Monday, February 23, 2015

A Typical SoDak Week

This week, even though it's been a bit shorter than a usually email week, has had so much stuff packed into it, it's insane!! Sister McConkie and I have been staying super busy and we've been having some really cool experiences! 

But, first of all, I need a Nebraska Quarter to finish my SDRCM quarter collection. SO I would really appreciate it if someone could send me one!! I need to finish it before my mission ends. So calling all help for that!

Missionary's immune systems are definitely made stronger and are able to withstand a lot because we have been in so many germy situations this week!! We're always in the Parrot Welfare (haha Sister McConkie's not too into birds, so she kept joking about the bird flu), but this week we also cleaned this really dirty house that had dog feces everywhere and all the dog hair was stuck to it....we'll just leave the imagery at that. How did that happen? 3 dogs and 3 cats that aren't well trained at all, and her kids don't do anything to clean the house and she works full time...yeah. But legit in that place we thought we might get something or react weird to something in there because we didn't have any masks or gloves or anything. But it definitely looked a lot better when we left than when we got there, so that was great!!! And we didn't get any weird disease...yet. Hopefully it can stay that way, because it was not pleasant. I don't know how that family lives there. And then, we went and visited with a less active who is a dog trainer. She has TWENTY-SEVEN dogs of her own and is training 13 currently, so there are FORTY dogs are her place right now!!! FORTY!!!! What in the world?? But Tracy, the less active who we were visiting up there is so funny! She also has a whole bunch of sheep to effectively train her dogs to herd, so Sister McConkie and I got to hold a lamb that was only 24 hours old and to feed a lamb that is only 2 weeks old and SIster McConkie got to hold a chicken! Her house is always a party!! We're going back on Tuesday to help her tag and band her sheep! We'll have to like tackle them and stuff! That'll be fun!! Haha Tracy kept talking about how she needs to move to a place where there's not as many people, and she lives in Arpan. Arpan is a village of sorts, really just a cluster of houses, but all the houses are spread waaaaay apart, so there's only one neighbor of hers that you could see. DOn't know why she needs less neighbors than one, but she does!!! I'm just sooo glad I'm not allergic to animals, because it wouldn't work as a missionary, and definitely not in the places I've served. People here looove their pets....gross. 

Bobbie is doing awesome!!! We had a really cool experience this week with her daughter, Krystal, getting a priesthood blessing. Krystal was really sick and in a lot of pain, but the doctors said she was physically fine and the ER wouldn't take her because she wasn't a "true emergency" or something like that, so Bobbie was understandably stressed. We got a hold of the elders in time to have them come to give the blessing and it was an awesome experience!! Bobbie recognized immediately after the blessing Krystal started doing a little better. She could walk by herself and she was laughing a little bit. And she also recognized that the spirit was really strong, so that was awesome!! Her testimony of the priesthood and thus the restoration is increasing and growing without her even realizing it! We had a great lesson with her this week about faith and repentance and we talked about the power of the Book of Mormon a little bit and experimenting upon the word. She told us that her meeting with missionaries has been able to open her a lot to the "Mormons" and to open her to coming to Church. She had a bad experience with members in Utah, so she's been closed for a long time. But she said she'll come to church with us and give it a good, honest try! SO that was a HUGE breakthrough with her!! SHe is starting to come along so well!! And to help her to trust us more and to see where she's coming from, we went to church with her yesterday! She goes to the Connection Church, which is a non-denominational church, so that was exciting. Sister McConkie had never been to any other religion before, so it was fun to watch her. :) Church was actually pretty good and fairly accurate, I just kept feeling that something was missing. What was it? Oh yeah! The Restoration and the Book of Mormon! But it's great to know that there are good people in the world who know that Christ is their Savior and it is through His grace we are saved, after all we can do. We got to talk to the pastor afterwards and we had a good conversation with him. President Anderson gave all the missionary companionships in the mission a Bible Videos DVD, 50 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. We're going to go back in a few weeks to meet with him and see how he likes the videos!! SO that was really cool.

