How is everyone! I hope each of you had a great week and that things are going well for you! I am so grateful that it's Monday, you have no idea. It has been an insane week. Probably one of the longest, and hardest weeks of my mission, but so much growth has occurred. All week I had to just keep telling myself that I just had to make it until Sunday. I know if I can make it until Sunday, I will be okay. I literally have to live my life in 7 day increments haha. I have to live Sunday to Sunday. If I can make it until Sunday, I know I'll be okay. It's been SO amazing to see how much my love for the sabbath day has grown. It's hands down the best day of the week.
First off, Charlotte is absolutely crazy! I wish each of you could have been my companion this past week. I think y'all would've been in shock. Haha, I literally don't know where to even begin. The weather is starting to really pick up and it's getting hot and humid. I have never seen so many black people and so many hispanics in my life. Or, just people in general. I feel like Charlotte is a mini New York. There are SO MANY PEOPLE HERE. I absolutely love it! We get to drive by the big city buildings, and uptown Charlotte almost everyday, and it's literally heaven. It's exactly what Google and the postcards say it is. It's beautiful! Hopefully you will have a chance to come visit Charlotte one day. The only downfall is how busy it is and how crazy the traffic is. It's definitely so different than my last two areas. Somewhere that would take you normally 10-15 minutes to get there, takes us 45 minutes to an hour. We have been really struggling with how to manage our time, limited miles, and scheduled appointments just because it's so different. You just have no idea what you're going to run into. There is also lots of construction so that makes it really difficult and throws my GPS for a loop every time. It also doesn't help that my area is the largest area in the whole mission, and it covers three stakes. IT IS SO BIG. We cover all the young single adults on the whole southern half of the mission and it's crazy big. So, nonetheless, I'm trying to figure it all out and hopefully it'll come. We have already given up on trying to learn the area. There are so many streets and so many places here that there is just no way to learn it all. Thank goodness for my lovely GPS. Without that thing, we couldn't do it. We also got a brand new 2016 Nissan Altima, with 20 miles on it, so we are pretty much living the high life. I wish Sister Nunies was driving though because every time I get on the roads, I feel like we are going to die. She doesn't have her drivers license so I'm stuck driving. :( North Carolina drivers are absolutely nuts. Kinda reminds me of Haiti, mom. :) So sketch.
Let's see, after I got my new companion and we finished transfers, we picked up our car and headed back to our new apartment. We were able to take some time to unpack and get situated. They allowed us to take a few hours to set up our beds, study desks, get some groceries, and get somewhat situated. There is just nothing quite like whitewashing. I was really grateful for the time that we had to do that because I can't stand not being organized and not having things in order. We are still needing to a lot of things, but we are at least able to sleep, eat, and study. :) Which is about all we need to do in our apartment anyways, so it's okay for now. The AP's had a few lessons set up for us that night and we were able to get thrown into it all and begin working. We met a few great investigators and have begun working with them. Let me just tell you, it is SO different working with young single adults. It's so weird teaching people that are my age. It's a different kind of teaching and I am still trying to figure it out. I am realizing how important it is to become their friends first, instead of just trying to preach the gospel to them. I have quickly found out that that is not going to work.
The next few days we just started going through the area book and stopped by to see a bunch of former and potential investigators. That wasn't super successful because with college students, everyone moves in and out so quickly so the teaching records in the area book were basically pointless. It was so frustrating because we just went from house to house, apartment to apartment, and no one was home, people had moved, or their phone number had been disconnected. We were able to meet a few people, which was nice, but overall the days were super long. It was really hard not being able to work with any of the members all week just because we didn't know who they were and didn't know anything about them. It's also been really different just trying to focus on YSAs. They are the only ones that we are allowed to teach. Anytime we see someone else that is not between the ages of 18-30, we can talk to them, but we just have to refer them to the other elders and sisters in the area. We have been trying to scope out all the people that we think fit in that age group and its been more difficult than you would think haha. Due to the YSA ward that we are in, we also don't really get fed by members anymore either so it's been hard to connect with the members and get to know their friends. Hence, another reason why I really couldn't wait for Sunday to come. I just wanted to meet everyone so badly! We were able to teach a few lessons and get to know a few investigators so that was good! We also have to go to the mission office almost every day so it's been such a blessing to be able to see Elder & Sister Garlick and the office staff daily. They are AMAZING! I love them so much and am SO happy to be serving so near them. They really take care of the missionaries, like hard core. Every time we go over there they are always feeding us, hugging and loving us, and giving us whatever we need haha. Perks of serving in their area. :) It's going to kill me when the Garlick's leave though. Ohhhhh my goodness. They have saved my life. I love them so much.
