Monday, March 31, 2014

Transferred to my Second Area!

Dear Family!! 

Well I am now in my second area! I am in Bristol Tennessee. Just a little info about the area for ya, it is RIGHT on the border of Virginia. So there is a Bristol, TN and a Bristol, VA. It is a very unique city and is the birthplace of country music. Our church building and part of our ward is actually in Virginia. It is about two hours from my past area, so I did not recognize one person coming here! The ward that I am in has a lot of potential and I am super excited to be serving here. My companion is Sister Neil. She is from Nevada and is super great. She is my only companion... it is really nice to be out of a trio! We get along super well and I can already tell that I am really going to enjoy serving with her. 
Bristol is in the top right corner of the map.

Since being in this area, Sister Neil and I have already started to see many, many miracles. This week alone, we have gotten 6 media referrals! That never happens. We have been working on contacting them and it is so awesome to see the Lord's hand in this area! One of the referrals that we contacted was a bit of an interesting character... his name is Jared. If I were to describe Jared I would say that he acts exactly like Napoleon Dynamite, but looks like Kip (from Napoleon Dynamite) with dark brown hair, no mustache, and add about 100 lbs. He's an interesting fellow. Apparently he called Salt Lake looking for job opportunities and the person on the phone gave him the information for a member of our bishopric. The bishopric member contacted us so we went over that night to go and meet and start teaching him. The situation was a bit weird, so we didn't start teaching the restoration right then. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to start reading a few chapters out of it, defined our purpose as missionaries and set up a time the next day to return and share more with him. When we were there for that first visit, he kept dropping comments like: "Yeah, I could definitely see myself being a prophet... but not in my own land because it says in the Bible that prophets won't be accepted in their own land.", "I studied marketing in school so I realize that you have to get people to an emotional point where they realize the danger that they are in, and then, once you've got them there, then you can grab them and bring them into the church!", and "I have a 3.2 gpa so I am very intelligent and know what it takes to work hard." We were only there for about 10 minutes so we mentioned how everything we do in the church is voluntary and not paid, but he did not seem to catch on. We had a meeting with him for the next day, but he wasn't there... he said something about having to drive a drunk friend somewhere even though he doesn't have a car. Anyways, we talked to him on the phone the next day and invited him to church and told him we would find him a ride and call him back once we did. When we called him back, it was sure interesting. It goes as follows: 

me: "Hi Jared, we found a ride to church for you on Sunday. Brother ____ will be picking you up at 10:30."
Jared: "Oh good. I am really looking forward to church. I feel like I have a lot of potential." 
me: "that's great! Well we also wanted to let you know that church is 3 hours long."
Jared:" *Napoleon Dynamite sigh* that's sounds really long and drawn out. I guess you didn't take into account that some people learn faster than others."
me: "It is actually really great. It is split up into three meetings. This week is what we call fast Sunday. The first meeting is Sacrament meeting. That's where we partake of the sacrament... some church call it communion. Then, since it is fastSunday Today,it is a bit different from normal and we have an open microphone where people go up and bear their testimonies."
Jared: *Napoleon Dynamite scough* that should be interesting.
me: " Well, continuing on. The second meeting is Sunday school. And then the third is a class where the men meet together and then where the women meet together." 
Jared: "Okay. *Napoleon Dynamite Sigh* 
me: "Well we are excited to see you there!" 
Jared: "Yeah. Oh, and I took three pages of notes on the 8 pages that you had me read. I feel like you will be really enlightened from it." 
me: "Oh wow. Well we are excited to see what you have. Have a good day and we'll see ya tomorrow!" 

... Jared is unlike any other person I have ever met. We still have not gotten the chance to meet with him and teach him the restoration, so I am fairly certain that he still views this as a job opportunity. Hopefully he will still be this enthusiastic once he finds out that it is not. We will see though. I am excited to see where things go with him! 

