Monday, February 24, 2014

"Well, we don't eat our shirts, we wear them."

From the mouth of babes wisdom can be found.

Well, you already know Jose is awesome. But just wait--there's more! He just has such a big convert fire and it is so cool to be able to watch it continually grow and flourish. This week, we got a call from Jose on Wednesday night after he met with Bishop Lund and he was SO excited because he told us, "I'm getting the Priesthood on Sunday! And then I am going to sit up there for the next 2 weeks when they bless the sacrament and then in like 3 weeks I am going to bless the sacrament!" He was so bubbly and excited, which was so cool to hear. And then, yes indeed, yesterday he was ordained to the office of a Priest! He was sustained in Sacrament Meeting (in which Sister Jensen and I were beaming with joy because Jose was getting the Priesthood), and then right after Sacrament meeting he was ordained. It was so cool! Another recent convert got to stand in the circle as well and so it was so powerful. Sister Jensen and I were beaming all day and so was Jose. He is so cool! Last night we went and taught him, and it was awesome. We started off with the question, "Who are you?" And he soon found that we were looking for the answer "a child of God." We talked about his divine parentage and how that influences us here on earth and how it can help us. As part of it, Jose told us that he talks to everyone about the Gospel because "You grew up in the gospel. I didn't. This stuff is familiar to you, and it's not to me. So I get so excited when I learn these cool things and I want to share it with everyone I see!" He is doing great at fulfilling his baptismal covenants thus far. Another highlight of that lesson was in part of it we asked 'Who do you know that is struggling and how can you help them?" He thought for a second and then told us he thought of Brian, the less-active member he's come to visit with us a few times. It was cool that he was already thinking this soon after baptism of how he can help those less-actives he knows come back to the full joy of the gospel.
We taught Karen and Brian this week with Jose as well and it was awesome. Sister Jensen and I were a bit nervous because we taught tithing, which is the reason they went less-active 11 years ago. So it's a bit of a touchy subject. But having Jose there to bear his testimony of tithing and how her knows it is inspired of God and helps us was so powerful! Jose is not afraid to testify boldly and do what he can to help them. He really wants to be able to be home teachers to Karen and Brian and that would be great. So we're going to get that ball rolling. It's so fun to work with someone who has so much desire to help everyone and ANYONE they can!
Karla is also doing well. This week when we met with her she told us the story of her journey with God, away from God and then back to God and how she knows she let us in for a reason. A lot of people from different churches have come to her door, she said, but for some reason when we came she felt like she should let us in. She is so close to being on date for baptism! She is so fun to work with. In that lesson, she also told us that she knows the Book of Mormon is true, or she believes it is so much. Such a cool lesson! That lesson when investigators tell you they know the Book of Mormon is true is so powerful. The Spirit is always so strong. She also came to church yesterday, which was so exciting because she has a 2 year old and a 1 month old, so it gets a bit crazy with the both of them. But luckily, the 2 year old went to nursery and stayed there the whole time, so Karla could mostly focus on the last 2 hours. She loved it! We went to 2nd ward because she couldn't make it to our ward this week due to the earliness of the hour. But now she understands why coming to the ward she lives in is so important, so hopefully this week she'll be able to make it to our ward. I love church, but 6 hours of it in a row (only 20 minutes in between wards) was a lot. But Karla was there and she stayed, so it was all worth it.
To explain the quote on the subject box, on Monday we were visiting with a less-active, Sister Feil and she has 2 young kids. The oldest is 3 and the younger one is around 1. We were sharing a message with Sister Feil and were talking about the commandments when her adorable 3 year old daughter stated. "Weeeeellllll, we don't eat our shirts, we wear them." (Stated in a very matter-of-fact voice). She then continued. "See this big hole? [pointing to the bottom of her shirt] That's where my body goes. And see these small holes? [Pointing to her sleeves] Those are for my arms." Haha it was hilarious. And the best part is, her mom has no idea where she got it from.
We got a new investigator this week, who is new to us but actually is a former investigator. Her name is Shirley and she is a cool spunky firecracker. She is awesome and we love teaching her already. She had a lot of questions for us about the Book of Mormon and the history of the Church, so she is very curious. She remembers a lot from when the missionaries were teaching her from before, so that's always cool. She takes in the answers well and really thinks about what we are teaching.
This week, the elders gave us an investigator they just got last week. We haven't been able to teach her yet, but we have an appointment set up so we are excited. It's funny because she lives in the same apartment complex as Jose (recent convert), 3 other investigators (now 4), a less-active part member family, a former investigator and a potential investigator. We haven't been able to tract it yet, but that's the plan. We plan to baptize everyone in the complex and rename it "Celestial Condos" or something. But really though. Everyone lives there! It's hilarious.
So yeah, this week was awesome! Sister Jensen and I both feel that we will not be together next transfer, so we are enjoying our time together while it lasts and making our area the best we can. I can't believe how fast this transfer is flying by! It is crazy to me.
I am so grateful for all of your prayers and help. Thank you for being a huge support to me and for being great examples to me. I love you all!
sister leslie. 
Us with our awesome investigator Karla

