a wonderful week! And hopefully you will get my package soon :) LOVE YOU!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Happy Birthday Josh!!!

Dear Family and friends,  
Happy Valentines day to everyone, but especially HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO JOSH!  (I hope it is amazing!)
Well, where to begin, it takes me a minute to even think about what happened this week, because it seems so long ago haha. Not a ton happened this week just the usual. But Remember a couple emails ago I talked about Alexa Nowland, who is not a member, her husband is less active? Well we finally met with them again, and they are absolutely the best people ever. He was at work when we taught the restoration. It was just Alexa and her adorable girls. The lesson went great! Her girls were having so much fun with us there. The oldest who is turning 8 this week, Lilly, was drawing me tons of pictures. The pictures were of us and God! it was so cute. Alexa asked after if we would like to help a friend move on Saturday. We accepted and the next day we helped her move her friends from Hudson to Lander. After helping move we all went to meet the rest of her family at a cute little restaurant in town and we all had lunch! They are so stinking adorable. Lilly was my best friend during lunch and we were having fun playing tic tac toe. Half way through she whispers to me, " you're my favorite" how stinking adorable. After lunch we went to visit the Taylors who were reactivated, but have not come for the last two weeks, so they are like less active again...Well we have had a hard time getting Brother Taylor to read the Book of Mormon.  His wife is doing great though,. So we read with them in 1 Nephi chapter 13 and we explained how it was talking about Christopher Columbus and the revolutionary war, and oh my that got their attention. It was so cool, Sister Taylor was super excited and Brother Taylor was also. He then told us, without us having to ask, that they he would really read this week! Wahoooo! I really hope he follows through with it.
Then we went to visit Rod and Amanda. Well our good day ended there. We walked in and sat down and Amanda looked at us and said "I don't know how to say this, but I have prayed and read from the Book of Mormon and I don't think it is true." I was totally dumb founded, I did not see this coming, I guess I probably should have because they have not been progressing for the past month. I asked Amanda if she really feels like she has put all her effort in to finding out for herself if this is true. She looked at me with a straight face and said "yes." I did not know what to say because I know that they both have not, they have told us for the past month that they have not read. I know that they have not tried. I did not want to argue though, so I testified instead. I told them that I know the Book of Mormon is true, I know that they only way they will know, is if they read the whole book, if they take it seriously and do it rather than "try." They said they don't feel the same feeling at our church that they do at a Christian church. This was frustrating because they have yet to go to church in our ward. When they lived up in Thermopolis they went to church only 3 times and 2 of them were Fast Sundays, which shows they did not go in a row or really put effort in to church to get anything out. We have to do our part if we expect God to give us anything. She also doesn't like that we know the Book of Mormon better than the bible. I explained that the Book of Mormon is what sets us apart from other religions. They already know the bible is true so we don't need to try to teach them that it is true, cause they already know, we are trying to help them know that the Book of Mormon is true. I also asked them to try one last time and that night to read 3 Nephi 11 and also to come to church the next day. They said they would.
Sunday came around and we waited for them and waited and then Brother Pedan who was giving them a ride came in with his wife. He told us that their lights were off and they were not home. Gah...  I remember missionaries always saying, agency is the worst with investigators and that is how I felt on Sunday. I had been praying and fasting for Rod and Amanda, but they had that agency and choose not to come to church, and not even that, but they just ditched their ride. I was upset, and it's because I asked them to try one more time, they said they would and they did not. This is their salvation and they are choosing to leave it behind at the moment at least. When we had our lesson the day before with them I was praying and so was Sister Austin the whole time. After the lesson we started to talk and we found out both of us felt that they are not ready yet, they have come along way from where they used to be but they still are not ready to make that covenant with God. So I really hope that one day they will accept the gospel, and I know that they will, just not right now. Besides that, this week has been great though! I have really enjoyed it. 
Funny story, so Sister Austin has flooded our bathroom 4 times, more like it just happens to her. It's not really her fault but oh my goodness it has been a fun week with that.  Brother Baker who we live with has changed out pipes and snaked our pipes and everything and it still flooded, but luckily we finally got it fixed so it doesn't flood anymore. She has got so stressed about it though that she got sick, she is doing pretty good, but we have had to take it slow. She is getting better. I don't have too much to write about this week. Sorry this email is short! I love you all so much though and have a wonderful and week! and have a Happy Birthday Josh!
 -Love Andrea