I was able to meet one of our investigators this past week named Don. One of the issues that he is facing is that he is reading the Book of Mormon and praying and everything but he does not feel like he has gotten his answer yet. In the last lesson that we had with him we shared with him 3rd Nephi 11: 1-7 and talked about how sometimes the Lord is trying to tell us something but we just don't understand... and then we went and read the scripture from Galatians about the fruits of the spirit. I think it helped him out a lot so I am excited to see where things go with him. He should be coming to one of the sessions of conference at the church this week and we asked him to come with a question in mind, expecting to get an answer. 

I am super excited to work in this area and feel that it has a lot of potential! Our ward is super friendly! People were coming up and saying hi to our investigators and we didn't even have to ask them to! It was awesome!! I can tell that I am really going to enjoy serving here. 

I love ya'll so much!! Have a great week! 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last Time in this Area!

Dear Family!
Well it's crazy that another week has gone by. We found out transfer information this week and Sister Liebing and I will be transferred! I am pretty excited to try out a new area, but at the same time, it is hard saying goodbye to everyone. I don't know where I am going yet or if I will be in a companionship or in a trio. I find out all of that information on Wednesday. (How transfers work here is that you pack up all of your stuff, go to transfer meeting, President announces over the pulpit where everyone is going, and then you just grab your stuff and go to that area.... it is all very theatrical. :P) Sister Wynn is staying in this area though. 

Saying goodbye to people is definitely VERY heartbreaking though. We've already started to say goodbye to some people now and they have been very sweet to us. A few of them have started to cry and say that they will miss us so much. One lady in particular said one comment that really meant a lot to me. She said: "Even if the only thing you did in this area was to bring me back to the church, wouldn't that be enough because I'm one person.... and I'm worth it." 

Other than transfers, we did have some exciting stuff happen to us this week. We were going to go and contact one of the potential investigators and we could not find which house was his so we decided to park the car and just walk to find his house. There was a nearby church parking lot, so we just pulled into there... erm, well we tried to pull in there. Apparently there was this small, very well hidden pole sticking out of the ground that none of us saw, and just as our luck would have it. We drove over it. It put a nice gash in our right front tire. Poor Sister Wynn, she's the driver, was pretty upset about all of it. Anyways, we got out to attempt to change the tire and everything.  As official as I am sure my companions and I looked (being in skirts and stuff) there was a very nice man who saw us and came over to help us. When he first came over, he looked at our tire and the first words out of his mouth were: "Wow, well that looks like a $60 mistake!!" We got everything squared away and called the mission office to tell them what happened. At first they told us to just go get the tire fixed.... but the damage was too much so we just had to replace it. Elder Hunt (he's in charge of all the cars in the mission office) kept saying over and over "Man, those were Brand New tires!!" Needless to say, all of these comments were really helping with Sister Wynn's guilt. Later we went back and looked at the pole and the only way that we could have gotten a flat tire on it was if the tire was on the pole, and we turned the tire. I was talking to Sister Wynn later about it and she said: "You know, us getting a flat tire is like the Titanic!" She was meaning how once the Titanic hit the iceberg, apparently they tried to maneuver around it, and that just made the damage all the worse... but I didn't really know that so I thought she was comparing thousands of people dying to us getting a flat tire. I didn't quite know what to say to her about this so I said: "Well you know, mistakes happen all the time! For instance, if I were to choose between having a car totaled and replacing a new tire, I would most likely choose to replace the tire!" It took us a minute to understand each other, but it was pretty great once we were able to get what each other was saying! 

