Monday, April 28, 2014

The Great Plague

There were both spiritual and physical plagues in our area this week. (And weather plagues: we woke up to snow this morning.)

This week was a really bad one for our area and yet, I am not sad or depressed this week. In fact, I feel hopeful. Which is more than I've been in a while. We tried to do exchanges this week, but they just lasted like 10 hours because Sister Peterson was sick. There is this weird flu going around up here that takes you out for like 3 full days where you can't do anything, so Sister Manning and I decided to help the sisters out with their appointments so they didn't have to cancel all their appointments. So Sister Manning and I were bouncing back and forth with them all week going to their appointments and ours and switching companions around and so forth. I had 3 companions for the week, though, so that was pretty cool! I got closer to all of them, the sister up here are top notch.  It took it's toll on our area, though, and so we didn't accomplish a lot in our area. But we were able to help the sisters out a lot, which was awesome! It really helped them out. And I think I needed it, to be able to help them.

Karla was on date to be baptized this Saturday, but through a sequence of events didn't. We went over there yesterday and she dropped us. She told us that she KNOWS she is making the WRONG decision, but she doesn't feel like she has the strength needed to do otherwise. At first, when we came over and started teaching her, she felt like we were an answer to her prayer (and we know we were). But after we were teaching her and her life didn't get any easier, she decided to pull away. She no longer believes that God is there for her or that she is worthy of His love. She thinks she has to cleanse herself before she can come to Christ, although deep down she knows better. Being there with her yesterday broke my heart. I know Sister Jensen and I were led to her for a reason, and I KNOW she knows this is true. But we all have our agency. She understands that she will one day stand accountable before God. All we can do is pray for her and visit her every once in a while. After the lesson, Sister Manning and I sat in the car for a few minutes and just cried. We have both come to love her so much, and it's heart wrenching that she is choosing this path. But a quote from Preach My Gospel comes to my mind, "When people do not accept the Gospel, do not be discouraged. You have raised a warning voice. You have given them a clear choice. Disciples of Christ feel sorrow when people choose not to repent, but they maintain a vision of who they are and what they are doing. They continue to diligently move forward." (PMG Page 170) And so, that is what I am going to do. I am going to keep working hard and do all I can to pray for her and help her, as well as find other who need to be found. 

This week we also go to help out Shirley in her yard! She has an awesome yard and we had a lot of fun helping her out! She is such a sweetheart. :) She fed us and the other sisters lunch and we had a grand old time with it all. I attached a bunch of pictures from it. It was nice to get out in the sunshine and just work. And Shirley is awesome! She was at Church this week, which was great. She is doing really well. She is getting to know the ward more. It's so fun to watch her progress!! Haha on Sunday, Shirley came up to us after Sacrament Meeting and congratulated the 4 of us on our musical number (the one the 4 of us did last week in 3rd ward we did yesterday in our ward) and said, "Okay. You've helped me with my stuff, how can I repay you? Would you like gift certificates for books? Gift certificates for clothes? Gift certificates for food? Gift certificates for purses?" We told her that we don't need anything, that lunch was enough! But she wouldn't accept it. I'm scared now that she's just going to go out and buy something just because she can. Oi. Just having the chance to serve people is seriously enough for me! Plus, we got to help Donna in her yard, too, which was awesome because she needed it a lot. She's in a lot of pain, so we were happy to come help out.

I also saw Jose this week! Yesterday, in fact! It was awesome! I've actually missed seeing him a lot. So it was great! He looks so happy with his newlywed wife, Amanda. They're on 9 days married now! It's so cute! But it was great to see him again, he's doing well. :)

This week we had a really cool experience with Ashley, the one who replaced Carson at Salvation Army. We went in Friday morning instead of the afternoon, and it was just her and us. She started asking questions about her Church, and so we taught her the Restoration pretty much, right there in the middle of the Salvation Army. She said afterwards, "I felt something" and is interested in coming to Church. It is AWESOME how the Spirit can touch people. Who knows, we might be able to teach her! She said when we go back tomorrow, she'll have some questions for us (We invited her to go to and gave her a Restoration pamphlet). That's a missionaries favorite thing, so that works out for me! 

Even though Karla didn't get baptized on Saturday, 2 of the Elders' investigators did, Dalia and Estaban. It was really cool because they only speak Spanish (very little English), and so the talks and the ordinances and the Welcome to Elders Quorum and one of the prayers were in Spanish. The rest was in English, with the exception of the Relief Society President's testimony, which was in Portuguese. I could understand very little words that were being said, but it was so cool to be able to feel the Spirit there. The Spirit is the same in every language! 