Bill is getting there! We taught him the word of wisdom and it actually went fairly well. He is willing to live it, we just have to help him stop smoking, so we need to help him build up his motivation and confidence in himself, so we're going to keep making that a focus with him!! 

We've been able to get in with some less actives that I've never taught yet, and it's super cool because they're part member families!! The wives in both of the homes we were in last week are members, but their husbands are not, so that have some pretty great potential for us to teach! Especially Steve, the husband of Tracy (dog lady). SO we are way excited about that!! 

I love SIster McConkie so much!! She is awesome! It's been really fun to talk about some Bountiful native things. And she is just so cute and funny! We laugh all the time and are having all sorts of fun adventures and experiences. She;s a great teacher and she's a great person! We have a lot in common and she's keeping me focused and working my hardest! We're expecting miracles and already starting to see some!! The rest of this transfer is going to be awesome!!!!!

The scripture of this week is Alma 26:11-12. It reads: "...I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy , and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing ; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things ; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." I love this scripture because Ammon, who is speaking at the time, is so humble!! He recognizes that he is weak, but God is strong, and so everything will work out in the end. All of us need to get this attitude. Can you imagine the impact if every person in your family/work/church group just realized this simple fact that "With God, nothing shall be impossible" (Luke 1:37)? It would have a hug impact!! Realizing where our true strength comes from leads to a strengthened relationship with our Heavenly Father and a solid view of who we truly are. Take some time this week and ponder about what you can do to understand better your relationship with Heavenly Father! I know you will learn something new that will help you!!

I love you all so much!! I am so grateful for this time I have to serve the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength as His full-time representative. :) This is His work, this is His Church!!
sister leslie.

Dressing up at the TriState Museum

The super gross suddenly salad we made ourselves because we didn't 
have anything else to make ourselves

Aren't we just the cutest?! 

The Geographical Center of the Nation picture that didn't make it on there last week...

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

I'm Still Alive!!!

Sorry, sorry, sorry this is late, this week has been CRAZY!! This letter will be short but I'll try to fit everything in there!! So first point, Sister Barrett got transferred this week to Wiliston, ND! She left on Monday, so I was in Rapid Tuesdayand most of today (until 3) waiting for my new companion, Sister McConkie, to come. So I have her now and she is great!! She is from good ol' Bountiful, UT (OH YEAH! Parents, you must track down her family! You have no excuses now!) and has been on her mission for 4 1/2 months. I'm so excited to work with her!! :) More pictures to come next week. :) She is awesome though. I love her a lot already. It's so weird that Sister Barrett left though because I was just with her for 1 transfer and I'll just be with Sister McConkie for 1 transfer. Crazy stuff! (Yes, she is related to Bruce R McConkie. He's her grandpa's brother.)

Okay super abbreviated version!

Zone Conference was amazing!! I loved it!! I had to bear my final testimony because it was my last Zone Conference and even though that was awful that it was my last ZC I loved being ble to share with others my love for my mission! So that was pretty powerful!

We went ot a bull sale to support one of our less actives, so that was a new experience! Never been to one of those before! Each bull was like 3-9 thousand dollars! Crazy!

We finally got up to Alzada, MT to teach on of our investigators the day before Sister Barrett left! It was super fun! We have special permission to teach them because they live out of our mission but we get to teach them! It's awesome! So that was great.

Sorry this is so short!! I have no time!! Look up 2 Nephi 2:11! That's the scripture of the week!! I love you! I promise to write a better email next week!!

sister leslie.

Me and Gospel Lane

Sister Anderson and I at Zone Conference last week

At the Bull Sale...yeah that's right!

President and Sister Anderson came to our district meeting!

Us and Bill

The Belle Fourche missionaries!

Us with Corben and Sylver and their family

Leaving the mission to teach a lesson...yes it's approved!

Last pic with Sister Barrett

Seeing Sister Woodbury again on her way to Grand Forks, ND

Monday, February 9, 2015

Never Boring!