We had Stake Conference this past Sunday and it was pretty good. There was one story that I thought was pretty great. This guy was sharing a story about a part-member family. He kept asking the wife, Laurie (She was the member), if her husband, Steve, was ready to take the discussions. Time after time, she would say "No, he's not ready yet!!" After the 4th or 5th time, the speaker said that he decided to just go and ask Steve if he wanted to hear the missionary discussions. Steve said yes. So the speaker, went up to Laurie and said "Hey Laurie, do you want to come to the missionary discussions with Steve?" Laurie responded the same as she had before "No, he's not ready to take them yet!!" The speaker said "No, Laurie, you don't understand! I asked Steve and he said he's ready. We're having the discussions tonight and wanted to know if you wanted to come along!"  Three weeks later Steve was baptized. I just thought it was interesting because the speaker mentioned in his talk how Laurie was a very active member of the church, but she was just afraid of asking her husband to take the lessons because she didn't want to make him uncomfortable or anything. As a missionary, it's really cool to hear stories like this because most people aren't offended just by a simple invitation to learn more... and what a great gift we are offering to them when we do share more with them and they accept the gospel!!
This past Tuesday we went to the Family History Center with Samantha to have her get some Family names to bring to the temple. The lady there was definitely not computer savvy at all. She kept logging in and out of the computer, like 5 times in a row to make sure that she had exited out of a page. It was a bit ridiculous. I don't know how convinced Samantha is about Family History Work, but we are really hoping to get her to at least bring her names to the temple and do the confirmations for them in the next little bit!! Oh, other exciting news!! Samantha finally chose a name for her baby! She is going to name him Atlas. He is due at the end of April, but could come any time now since she is healthy enough!!
Also, a Bobby update. I went out the other day to say goodbye to Bobby.... and he's on vacation and doesn't get back tillThursday... so I won't be able to say goodbye to him. I am very sad about that. :( Bobby finally did learn my name though!! Sometimes he would see us walking up to an appointment or something and he would wave to us or say hi to us as he was passing by. On one occasion, he even used my name!!! (Granted, it was my first name, so I had to tell him to call my Sister Spencer and explain the whole mission thing to him), but still, I feel very honored that he learned my name!
Well, I love you all sooooo soooo sooo much!!!! Oh, quick update. When I eventually get down to Brazil, I will go into the Brazilian CTM for two weeks to do a crash course on Portuguese before going out into the field.... that makes me feel a little bit better. I am still super anxious to get down there though!
Love ya tons!
Sister Spencer

8 Months Today!! March 17, 2014

Dear Family,

Wowee! Another week has gone by! As I am sure all of you knew, but were just too bashful to say anything about it, yes, today is my 8 month mark! I guess that it is next month that everybody freaks out though--my half way mark!! O_o

We've been working with some of the less-active members a lot this week. One of the people that we went to go and see was Sister Ross. At the beginning of the year, she had a goal to go through the temple. Because of her work schedule, it had been a while since we'd seen her, but this past week we were able to go over and see her. It was wonderful... pure bliss! Before we could even ask, she brought up to us the fact that she was still working on her goal. It was great! We are still working with her to help her accomplish it.

I think that, for me, a lot of frustration comes with those who are so closed off to even give the Book of Mormon a chance to be real. We've been working a lot with this person named Jose. We went and saw him this week and started off with a really good, spiritual lesson. Jose has a ton of GREAT questions... like if God loved all people, wouldn't he visit the people in the America's too? and how can we know the truth when some church people are corrupt? Yeah, questions that can be easily answered by reading and praying about the Book of Mormon! Towards the end of the lesson, we asked him if he would read the Book of Mormon. He very quickly told us that he has already read the Book of Mormon. After some more probing, we found out that he had just read the introduction, decided that a man wrote it, and absolutely refused to pick it up again. It was awful. We asked him if he had prayed about it and he told us that he didn't need to. Hopefully in the future something will soften his heart and he will be more open to reading and praying about the Book of Mormon. I know that it can answer a lot of his questions.

We have a lot of great ward members here! Yesterday we went over to a member's house (the Copelands) and were talking to them while we were eating dinner. They started telling us some of their past missionary experiences. It was super cool. They own a mattress store and are always letting other people know that they are Mormon and inviting them to learn more. One of their coworkers visited Utah, went to temple square, had a tour, came back, and asked Brother Copeland if he could teach him more about the church. So, he invited him to church. That Sunday, Brother Copeland's coworker, asked if he could get up and say a few words. For his very first time at church, the coworker bore his testimony about the spirit that he felt at church and said that he wanted to come back the following week and eventually be baptized! It was a really cool story. I think that the coolest part is though that it all started out because the Copelands were willing to open their mouths and tell people about the church and that they were members!