I feel bad that this such a short letter, but a lot of our work was in 3rd ward's area so you wouldn't know who they are anyway. So I hope you all have a fantastic week! Remember that EVERY soul is GREAT in the eyes of God. 

love you!
sister leslie.

There were both spiritual and physical plagues in our area this week. (And weather plagues: we woke up to snow this morning.)

Sister Manning, Sister Peterson, Me (with crazy hair--yikes!), and Sister Osburn during the week of the Plague.
Sister Osburn and Sister Manning with their nicely weeded flower bed.
Sister Peterson and I on the path we outlined with bricks (yeah, that's right!) about to step into the flower bed--oh no!

Evidence that we worked hard. 

Me, Sister Manning, Sister Peterson, Shirley (our AWESOME investigator), and Sister Osburn.

Monday, April 21, 2014

That Easter Morn

For starters, I have made the decision to have an attitude of gratitude like President Uchtdorf encouraged us to have, so from here on out it will be only positive things in my letters home! Yay! It is amazing to see how Easter can completely turn your attitude around to one of positivism, hope and new beginnings!

This week was quite intense, but aren't they always? This week we stopped by and saw Danielle again. She was very stressed, so we ended up helping her clean her apartment for a while. She commented on what good cleaners we are, and we both explained that it's because (for me) I'm the oldest and so I have the opportunity to clean up after my siblings and (for Sister Manning) she was a nanny for 4 years and also cleaned up a lot at home. So, kids: be good cleaners now because it will help you on your missions! 

The main intensities happened on Wednesday. We brought a member with us to visit Karla, but when we got there and sat down, it was different. Karla started to tell us how she had been talking to her mom and now told us that she didn't want to be baptized or for us to come over again. I was shattered. I didn't know how to handle the situation. In district meeting immediately preceding this lesson, however, Elder Probert gave an inspired training on listening and following the Spirit to address investigator's concerns. With this in mind, Sister Manning and I simply listened to Karla and to the Spirit. When it was our turn to say things, we were led to know what to say. So was the member that was with us. Karla ended up getting a priesthood blessing and is now more solid than ever to be baptized this week. She understands that the adversary is trying to lead her away from the truth. (Oh yeah, and I don't think I ever mentioned this, I forgot, but Karla is on date and is going to be baptized THIS Saturday, the 26th!) It's truly amazing what the Spirit can do through us. It reminds me of the scripture in Doctrine & Covenants 42:14, "...and if ye have not the Spirit ye shall not teach." It's incredibly vital to have the Spirit with us, I've noticed. If we wouldn't have followed the Spirit, she would be gone. She would no longer be investigating, and who knows what may have happened in her life. The rest of the times we've seen her since then have been really good, she's progressing well. She wasn't at church yesterday, but it wasn't her fault. She got up with her girls in the morning and got all ready and waited in the living room for her ride, but her ride was late, so she went back to bed. So! She's still good! She's making church a priority now! Everything in full swing for her baptism on Saturday. :)

Also, I don't know if I've ever mentioned this, but Ashley, our investigator, is 14. 

On Wednesday, we did Home Primary, and we had this super cute idea to go buy some helium balloons and then have the boys color pictures of Jesus and then we would tie them to the balloons and send them to God....cute, right? Yeah, we thought so. So we do everything, get the balloons, color the pictures, tie them to the balloons, go outside, throw them up, and they fly up and.....into a tree in their front yard. Poor boys! They were like, "Ahh! Now God won't get our pictures!" And they were very sad. We taught them that God can see their pictures in the tree, but I don't know how well it worked. I feel really bad! So maybe next time, we won't try that again. Haha. 

Another fun day was Easter morning. We got to Church, and were waiting for Karla to come when frantically the ward choir director came up to us and asked us if she could run to her house to to get the piano accompaniment for the ward choir songs. This was at 7:54 (Church starts at 8). SO we book it to her house, get the folder, and on our way back, the sister who's picking up Karla calls and asks where Karla lives again. So we drive over there with her and go knock on Karla's door (but now we know she had already gone back to bed), so we went back to Church and got there right before the Sacrament started. It was crazy. But Church was awesome! Loved it!