Us with Jose the night of his ordination

Monday, February 17, 2014

Becoming Consecrated

Zone Conference this week was probably one of the longest day of my life, but in a good way. We woke up at 5am, left by 6:10 (we had to pick up the sisters and elders) and got down to Bismarck by 8. All the trainings were so inspired and so awesome! They hit me to the core, they were all about how we can become converted and need to repent and be better. The Assistants to the President (or the APs) did a powerful object lesson in which the point was to show that when we as missionaries have fears or distractions or anything that is personally holding us back, it holds back our investigators and makes it virtually impossible for them to progress. A lot of missionaries were crying and it hit us all that we need to be better, to consecrate ourselves to the Lord. They taught us that to be consecrated, we must give up all of our bad things, and good things, that are not in harmony with our missionary purpose to the Lord and when we do that, the Lord will be able to mold us into the best missionaries we can be. All of this just hit me like a brick wall and I immediately started of things I needed to change. I was scared at first to have to face the things I needed to resolve, but I was determined to figure them out, so for the whole rest of the day I was thinking to myself about how I could help myself let certain things go. I was like an emotional wreck inside myself that day. We drove home that night with the 6 of us in Mo, and I was driving, which already had put me on the edge for it was dark and there was a lot of people in the car and I was just plain scared. But we made it back safe, we got back to Minot around 9:15 at night. I t was a very long day and Sister Jensen and I were emotionally and physically done. But still, before I went to bed that night, I gave everything up to the Lord. It was one of the hardest moments for me on my mission, because I loved these things and I thought I could still carry them with me on my mission, but I realized that I can't. I can look at them every once in a while, but can't pick them up, which is what I had done. So I gave it all to the Lord and told Him that He needed to help me, because I loved all these things so much. I fell asleep very fast that night and when I woke up in the morning, I felt better. I felt peaceful about it all and I have noticed ever since then, only 2 days ago, that I feel the Spirit more. I have a bigger desire to go out and share the gospel with others, I have more motivation to do the work. I wasn't a bad or disobedient missionary before, I'm just deciding to make the step now to becoming a consecrated missionary. Saturday night, we taught Jose and I had the prompting to share my experience with Jose, and so I did, among tears. I bore my testimony of the Atonement and how we can be forgiven and cleansed again. I wanted him to know what I now know, that the Atonement works and there for all of us. It was cool to see that change in my motives that soon after I had made the decision to become consecrated. I KNOW the Atonement works and that God and his son, Jesus Christ love us so much! They are willing to do ANYTHING to help us, we just have to reach up and ask them for Their help.
Zone Conference was the highlight of my week for sure, but we did have some other great experiences with some awesome new investigators. We were able to teach Karla again, and she is recognizing the Spirit so well! It is so cool to see her already recognize that. We watched The Restoration video with her and she said she felt the Spirit so strong when the First Vision happened. It's so cool because so many people don't recognize the Spirit or understand the good feelings they have when meeting with us! It is so cool to get to work with her, and to help her progress. She has been practicing praying and is doing so well! She now feels much more comfortable praying when we come. She has a sweet heart and is strong in her desire to learn! 
Debbie is another great investigator we have who actually knows a lot about the Church and had a lot of questions for us. She was so excited when we gave her a Book of Mormon and a chapter to read. She was like, "I was hoping you would give me a reading assignment! I've wanted to read in this book for a long time." She is pretty much Mormon without being baptized. Growing up when her friends wanted to go to a bar, she'd be like, "Can't we stay home and scrapbook?" There are many more examples from her life that she is prepared to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Our area is picking up again, slowly but surely.
It always makes it worth it when recent converts or investigators tell you that you've changed their life for the better and have helped them grow in their faith. A few mornings ago, we woke up and checked the phone like we do every morning to find a text from Jose. Part of it read: "Sisters, I know it's late but I just wanted to tell you that I wish I could have met you a long time ago. I wasted so much time away from God and it makes me so sad...know that you two girls mean so much to me, I know all you left behind just to teach people like me and I truly appreciate it!" Jose helps us so much in boosting our confidence in our teaching and in our motivation that we can prepare people for baptism and that they can be active, life-long members. It is so cool to be a part of this great work. Yesterday, we watched "Legacy" with him, and it was cool for him to see a bit more of Church history. Next we're going to watch the Joseph Smith movie. In the next 2 weeks, the plan is that he will be given the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained to the office of Priest. It is so cool to watch him continually progressing in the Gospel! Having converts is the greatest, they help boost you, you help boost them and it just makes life so much nicer. :) 
Word has gotten out that I am an interior designer major and so last week Elder Kirton employed me to decorate a letter for him so it would be "much cooler". And then yesterday, he told me and Sister Jensen and he and Elder Larsen want us to decorate planners for them using our "skills". So that's funny. The Elders are becoming friends with us now, which helps us to trust them even more and helps us as we further the ward with them. 
Those are the highlight of the week. Know I love you all and have a strong testimony of the Atonement! It works! I know it with all I am. The Lord can make a better person than we can make of ourselves! Ether 12:27!
sister leslie. 
Sister Miller and I at Zone Conference

