Monday, October 28, 2013

Llama Herders and Burritos

This week has been not as great as last week, but there will still a few exciting points. 

We got a great service opportunity this week. We were prompted to go to the Salvation Army here and so we decided to go on Tuesday. When we got there, we set up 4 hours a week that we would come and volunteer. They were so grateful. But then Sister Jensen was inspired to ask if they needed help now. The lady in charge was almost brought to tears as she explained everything that still needed to be done. We were more than happy to come help and so for the next 2 hours we made bags of food for their pantry customers and also Thanksgiving bags for those who don't have much money.  It was an amazing experience. We knew that we had been prompted there. And even though we didn't get a chance to share the gospel or anything, we still were able to share our testimonies through service. I love serving there.

The week didn't really get exciting until Friday. We were finally able to meet Momoh (Jartu's boyfriend) and make an appointment to meet him the next day. We got to meet with an active member and her non-member mother and it was awesome. I don't think much will come out of it regarding the non-member mother, but it was still an awesome opportunity to get to visit with her and get to know her a bit more. We were also able to meet with a less-active family, the father of which received the Medal of Honor this February (you can see a spotlight of him if you look up Game 1 of the World Series. His name is Clint. It's an amazing story.), and they're super unified together. But unfortunately, they haven't been to church in a long time and don't really have any desire to. We're going to continue working with them, and hopefully some good will come out of it. They're a little hard on the outside, but we'll help them to the best of our abilities. 

But Saturday. That was a crazy day. In the morning, we went up to Newburg with some members. Now Newburg really is a po-dunk little town in the middle of nowhere. There are maybe 100 people that live there, the gas station has one pump (that looks like it's from the 20s) and it would take all of about 30 minutes to tract the whole thing. We went there because we had some appointments with some less active members, but both ended up getting cancelled, so we got to go to the Newburg Mall. We thought this was weird, too: A mall for 100 people? But indeed, they have one! In it, they had the Pastor's office (there was a Lutheran Church there that is HUGE. Don't know why they need one that big), the barbershop, the coffee shop, the insurance agency, and "Paula's Pretty Things" all surrounding a table covered in a plastic tablecloth with chairs surrounding it. It was great. We have a picture in front of the "mall". (Oh, and Newburg is an hour away from Minot). When we got back to Minot, we got to go meet with Momoh, and the lesson went really well. After the lesson, we were just getting up to leave when Moijama (Let me explain the living situation: Eastman and Moijama are married and have 2 kids, Zayzay and Ifa. They are less active. Jartu and Momoh, girlfriend and boyfriend, live with them. They are investigators) asked us if we would like some African food (asking it like if we were to say no it would break her heart), so we said yes, even though we were still full from eating only an hour before. We asked for a little bit. When she brought us the food, she brought us full plates full of It was this brown and green sludge looking stuff over rice. I put my man pants on and started to eat. It was actually pretty good, considering everything. But after the 3rd bite, I couldn't taste anything because my mouth was on fire. It was so spicy!!! They said it was very mild compared to what they usually eat, and I was mortified. Anyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of spicy food. At all. But what could I do? I just put my face down and ate it, sweaty and crying all the way. My mouth burned for the next 3 hours, no lie. Goodness gracious. So I survived it. I can now proudly say that I survived Nigerian good. Bam. 

This Saturday, we're (All 4 missionaries in this ward) doing a Family Mission Day. This is when we assigned 8 families to come to the Church and to create a Family Mission Plan on how to do member missionary work and what are some ways we can share our testimonies. Then we're going to do service with them. It should be a way cool opportunity to get to know the members more and to jump start the members in getting more involved in missionary work. I made a sweet powerpoint for it. I'll let you know next week how it ends up going.

My aha of the week: Christ is the meridian of time. AM and PM are symbolic of the world before and after Christ's birth. How? AM stands for 'Ante-Meridian" and PM for "Post-Meridian". (Thank you, Jesus the Christ.) I don't know if that's cool for anyone else, but it was a lightbulb! moment for me. 

Sister Jensen and I decided to dress up today, so here are pictures of our glorious costumes. Thoughts? She's a burrito and I'm a rock. And then in the next one I'm a Llama Herder and she's the Llama. Baha. Never a boring moment here. 

I am thinking of all of you! I love you all so much! Remember, the Lord never gives us anything we can't handle!

Sister Leslie

Getting dressed to go outside (it was 19 this morning!)