On Friday, SIster Manning and I got pulled into singing a musical number with Sister Osburn and Sister Peterson for their Sacrament meeting yesterday. We sung "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" and I think it went pretty well. We got to go up on base on Saturday night to practice with the accompanist! It was quite exciting! I got a background check and everything and I passed with flying colors! (Luckily, running over that sign isn't on my record....Haha) 

We taught Haylie again this week, and this time her husband was there! Her husband is reluctantly agnostic, so it was very interesting to be able to share things with him. He really liked hearing about the 3 Kingdoms of Glory, it made sens to him (because it does make sense--God's whole plan for us makes total sense!), so that was awesome. 

Other news: it snowed this week (yuck), and yesterday it was 70. It felt SO nice you have NO idea. Haha. 

I love you all! Hope you had a good Easter! If you didn't watch Because of Him last week, go watch it now at
sister leslie.
All of us sisters, frowning in the 7 inches snowing (and counting!) we got on Wednesday

All of us sisters, frowning in the 7 inches snowing (and counting!) we got on Wednesday

Sister Manning and I with our most beautiful tulips sent to us for Easter by my parents! Thank you! :)

The entrance to the Air Force Base here. Haha I love it! Why not Minot?

Us with the Maples family yesterday at our Easter dinner, along with the super cute Easter baskets they made for us! Awww!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Because of Him!

This week was much better than last week. Easy? Not even a little bit! But better. I really do want you to understand that I love training and I love Sister Manning, but it's easily the hardest thing I've ever done. I feel like everything this transfer has been tested. I've had to face homesickness (again). I've faced personal feelings and did my best to pray to know what to do with them and then have followed those promptings I've received. I have a new companion--one that I need to teach and give my best example to. I've never felt more alone in my whole life. But, I have also learned the most about myself and my faith and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I am grateful to be able to celebrate Easter this weekend and reflect on how much we have to be grateful for. Because of Him, we have everything. Anything is possible! The Church came out with a fantastic video for Easter that I would highly recommend. It put my heart at peace with everything that has been going on. Here's the link: Let me know what you think about it! I am very curious to know how it speaks to you.

This week, while still difficult, was a better week than last week. We saw many miracles and a lot happened! First, we were able to see Karla 3 times this week. We got to watch a couple Conference talks with her the first couple of times, which she understood very well and really enjoyed watching. The third time this week we met with her, we brought Sister Vogt with us and we went over the baptismal program and what parts there are to it. We also went over the baptismal interview questions with her again, and it was so powerful to hear her testimony of the different principles and commandments of the Gospel! She is ready to live them! Unfortunately, she was not at Church yesterday and we haven't heard from her since, so we need to discuss Church attendance. 

The first time we went to visit Karla this week, we had Sister Osburn with us for the monthly 2 days we have her due to her comp going down to Rapid City, SD to receive training. We were walking to Karla's door and her next door neighbor was outside his door, unlocking it, and he casually said, "Hey, how are you?" And all in unison we 3 replied, "Good! How are you?" (The missionary in all of us came out at the same time). He laughed and was like, "Woah, that was intense." We then got to talking to him and he asked if we had like a brochure or something or our Church. Ecstatic, we gave him a Restoration pamphlet and made an appointment to come back later that evening to visit with him about it. We got there, and he ran down the hall really quick to grab his 16-year-old struggling neighbor, Scott. Scott came to Church with Danielle and Anthony once, so I had met him before. Chris, the one we gave the pamphlet to, told us he was Southern Baptist and a couple of other things about himself. We didn't get a whole lot of teaching in, because he's a talker, but he has a testimony of James 1:5 already, which is great because we can build upon that when we teach him about Joseph Smith and the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We were able to explain the Book of Mormon, so he should be reading that. Pretty cool story. Our follow-up appointment with him fell through, so we're in the process of getting back in with him and Scott. 