On Thursday we had the opportunity to do some community service in downtown Charlotte. We were able to go to a soup kitchen at a Lutheran church with the Garlick's and our zone leaders and it was an experience that I will never forget. It is something that we get to start doing weekly, but I was in heaven. Every Thursday & Sunday morning, this Lutheran church gets food donated to them and they provide a meal for the homeless people. They have a huge kitchen in the bottom of their church and from 11 am- 1 pm, they allow anyone to come in and have a full meal. We were able to put on some aprons, name tags, and serve these beautiful people and buss their tables so that more could come in. That day I think we ended up serving 112 homeless people. It was AMAZING. It was such an incredible experience to be able to see all of these rough looking people come in, drop their bags, and enjoy a meal together. I ended up sitting next to this one guy and talked to him for a good 20 minutes. Found out he was from out west, and had just gotten out of prison that very morning. He said it was "nice to have somewhere to go after getting out, and meeting good people like you." He said he was going to by flying back out west later that day and was going to go back to work and go back to his family. It was just something that I will never forget. I was able to see this man, and these people as God sees them. It was an absolute NO JUDGEMENT ZONE. It was amazing to be gathered with other members of other faiths, and just being involved in such an amazing cause. I was so humbled as I watched this cute little old man pull out a plastic container from his backpack and scoop some of the food into his container to save it for later. It just really opened up my eyes to see how truly blessed we are. We just have no idea. I take so many things for granted. I am so excited to be able to do this each week and to continue to meet and interact with such amazing people.
Later that day we were able to do some weekly planning and that was kind of a nightmare, but we set a few plans and are just starting to get up on our own two feet. :) I think it'll take a good month or so, if not a whole transfer, to really figure things out haha. It's just been an experience. I am just grateful that my companion and I are doing this together. Her name is Sister Nunies, and she is from Hawaii. She is 26 years old, and has a gnarly tattoo down her whole leg haha. She is the best. I love the girl to death. She has only been out for three months, so it's been amazing to see her have to take on this challenge, but I am so grateful that we are both coming into it new and are both having to work and learn and figure it out together! Oh how companions are amazing. God definitely knew what he was doing when he decided to give us companions. It is definitely preparing me for marriage. Haha, if you only knew. We have been hitting the sheets so hard and have been sleeping so well, and that has been a huge blessing. We asked our neighbors if we could use their wifi and having wifi in our apartment has also been a huge blessing because it has made planning so much easier. And, speaking of wifi, we get to skype in less than two weeks, and it gets to be right out of my apartment. :) Due to Hawaii's time being so different, I think we are going to by skyping around 7 pm our time, which would be 5 pm your time on May 8th? I will give you more details next week, but please let me know if that time doesn't work for you, or if there would be a better time! We are pretty flexible. :)
Friday and Saturday were good days. Just long. We were able to go up to Davidson College on Friday night and show the movie Meet the Mormons in the big student union building and that was pretty incredible. We got some refreshments and set up a table with lots of pamphlets, pass along cards, and Book of Mormons. The assistants had already had this activity planned for a long time so they came up with us and it was a really fun night! It was shown on a big theater screen and we got to have a movie night! It was so fun! We didn't really get a whole lot of success, but we had lots of people walking in and out of the building, watching it for 15-20 mins, or studying for class, but watching it at the same time. There were a few people who stayed for the whole movie and who asked for some book of Mormons at the end, so we are hoping to start working with them. One girl was Jewish but has always been curious about the Mormon faith, and really liked the movie, so we were happy about that! A lot of our work is going to be done on college campus's so we are super excited about that! There is like 4 universities that we cover, so we have a lot of work to do. If you have any creative things that we can do with young single adults, please feel free to share them with me. We also have FHE every Monday night with the YSA's and we are going to need some serious help coming up with ideas and things to do with them. It's real unfortunate that we don't have google and Pinterest haha.
