Monday, January 27, 2014

Baptisms Ahead!

Dear Family!! 

How has your week been? This week has been pretty great for me! Samantha had some concerns so we decided to post-pone her baptism one more week. She met with President Irion this past week and has been able to resolve all of them. After her meeting with President, we were talking to her and asked her how she was feeling about baptism now. She said that she was feeling ready and everything and committed to being baptized this coming Saturday!! We announced it in church and everything and she is really confident in her date. She has been meeting a ton of ward members and everyone is super welcoming and friendly to her. I'm super excited! I think that one of the coolest things that she said when we were talking though was how after we get moved out of this area that she wants to keep in contact with us and stay friends. It was great! 

Another person that we have committed for baptism is Shirley Moore. think of the nicest lady you know, times it by ten and you have Shirley Moore. We moved her baptism date up to February 8th and she was completely fine with it! On the last lesson we taught her, we told her that next time we come we were going to teach her the Word of Wisdom and gave her the pamphlet. Her husband who is a member started talking about how that was the hardest commandment to follow because we couldn't eat chocolate... and he loves chocolate. We quickly cleared up that we could eat chocolate and told him that we would explain the rest of it next time. I was thinking though, Brother Moore (her husband--member) must have a lot of faith to give up some of the small insignificant things in life--like chocolate-- for the gospel. 

I love the South. The people here are very unique and very set in their ways. My companions and I went to visit an old former investigator this week. As soon as we got in her door, this lady just starts talking about anything and everything (typical for the South). Once we were able to start sharing our message with her. She decided that she wanted her son to listen in. He comes in and starts telling us how he knows all about us Mormons. He gathered all of his information from his peers, Pastor, and most importantly, South Park. ... so you can see how reliable the information he had was. Needless to say, his heart wasn't particularly open to what we had to say. With most people we talk to, that is the response that we get. In some rare cases though, people are willing to listen to missionaries and are then converted and baptized. Sometimes though, these people still hold on to some of their past beliefs which aren't always entirely true. One of the members in our congregation falls under this rare case. This past Sunday this member started talking about how they preached at her old church and healed people with the laying on of hands. She shared one particular experience where, after she laid her hands on a person's head, that person what was immediately was given new eyeballs.... This was shared during Relief Society... and the person sharing it was a woman. The poor teacher did not know what to say to that except for "well, thanks for sharing." It was pretty great. Gotta love the south! 

We got some new promising investigators this past week, a small family. They are Pedro and Julie and they have a three year old daughter Madeline. When we found them, I wasn't quite sure just how promising they were. We've gone over and taught them the Message of the Restoration and part of the Plan of Salvation. When we returned for our second visit, Julie had read from the Book of Mormon and Pedro said that he would come to church on Sunday!! Awesome! And sure enough, Pedro came to church on Sunday. Pedro doesn't say a whole lot, so I am not quite sure what he thought about it, but his three year old daughter LOVED it! When he went to go pick her up from primary, he asked her if she was ready to go, she simply looked at him and said "No, I want to stay here." That was pretty great. We go back later this week to see what he thought of it and all. I am really hoping that he had a good experience and felt the spirit! 

This past week we went and had a lesson with a less active member of our congregation. One of the reasons why he does not come to church is because he is deaf. Since none of my companions and I know ASL, we found someone who did and brought them with us. It was a bit of an interesting lesson. This member had not been to church for over 10 years and had some very basic questions... like if we believed in Jesus Christ. We were able to tell him that we did and relieve some of his other concerns. One of his biggest concerns for right now is that he wants a priesthood hold man to sign for him at church... the only people that we know of here that sign are women. We are still working with him. Hopefully something will come up or he will have a change of heart! 

Quick update on Bobby: Bobby does not like cheese, he does like peanut butter cookies. I left some oreos in our mailbox for him so after this I will see whether or not he took them. Hopefully he likes them alright!! He's a bit of a picky eater to be honest though. :P

I learned a new word this week that I have been trying to incorporate into my vocabulary. It is a form of the word "you". People pronounce it like "you-ins" but from what I can tell, it can either be spelled "yuns" or "yeens." It is basically a substitute for you all or ya'll. Pretty great. 

This truly is the Lord's work and I am so grateful to do it!! I love missionary work and I love serving the Lord! I feel like, especially with this past week, I can relate to Ammon when he says "... but behold, my joy is full, yeah, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God." (Alma 26:11). I feel so blessed by the Lord and I love this work! Thank you so much for all of your love and support that you give me! 

I love ya'll tons!!!  

Sister Spencer

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

MLK Day, Marijuana, and My 6 Month Mark!

Dear Family!! 

Well as I am sure you have figured out by now, I did not email on Monday because it was Martin Luther King Day. We still had a pretty fun P-day though. My companions and I went grocery shopping and then we decided that we wanted to go out to lunch. So we went to this place called Salsaritas. It was pretty good. I had this weird tortilla pizza. I would go back.. but it definitely does not compare with Cafe Rio. Anyways. Besides that, we didn't really do anything fun. And now, I get to email you all!! 