I felt really dumb this week, especially in 2 situations. 1 I couldn't control, but the other I could. But anyways. The first one happened on Wednesday when we went inside to go ask Bishop a question. I was a bit warm, so I took off my coat and put it in the van. It wasn't until we got back to Mo that we found him locked, with the keys still in my coat pocket...which was in the van. So, here we were, locked out of our van (our phone was conveniently in there as well), so we casually mentioned it to a member that then went into his car, got a wire hanger, and tried to get us into our van. When that didn't work, we called President Anderson and he told us to call a lock smith. So we called a lock smith and in 1.2 seconds he had the door open. Yeesh. So that whole shabang took an hour. I guess that's a benefit to not having many appointments: you don't miss them when you're locked out of your car for an hour. The second one happened on Thursday during Weekly Planning. The mailwoman came to the door, and us, assuming that Sister Noel was home, didn't go answer it. When we found that she wasn't and the mailwoman knocked, we went downstairs to see what she needed (because you see, we get very excited about mail, though I don't know why because we only regularly get letters from our parents and sometimes our siblings like once a week), to find she had almost left, so we went outside to talk to her and then we found that the front door was locked. The keys and phone were of course upstairs, and I wasn't wearing shoes, so we went around to see if any other doors were unlocked, but they weren't, so we sat outside until Sister Noel got back. Luckily, it was only like a half hour. And it was warm, so that was exciting. Gee whiz. 

Our lesson with Ashley and her family went very well this week. We taught about repentance and forgiveness, which we were a bit nervous for simply because of their experiences and situation, but it was a very spirit-led lesson and because of that, touched them. Sister Van Bibber came, and she really connected with the family. The first part, repentance, went well, it was simple, nothing amazing or anything, but it was when we got to forgiveness that the Spirit led very strong. We watched a Mormon Message, "Forgiveness:My Burden Was Made Light" (I will recommend it to anyone:, and it touched them deeply. They then started asking the hard questions on how they could forgive people. I felt prompted to share my experience going through the forgiveness process when I was a young girl to mid teen, which surprised me, because that is a very personal thing that I don't share with many people. But it clicked with them, and left them all teary-eyed. If the reason I had to go through that experience was to be able to help Ashley and her family at this time, then it was worth it, 100%. It was what I needed, to be able to follow the Spirit and help someone. The line from Preach My Gospel came to my mind, "You can feel certain the Lord is pleased when you feel the Spirit working through you." I have felt the last couple of weeks that that has been missing, and I needed it back. I was blessed with that opportunity again this week. If I learned anything from this lesson, it is that bearing simple, powerful testimony works! It can touch the hearts of people you interact with and it can change someone's outlook on life so drastically. Don't EVER be afraid to bear your testimony or to stand up for what is right!! By your example, people will be changed if you keep the commandments and live worthily. 

Ashley was at church yesterday. She stayed for all 3 hours and now wants to go to Girl's Camp and maybe even Trek! It is an awesome experience to see someone's life be changed because of the gospel! It is a glorious thing and makes all the hard times worth it! 

Shirley was also at Church this week. She has been off-and-on investigating for about 7 years, and the most consistent she has been with missionaries is with us. She told us in this last lesson that she is ready to learn with real intent now, that she has that true desire to know for herself that this is God's true Church. A big part of her getting to this point is Sister Stockwell, a great member and fellowshipper for Shirley. Shirley has seen Sister Stockwell's example of how she lives her religion every day, not just on Sundays, and she has noticed that pattern with other members. THAT's why she's giving it a chance! The members play such a HUGE role in helping the missionaries! Please: live what you know! You never know who's watching!

I love you all! Remember that Because of Him, we can live again and we will live with our families for all eternity! Remember Him this Easter season!
sister leslie.

The wind was so bad this week we got some Marilyn Monroe pictures! 

ZTM This week: the Minot Zone Sisters! S. Aiono, S. Osburn, Me,
S. Manning, S. Peterson, S. Gogan

Sister Peterson and I with the Jaguar. :)

We served at the zoo this week raking leaves and such! Woohoo!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Hot Like Fire!

No, not the weather. I wish! The fire I am referring to is a little term called "refiner's fire".

It's just been one of those weeks (again). But, that's what a mission has in it, so you just keep pushing forward, having the hope that it will get easier soon. I know it will all work itself out.

