Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Sunshine, Steak and Frozen Nose Hairs

WOW! What a week! So much to write!
     Last time we talked, Zone Conference had not yet occurred. But now it has and I am here to tell you it was AMAZING! I wish you all would have been able to go. The focus was on teaching for commitment and it was so great. My mission president is the best. Towards the end of the conference, he talked about Apostasy and how it happens personally before it happens in a group of people. He talked about how even Church members are able to lead us into Apostasy and how we need to be wary even of them (of course not the First Presidency, Quorum of the 12 or 70, or any of the General Auxiliaries, but some members can influence us to make decisions that could potentially lead us into a state of personal apostasy). I thought it was interesting that he talked about that, but it makes sense. There are some things members tell us here, that while they mean the best, aren't fully true. So we all just need to be wary.
Me and Sister Anderson.  I just love her so much!  She's amazing! 
     The day before Zone Conference, last Monday, it was our P-day and not serving in Bismarck we didn't know what to do. So we took pictures in front of the temple. We were doing the "High School Musical jump" and all of that using a timer. (Yeah, it was cold.) At this time, a man came up and offered to take a few pictures for us, and we got some great jumping ones. Only later did we realize that had been the temple president. Oh snap. How embarrassing!

     I did find out also while at Zone Conference, there are 6 stakes and 1 district (a group of branches) in my mission. I'm pretty sure there's like 6 stakes in Bountiful! Weird. Elder Stewart got to bear his testimony at Zone Conference because this is is last one before he goes home. It's weird to be at the beginning of my mission when there's a lot of people around me at the end of their missions. It's an interesting perspective. We were also told that online proselyting is coming in the Spring! So that will be a new interesting thing. All missionaries will also be getting an iPad Mini. Times have definitely changed, and are continually changing!
     We got to go to Burlington this week, a suburb of Minot with one of the Relief Society sisters in our ward this week and were able to contact a lot of people in that area! It was really good to get out there and meet the people there. Afterwards, we got dragged to Lunch Bunch, where a bunch of Relief Society sisters pick a restaurant and go out to lunch together. This sister we went to Burlington bought us lunch at that, and it was really great that we went actually because about halfway through, a lady came up to us and asked us where the church building was and what ward she was in and all that. She had just moved here from Utah and recognized Sister Jensen and I as Mormons and so could ask us where she needed to go.  It was really cool to be able to help her.
     Also, have you heard about the Typhoon in the Phillipines? It's crazy! The story of the missionaries there is amazing.
Duhn duhn duhn......Wednesday we had our first blizzard. We got 7 inches of snow and the driving was HORRIBLE. 
 But we made it and the next day got sandbags for our truck so we don't fishtail anymore. It's nice. And so it is officially winter! On Thursday, we were tracting in our glorious boots, and the high for the day was -5. It was very exciting (not). It's going to be a chilly winter for sure. But yeah. So it officially feels like the holidays! Speaking of, we have 4 dinner appointments for Thanksgiving! 4!!! How are we going to do it? We still have no idea. Not a clue. So we're just going to roll from appointment to appointment. At least we won't starve!
Danielle and Anthony are doing much better this week. They're back to their normal selves, which is awesome. They're still off date, but still progressing. They were at church last night and also fed us dinner yesterday as well. They made steak and potato soup, both of which were really good. They're so funny. But we love 'em. They are so fun to work with.
At church yesterday, we had 5 people at church!! 3 investigators and 2 potentials. It was awesome. SO much better than last Sunday! Not even a contest at all. 
This week, we were visiting a less active member from Thailand and as we were leaving, I stood up to put my backpack on and suddenly she exclaimed: "Holy cow! You are the tiniest American I have ever seen!!" Haha I had no idea what to say besides "thank you", but I just thought it was cute. I won't be so small after Thursday. Ugh.
We also had a really good meeting with a part member family, which was a great experience. I think we helped him be more open and who knows, we might start teaching him! We'll see. 
And there you have it! It was a bit of a slower week, but it was still great. We had a lot of cool experiences. I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving! Have that attitude of gratitude! (Moroni 7:41! Gratitude leads to more hope and vice versa. It's an interesting cycle. Study it!)
Sister Miller and I at Zone Conference. We were in the same MTC Zone.

My most beautiful Christmas wreath that I made with my snowflake mustache. Boom.
(Because nothing says "Merry Christmas" better than a snowflake mustache.)

Love you all!
sister leslie.