Sunday was absolutely AMAZING! Ah, all I needed was the sacrament to boost me up and just needed to go to church and feel of the spirit. It was really neat being with a bunch of kids my age. I have also NEVER been in a sacrament meeting that was so quiet. During the entire sacrament, you could hear a pin drop because it was that quiet. It was unreal. Way different than family wards. The spirit was so strong and it just made me appreciate how grateful I am for the sacrament ordinance. It was such a different experience this week and I learned SO MUCH. I think having the spirit be so strong, it just amplified my experience. Sitting in Sacrament meeting, I had the thought come to me that we could totally double the sacrament meeting attendance. There was about 40 people there I'd say, but we can totally double that. All we have to do is have a "invite your friends to church day" and we will double the attendance, and odds are 2-3 of those people would end up getting baptized. :) We were able to meet the amazing bishopric and leaders of the ward and they are all wonderful. This YSA ward is about to change drastically. They don't know what's coming their way. Sister Nunies and I have some serious ideas and are really going to get this ward going! They better hold on tight because we are coming!! There was this member who brought her friend named Brandon and I cannot even tell you how elect this kid is. He is 18 years old and is just so amazing. He grew up Catholic, but always felt like there was something missing. He absolutely loved church and had such a good time. We were talking to him afterwards and he said, "Ya know, I just feel so good. I feel at home. I feel so much peace. This is so right. I have been looking for this my entire life. I really want to become a member of your church." What!! That is how the kingdom of God is built. One covenant at a time. We were able to exchange information with him and set some solid expectations and are going to start meeting with him this week. I couldn't be more excited. Mark my words, this kid will be baptized in the month of May. It was such a testimony builder to me to know that as we are diligent, faithful, and obedient, God will bless us. It was such a hard week, but ended so perfectly with someone to teach. And, he was literally handed to us. It all started with some girl bringing her friend to church. It increased my testimony of member missionary work as well, and that is what I want to share with you today in my email. :)
Before my mission, I thought I knew what missionary work was, but I was so wrong. I think growing up in Utah didn't really help either. Being out here has really opened up my eyes and has made me realize how much work really needs to be done. As members of the church, we are definitely the minority. No one is a member of the church here! It's absolutely crazy. There is so much work to do, and it's like this throughout the whole world. Our task as members of the church is nothing less than to help God's children experience a mighty change of heart and conversion to the Lord! We are required to carry the gospel of Jesus Christ to every nation of the world. The Lord commanded it when he said “Send forth the elders of my church unto the nations which are afar off; unto the islands of the sea; send forth unto foreign lands; call upon all nations, first upon the Gentiles, and then upon the Jews.” (D&C 133:8.) "This commission to take the gospel to every nation, kindred, tongue, and people is one of the signs by which believers will recognize the nearness of the Savior’s return to earth. Concerning this sign of His second coming, Jesus prophesied: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” (Matt. 24:14) We have such a responsibility. We already have what the whole world is seeking and looking for. We are the good examples who are living in this wicked world and yet are not partaking of the awful sins of the world.
This morning I opened up my scriptures and realized that I was on Alma 26. One of my very favorite chapters in the whole Book of Mormon. I spent my whole morning studying that chapter and just learned so much from it. I would challenge you all to really study that chapter this week and see the powerful principles that are taught in those great words. Ammon is one of my heroes. The success the sons of Mosiah experienced among the Lamanites exceeded their expectations. They were converting thousands. As they began their missions, the Lord promised, “I will make an instrument of thee in my hands unto the salvation of many souls”. With this promise they “took courage to go forth unto the Lamanites to declare unto them the word of God”. Success in their endeavors did not come automatically, even though the Lord had promised it. During the course of their 14-year mission, they experienced “all manner of afflictions”. They even became "depressed, and were about to turn back” (Alma 26:27). Yet, trusting in the promises of the Lord, they continued in their efforts. Then, as He always does, the Lord honored His promises and rewarded their perseverance! I have such a strong testimony that perseverance leads to success! I have really come to see that on my mission. God will bless us as we are faithful, diligent, and obedient in ALL things, not just missionary work.
