Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Thanksgiving Week Post

Dear Familia! 

This week has been pretty good.I got a new companion this week. Sister Stone went home. In my trio, there is me, Sister Wynn, and Sister Liebing. Sister Liebing has a lot of migraines so that keeps her from doing some of the work. I think it is easy for her to get discouraged because of that. I really want to work hard here, but I am finding for me that I have to find that balance of working hard and being sensitive to her needs as well. It is a bit of a struggle for me, but this will be good!

As a companionship we've been doing quite a bit of walking this week because we are really worried about our miles. Poor Sister Liebing thinks that all we do is walk. It really hasn't been that bad though. I quite enjoy walking and really would not mind being in a walking area at all!

 We have one investigator named Renee and she is literally golden! She is super into the gospel and is so excited about learning more. When we first showed up, she had her scriptures out with a notepad and pencil to take notes on what we said. We had a return appointment and when we went back there, she was disappointed in herself that she only read the first 15 chapters of 1st Nephi... she was trying to finish all of 1st Nephi. I feel like she is progressing quite well and am super excited to see where things will go from here. We are planning on hard committing her for baptism this week. I think it should be great! 

Another lady that I met this week was named Carol. Carol is a less-active member in the ward and she really has had a ton of difficulties in life. When I think of her, I think of the talk from General Conference entitled "A Broken Vessel." She suffers from extreme depression and is probably one of the most humble people that I have ever met. My heart really goes out to her. We have a few things that we are going to invite her to and I think that it really will be super good for her!

We had district meeting this week and it was really good. Our district leader talked about how we are only in an area for a specific amount of time and that time is limited. He more said it because he thinks that some people might get transferred this next transfer, but it really hit home with me. I do not know when my VISA will get here. I try not to think about it too much, but sometimes, I find myself getting anxious about going to Brasil. This was such a great reminder for me that I really want to make a difference wherever I am at, whether it is here or in Brasil. I am very grateful to be here in Tennessee!!

I feel like I am learning a ton from Sister Wynn. She is a super hard worker and is very focused on the work. When I have my hour of language study, she is very diligent about mapping out Less-active members, finding out where they live and who would be good to see that is most efficient with miles. I feel a little guilty not helping out, then I remind myself that I need to do language study as well.

I've been studying my notes from President Corbridge this past week. A few of the things that stuck out to me is that we don't need to perform miracles for people to believe in us. We simply just need to teach the doctrine. Also, by teaching people the doctrine, it will answer their questions of "why?". We have been trying to focus our lessons more on that this week. One other thing that I wrote down which we have tons of room for improvement on is doing role plays during companionship study. Sometimes we don't always get time, so by planning out our time better, that will help out. 

For Thanksgiving this week we have a few different people's houses that we are going to.... I think 3 or 4. I'm not sure how it is all going to work out, but I think it might just be eating at one house, then going to the next house and eating, and so forth. With one lady, she is a vegetarian and is going to try to make some turkey for us. I am so very grateful for her willingness to make us some meat!! I'm not sure if it will be quite like home, but something is better than nothing! 

Love you all tons!
Sister Spencer

Monday, November 18, 2013

Letter from Monday Nov. 18th

Hey there Family!! 

How is everyone doing? It's so wonderful to hear from all of you. This week has not been the easiest week, but I've definitely seen the Lord's hand in my life. 

I've talked a little bit about our one investigator, Jennifer, the one who had the baptismal date. Well, she has literally dropped off the face of the Earth. She won't answer her phone, when we go over there to see her and just drop by, she is never there. We have no idea what has happened to her. She no longer has a baptismal date now because we haven't been able to teach her and she hasn't stopped smoking. It's a little bit discouraging, but we are still hopeful that things will work out. Funny side story for ya'll though. We went over there on Friday to see if she was there. She wasn't there, but her mom and her mom's fiance were there so we started talking to them. We started to share a quick message with them and then after we had finished, things just got weird. The mom started talking about how the apocalypse has started to happen in other states, not Tennessee, mind you, but just other states. And then the fiance chimed in and started talking about how stars were falling to the Earth. Now, I don't know everything, but something tells me that I would know if stars were falling to the Earth. It was a pretty funny conversation from our end. Anyways, I sure hope all ya'll are doing alright with the apocalypse and falling stars. ;)

This week has been Sister Stone's last week, she goes home on Wednesday. A lot of the members here have told her that when she gets off her mission, it will be one of the hardest things ever and she will feel like she is in a dark hole. I am worried that this has made her extremely nervous about going home. This morning, she was working on packing a little bit and had a pretty good freak out about going home. I have been keeping her in my prayers and have been trying to do my best to comfort her, but man, she is sure scared to go home. 

I find it frustrating here when a member has us over for dinner and then expects us to stay at their house for two hours. Sister Wynn, Stone, and I talked about this and we have a game plan to change it! Pretty excited to put this into action! It should be great!  