Monday, November 18, 2013

The Week of a Thousand Emotions

Of course the week I have so much to write I have not enough time. We're in Bismarck right now for Zone Conference with our mission president and so we only get like 40 minutes of email time.
Karen, Brian and their family are progressing a lot! Church attendance we're still working on, but it's a process. They havent been active for 10 years, so we need to help them feel comfortable in Church again. But they're awesome. 
On Tuesday, we were walking in a scarier part of town that was very much affected by the flood. The only way to get where we were going was to take this creepy staircase up to Broadway, the super busy main road there. There was like old caution tape on it and stuff. It was terrifying. I prayed before I went up it. Goodness gracious. What we do to get to appointments on time. That night when we were teaching Danielle and Anthony, we talked about Faith and in the lesson we asked Danielle if she would like a priesthood blessing because she was going through a lot. She said yes and we were able to get her one. It was great. Very nice. The Spirit was there so strong. 
Friday we had a lot of cool experiences. We talked to Danielle in the morning and heard that they were having financial problems, so we called Karen, the couponing Queen, and she was able to get Danielle 20 flats of baby food, tons of diaper, wipe, and formula coupons, shampoo, soap, razors--everything they would ever need. It was awesome. Karen loved helping out and Danielle was very grateful. We went and taught Donna that day, and it was cool because she gave us 2 of the most delicious pieces of Apple Crisp I've ever had. And she promised us that if we call a few days before we go over next time then she will make us a homemade pumpkin pie that we can take home with us! Aww, yeah! It's awesome. She's great. That night Danielle even ended up feeding us dinner. We were in a lesson and we got a text. When we got out of the lesson, we read it: "Hope y'all are hungry cause I made y'all some food." Haha it was great. We ended up having 2 dinners that night. It was a lot of food. But I wasn't hungry anymore! We're always starving by the time dinner comes along.
On Saturday, we got to teach Shakeitha and Justin again, the 2 we taught a couple Sundays ago that was an awesome lesson. They committed to be baptized, just not on a specific date. So we will keep working with them. But they're on the right path! They say they already know it's true and that ever since they met with us, everything is working out and going right for them. It's so cool to see. Also on this day, we went grocery shopping because we're in Bismarck today and didnt have any food. And while there, we bought a Christmas tree! A 2 foot, pre-lit light. It's cute. I'll keep it for my next Christmas on the mission. Boom, baby!
Sunday, yesterday, was one of the hardest days of my mission. Sister Jensen agrees. Danielle and Anthony are no longer on date, but we will still be teaching them. They just have a few things they need to work on before they can be baptized. As much as it breaks my heart, It's what needs to happen. But it's still very hard for us. Plus, over the course of this week, we lost 4 investigators. But this is the Lord's work and so He is with us! We will not fail here in Minot! 
Studying General Conference talks this week has been AMAZING! Study them! You can get so much more from reading it verses watching it. So get the Ensign and start highlighting!
Love you all! Have such a great week!
sister leslie.
Eating the cookies the Achievement Day girls made for us
the wild turkeys that you see all over Minot
...and the Noel family! Who we live with! (little baby Elenore was sleeping, so there you go). 
 from L to R: Me, Sister Jensen, Ruby (Snow White, 4), Violet (6) , Jaymie (mom), Ivy (12), Mark (dad) and Oliver (9).

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

No Longer the Greenest Apple......

Last week, on P-day, all the Minot missionaries got together and played Apple Shmear, which is to take bad, older apples and play baseball with them, pretty much. Somehow we had a bat and everything. Apple bits were everywhere! Stuck in the fence, smashed into bits all over the lawn..haha it was funny. Until the cops showed up. I guess someone had filed a complaint that we were making a mess. Luckily, the cop was on our side and the elders weren't wearing their nametags to keep them clean, so the cop didn't know we were missionaries. Haha I never did such a crazy act before my mission. I guess why not in Minot, right? 

The highlight of the week happened on Tuesday. Remember our investigators Danielle and Anthony? Yeah, we got them on date! It was such a great lesson. We taught them the Plan of Salvation and it answered all of the many questions they had, especially Danielle. It was interesting, because the Spirit was so strong and their child Aiden was happily playing on the floor, when Danielle showed us a clip of the cartoon Dante's Inferno, which is something she was taught as a young Southern Baptist. In order to watch it, the children's parents had to sign a consent form, and having watched it I can now understand why. We only watched for about 3 minutes out of the hour and a half, but in that the Spirit totally left the room and Aiden started crying and I was terrified. To think that someone thought this was what happened after death was so humbling and sad to me. Even now when I think of that video, I get shaky and know that it is definitely NOT from the Lord. But the cool thing about it was, we were able to teach her that after death is a good place, full of light and joy, not a place of sorrow and darkness. She has 2 sisters waiting for her in the Celestial kingdom and it inspires her to be better, to make it up there. It was such a testimony builder for me of the Plan of Salvation. We taught them again on Friday, and they are so solid. The Spirit resides in their home and it's so cool to watch the Light of Christ come into their faces and help them grow closer together as a family. They're so excited that through the temple,  they can be a forever family. I love going over and getting to teach them. They are on date for December 14th.