Me and Sister Jensen

Nice, new (and warm!) boots and coat

The Human Burrito

The Rock

The Llama and Llama Herder

Newburg, ND

Monday, October 21, 2013

Once there was a......... and other great happenings this week in the mish!

I know I'll probably say that again later in my mission, but this past week really was the best one so far. And just know that not many hugely funny things happened this week, but REAL missionary experiences, so get excited! I'm becoming a real missionary!

Last P-day after e-mailing, Sister Saunders was still with us (her companion, the Sister Training Leader was in Rapid City for training), and so with her we filmed the greatest music video ever. It was a flute version of "We Thank Thee, O God, For a Prophet", and Sister Jensen and I did river dancing in the background while Sister Saunders played the mop like it was a flute. I can't send it to you because it's too long, but it was great. Haha. Hopefully someday you'll see it. I'll send you the pictures we took last week though. Enjoy those.

So last Tuesday was the best day (up to that point. Wednesday was actually better. But more on that in a second.) Why? Because we were productive allllllll the day long! Which hadn't ever happened before! We went at 9 am to help Sister Billings, and active member work on finishing her basement, which was very exciting and fun, then we got to go visit Donna again and it was so great because the Spirit again spoke through me. She brought out a couple copies of the Book of Mormon, and was like "I read part of this..." and we were like "What? Woah!" And it was legit.  (Her husband, before he had died, had been investigating the Church, and she had read the Book of Mormon with him) We saw she had a Restoration pamphlet, and I asked her if she remembered what was in it. When she said no, I asked her if she would like to be reminded what it said. When she said yes, I had to conceal my joy. We got to teach the Restoration! That was our first time ever doing it together with an investigator. Awww man it was great! Then, we got to go help out A less active member in the ward named Karen. She hasn't been to church in 2 1/2 years, and wasn't even on the ward list! But the Elders found her tracting and so on Tuesday we got to go back and help her clean her apartment. She has a husband, Brian, and 2 adorable little kids, ages 3 and 17 months. That was our second visit with them. Sister Jensen and I got to put our man pants on and build a bookshelf. It's the best looking bookshelf I've ever seen. (But I'm a little biased). And THEN, we got to go have a lesson with Danielle and Anthony, 2 investigators we had been trying to get with. It was their second time being taught ever, and we taught the Restoration again. Danielle is Christian, Anthony is a non-practicing Buddhist, and they're a cute newlywed couple. It was a powerful lesson, and they invited us back. I think why it went so well is because they're not afraid to ask questions. Which is always AWESOME. So yeah, that day was great! 

But the NEXT day was even better. We taught 4 lessons! FOUR!  In ONE day! We got to teach a member present lesson with our investigator Mandy, and we were actually even able to get her on date for baptism!! We have her on for November 23, but we will see. It's going to be so cool! An investigator that I taught, getting baptized!! We also got 2 LARCS, which are lessons with Less-Active members or Recent Converts. We got to meet with Faith again (an LA) and she's the cutest pregnant lady ever! She's about my size, and even though she's not due for another month, she looks like she's about to pop. She's huge. But so nice. We love working with her. And we also got to meet with Candice and Richard, 2 recent converts. We're trying to work with them to get them to the temple to do baptisms, but we'll have to see. We need to help them gain the desire. But we'll get there! And we also taught Jartu about Book of Mormon reading.

This last Friday we had a cool experience. We were having dinner with Kaylee (a LA) and her non-member boyfriend, Carl. The other sisters told us that we need to teach her the Restoration. They've tried, but Satan always stops it. When we got to Kaylee's apartment, she was like "We're going out to eat. That okay?" And I thought to myself "Sneaky, devil, sneaky." But  down we went to Pizza Ranch, which is exactly like Pizza Pie Cafe but not as cool and they have mashed potatoes and gravy as well. They also brought one of Carl's friends, and Sister Jensen were wondering how this would work out. We each said a personal prayer that somehow we could teach the Restoration. When we got our food and sat down, Carl asked us "Are you going to pray?" And we took the opportunity and ran with it so we prayed there out loud in the middle of Pizza Ranch. Bam. Then, we started eating and Carl's friend, nicknamed Fortune, who is also a non-member, started asking these really great questions about the doctrine and about us as real people. We had them guess our ages, and at first Fortune and Carl thought we were 16. (We get that a lot, I have no idea why. Do we really honestly look that young? Wait. Don't answer that.) Oh dear. But then they started asking questions like "What holidays do you celebrate?" "What is the Church's stand on tattoos and piercings?" "Isn't the Catholic Church the root of all churches in the world today?" And with that last one, we were able to go into Lesson 1, starting with how God established His church on the earth when He was here, and then we went through the Apostasy and into the Restoration. We didn't get to quote the first vision account, but the Spirit was still there, at our little table in the middle of Pizza Ranch. We ended up giving Fortune and card and inviting him to visit to learn more about what we believe. It was so cool! Kaylee and Carl came to Sacrament Meeting yesterday, but the seed has been planted in Fortune. He's so prepared.

