Wednesday, January 8, 2014

January 6, 2014

Wow!! I can't even believe 6 months is almost up! These last months have really gone fast (in retrospect) :). I love my mission SO SO much and I know that I am serving here in D.C. for a reason! This week was really great! On Monday we deep cleaned the apartment. It has been pretty messy since the day I got there but Sister B always wanted to do a bunch of stuff on P day, so it was nice to get everything all clean and fresh! I never believed it before, but the Spirit really is stronger in a clean house! Sorry for my room back home mom... :) After all of that we went and had family home evening with La'vonne! Teya was supposed to be there but she was at her Grandma's house. we shared a Mormon message as well as personal testimonies of the Book of Mormon. We encouraged La'vonne to keep reading and to stay strong! we then played a game called "book of Mormon scramble". it's hard to explain the rules, but you basically build your own crossword puzzle using letter tiles and if you use book of Mormon words, you get extra points! the funny thing is that none of us actually used book of Mormon words..haha. we had a great time though! it reminded me a bit of'll have to look it up! Tuesday was such an awesome day! being the last day of the year, I was thinking about all that happened in my life in the last year! I've gone through some of the most difficult moments of my life, but I've also experienced joys I never imagined I'd experience! i am so thankful for the way my life has turned out so far! the mission is hard, but I wouldn't be this happy anywhere else! It was funny because the only reason sister Phelps and i realized it was new years eve was because a member told us. we had zone and district meetings in the morning. we talked about getting members to lessons. i was really dreading district meeting because i felt like the district would see our numbers for last week and think badly of me or think I'm not doing well taking over the area. thankfully i was just being paranoid. our district leader told us how our district had their best week yet and he said he knew that some of us (me and sister Phelps) probably felt discouraged by this week, but that we should just stay positive and keep working hard! it was something I needed to hear. it's funny because I feel like when I make a mistake or don't do my best, I feel hopeless. I teach people all the time that they are not their weaknesses, and that through Christ they can overcome any and all obstacles, yet I wasn't really believing this myself! it was a much needed reminder and helped me stay positive the rest of the week! the rest of the meeting we talked about diligence, church attendance, and inviting to baptism in ALL lessons. Sister Phelps and i were the only ones who didn't invite last week so we all committed to do better this week! after our meeting we did language study and then facebook. after that we went and checked on some potentials. one was home but was "busy" and the other wasn't home. we started knocking on doors! we talked to an older Methodist woman who was very friendly but definitely not interested. we stopped and saw a ward family and they ended up feeding us dinner which was sweet! we saw Doni, who is an investigator, for a few minutes but she'd just gotten off work and was tired. we then had a lesson with Elizabeth. she's from Ghana and is a former investigator. we tried to figure out all that she believes and tried to help her see how our beliefs are similar! she's hard to read. we had had to be in by 8 due to the holiday so we planned for about an hour and looked through all the former investigators and chose some to visit. we watched the restoration and i tried to teach sister Phelps how to do a sock bun! i love holidays as a missionary! they are memories i will definitely treasure for the rest of my life! it's just fun to look back and think of what we would be doing if we were home. but these moments out here are so irreplaceable and I love them!!! Wednesday was a great start to the new year! after studies, sister graney invited us over to make cookies with her, la'vonne, and 2 of her friends, jeff and tara. it was so fun and a really good opportunity to meet people! when we first got there it was just us la'vonne and sister graney. the night before we were texting la'vonne and told her to remember who she is and make good choices, etc. we were just teasing her because we knew she was going to sister graneys. well she told us that morning that she almost really needed that advice! she said that she had planned on going to sister graney's with teya, but then teya called and told her she wanted to stay in d.c. with her aunt and grandma. this is the first time teya has ever chosen someone else over la'vonne so it was really hard for her to take. she was feeling very sad and vulnerable and one of her ex's was trying to get her to go to a new years eve party with him. she knew if she went she would be tempted by many different things, but she also felt like she just wanted to get out and forget her worries. she prayed for the strength to make the right choice. she told the guy that her friend was expecting her to come over for the holiday and she'd be sad if she didn't come. Sister Graney was like "la'vonne, i will gladly be your "out" ANYTIME!" it was so cool and it made me so proud of la'vonne! it has to be so difficult to give up things that were such a big