This past Saturday, on the 9th, we had the opportunity to go to the temple. We spent from 8:45am-5:00pm traveling and in Bismarck all for a 2 hour time in the temple. So be grateful that you have one so close. We drove down with a super cute family in our ward, and after the temple went to lunch with them before returning home. Yes, the temple is very small. A session only holds about 40 people, 20 males and 20 females, and the Celestial Room only has seating for about 10 or 12 maybe. Super small. But it has the same spirit there as any of the other temples do. It hasn't been too long since I've been to the temple, but it will probably be a long time until I get to go again. We get to go ever 3 months if we are in the Bismarck Stake, so I don't know where I'll be in 3 months. We'll have to see. But it was so neat to be there with my companion and ward members. It was interesting, Satan tried really hard to give us a bad day and to make us angry after we left the temple. It almost worked. But it didn't. 

Exciting news!! When we get new missionaries up here in Minot tomorrow, a car is being brought! A CAR! Which means that yes indeed! Each set of missionaries in Minot will have their own car! BAM! It will be so much better, especially with it getting cold. Ahh, so great.

And as of today, I am no longer the greenest missionary in the field! There are now missionaries in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission that have been out less time than me! WOOHOO! Glory glory hallelujah! It is so exciting! I can't even believe it. This transfer has FLOWN so fast! I can only imagine how fast my mission will go by.

Look up 2 Nephi 31:20. Read it. Then read it again, but put the word 'almost' in front of all the phrases. It definitely gives the scripture a whole new meaning. 

Next week I'll have more time, sorry! Love you all! 

sister leslie.

Sis. Jensen and I at the Bismark, ND Temple

District Meeting
Minot District with Sis. Sellers (far right)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Taking Candy from a Possessed Zombie...Just Another Day In The Life As A Missionary