The work here is going well. We have been working with Samantha quite a bit. She was supposed to be baptized on this Saturday, but as of right now, we are postponing it. She is having some concerns that we are working on addressing. I think for me, I don't always realize how big of a lifestyle change living the gospel can be for some people. She is great though! She has been reading her scriptures and praying daily. I know that she is continually growing and coming closer to Christ. I hope that she will get baptized soon, but at the same time, I don't want to get her into something that she is not ready for. She met with President Irion today though and she is getting ready! She is still progressing well!

Our other investigator with a baptismal date is Shirley Moore. She is progressing well and is just about one of the most amazing people that I have ever met! Her husband is a member already and she has mentioned to us before that she knows that the end goal is the temple to be sealed to her husband. This past week we taught her the Message of the Restoration and later today we are going to go and teach her the Plan of Salvation. I am excited to be working with her and feel so honored! The Lord truly is blessing us in this area! 

Funny story for ya'll that happened when I was at the grocery store. We were going down the isle, headed to the dairy section. I make awkward eye contact with this one guy so I figured that I would start a conversation with him for a quick minute since my one companion had stopped to grab something off the shelf. I give him the whole thing of "Hi, I'm Sister Spencer, a missionary from the Church of Jesus Christ ...." and so forth. We get to talking for a minute and he asks me where I am from originally. I tell him that I'm from Colorado. Immediately, this guy perks up and says: "Oh! They sale Marijuana there!" I was a little taken back by that being his first reaction so the only thing I thought of to say back was "Well yeah, they definitely do." The guy stopped for a minute, and the said "Well do you want some since you are from Colorado?" I politely declined. You definitely do encounter all sorts of different situations on your mission I guess. :P

Well in some aspects this week has been a little rough for me. At some times, I feel like there has been a little devil on my shoulder telling me all of the things that I have been doing wrong, or did not do quite good enough. It really took it's toll on me, but I feel like I am doing a lot better now. I have been reading a lot about Faith in my personal study and how I can have more faith in the Lord. One of the cool things that I read is that faith in the Lord leads to faith in yourself. So when you are living the commandments and doing all that you can do, you can have faith that what you are doing is inline with what Christ would have you do. I know I am not perfect, but I guess that I came to realize this week that as I show my faith in the Lord through diligent effort, even though I may make some mistakes and not always say the perfect thing, I know that Christ is there helping me out and that he wants me to succeed. 

I past my 6 month mark this past week!! Sister Wynn was so nice to me and made me some delicious beans and rice (she tried to do it like they do in Brazil... she said someone taught her). I don't know if it was exactly like it is in Brazil, but regardless, it was still really good! I was glad that she remembered and celebrated with me! :)

We are trying to involve the members more in our missionary efforts. By involving the members more, I feel like we are able to help our investigators get even more fellowship in the church. I am excited for what further progress we will have. 

I feel like I have been growing in my trust in the Lord a lot. VISA waiting is definitely a bit of a struggle sometimes for me, but I can say that I love being here. For me, it all boils down to the fact that I know that the Lord is in control of everything and that it is best for me to be here right now. I know that and I am grateful to be here! 

I love you all and am so grateful for you! Hope you have a marvelous week! 


Sister Spencer

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Blessed Week

Dear Familia!! 

Well this week hasn't been too eventful, but it has been pretty good! Remember how last week I mentioned that Samantha did not come to church and how we were pretty worried about her? I guess you could say that this week we found out that people's lives don't revolve around us. My companions and I were all pretty scared that she had been anti-ed and just didn't want anything to do with us. On Tuesday, after much prayer, we were finally able to get a text back from her. She had been in the Emergency room. Everything is fine though with her. We pushed her baptismal date back one week to January 25th. We all felt like it was coming up too soon. Samantha is really doing great though! She came to church this past Sunday and stayed for the full 3 hours and said she wanted to come next week. She's been praying and reading her scriptures daily with a question, and we taught her the Word of Wisdom and she accepted it no problem at all!! She really is one of the elect! I feel so honored to be able to teach her!! :) 

One of our other investigators that I mentioned a few weeks ago are James and Shirley Moore. They went out of town for 5 weeks to go play Santa Claus and they just barely got back this week. There was a bit of a mix-up with the Pleasant Ridge Elders and so they thought that  they were the ones who should be teaching her. So they went over, taught her a lesson, committed her for baptism, and then we found out that she was actually in our area! Now, we have another baptismal date that is also really solid! The Lord is really blessing us here. I am super excited to go and teach Shirley Moore. She is one of the sweetest ladies I know! She is wonderful!!! 

It's been awesome to see the Lord's hand in our lives as we work on a daily basis. The other day we went over to go and visit a less-active woman. We pulled up at PERFECT timing. She had just gone outside and needed some help raking her leaves in her front lawn. So we were able to go out and help her with that--something she really needed help with. If we would have shown up any earlier or later, she probably would not have let us help. I love to see how much the Lord is able to use us as missionaries to help and uplift others. 

In this ward I feel like we have had a lot of success helping to strengthen the members here. This past Sunday we were able to have 7 less-actives come to church (That's a lot for here!). When I first got to this area, it was struggling quite a bit. Through the help of the Lord and a lot of hard work I really do feel like we have been able to strengthen this area and to help the ward members! I am excited for the rest of my time here and to see what others ways that I can strengthen this area! 