In verses 27-30 I really learned a lot. The spirit spoke to me so strongly this morning and really solidified the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to me. As I was reading, I was really trying to apply what was happening to Ammon and the sons of Mosiah, to what was happening to me and my mission experiences. The spirit just kept speaking to me, "Are you noticing? Everything that happened to Ammon has happened or is happening to you." This chapter is perfect for full time missionaries because we get it. We understand it. We are experiencing almost everything that they are experiencing. I was able to really relate it to myself and it made so much sense. There have been many times when my heart has been depressed and I had thought about going home. I haven't quite gone to a foreign land to teach the gospel to the Lamenites, but I am definitely far away from home, somewhere where I have never been before, teaching people that I don't know. It also made me think of Kaiden who served in Russia, and all of my friends who are serving foreign, and speaking languages that they didn't know. I have gone forth among these people had have suffered many hardships, haven't quite slept on the floor, but definitely know people who have. I've endured the cold, and have almost gone without eating. I too have traveled from house to house, knocking on doors for months at a time without being invited in, just relying on the mercies of God. There have been other times when I have entered houses and talked to people. We have taught them on their streets and on their hills. We have just about done it all. Thankfully, I haven't been spit upon, or haven't had rocks thrown at me or have been cast into prison, but I still remember the feelings I've had when a door was slammed in my face, and I am far away from home, alone, with only the mercies of the Lord to rely on for deliverance. I have endured these things with the hope that "I might be the means of saving some soul" (Alma 26:30). I loved in that chapter that Ammon said, "My joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy.”
Missionary work is hard, but truly no joy is equal to bringing another to the light of the gospel. The Lord even promised: “If it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father! “And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!” (D&C18:15–16.) Reading Alma 26 helped me realize that no one but a missionary could have written this story and chapter. Joseph Smith could have never even known what it was like to be a missionary to the Lamanites, because no one he knew had ever even done such a thing before. The Book of Mormon is SO TRUE.
Member missionary work is just as important and just as rewarding. I wish I could've done a better job when I was home. I wish I knew how to share the gospel with my friends and with the non members that I came in contact with. In the scriptures, "They were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble” (Mosiah 28:3). I wish I had that attitude and perspective. I definitely do now, but didn't back then. I would encourage you all to think of things that you can do to be a better missionary and to share the gospel. The full time missionaries NEED the members. We rely so heavily on member referrals and member missionary work. We cannot do it all on our own.
My favorite verse of the day was, “Behold, I say unto you, I cannot say the smallest part which I feel” and that is exactly what is on my mind right now. Some of the happiest moments in my life have been when I have been teaching the gospel of Jesus Christ. I have learned by sacrifice what only personal experience and devoted service can do and can teach you. Why was I willing to sacrifice the comforts of home, family, loved ones, to answer the call to serve? It’s because of my testimony of Jesus Christ. when I found out who he was and came to know him, "there is no bed too short or too hard, no climate too hot or too cold, no food too different or language so strange that I am unwilling to serve Him. No sacrifice is too great to serve the Master, who sacrificed His all to provide the way for His brothers and sisters to return home to their Heavenly Father."
I promise each of you that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is “the only true and living church upon the face of the whole earth.” (D&C 1:30.) "We are privileged through the covenants and ordinances of baptism and confirmation to be members of His church. Membership in this Church is the only means by which others may have the opportunity for eternal life. We have the truth, and I would invite you to share that truth and the privilege of introducing His gospel to others who do not have it." I love this gospel with all my whole heart and soul. I have been truly changed by the Doctrine of Christ. I know it's real. I know God is real. I promise you he knows what you are going through and what you need. All we need to do is humble ourselves before him and simply COME UNTO HIM. I know that as we share the gospel with others and open our mouths, we will find more joy than anything else we could be doing. These are our brothers and sisters. We best be helping them out, as our father in heaven has helped us out.
My favorite Joseph Smith once said, "The Standard of Truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done”.
I love you all so very much and appreciate all you do for me. I couldn't do this without the love and support from my family and friends back at home. Y'all are the best. I hope you have a great week. Let me know if you need anything. Talk to you in seven! Xo
P.S. My new address is:
7616 Waterford Ridge Dr. Apt. 1003
Charlotte, North Carolina 28212