Just when you think things are going to calm down, they pick right back up!!

Take, for example, that last MOnday I was feeling much better and then on Tuesday--BAM! I was sicker than a dog and sicker than I've ever been in my whole life, or at least in my recollection! So that was a not too fun adventure that set us back another couple of days. Yaaayyy. But the good news is I am back to full health now, knock on wood, so I am counting my blessings! 

Even though I was sick and down for a good 3 days, we still had some awesome lessons and were able to accomplish some great things!! Heavenly Father truly is aware of me and my situation here in Belle, I cannot deny it!! 

We had exchanges this week, and I stayed here in Belle with Sister Rodriguez, our Sister Training Leader. I also came out with her, so it was fun to teach with her and get to know her more!! SHe is an awesome teacher and it was super fun to be able to teach with someone who has had a lot of experience teaching, like I have. I love her a lot!! We got to teach some awesome less actives and our investigator, Bill, and we also got to serve at the Parrot Welfare place again, which was super fun! Sister Rodriguez loved it and being able to talk to all the birds, haha. SO it was a really fun exchange!!

Bill is doing awesome!! He has given the closing prayer at our last 2 appointments!! That is HUGE for him!! SO slowly but surely he is progressing and he will totally get there!!

Sister Barrett and I have been making a big focus this week on having lessons simply about Jesus Christ and HIs atonement, and it has been so powerful!! The SPirit that it brings into the room is incredible and it builds a relationship of trust between us and who we are teaching, so it has been great!! It's making a big difference for those we are teaching and it's helping me to focus again on why I'm a missionary and what "inviting others to come unto Christ" really means. SO it has been really powerful!!

Corben and Sylver are still doing awesome, but they didn't come to church!! SO that's a super bummer. But we'll get them next week!! We were really bold with them this week about repentance and what sincere repentance means and how we can sincerely repent. I think it helped them to gain new perspectives that they hadn't thought of before, so mission accomplished!! (Not really, but lesson accomplished!) 

We found this new less active couple, the Bowers, and they are super super cool! They remind me a bit of the McKinney family up in Minot that I taught, so I am super PUMPED to work with them!! We found their house finally after we almost murdered 2 deer that were trying to commit suicide.....missed them by like 2 feet! Missionaries are watched over for sure, not a doubt in my mind about that!! 

Sister Barrett and I are starting to get along much better, we're starting to become actual friends. Thank goodness the awkward phase is ending!! But transfer calls are this Saturday and there's a big chance that she could get moved so I can hand off the area before I.....never mind. I'm going to be a missionary forever so I don't know why I'm all worried. Ha. 

Fun riddle of the week: "Where do horses go when they're sick? To the neigh-popopital!!!" (The little boy who told us this couldn't say 'hospital' haha. So stinkin' cute!) 

The scripture of the week is Ether 12:27"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them." This week, I have felt weak very many times, moments when I am tired or done trying people and the like, and I know I should act better or just BE better, but it doesn't happen like that. My weaknesses can be very frustrating sometimes, because I've been a missionary for a while, so I feel like I need to be a lot better at many things than I am, but if I didn't have any weaknesses, I couldn't grow!! That's partly why focusing on teaching about Jesus Christ has been awesome this week, because it has again given me the perspective that I can use my weaknesses to bring me closer to Jesus Christ, who can help me turn them into strengths. It's a very powerful principle and I have seen it work again and again on my mission!!

I love you all and hope you are just dandy!!
sister leslie.

Sister Rodriguez and I cleaning one of the bird exhibits at the Parrot Welfare

Oh no--we're stuck in the exhibit!!!

Yep, that's right--petting a toucan!!

Our district: Me, Sister Barrett, Elder Dudley, Elder Emmett, Elder Powell and Elder Bell

Blizzard of the Month after a rough appointment! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Another Week Survived!

Now, that's not the attitude to have, I know. You shouldn't look at a mission by getting weeks done with. But this week I got the flu, so I was glad to have that go into the past! I forget how miserable that is!