I love you all so much and am so grateful for all of your love and support! Thanks for everything you do for me!!

Sister Spencer

Monday, January 6, 2014

Snow in Tennessee!

Dear Family!!

Well another week has gone by! It’s weird to think that pretty much exactly 1 year ago I decided to serve a mission…. And look where I am now!! God is good. I love my mission, even though some times can be hard!
The weather here is supposed to get down to 0 degrees tonight. It seems like the WHOLE WORLD is freaking out about it. I find it kind of funny! 

Samantha has been progressing super well this past week. Last week from when she came to church, everything turned out super nice. She said that she was confused about some things (baptism for the dead), but that when she thought about it, it really did just make sense! I was pretty nervous about how it would turn out, but she seemed to take it all VERY well. There was an 8-yr old girl who got baptized this past week. Samantha attended the baptism. We did a baptism calendar with her and she seemed really cool with everything! :D She didn’t show up to church yesterday… I’m really hoping that everything is okay. We haven’t been able to get in contact with her since Friday, so I am praying that everything is okay.

We were able to make some progress with Janet this past week. We didn’t commit her for baptism again, but we were able to ask her to pray about baptism for a different date!!

We have a great mailman. His name is Bobby. About a month or two ago, I decided that I was going to go out and meet him and make friends with him in hopes that he would always be diligent in bringing me my mail. The first time I saw him come up after deciding that I wanted to meet him, I quickly looked around to see if there was something that I could give him as a peace offering. I was in luck. The day before, I had made some absolutely delcious pumpkin muffins! Wonderful! Excited, I went out to meet him, introduce myself and asked him what his name was and if he likes pumkin. After telling me his name, he looked me dead in the eye and said: “I HATE pumpkin.” I was a little taken back, but I saved this new forming friendship by asking him what type of muffins he did like: Bran. About a  week or so later, I saw Bobby pull up to our mailbox. I paniced. I had forgotten to make Bran muffins. Luckily, I was saved by a nutri-grain granola bar. I went out, greeted him, asked him how his day was going and then offered him the nutri-grain granola bar. He informed me that he disliked nutri-grain bars but liked Christmas cookies (by this time it was getting close to Christmas). I remember thinking to myself “Great. I can do Christmas cookies no problem.” The next week however, due to a variety of different circumstances, I ended up making chocolate cupcakes instead. When I saw Bobby pull up the next day, I quickly grabbed some of the cupcakes I had made and rushed out to meet him. Nervously, I approached him and offered him the cupcakes, expecting, once again, to be refused.Thank goodness for me, he accepted the cupcakes and we had a lovely conversation. Moving forward, the day before Christmas, I left Bobby a nice plate of Christmas cookies in the mail box. And all in the mean time, Bobby and I have had many mailbox conversations. Anyways, you see what I am saying? Bobby and I have talked quite a bit and you would think that we would have a great blossoming friendship. So this past week, we pulled into the gas station to get some gas. Lo and Behold! Guess who is there! Bobby! I quickly jumped out of the car to say hi and wish him a great day! Our conversation went as follows:

Me: Hi Bobby!!
Bobby: Um, hi?
Me: How are you doing?
Bobby: Umm Good *Confused look*
*moment pause*
Me: Do you remember me?
Bobby: It’s been a while hasn’t it??
Me: Only a few days….

Needless to say. I re-introduced myself to Bobby. I am hopeful that he knows who I am now….

We’ve had some great success this past week. There was one night where we had an hour before we were supposed to go in. Almost all of our plans had fallen through, so we decided to go and contact an old former investigator. We go to the place and of course, it is an apartment complex and there was no apartment number on the teaching record. Since we have some time, we decide to tract the complex trying to find this person. The first house that we run into the people are SUPER nice. We are able to get a return appointment with them. We asked them if they knew any missionaries and they mentioned how a few lived right across the street. My companions and I don’t think anything of this since most people say that they Baptist missionaries. We go to a few more houses and EVERYONE is extremely nice to us and mentions something about missionaries living close by. Right before we knock on one of the last doors, I made a comment to one of my companions how it would be funny if it were actually Mormon missionaries that lived in these apartments. Well, right after we knocked on the door, Elder Toomey answered the door… Yep, we had forgotten that the Elders lived in our area. (We knew that they lived in our area, but did not know exactly where.) Anyways, that night, in about an hour, we got 4 new investigators and tracted into the Elders! It was pretty great. I was talking to my companions about that whole experience later and we mentioned how it was a tender mercy that we didn’t know that the Elders lived there… If we had known, we probably would not have tracted there since we would have figured that the Elders would have already talked to all of their neighbors. God works in mysterious ways!! 

Well the work is going well here. I have been working on fulfilling my goals a lot this week. It's amazing how much I can get done with the help of goals. Thank you so much for all of your prayers. I have particularly felt a lot of help as I have been doing language study. I really need it, so thank you! 

I love you all TONS! Thanks so much for all your emails and everything you do for me!! I really appreciate it! 

Sister Spencer