One of the other less-actives that I have mentioned a lot in the past is Tracey Rice. We went over and had a super good lesson with her on the Word of Wisdom and got her to say that there was a "92% chance that she would come to church." We asked her what that meant, and she said that if she, or anyone in her family died, she would not make it. Good news is, she made it!! We had an awesome meeting too! The spirit was so strong. She started to cry because she felt the spirit so much. It truly is amazing to see people start to change their lives and return back to church.

We had an interesting experience when we were knocking on a door this week. This one guy answered the door, looked at us and very seriously said: "I hate to break it to you girls, but you need to leave the church of Latter Day Saints because you are going to go to Hell." That's the first time that anyone has ever been that blunt to us, but we just bore a simple testimony to him and left. Don't worry though, it didn't phase me one bit!! :D

One of the things that has really been sticking out to me this week has been the power of the atonement. Recently I've heard a lot of people say: "Oh, I can't forgive that person for what they did to me" or "I can't be forgiven or repent of what I did because it is just too much." All of this puts a limit on Christ's atonement and in actuality, there is no limit on His atonement. Christ's sacrifice for us is infinite and eternal. All that is injust about this world can be made right through the atonement of Christ. It may not be in this life, or right away, but I know that he can care for us and comfort us in just the way that we need. I know that Christ loves us so much that everything he does for us is for our good. Sometimes it may be hard, but it may be just the thing that we need in the future to get through a certain trial. I am so grateful to be a missionary and to have the chance to go around and tell others of this exciting message!

I love you all very much!! Thanks for all of your support and all that you do for me!


Sister Spencer

Monday, March 10, 2014

Many Blessings :)

Dear Family!

This week has been going quite well. These past few weeks have been a little harder for me so this past week I decided that I was going to write down some of the miracles that I see to remember that this is God's work and that he is helping us out. Well let me just say WOW! It has been so great. To share a few of the things that I have noticed: We went to go and contact a former investigator named Cliff this week. He mentioned how he had had a baptismal date beforehand but baptism just did not feel right at the time. After talking to him for a minute, he said that he was not interested in learning more. We kept talking to him and found out that he had some unanswered questions about what we believe but that he couldn't quite remember what his questions were. As he was saying this, I got the thought to ask him if he would like us to share our message with him again so that he could remember his questions. He paused, and the agreed! We go back in about a week and a half. (He wanted some time to review some of the previous material that missionaries had given him.) I am super super stoked to teach him!!

Then, another time we were in the car going to contact another former investigator, we said a quick prayer in the car asking that we would be able to at least meet the person who lived in the house and have a gospel related conversation. Well, at the house we went to, we were able to do just that! The person didn't want to hear our full message, but I still feel like it was a success. Then, yet again, as we were going to contact another former investigator named Gary, we said a prayer asking that we would be able to meet him and talk to him. After we knocked on the door, guess who answered. Gary! He ended up not wanting to hear our message either, but still, our prayer was answered! This past week we were also able to go and rake leaves for 3 hours at a less-active member's house. He didn't really want us to come at first, but we convinced him. After helping him for that long, he invited us into his house and showed us all the pictures of his family and agreed to listen to our message! I'd say that those 3 hours were very much worth it!! 

One experience that I did not have this week but that I still found very powerful was about a girl in the ward that I am serving in. Her name is Taylor. She has had several issues with her kidneys and as of right now, she only has one kidney that works around 30%. I'm not quite sure of the exact situation, but I know that she has been needing a transplant for a while. This past week she went to the doctor to have another evaluation to see if her insurance would allow her to have the transplant. It was denied. Her family and everyone in the ward/everyone she knew was pretty devastated. They decided to have a special prayer for her. Two days later, the insurance company randomly changed their mind, so now, Taylor can get the transplant that she needs! Prayer is great and I am so grateful for it!! There have been so many more experiences like that, but I'll just leave it at those for now. I feel like seeking the Lord's hand in my life this week has really helped me to remain positive even after we get rejected 15 times in a row.