Me in yet another snow storm with HUGE snowflakes yesterday

Me in front of "Mo", our glorious minivan. He's a big dude. 

Monday, February 10, 2014

"Does My Breath Smell Like Rock?"

My brain isn't working at the moment, so I don't know what nifty introduction to put at the beginning of this email. I hope this works.

Monday, we did stuff with all the Minot missionaries because it was Elder Stewart's last P-day before going home. He's now a regular person in the Land of Eternal P-day. Elder Wilkinson was here still because his companion had to go home 3 weeks ago due to medical things so he was companions with Elders Larsen and Stewart in a tripanionship. I guess the thing to do with elders to "initiate" them into a new "area" is 2 get 2 cakes and smash them into either side of the new-to-the-area's face and to get it everywhere. So on Monday, it was poor Elder Wilkinson's turn. Poor guy. He had frosting everywhere. The elders told me and Sister Jensen that we are next, but I don't think so. Long hair with cake and frosting in it would take fffooorrreeevvvveeeerrrr to get out! Yeah no thanks.
Tuesday 3 of our 4 appointments cancelled, but it happens. It was ironic though because the one that went through was with Jose and the other 3 were with potential investigators and a less-active member, so they are the ones that need it more probably. Now, don't think that I'm saying Jose doesn't need anything; he does, he's still growing his testimony. But those who don't know of the gospel of Jesus Christ also need to hear about him. But it was good. We went over the Priesthood with Jose again, and he understood it well. He is getting excited to receive the Priesthood soon, in the next couple weeks! He says that he feels special that he gets to hold the Priesthood and we don't, and so we made sure he understands that it's a big responsibility to hold the Priesthood. It is there to spiritually strengthen and uplift others and so he needs to worthily hold and exercise the Priesthood for all those of us who can't hold the Priesthood (namely, women.). It was cool because he understands all of that and is excited to get to help others by righteously exercising God's power on the earth. I love watching people make connections! But Jose did something later in the week that really showed to us that he does have a testimony. On Friday, he was going to come with us to visit a less-active brother in the ward and he was way excited. But then the appointment cancelled, so we texted Jose to let him know. He replied with, "What are you girls going to do now? This is some sad stuff! Want me to kidnap someone for you to teach?" And jokingly, we replied, "Yes. Yes we do. That would be great!" And he repsonded with "Ummm ok give me 5 mins". No joke, 10 minutes later he calls us and says "Sisters I have 2 of my friends for you to teach. Be over at my apartment at 8 and you can teach 'em. Oh yeah, and they're both guys so bring a girl." Sister Jensen and I talked with him and then hung up the phone. We then just sat there in shock for a second, in awe. He has no fear with talking to his friends and those he knows about the gospel! It was cool to see from such a new convert. So at 8 that night, we went and taught Calib and Steve. It was an interesting lesson, but in the end they became new investigators and were like "how could we not read the Book of Mormon after this presentation?" So we are meeting with them again on Thursday to continue teaching them! They are great! It was a way cool experience. And It was so fulfilling. Also, yesterday in Church, Jose was read in as a member of our ward. He has Church records now! He is on our ward list!!! BOOM, baby! It was so cool to watch him stand up and then have everyone sustain him. It was great. He's so cool, never ceases to amaze and inspire us.