part of who you were for the gospel. I'm pretty used to making these sacrifices because I've done it many times in my life, but for La'vonne this requires giving up things she's been doing for years! it made me admire and respect la'vonne even more than I already do! she's amazing! so after awhile Jeff and Tara showed up. they are both great people. we gave them our facebook info. I'm so grateful we have facebook as missionaries because we probably wouldn't have easily gotten in contact with those two again! we headed to a ward family's home after that. we brought some clothes, shoes, and makeup for the daughter to try. it was fun and she was really grateful. as we left she told me "you guys are the best sisters we've had! you dress so cute and your nails are always done. it was so sweet! it's really hard to find the balance of being friends with and teaching people. but the friendship part is so very important! if people don't know we love them, they won't really care about what we have to say! i know i have a ton to still work on, but it made me feel good that I'm doing one thing right! after that we went and did FB. we then went and had dinner with a ward family. we had a great visit with them and then we went and had a family fun night with another family! they are awesome! we played apples to apples. I'm not sure if i told you about family fun nights but what they are is we get to go to a members home and play a game with them and their family and then we share a spiritual thought. the first time it can be just the member family, but the next time an investigator or less active member has to be there. it's a lot of fun and we're trying to get the ward to do these so that people can get to know us in a less intimidating way! i think they are really great missionary tools! Thursday was awesome. we had to do weekly planning that day because we had an exchange on Friday. we had a really great companionship inventory and it's good to know i can be open with my companion. after our weekly planning we went and did FB. i got to have a really great conversation with a person about his religious beliefs and background! definitely making progress there! we then had dinner with a ward family. they had their sister there who is not a member. we had some good conversation with her and invited them all to add us on FB. we then decided to check on our potential, who lives in the same area. he didn't answer so we just started knocking doors. it was dumping snow at this point and the second door we knocked was a woman i met at the stake Christmas program. she shared some encouraging thoughts with La'vonne and is a convert herself. she attends the Potomac mid singles ward. she lives with her mom and sister who are also converts! they dried our coats off for us and helped us warm up. when we left they thanked us for coming over and said it had been way too long since the missionaries knocked on their door! sometimes the members need just as much encouragement as investigators. tracting in the freezing snow is one memory I will always remember! :) Friday was crazy! we weren't sure if we'd have exchanges due to the bad weather. but as we were finishing our studies the other sisters called and told us we were still exchanging and i would be leaving and working with sister Billman in Fort Belvoir. I was excited because I've never left the area for an exchange before! so we packed, ate, did some facebook and then exchanged! i was honestly a little nervous but luckily like always i was just over thinking everything! sister billman and i had a really good talk and i told her some of my concerns. she told me that i should work on figuring out the "why" behind all i do as a missionary. do i get up at 6:30 because i know I'll get in trouble if i don't? do i knock doors because I have to? or do i do these things because I know it's what the Lord expects of me and I want to do His work? she also talked about having the faith to find. Am I expecting each person I contact to accept what I tell them or am I just filling time finding? this was all exactly what I needed to hear! Then she talked about being proactive. i told her how this is my first time leading an area and being the more experienced companion. it's been hard because I'm not a great self motivator! she explained that the Lord is allowing me to lead this area and to have these experiences because He wants me to become something. the other thing she mentioned is to not dwell on it when i screw up! so after our talk we went and knocked doors for awhile! Friday was definitely THE coldest day I've experienced on the mission thus far. i didn't actually get to see what the temperature was, but everything was covered in ice and it was seriously so painful! but we kept trekking on! we knocked doors with no success, but we had fun with it! we ate dinner and then went to see this less active woman. she's from Greece! We had a great lesson with her after that about prophets and then we headed out to do more tracting in the dark and dreary wilderness! we talked to tons of people and it was cool seeing all the backgrounds they came from. we talked to Muslims, Christians, Catholics. You name it and we probably talked to one! sadly none wanted to hear our message! we ended then night visiting a member. the husband has been a member for a little over a year and is from England. he is waiting on his visa so he can live here with his wife permanently! I'm glad