But we had some fun times still this week, before that set in! 

Corben and Sylver are still doing awesome!! We met with them 4 times last week! How cool is that?! We are reviewing a lot of what we've taught them already so they can remember those things and grow to gain a testimony of them! So that is great!! We've been doing a lot of object lessons with them this week, which has been fun for their girls. They didn't come to church this week (darn it!!), but don't worry--they'll get there! They take good care of us as well. We went over and taught them on Saturday as well as ate dinner with them, but I was super sick that day, so I just drank Sprite and they let me be chill! They also helped teach the lesson, they're awesome! So they're continuing to do great!

We also found a new investigator this week who seems very open! At District Meeting on Friday, we were talking about our concerns and doing our best to help each other solve them. The concern that we brought up was how to effectively find and retain investigators. (Sounds funny to have to retain investigators, I know, but it's the truth! A lot of our investigators have dropped us since I got here). We got some really good ideas about how to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost to end up in the place where Heavenly Father needs us to be. And also that morning, before district meeting, we had texted one of our potential investigators to ask when would be a good time we could come by to share a faith-building message about Jesus Christ. Miraculously, during district meeting, he texted us back (which is a miracle even of itself) and said he was free that afternoon!! That like never happens! So we were super pumped!!! We got a member to come and we taught him! His name is Kacie, and he has a catholic background. He seems pretty open and willing to learn more! We're excited to work with him!! So that was a HUGE blessing from our Heavenly Father to help us out a bit since we have been struggling with finding and teaching investigators. 

We started a new service project this week helping at the Parrot Welfare! Sara, you would DIE at this place! I got to PET a TOUCAN! Yep! It was awesome!! They have all sorts of birds from cockatiels and lovebirds to macaws and cockatoos to some bird from Africa that is the only bird of it's kind in captivity in the world! And it's here in Belle! So that was fun! They have one that looks just like Alfredo and a couple that look just like Sweetie. 

We got in with a couple of less actives this week that haven't been visited by missionaries in a very long time, we think, so that was really cool! One of them is a part member family, so that was great! We're not sure if we're going to be able to get back in, but we will sure try!! And try again if necessary! And again! And again! We can be persistent! :) 

We also found a really good pizza place here that's one of a kind and homemade, kinda reminds me of the Pie a little bit. SO that was cool! When you start looking, Belle Fourche has some pretty cool places in it and unique things that you can't find anywhere else in the state, nation, or in some cases even the world!! Who would have thought?! 

So yeah Saturday and Sunday I was pretty much down wit the flu, today I'm much better but not perfect yet by any means. But it's a process and I'll get there! Luckily, we only had 1 lesson on Saturday and 1 on Sunday that we had to go to, and then church obviously, so I could lay down for those 2 days pretty much and sleep!! And sleep I did. And watched some of the movies I've seen about 20 times....yessss!

The scripture I wanted to share this week is 2 Nephi 31:20--"Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope , and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life." This is one of the only times in the Book of Mormon where our Father in Heaven directly tells us something. And here, He gives us the way to return to Him again! It's very simple and it makes a big impact (remember last week's scripture? By small and simple means are great things brought to pass? Here it is again!) I like to think of this scripture when I'm having a rough day or having a hard time with something to remind myself that I don't have to be perfect in everything, or really in ANYthing. I just need to keep moving forward with faith in my Savior and trust in His plan for me. I can build my faith by reading the scriptures, praying, making church and the sacrament a meaningful experience and following the promptings of the Holy Ghost. These things DO make a difference for me, and they do for all of us!! Keep pushing forward and using the tools our Heavenly Father has given us to fight the adversary! His tools are sooo much more powerful than our enemys'. :)

I love all of you so much!!! I hope your week is going well and will continue to get better and better!!

sister leslie.

Oh, and weather update! It's a balmy 30 degrees outside with a few inches of snow and ice! Welcome back, winter! :(