Yesterday morning at approximately 8:37am, a time which is forever burned into my memory, the worst thing that has ever happened on my mission so far happened: The first snowflake fell. Gah! It has begun.

Mandy didn't come to church yesterday, even though she said she would, so that was disappointing. Jartu didn't  come either. Neither did Candice and Richard, or Karen, Brian and the kids. But! Faith and her son did, and so did Kaylee and Carl. So one step at a time, it's progressing!

I have now been out over a month! It is crazy to me how fast it all goes by! I have been in the field for 3 weeks as of tomorrow. It is crazy how insane it is. 1/18 of my mission is already complete! EEK! So so weird. Hold onto every moment you have!

And that's a wrap! I have started reading Jesus the Christ by Elder Talmage, and it's amazing. Read it along with me! You will not be disappointed!! 

I love you all! The Lord lives!
Sister Leslie
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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Teaching like a Banshee and other fantasmic adventures!

Can't believe i've been out two weeks in the field. It's Sister Jensen's and I's 2 week anniversary today. Ha. It's a precious moment. 

Last we talked, we had had fun experiences, but nothing really spiritual. Well, hope you're in for a surprise! This week will be great for you to hear about.

It all started last Tuesday when we were tracting. I was so discouraged and mad at myself because nothing was happening. Ever. And I hate(d) tracting. But as we were tracting this one particular street, we had the feeling to go knock on one more door. I slumped over there and Sister Jensen did the door approach. In this house we found Donna, a 70-something year old Catholic woman. She kindly let us in and we talked to her about the Plan of Salvation. She had her husband die a few years back of a stroke, and it was very hard on her. For some reason, the SPirit really spoke through me when we were there and it was way cool. Exactly what I needed, though a bit scary. I said some pretty bold things. I gave her a PLan of Salvation pamphlet and told her that this would help her in her life. We asked if we could rake her leaves and she said "Well I can't pay you!" And The SPirit through me said "No, but you could let us teach you a lesson." And Donna was like, "Oh yes! That'll be wonderful!" It was very cool. I didn't say them; the Lord did through me. I'd always wondered what that felt like. Let me tell you--it's awesome. We got a return appointment with her to come help her rake her leaves and I am so excited to go see her again! 

Remember the lesson I taught my first day in Minot to the guy who asked a lot of hard questions? Well, the other sisters taught him last week and he read 1 Nephi and prayed about it and told the sisters "I know that God is with the Mormons." WOOOHOOO! The Spirit really does soften hearts! 

We also got to teach Jartu this week, she's so ready to be baptized. We're working with her and Momoh and the Bishop to see what we can work out. But teaching her is always so great. The Lord truly does prepare people to hear the Everlasting Gospel of Jesus Christ!

All who know me know that I don't like talking to people I don't know, especially about controversial subjects such as politics or religion. Well guess what? Tracting is both of those things! So it's been something I've been struggling with. But the Lord knows that and so gives me experiences to boost my faith. A few days ago we were tracting by the church before a dinner appointment (by the way, every single day this month except for tomorrow is filled with a dinner appointment. I never understood how if you walk all the time oon your mission, how you could gain weight. Well, let me tell you: Every member cooks like 10 different sides, a great main course, dessert and drinks. WHich is all so delicious! But eating that every night and then going to sleep a few hours later is a risky equation. Haha. SO I am learning the value of portion control. Woo!), and we knocked on a door of, you got it, another 70 something year old Catholic lady, this one named Bev. She also let us in and we talked about God's love for us and how faith enriches our lives. SHe showed us what a Catholic rosiary is (a necklace thing with beads that represent specific prayers I think), and we were able to share with her another Plan of Salvation pamphlet. We're going to go over from time to time to see how she's doing. Iknow the Lord is again telling me that if I will just exercise faith in him, good things will happen. So That's my goal for this next week.