Friday, February 7, 2014

February 3, 2014

Dear Family, and dear friends,
Oh goodness! I am so happy to hear about Brookie's birthday and I can't wait to see pictures. I can't believe she is 7 today! HAPPY BIRTHDAY BROOKIE! I LOVE YOU! I have been thinking about Bookie a lot lately and how she will be baptized next year which is so exciting! She is so special.
Well this week has been pretty good! Nothing huge has changed or happened. I have had some good experiences though. On Tuesday we took Sister Yorgeson to an appointment with Cody, pretty much one of the best people ever. She is so sweet, but she has been going to the ward in Lander Wyoming because her daughter goes to that ward and she doesn't want to change also. Well after having Sister Yorgeson come and the lesson not going the way we expected at all, at the very end Cody mentions how she wants to try out our ward this Sunday! Such a blessing, it's cool how Heavenly Father works. We had no idea that bringing Sister Yorgeson was the answer to that problem, we just thought they were a great match and would get along. She actually did not make it to church sadly...I don't know what happened but at least she wants to try our ward out, and hopefully in 2 weeks, since next week she works.
Another good thing that happened is we found 4 new less actives to start working with :) wahoo. The sad part is one of them doesn't ever want to come back, but she lets us over. She has lost her testimony and it breaks my heart completely, cause she is such a sweet person but her faith is gone. Missionaries, I guess used to work with her a ton but never got anything out of her, maybe we can help, i hope so. All the less actives we found have been offended in some way or another. 2 of them know they need to change and i know they will, and then the 3rd one told us she wont, but we have seen her twice now and she is super excited about reading and getting back into the gospel, just not the church part. I have no worries though, cause I know she will get back.
So we have these investigators who at one point did take lessons, like years ago but they have pretty much just become friends with the missionaries. Well we have been trying to fix that situation, but honestly have not been brave enough, so we went and saw them this week, and I was determined to re commit them to taking lessons. I have been working on being courageous and so I asked them, just straight up "would you want to take the lessons again" and for me that took a lot, it is scary! Well immediately the 14 yr old daughter says "yes" and the mom thought for a second and then said "ya that would be nice" so again if we act on our faith we will see blessings. I did not know if they would say yes, but they did! I am so excited and I have realized that just asking blunt straight to the point questions even in situations where you don't know why you should ask, that if you just do it it all works out. I am still earning how to make them flow better and not be weird but anyways it's cool to be courageous. Most of the people besides this family that we work with that I am scared to ask bold questions are less actives. I think it is because they have had months, and even years to stir on a certain principal of the gospel they disagree with and they will be very blunt and sometimes rude with their answers as well as they have some really deep doctrinal questions and I don't always know the answer to! That is such a hard thing to address with less actives, because a lot of what is stopping them from coming back is either they are offended, and won't move past that.  If they disagree with doctrine, and doctrine never changes, and so it's hard to help them move past their issues. I have learned so much being in Riverton.  I think less actives can be harder to work with than investigators!
Well enough of that  I will move on.  On Saturday we had some amazing opportunities to serve in the community. In the morning we helped with a winter 5k and held stop signs to stop traffic so runners could cross the roads, then in the evening we helped with the Crab Crack, that is put on by the rotary...a club thing I think. Anyways it was in the Catholic school gym and it was so fun.  We helped serve the dinner with endless crab. We just had fun with it and talked with lots of people as they came though the line. We didn't have a chance to really ever bring up the gospel since I just would put a thing of food on their plates but apparently we made a good impression in the community (I will explain in a minute) It was a blast, they offered us dinner so we could eat and stuff, which we should have taken cause it was crab, but a less active that we were meeting with for the first time was feeding us dinner, so we didn't want to fill up. We did eat some cake though and I ate a couple spoon fulls of the shrimp gumbo. Anyways, so we leave and go to dinner and while we are outside the house we get a call from the lady's husband, and he says "ummm so she got called into work and we can't feed you tonight, Sorry I should have called earlier," WHAT? So lame! We could have had this amazing crab dinner but we chose not to, just for this lady and then they canceled. So we had a kinda bummer rest of the night but that's ok.
On Sunday we taught Relief Society and Young Women's combined. We of course taught about missionary work and it went pretty well, (luckily).   Teaching lessons like that still scares me! haha Well anyways we had a couple people mention that they heard from people at the dinner how great we were and they were very thankful. I was happy to hear this because we really want people to notice us in the community and realize we are not that scary. That was such a relief. Well I really can't think of anything else to say! Sorry I feel bad that this is short haha. 
I love you all so much and pray for you all the time.  I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and that he loves us so much. I know that we have a Heavenly Family who loves us and has provided us with everything we need to return to them eventually. I love this gospel with all my heart and soul and I am always learning more and gaining stronger testimony. I love you all :) Be happy :)
                           Love Andrea