This week we found another investigator by tracting. We were tracting Danielle and Anthony's apartment building, and had talked to a few people but hadn't had much success, but we tracted the whole thing anyways. When we knocked on the second to last door, a young mother opened the door, heard our short intro and let us right in. Come to find out she had been given a Book of Mormon by someone in Stanley 3 years ago and had read some of it and liked it but then she moved and it got lost and when she got here to Minot she didn't know how to find the Church. That was 3 years ago. So she has been waiting to find the Church again. She told us that people always knock on her door for a reason, and she knew she was supposed to meet us. It was awesome. Her name is Karla. We taught her the Restoration and she wants to know how her family can be forever. So next time, we're teaching the PLan of Salvation and she wants to come to Church! She is great! We are so excited to meet with her again! It was cool because we had 5 potential investigator appointments fall through this week, and we still got 3 new investigators! And they weren't even the ones on our list. 
Home primary went good this week, we talked about Heavenly Father's love for us. It was so cute, at the end of the lesson we gave both Trent and Brad a candy for saying such good prayers and Brad (4) took a Ferrero Roche truffle and took it out and was like, "Mom, why did they give me a rock?" He put it in his mouth and was like, "Hmmm, rocks taste good." And then after he was done, "Mom, does my breath smell like rock?" Haha it was so cute. You never know what little kids are going to do and so it's always fun to get to interact with them and help them build their faith from a young age.
We got in with a lot of less-actives this week that we have been trying for a few months. One of which is a part member family who lives in Surrey, a town about 15 minutes east of Minot. We've been there a few times and talked to the 16 year old daughter, but we always went in the middle of the day and so they were heading off to work and such. Last time we stopped by, Kaitlyn (the 16 year old daughter) told us to come back around 7 or 7:30 sometime and they would be home. So we went over on Wednesday and they let us right in! It was awesome! We came in and just got to know them. For some reason, we were prompted to NOT share a message, which was strange, but we heeded it and then about 30 minutes in the Allen turned to his wife and commented with a smile, "Dear, have you noticed that they haven't tried asking why we don't come to Church or asking if they could share a message yet?" They then explained that they have had hard experiences with Church members and aren't ready to come back to Church. They don't want to be pushed in any way, but they do have a 14 year old daughter who wants to learn more about the Church. Kaitlyn's boyfriend was there as well, and he even expressed some interest in learning about the Church. So they are going to let us come back about once a week to start teaching their youngest, Ashley (14), but also their family. They need to be taught simply and slowly, they said, so we are not going to teach them very much in each lesson. It's kinda like home primary in a way. Kinda like home Young Women. We are SO excited to start working with their family! They like us so far and we already love them!
And yeah, that's about the highlights of the week! We had some great experiences and are excited for this next one! We get to go down to Bismarck on Friday for Zone Conference again, so we are excited for that. ZC Is the best!
Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers, I appreciate it so much and it helps me through the discouraging times! I love you all!
sister leslie. 