One of the biggest miracles this week was again with Karla. Her dad had a really bad stroke on Sunday which left half of his body paralyzed. We hadn't heard anything from her, so on Tuesday we stopped by to invite her to a Relief Society activity. She ended up letting us in and explaining all she was going through with her dad and everything. As she was talking, what came to my mind was that Karla could use a Priesthood blessing of comfort and counsel. We briefly talked to her about it, and she accepted that she wanted one. So we went outside to make some phone calls to find what Priesthood holders we could in the middle of the day who could come and give Karla a Priesthood blessing. We ended up getting the elders and a member of the ward, Brother Liberty (who works a swing shift) to come and give that to her. It was awesome because as soon as we came in, Karla pulled up a chair, sat in it, and bowed her head. She was ready for the blessing. Brother Liberty gave the blessing, and it was powerful. It really struck Karla and as soon as the blessing was over, she looked up with the biggest smile on her face I've ever seen. She just kept saying, "Wow. The burden is gone, the weight is lifted" and other things like that. She felt the peace that comes through obtaining those blessings through Priesthood power and it helped her to understand not only the Priesthood more, but also her relationship with God more and how much she is loved by Him. It was powerful! We ended up teaching her then, after Brother Liberty and the elders left. We read 3 Nephi 11 with her, and it really hit home with her. She understands now why baptism by the proper authority is needed and why we are baptized by immersion (in 3 Nephi 11, Christ explains how baptism should be done, who it should be done by, and what words should be said). It clicked! I have never seen her so excited. We pushed her date back to April 26, 2014 so she can have more opportunities to come to church. She's so solid. :)

Our appointment with Jennifer was again solid. It was really cool, because when we were preparing for her lesson, we really felt like there was a specific Conference talk we needed to watch with her. So we watched it with her, and he comment afterwards was, "This is exactly what my husband needs to hear." It never ceases to amaze me how the Lord can work THROUGH us as people to get to others. Jennifer's husband needed this message, but Jennifer didn't know about this specific talk. We did, so God inspired us to share it with Jennifer so that she could share it with her husband. The Lord works in mysterious ways!

We have a potential, Kyle, that we have been trying to get in with for a couple weeks. On Saturday night, we went to try him again and a woman answered the door. We started talking to her and found out that her name was Jordin, and is Kyle's fiance. We had a really good conversation with her and while she isn't interested to hear or learn more about our message, she is willing to let Kyle learn more...if we can find him home. I've been praying a lot to know when will be a time that we can talk with Kyle again. I truly do think he is interested.

Last night, Sister Manning went on a hunt for less-actives. We wrote down people on the ward list that we don't know who they are and set out to find them. The first one we tried, Cammie, let us right in and we started talking to her (while also finding out that the elders are working with her...oops!). To say her life has been hard is an understatement. Suffice it to say that thought she grew up in a very active home, after her father passed away when she was 16, Cammie turned to drugs and alcohol to fill the hole in her heart. She ended up in a very bad relationship for 10 years and is now free from that. She has a rock-solid testimony, though of Christ's Atonement and the power of prayer. She had a prayer answered in a very real way 4 years ago, and ever since that moment she has had not even a speck of desire to go down that path anymore. She is now sober and living a clean life. She is not able to be fully active in her church attendance still due to work, but it was inspiring to here her story and how prayer has played a great role in her life. For some reason, Cammie and I really connected and got along really well. She laughed at how innocent I was (it is laughable sometimes), but we got along really well and were able to teach and help each other. If I learned anything there last night, it was that God ALWAYS answers prayers and never leaves us alone, and that the word of wisdom is there for a reason. Cammie told us last night that she found out for herself that drugs and alcohol cannot fill an empty soul, but only the atonement and love of Jesus Christ. I know that is true with all my heart. 

It makes the work so rewarding when you hear someone tell you what you said helped change their perspective. Sister Feil, a less-active member, recently moved into the 3rd ward, so I have not seen her since. The 3rd ward sisters called us the other day and as part of the conversation commented, "We visited Sister Feil today and she told us that one time you and Sister Jensen committed her to say only prayers of gratitude for one week. She told the 3rd ward sisters that doing that changed her perspective on prayer and deepened her relationship with Jesus Christ and her Heavenly Father." It's awesome how when we follow the promptings of the Spirit, people's hearts are touched.

So Conference was pretty much AMAZING, just like always!! I absolutely loved it! Among my favorite talks were Elder Holland, President Uchtdorf, and Presiding Bishop Stevenson. It was inspiring, uplifting, and encouraging. If you did not watch it or if you missed some of it, I highly encourage you to go online right now and watch or listen to the talks you missed. ( Unfortunately, no investigators came with us to watch Conference but Ashley did watch it from home! Yay! We have not had contact with Karla or Shirley recently. Jose watched it from home, but Candice did come watch the Saturday morning session with us, which was great. I hope to be able to watch some of Conference with Karla and our other investigators. 

And that is pretty much it! It was a good week. Not the best, but it did have a lot of really awesome experiences. I am excited for what this next week will bring!

Love you all! Thanks for the prayers!
sister leslie.