 Attached is a picture of our truck, Helaman. He is very stripling, isn't he? This is the truck we share with the other sisters, so every other week we get him. Well, let me tell you 2 things. First, the elders are so insanely jealous of the fact that the sisters get the truck, and Second, getting into a truck in a pencil skirt is hard. But I have now perfected the technique. Let me explain: 1. Grab with your left hand the handle on the top of the roof of the car on the passenger side. 2. Place right hand on the fully opened door's ledge. 3. Jump up, putting all of your weight on your arms. 4. Swing your weight into the truck. 5. Let go and close the door. It's quite awesome. SIster Jensen always laughs at me. And then I laugh at her when she wears a pencil skirt. It's great. #girlprobs

So this week, I had my first experience that made me super homesick. we were going to a meeting with the Ward Mission Leader, and there was a dance going on in the cultural hall. The music that was playing was stuff I used to listen to, but I couldnt dance or anything and then I realized I didnt feel so awesome listening to it. I really struggled that wole night to not get distracted and sad. Gah. Not cool.

So a member out here told me that USU beat BYU and I was so excited!! But then I learned the terrible truth. And I am so sad about Chuckie. It happened because I wasnt there.

I got to see my first convert baptism on Saturday! It was sweet! The SPirit that was there was awesome and I loved it so much. If you ever get the chance to go to one, DO IT. 

This week, I learned that to be humble is to be teachable, not to beat yourself into the ground. I'm now applying it in my life--apply it in yours!

This next week, I will be studying Faith and Patience in Chapter 6: Christlike Attributes. Let these studies enrich your life as well!

Watch for missionary opportunities to come and then ACT on them! Missionaries can't do their job if the members don't do their part!

I love you all!
Sister Leslie

p.s. Weather update: Hasn't snowed yet, but we're hearing that this winter's going to be a bad one. Awesome. See attached pictures in the next email. :)
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Monday, October 7, 2013

Glory Boy, DQ French Fries, Setting off Home Alarms and Other Adventures

Can't believe I've been in the field a week already! It's crazy how time flies. My one month mark is coming up already! EEK!

Oh man, where to begin! SO many exciting things happened this week. 

First off, I survived my first phone call to an investigator and door approach WITHOUT dying or fainting or throwing up! I thought I was going to do any or all of those things when my companion, Sister Jensen, told me I was going to be talking, but somehow I am still alive to tell the tale. And I'm becoming more used to it kinda. Door approaches still terrify me, but I have a great comp to help me out. 

We don't have a car here in Minot, and probably aren't getting one, so we're supposed to share with the other sisters in Minot but haven't figured out a schedule yet, so we've been getting rides from members and walking. In case you were wondering, it takes 35 minutes to get to our ward boundaries and 1 hour 5 minutes from our apartment to the church buildings. So all of you, count your many blessings right now that you live within a 5 minute walk! 

So the wind here is killer. There have been a few times walking around I've thought that before I take my next step, I'll freeze into a solid block of Sister missionary. But, due to the greatness of my companion, I have not yet died because she let me borrow one of her coats til mine arrived. And then of course, we wore our warm wool tights, coats and scarves yesterday and it was 60 degrees. I learned that wool tights do indeed work. Yay! But yeah. It got so cold one day, that as we were walking around, we came across a DQ (they're here everywhere.) We stopped in to get warm and thaw ourselves out and decided to buy some fries. Those fries were the most amazing warm thing I have ever eaten in my life, not even joking. It was like manna from heaven. Aww, it was the best. And the best part was, we didnt pay for it because last week when we went shopping, some lady came up to us and gave us $10. We're not allowed to take money, but she practically threw it at us and ran away. The tender mercies of the Lord!


We have some really cool investigators, among which are Jartu and Momoh, who are from Africa. They are ready to be baptized except for living the law of chastity, which is hard because of money situations and getting papers needed for marriage from Africa is incredibly difficult. But we're working with them. They live with another African family, the Sesays, who are less active and will sit in out our lessons. Eastman (the dad) and Morijama (the mom) yell at their children Zayzay and Eastman Jr. and lot, poor kids. The best was when the elders told us last time they were there, Eastman, in his incredibly deep African voice declared in the middle of a lesson: "Zayzay. Shut. Up." Oh man I wish I could have been there, it would have been great. The elders say they almost died laughing right there. But yeah, they're awesome.