Our investigators are okay. A lot of them seem to be pretty stand-off-ish about us. We are still continuing to love them and to try our best to serve them. I am so grateful to be a missionary, even with the days that are hard. On the happier side though, the Moore family is doing great. I made some pumpkin muffins yesterday so today we are hoping to drop in on them and teach them a super quick lesson. They leave this week to go to Arkansas for 5 weeks. 

Our one investigator Paul is... well he's Paul. He's what we call an eternigator. (eternal investigator). As missionaries we have decided that he wants to know all of the "meat" of our religion without first knowing the "milk." We have taught him the restoration, and missionaries in the past have taught him the restoration lesson. In the past, he has prayed about Joseph Smith to know if he was a prophet, and he said he got an answer and that was to stay baptist. We have asked him to pray about Joseph Smith again and read the Book of Mormon. He won't pray about Joseph Smith and when he reads the Book of Mormon he doesn't do so wanting to know whether or not it is the word of God. Ugh, frustrating. We sent him a text the other day inviting him to church. The text said: "Hey we'd love to have you at church on Sunday if you can make it!" He then responded back with "No more Pressure!!!..." Yeesh. 

This week we had to travel up to Farragut to get our car tires changed and get the engine looked at. It should have taken about an hour total, but people were slow and so it took 5 hours. It felt like a bit of a wasted day so it was frustrating, but on the plus side, we had a wonderful weekly planning session!

Random highlights of the week: I met a person named Michael Jackson! (Pretty sure he was lying, but whatever.) I got nicknamed Sister Monster by a two year old. (The two year old is adorable and loves to play with me while my companion sings in the choir on Tuesday nights.) 

We went to visit one of our potential investigators and she didn't speak very good English (native language was Spanish). They had some trouble understanding us and they had some trouble using the right words to express themselves in English so we couldn't understand them all the way. We were about to leave but we asked to say a prayer with them first. The dad says that we could. He says that we can pray in English and that he will pray in Spanish. It was super unclear about what he wanted done, but anyways, his wife and him both start shouting their prayers in Spanish and me and my companions were just there awkwardly. It was pretty funny after we got out of there, but man, it was sure awkward in there. We just ended up standing there until both of them were finished.

Love ya'll!

Sister Spencer

Letter from Tues, Nov. 12

Hey Family!!

Sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday. It was Veteran's Day and the library was close so we had no way to get on. Hopefully you don't mind my email one day late though! :) 

This week has been pretty good. My companions and I had a pretty cool experience. We were going through the ward roster researching part families and we came across the Moore family. The husband is a member and the wife is a non-member. They are an elderly couple and very nice. After looking at the list of names we had a strong impression to give them a call to meet with them. We called them up and then went over and got to know them a little bit. After talking to her for a bit we asked her if she had been taught the lessons by other missionaries in the past. She said no and that missionaries would just come over and share a scripture or two. So, we shared the first lesson with her. It was a really awesome experience. The wife reads the ensign, believes in prophets, was very accepting of everything we said, mentioned that she was thinking about getting baptized and came to church on Sunday. At church she mentioned how she thought it would be cool to go to the temple. She is absolutely golden and ready!!!.... the only small hang-up is that she is going to be going out of town for 5 weeks on vacation with her husband. I am not sure if I will be here when she gets back, but if I am, it would be so awesome to see her get baptized!! And if not, we have recorded her information so that if we are not in the area when she gets back, she won't be forgotten.

One of our other investigators is Paul Wootten. I guess that I am a little bit worried about him. I am not quite so sure why he is interested in the church. He has had multiple missionaries in the past. To me it seems as if he wants to understand the deep doctrine before he is willing to understand some of the basic doctrine. I don't know how open he is to listening to our message, but he does have a ton of deep questions for us. Also, his wife, Amy, is a less active member. Because of some mistakes that Amy has made in the past, she does not want to come to church. She feels as if people will be judging her (In reality, no one even remembers her.) So, Paul won't come to church because of her. We want to go over there and strengthen Amy and her daughter and teach Paul at the same time, but I am not quite so sure how open Paul is to listening to what we have to say and how open Amy is to us asking her to come to church. I'm not sure what will happen with them, but I guess that we'll find out in the next week or two. 

We had zone conference this week. It was pretty good. They talked a lot about the importance of planning and how busy does not always mean effective. One thing in particular that was said that I really enjoyed was: "write something worth reading or go and do something worth writing." Even outside of missionary work, I feel like that can be useful. President Irion came to the meeting and he really stressed how the first two hours of your day can really break or make your mission. (First two hours of the day are companion and personal study.) I have been trying to apply these principles more and have been feeling the difference already. 