Elder Wilkinson after the Cake Smash

The Dream Team: Me, Sister Jensen, Elder Stewart and Elder Larsen: Minot 1st Ward missionaries!
The Dream Team in our regular pros clothes

Monday, February 3, 2014

17 Miracles

This week has been a great week! We have seen many miracles.
First off, I won't make you wait until the end to know about transfers: Drum roll, please!!.......I am going to........................stay here! Sister Jensen will be staying here as well! We will have been together for 6 months after this transfer. President told us after this transfer we will most likely be split up. The Brethren have stated that missionaries should be an area for 6-9 months and with a companion for 4 1/2 to 6 months. So I'm not going to go against what they have said! It took me by surprise, but it is what the Lord knows we both need. When we texted Jose to tell him we were staying together, he replied with, "See? Faith! Come over sometime and I will teach you about it! That just made my day!" Haha we gave him a Preach My Gospel so he can be a member missionary and so it was funny. He's very excited. We are, too. So now you know. Watch out, Minot, we're going to do great things this next transfer!!
A week ago, on Monday, we texted the Relief Society president about something, and she replied with a response including information about a RS sister who had been in a bad car crash and was in the ER with her son. We didn't know why we were given this information, but we prayed for the individual and kinda pushed it into the back of our minds. That night we met with bishop to finish Jose's baptismal paperwork, and in passing mentioned the individual who was in the hospital and bishop hadn't heard about it yet. He had just gotten back into town after 2 weeks of being gone the day before, so the RS president didn't know he was back yet. It was awesome to be able to help the bishop. 
Tuesday there wasn't any big miracles, but it was a good day. Volunteering at the Salvation Army was great as always and afterwards we tried people and looked for an active member's home. We've been getting to know the active members more and that helps with getting referrals and helping them to get more involved in missionary work. So we searched for this one family's home for like 30 minutes. It was so confusing! But we found it and now know how to get there. We will never forget. It was such fun to get to know her and her cute kids. That night, a miracle was that a family in our ward let us use their heated garage so we could wax Mo. It was so much better that waxing it outside in -30! Mo is a big guy, and that would have been awful. The wax freezes and it is NOT fun. So this was much better. For sure. We then had dinner with that family, and had an appointment with Jose but he couldn't meet with us because he was setting up his new apartment for when him and Amanda get married. It's in 2nd ward, and he told us he was moving in like a week, so we took a second and I cried. I was so bummed that we would losing Jose so soon after he was baptized! So I prayed and prayed a lot and the next time we met with him, we talked with him and he will be staying in our ward until he gets married. So that's great. We just didn't want him to be without a strong fellowshipper in 2nd ward and have to start over with a relationship with the missionaries and all that. SO now, when we moves there, he'll have a super strong fellowshipper named his wife. :) So it will be perfect! It will be so much better! And we're excited that we get to both work with him at least until March 15 (the end of the next transfer). The Lord answers prayers through little thoughts of what we can do! 
Wednesday we had some BIG miracles. After district meeting, we went to try 2 referrals we had gotten from a member and they weren't home. They live in a quadplex, and this whole street is covered with them and apartment buildings, so as we were walking to Mo, Sister Jensen had the prompting to go try the quadplex next door. The first door we knock on, they let us right in and I am bold with my door approach (the one I've wanted to use for a while now): "DO you believe God loves all His children equally? (They answer yes) We know that He does because Christ's Church exactly as He organized it on the earth in His time has been restored today through a living prophet. Do you have a few minutes we could tell you more?" They then said yes and we sat down and taught the Restoration to Hailey, Neil and Bernardo. SUCH a cool experience! We needed new investigators so bad. We got 3!! The Lord answers prayers if you heed the promptings He gives you through the Holy Ghost. Tracting also works! Now I have a testimony for myself. 
After Weekly Planning on Thursday, we were going to go to an active family right by our dinner appointment for that night, but I had the thought to go try a less-active who we've never met or gotten in with, so we called her on our way over and we got in! We went over and were able to talk to and teach her. She doesn't come to church because when her and her family moved here 4 years ago, no one in the ward came to visit them and so she got offended. We think she was already planning on being less-active, but the moral of the story stands clear: When new people move in, especially if they are less-active, take the chance and go visit them! When we were baptized, we promised that we would comfort and mourn with those who need it: so fulfill those covenants! Keeping our baptismal covenants requires more than just partaking of the Sacrament each Sunday. We must be willing to "stand as a witness of God at all times, and