I don't even know where to begin this week in writing home. SO much has happened!
Last week, I was terrified for exchanges (when you switch companions for a day) because I was the senior companion. My companion for the day, Sister Gordon, goes home in 2 weeks and so I know she knows this all a lot better than I do and was just freaking out. It's a scary thing. But it ended up being a really cool experience. We had a great lesson with Momoh about marriage and were pretty blunt with him about some of his concerns with marriage. But in the end, we committed him to talk to Jartu about this coming up January 15 as their wedding date. So hopefully that will work out and we'll be able to meet with them again soon! We also met Stephanie, who is the roommate of a referral we got and were trying to visit. She is so prepared to hear the gospel and was going to come to church yesterday, but got the flu (sneaky, Satan. sneaky...) so we will hopefuly be teaching her tonight and then she'll be coming to church this coming Sunday. She's awesome.
Halloween as a missionary is weird. It doesn't mean anything different for our schedules or anything, but at the same time who would want to meet with the missionaries on Halloween night? Hmm. SO it was interesting. It was a day full of service, both for the Salvation Army and a non-member lady who needed apples picked. Service always makes me feel good. But that night, the Noels (specifically Sister Noel) told us we HAD to come to the Halloween Party they were going to for a few minutes that night. So we did. Literally for like 7 minutes. HAha. It's not as fun being at a party when everyone is watching to see how missionaries act in regular social gatherings. On the way home, Sister Noel drove us to her friends house that aways gets super into Halloween. We had to go knock on her door to trick or treat and everything. And let me tell you, it was terrifying!! We knocked on the door, didn't think she was there so was about to go back to the car, but then in the window by the door we saw a corner of a nightgown appear, and then suddenly this possessed zombie (apparently from the Ring, a horror film) oozed out of the door. She said nothing, nor did she break her facial expression of horrifying blankness. Sister Noel made me go up to her and say "trick or treat", and then this lady put into my hand some candy while staring into my soul with the emptiest, blackest eyes you've ever seen anyone act before. Yeesh. It gave me the heebie jeebies. I should have gotten a picture with her, but I was too scared. I'm not afraid to admit that. So yeah. Gotta love fun stuff like that.
We also went on splits this week (where each missionary takes with them, in the case of a sister missionary, a laurel-aged young women or any other lady), and I got the opportunity to go to Danielle and Anthony's house with a young woman in the ward. It was an awesome lesson. The spirit was so strong and even though Danielle was asking a lot of hard questions, through the SPirit I was able to answer them and Lydia, the young woman with me, was able to bear such sweet testimonies of what was being taught. I was a bt nervous seeing as young women expect the missionaries to know what to say and all that, but I think I did okay. I might have talked just a little too much. But it;s a work in progress. They're progessing very well now.
So on Saturday, we had our first Family MIssion Day. It went very well. I was pleased. It was a bit rocky because it was the first one, but it was great to get to know the members more and better while and to help them become more involved in member missionary work. I got to work with 2 families, and it was so much fun. We're going to start doing one every month. Boom, baby! Later that day, we also got to meet Fay, a cute older lady who is good friends with DOnna. We get to go help her rake leaves and such on TUesday, and I'm so excited. It'll be great for sure.
On Friday, Sister Noel was running Sister Jensen and I to a service activity and also her kids to school. We made it 2 blocks and then we realized we had no more gas in the car. Not any. Luckily we coasted into the gas station, only to find out that the gas tank was on the other side of the car. SO after working with a defective gas can and using some random guys' help, we made it back on the road. I now understand better how to use a gas can. Life skill mastered. Now I hope I never have to use it.
Daylight Savings Time is always a glorious time. Escpecially when you wake up in the morning, look at your phone and then realize that it's 5:36 and then you remember about DST and so get to go back to bed for an hour! Ahhhhhh, that's the best.
SUNDAY. The time when you find out if your investigators are going to be progressing investigators or not. The time when everything becomes very real. Yesterday, Sister Jensen and I were at the church from 9:15am to 6:20pm. Mandy came to church!! She came for Sacrament Meeting only, but she still came! She's progressing!! WOOHOOOO! We also got dropped by our first investigator. Her name is Alaina and we only taught her once. It's way sad that she dropped us, but we kinda sensed it coming. We can't force people to accept the message of the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we got to our Sacrament Meeting at 3, we were greeted by Morgan, a super cute 3 year old with "SISSER MISHIMARIES!!!!" SHe came up and hugged us. Haha her mom says she refers to us as her "big sisters" to all of her firends and is so proud that we have been to her house. It's so cute! This week I'll try to get a picture with her. :) Also in that sacrament meeting was Danielle and Anthony with their son. Hole cow! They came! 3 investigators at Sacrament Meeting and 3 progessing investigators!! How awesome! Danielle even bore her testimony in Sacrament Meeting and it was powerful. SHe shared how she gained faith in Christ and how much she was grateful for Sister Jensen and I. I almost started crying I was so happy. Ah. She participated a lot in the other classes, too. Maybe a little bit too much, but we'll work on it. At least she isn't shy. PLUS, we got 2 NEW INVESTIGATORS yeaterday!! Read below for the story.
This last week, I've been a lot more homesick and I've really been struggling to focus and keep my act together. It was definitley the hardest week for me on my mission so far.  I understand that it's natural to miss home and to get used to the new life of a missionary, but I even found myself thinking that I wanted to go home, which terrified me. Of course, I didn't want to go home, but I realized how much I'm mission out on at home and how life continues, even though I'm not there to participate in it, and it freaked me out.  I've been praying a lot this week to feel comforted and to feel that where I need to be is on my mission, because I know this is where I need to be. Yesterday, Sister Jensen and I went and taught the Restoration to a couple that Sister Jensen found while doing splits this past week. The lesson was led so strongly by the Spirit and we were able to teach it in unity. They had never before heard of Joseph Smith, and they didn't know anything about the Book of Mormon except for the name of it. It was so amazing to see the Spirit teach them as we were there, being the Lord's mouthpieces. In that lesson, I felt that this couple is one of the reasons I'm in Minot, one of the reasons I'm on my mission. I knew that was the answer to prayer that I had needed in order to again let go of all my fears and really trust in the Lord. I am again focused and getting over homesickness much faster and I am so glad that I was able to again have the confirmation that the Lord knows me and what I'm going through.
Whatever it is, I know the Lord can and will help you through it if we will only reach up to Him. KNow that I am so happy here and love the people and all the experiences that I'm having. Lter today, I get to play Apple Shmear with the other "mishimaries" here in Minot. So that will be exciting if we don't freeze. The wind is howling today and I think that with the windchill it's around 15 degress, maybe a little less. Be grateful for the warm weather in Utah.
The work is working!
sister leslie.
Scandinavian Culture Center Horse thing
so many jobs here! So much money!
bubble thing at the halloween party
our halloween costumes: spot the difference!
Family Mission Day: Elder Larsen, Elder Stewart, Brother Fife
(just released Ward Mission Leader) and Sister Jensen and I.
We share the ward with these Elders.