My companions are doing pretty well. Sister Wynn is a great example of hard-work and Sister Stone is a wonderful example of loving the people that we are teaching. I think Sister Stone is dealing with a lot of different emotions with going home... She goes home in 9 days. It's very crazy, but I'm glad that I have learned the things from her that I have. 

This week we went to go and visit a less-active named Tracey Rice. Her mother passed away two months ago and she is taking her death very hard. When we went over there, she asked us if we could help her clean her room. I immediately got assigned to organize her closet. Thank goodness her clothes were all clean! I actually really enjoyed being able to organize it though. It was a nice break for me and I think it really helped her out. As we were leaving though, she went and grabbed some shirts that she had gotten. They still had the tag on them and everything, but she didn't want them. She looked at me and said "Here, I think these will fit you." .... The shirts were an XL and I wear a small. I didn't know what to say and sort of hesitated taking them. She then asked me "Do you think those are going to be too small for you?" ....-_-.... 

I love you all so much! Thank you for your emails, prayers, and support! 

Sister Spencer

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

My Mission in Knoxville Continued

Dear Family! 

Thank you so much for all of your letters this week! It has been awesome!

This week has definitely been full of ups and downs. Few highlights from the week: 

This week we went and visited a recent convert who doesn't have a car. His name is Michael DeLane. We discussed with him how to have faith and understand that the church is perfect and the people aren't with an emphasis on forgiveness. I made a comment to him about how living the gospel can be hard at times but it is definitely rewarding and that living the gospel this way is a lot easier than living in sin. After I said this, he started clapping and gave me a thumbs-up. Man, if everyone does that after I finish speaking, I should consider being a motivational speaker!!! ... JK, I'm really not that great, I just thought it was funny how after I talk, people always feel the need to tell me that my comment was good. haha! :)

This week we went to visit a lady in our ward named Sister Larson. She broke her right hip and strained her left hip so she is pretty much immovable. We went over there and had a really awesome gospel lesson with her. Right as we were leaving we asked her if she knew of anyone who would enjoy to hear an uplifting message or who was going through a hard time. She thought for a minute and then told us that her neighbor had been asking about the church. So, tomorrow we are going over there to teach her! I feel like this is such an answer to prayers! I am so excited!!! We've been asking for referrals from everyone but most people just tell us that oh, you know, we are too busy to talk to people... I don't know my neighbor. I guess I just thought it was interesting who a lady who can't go out of her house or even off of her couch has someone for us. Well, we are still working on gaining the trust of the members. I feel that as we do this that we will be able to get more referrals and people to teach!

Olga and Jennifer dropped us... they were two of what we considered "golden investigators." I think they got a hold of some anti-Mormon material and then that was the end for them.... too sad. She sent us a text the other day saying that she didn't want to know anymore of that "Mormon stuff" and that she was firm in her decision. We politely responded that there were a lot of misconceptions about our religion and that we would invite her to read the Book of Mormon and find out the truth for herself from the very source but that we would respect her decision.  It's sort of discouraging, but my companions and I are doing our best to work hard and not get discouraged. 

This week in my scripture reading I read a lot about Nephi. One thing that I thought was super interesting is that no matter where Nephi is, he is able to keep an eternal perspective about what things truly matter and turning his will over to the Lords. For example, when Nephi was commanded to build a boat. I'm sure that wasn't his #1 priority, but he did it nonetheless and he didn't complain about it. Also, with that, something that I noticed is that he didn't doubt that he couldn't do it. He just trusted in the Lord that he could do it. I have been trying my hardest to do the same thing. I know that as I put my trust in the Lord that he will lead me to success!

One of the families that we are teaching is the Woottens. They are a Less active/part member family. From working with them a little bit, one of the things that I am concerned about is that both of them have a very limited perspective. The wife, the Less-active one, has mentioned to us multiple times that she needs to start going back to church but she just won't go because she is afraid that people will judge her. With her, I think it is so sad that she is letting someone else affect her eternal salvation. It's SO worth it. Yeesh. With the husband, he's had missionaries many times before. He said he has prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and the answer that he got was that he needed to remain a Baptist. So now, when we are trying to teach him, he immediately says to us that he has already gotten his answer. It's sort of frustrating, but we are doing our best to be patient and explain the importance of everything. 

There is an Elderly couple that we try to go and visit. I've talked about them in the past... the Amoses. They are super nice. We went up and saw them this week. She asked us to sing the song Amazing Grace for her. We did and then she gave us another one to learn. We told her that we would work on learning it for her. After that, she told us that she wanted all of us to sing at her funeral. None of us really knew what to say since we wouldn't really be here when she died. It was sort of awkward but we told her that if we could be there, we would be. Oh also, good news though, Sister Amos is feeling much better. The doctors have switched around her medication so now she can sit through a full lesson! We are very happy about that! 

I love you all very much and you are in my prayers! Keep the faith, stay strong, tell everyone about the gospel!! 

Much love, 

Sister Spencer