in all things, and in all places." (See Mosiah 18:8-10) What are you doing to keep your covenants? How are you pushing yourself to become a disciple of Jesus Christ? We were able to get another appointment set up with her, which is another miracle because maybe we can help her get back to Church with her family. We were 10 minutes late for dinner because of visiting with this less-active member, but dinner went well. They wanted take the missionary discussions as a family, so it was our turn to teach the Plan of Salvation. Their kids are high energy, so it was a bit tough, but we made it through. We were also able to meet with a semi-active family who is coming to Church more and they are almost active! Woohoo! That night we brought Jose and Amanda with us to visit Brian, a less active. His wife, Karen, and the kids are in Utah so he's just here working and it was great to get some one on one time with him. He was baptized 11 years ago, and went less-active about a month after he got baptized because he got offended over tithing. Having Jose there was crucial! He was on fire! We talked with Brian this time about Church attendance and scripture study and how it relates to our faith. Jose was saying comments like "When we were baptized, we became representatives of Jesus Christ. You need to be an example to those you work with." and "You need to come to Church so you can get over your fear of coming to Church. The Lord will help you as you keep this commandment." It was so cool! We are using him a lot more now. He loves it! Moral of the story: Go out with the missionaries!
Friday we went and visited the active family we had wanted to on Thursday. They were great! They trust us more now. We were then prompted to go try a potential investigator, which scared us because she has a mean dog who bites. Yikes. But we went anyways, just to see her leave her house and drive away. We were so confused. Another potential lives across the street, so we decided to go try her. When we talked to her she was like, "The missionaries came by in the late summer and I told them to come back and they never did!" She was sick, so we made an appointment for this week. Just as we were about to leave, we saw her next door neighbor start to driver her car towards us (she was coming to help this potential jump her car), and she got her car stuck in a snowbank. So for the next hour, we pushed this car and digged under it all in our skirts. It was an adventure! At the end, Debbi, this potential, thanked us so much and said she couldn't have done it without us! She trusts us more now. :) After dinner, we had a member go with us to visit with Shakeitha. We were a bit worried because we were thinking we were going to have to drop her and JUstin, but instead the opposite happened: Her and Justin set a date for marriage so they can get baptized! Now, it's not until August because Justin works in the oil field and doesn't have a day off until July (moral of the story: NEVER work in the oil field.). Plus, her son Israel is 8 and wants to learn about the Church as well. So we could get him as a new investigator this week! We could baptize them all together! She wants to come to Church, but is on bedrest for her pregnancy, so she can't. She's due the end of March, and then she will be able to come. It was so cool! The opposite of what we thought was going to happen. Tender mercies!!
Saturday, we went to Surrey in the morning and got in with a less-active who was baptized just 2 years ago and wants to come to Church, but is the manager of a bar and can't get off work. (Ironic, right?) But she brings her Quad with her to read when she's not working (So she reads the Book of Mormon in a bar, haha.) She is super cute. We are going to start going over once a week to talk about what happened at Church that week. She's so cool. We've been trying to get in with her for like 3 months, so this was definitely a miracle. WHile in Surrey, we also got a return appointment with another less-active family. No transfer call, so we just had a nice day of trying people. But it must have been National Don't-Open-Your-Door Day, because we didn't talk to many people.
Yesterday was good. Jose couldn't come to church because he called in to work a full day of work (again, never work in the oil field.) After Church, we had an appointment fall through, so we went and tracted a few Quadplexes by where we found Hailey, Neil and Bernado. We got a return appointment with one guy, Stanley, who we found out is actually a former investigator! How cool!! Coordination meetings went well and so did studies and dinner. After dinner, we tried a few more people (but we forgot it was superbowl Sunday so people were mad we were knocking on their door...oops!) and then brought an active member with us to our appointment we had with Hailey, Neil and Bernardo, but they weren't home, so we went and tried Candice and Richard, a couple less active recent converts. We were bold with them and found out that they don't think Church weekly is necessary. So we resolved their concerns and it was great! We found out Richard it a HUGE scouter, so we are going to get him involved with the scouting program in the ward--hopefully it will help to activate him or something! 
This week has been incredible! Obedience brings blessings, but exact obedience brings miracles! Apply that in your own life!
Love you all!
sister leslie. 
 Us in our new Mission Vehicle! SDRCM forever!
 Amanda, Jose, S. Jensen, Me
Us and Sister Vogt in the RS Presidency. She could be happiest person on the planet. 
Michelle, S. Jensen, Me and Carson: The Salvation Army Group