I have been trying really hard to eat healthier, which is interesting when we don't have that much food. But I was so wanting to be healthy that a few days ago I mixed a bit of turkey, a lot of spinach and a big ol' helping of that quinoa and brown rice mixture all together and ate it. Not the best thing I've ever eaten, but not the worst either and it was healthy. Haha I don't know if I'll eat it again, but it's the thought that counts, right?

(And before I forget: I found another family that knows the Otis'! We ate with the Lane family last night and Brother Lane is also a B-52 Pilot. He likes Chris. Haha. SO let them know they're popular out here!)

 And this is where it gets good. I'l just start by saying that yesterday wasn't my day.

So in our kitchen in our room, we only have a fridge, sink and microwave. SO when we want to use a stove or oven, we go downstairs and use the members'. Well, yesterday morning I wanted oatmeal for breakfast and so went downstairs quietly as to not wake up the family. They have a gate there that keeps the dog out of the kitchen and after passing that, I got to the stove and put everything on the counter. I then realized a slowly increasing beeping noise coming from a white box on the wall by the gate. My heart dropped as I realized I had set off a motion alarm and didn't know the code! Gah! Not knowing what else to do, I quickly went back up to our apartment where I looked up and saw Sister Jensen's face, laughing. Oh man it was terrible. Brother Noel had to come turn it off. He gave us the code and I just couldn't look him in the face. Still can't. Holy cow it was so embarrassing! Eating my oatmeal yesterday, I tried to think of happier times. Haha. Goodness gracious.

And the crowning glory of it all! Yesterday between sessions of Conference, Sister Jensen and I walked over to the nearby trailer park to go contact a referral. When we got there, we knocked once, no answer, so twice and then a lady watching this came up from behind it and yelled through the door: "Hey! These girls have been here forever! I know you're in there!!" Then the door opened and 2 20 something year old guys quickly went out and joined the lady behind us, exclaiming "Joshua! The door's for you!!" At this point, we saw a guy peek out his head to us, then disappear. Sister Jensen turned to me and said "You have this door." I think my brain stopped functioning for a second.  Next thing I know, this 'Joshua' comes swaggering towards us out of his room, wearing only basketball shorts that were practically falling off. He had chest piercings and tattoos around them, and when he got to the door, he planted himself in his pose and gave us the smolder. My first thought was "Good grief." But all I could get out was, "Well, we're missionaries. Have you ever heard of missionaries before?" He replied yes and then my mind went blank. Thankfully my comp took over and we ended up getting a return appointment to talk to him on Saturday. Haha after we left, we couldn't stop laughing because it was so awkward to be hit on by someone, especially him, due to the fact that we're missionaries, and as such were wearing long skirts, wool tights, and coats. Only our faces were visible. Looking back, it's the funniest thing that's happened by far. Bwaha. We nicknamed him Glory Boy. Yeah. So needless to say, we might be handing this appointment over to the elders. But it was still cool for me to finally get a return appointment, a real part of missionary work. So even if the situation was awkward, it was cool. 

I hope you all watched General Conference! It was amazing! All that they talked about regarding reactivating less active members and getting members involved was awesome. And Sunday, about enduring to the end. I wish conference was every month. It's interesting that they didn't announce any new temples, and that family choir was different, but it was cool. I wish we could have gotten Jartu and Momoh to come watch, but Momoh works at the hospital here working crazy hours. Everyone works at the oil fields, hospital or grocery stores it seems like. At a grocery store, you start off at like $15 an hour because there arent enough people for all the jobs!

I would just like to say how much members help missionary work. Without referrals and rides and coming on visits from the members, this work would be so much harder. Read Alma 6:6! Pray for missionary opportunities with real intent. When you have the opportunity to share the gospel, share it. The world needs this message.

This week I will be studying Preach My Gospel, Chapters 5 (The Book of Mormon) and 6 (Christlike Attributes). These are amazing and will bring you closer to Christ!

I know that this gospel is true and brings true happiness. I am so grateful for the Atonement in my life and for the chance I have to share this great message of happiness. You're all amazing and God loves you! You may not be set apart as a missionary, but you can still help hasten the work! Luke 1:37! With God, anything is possible, so fear not.

Until next week, 
Sister Leslie