I'm not waiting on a visa in that situation! it makes my visa situation seem pretty miniscule in comparison! it was fun going to another area and seeing that even the sister training leaders have struggles to find people. I've been feeling down about finding new people to teach in my area but it was good to see that the work just ebbs and flows and you have to be positive through it all! Saturday we did our studies and then exchanged back. exchanges make you grateful for your companion! sister billman is great, but sister Phelps and i have a special bond! I was excited to get back and improve the work in our area and implement all i learned into the work! we went and tried to visit an investigator, but he wasn't home. we knocked a few doors and then tried to see Makila and Kaira. no luck there either! we ended up seeing sister ketch. her neighbor Alan was visiting. he's in the military and his family is living in Georgia. we had a really great talk with them and then had dinner at the Pajuelo's. they are a great family! strange, but great. it's really cool because brother pajuelo is from Peru and is a convert to the church of about 5 years. his dad was recently diagnosed with cancer so brother pajuelo called his dad and asked if the missionaries could come give him a blessing. he agreed. they came and since then have begun teaching him! this would have been a great story, but it doesn't end there! at the next appointment his dad had, the doctors told him the cancer was gone!!! how amazing is that?! miracles still happen today! after that visit, we went and saw sister Thompson. we had a really awesome time with her and taught about setting goals. we shared some of Elder Uchtdorf's talk "the best time to plant a tree" and we all 3 set goals in 3 areas: physical, mental, and spiritual. I have been off sugar for over a week now so my physical goal was to not have sugar until February 14th. my mental goal was to not dwell on the past! and my spiritual goal is to finish the book of Mormon by the 1st of February! elder Uchtdorf talked a lot about recognizing the fact that we will fail at first as we strive to accomplish our goals. a lot of the times if i fail, i just give up! but this is a journey and as we make small improvements every day we will become the person heavenly father wants us to be and we want ourselves to be! it's funny because a lot of times when i am teaching, i find things in the lesson that I really need to hear! it's a good reminder that this mission is helping me become someone the Lord needs me to be. Sunday was wonderful! we had church at 11, so we got most of our studies in before church. teya came to church and so did our investigator regassa. there was a senior missionary couple in our ward and we were talking to them after and they asked me about my visa. a few times this past week people have seemed super upset after i tell them that I have been waiting on my visa for this long. it's funny because i think it upsets other people more than it upsets me! it made me realize how grateful I am for the time I've had here in D.C. I used to always identify myself as a "visa waiter" and i made sure all the members and everyone knew i was waiting on my visa. but now it just doesn't seem that important!! I'm grateful that the Lord has helped me see how important the work is, no matter where I am serving. it was fast Sunday so that meant testimony meeting! sister Orme bore her testimony and it was very entertaining! she's a sassy old lady! probably in her 70s. she talked about how awesome it is to have 3 sets of missionaries in the ward and she goes, "not to discriminate, but we especially love the sisters. they have been helping us with our daughter and they've made a big impact in her life!" it was really sweet! in relief society we talked about tender mercies. it was really awesome! it made me think about all I've experienced on my mission and just my life in general! they have been full of those mercies. this one woman was talking about a rough time she went through and her sister said "i can't fix it for you, but I can love you through it!" she talked about how that's what heavenly Father tells us during our trials in life. la'vonne told us she wants to find some moms in the ward who have raised teenagers. She would like to get some advice right now. it was cool that she recognizes where she can turn for help! after church we did language study and then had dinner at the reeders! we then went and saw some investigators, tony and Barbara. they told us the elders had just knocked on their door a few minutes earlier. they were getting ready to leave so we went to visit someone else and we saw the elder's bikes. we left them some encouraging sticky notes! we ended the night seeing Karia. her sister makila was home but was tired so we had a visit with kaira. she will be home for the next few months so we hope we can help her stay active! the work definitely picked up this week and I know that I just need to stay positive through all the ups and downs! it's been a ton of fun working with Sister Phelps. We are a lot alike and have a lot of great laughs and have a really good friendship, so it's fun serving with her! I hope you guys have a wonderful week and find some people for the missionaries to teach! member referrals are DA BEST! i love you all so so much and will talk to you in a week! love, Sister E Star :)

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