In the South there are a lot of misconceptions about what Mormons believe. One of the most common things that we come across is polygamy. We always, as quickly as possibly, tell people that we no longer practice that once they ask. However, there are always times as missionaries when we are placed in situations that can give people the wrong impression. This past week, my companions and I had an interesting experience when we were going out to try to contact a former investigator. As almost always is the case, the person who we intended to see no longer lived there. We were able to talk to the person who did live there though. He was a young man, probably in his early twenties. As we were talking to him, we identified ourselves as missionaries, gave him the brief run-down of our message of how God has restored His gospel today and asked what His beliefs on God were. At the end of our conversation, we asked if he would be interested in learning more and if there was another time that we could come back to share our message with him (by this time it was getting rather dark out). Judging by the look on his face,  he had zoned out on what we were saying about being missionaries and had only tuned in when we asked if he was interested in us coming back. I'm sure the whole situation of 3 girls, who were dressed up nice, as if for a special occasion, coming on knocking on his door, asking for a time to come back and talk really helped with the whole convincing people that we do not practice polygamy....

My companions are great. Sister Wynn is so diligent! During my language study, she is always making sure that she is using her time productively to work on the area book or calling people. She is great! It really helps out a lot. Sister Liebing is so patient and kind! She has recently started helping me out with my language study. It has been SUCH a blessing to me. I feel like it has helped me further my language abilities much farther than I could have on my own. I read a chapter out-loud in Portuguese and ever few verses I stop and translate. She helps me out and corrects me when I get things confused. I am so grateful for her sacrifice for me. I feel that my ability to speak Portuguese has improved so much since she has begun helping me!! 

One of the people that we go and see is named Tracey Rice. She is a less-active member in the ward who we are working on re-activating. For the past few weeks, we have been teaching her the lessons. They have been going pretty well. It's really quite funny when we go over there though because each time, without fail, for a good 15 minutes she will sit there and psycho-analyze me trying to figure me out. I guess that I never really knew that I was that hard to figure out.

Love you all!

Sister Spencer

Monday, March 3, 2014

Weekly Email!

Dear Family,

Well, another week has gone by! Seems like the weeks are just flying right on by now. This week has been pretty good though, definitely a lot of ups and downs.

Last Sunday I sat next to Samantha and was talking to her a little bit about her schedule for the upcoming week. I made one small comment to her about going out with us to teach one of our other investigators some time. A few days later, we went over to her house and were teaching her a lesson. At the end of the lesson, she brought up going out with us so we set up a time to do that! Since I'm in a trio right now, we decided that we should go on splits. Lucky for me, I got to go with Samantha and Sister Liebing and Wynn went together to go and visit some other people. I was a little bit nervous about how it would go since she was just recently baptized, but figured that things would go alright. Samantha is SUCH an awesome teacher. It was really cool because I would say something pause, look at her, and then Samantha would start up with exactly where I would head off. We went and taught this lady named Charlcie and it was just a great lesson!

Our other investigators are doing well... or at least most of them are. People this week have become expert at avoiding us. This week on Thursday we had three solid appointments. We went to the first appointment, as soon as we got there, we get a text message from the person saying "Sorry, I am running a little bit late. Could I reschedule for later today?" Because of our schedule we asked to do it a different day since we had appointments back to back. We do a few things in the area that we were in, then went to the next appointment. As soon as we see the neighborhood that we are going to turn into, we get a text from that person, Brianne, saying that she is sick and asking us if we could possible come at a different time. We said sure (because really, what else can you say to that??) and tried to set up another time.  In the middle of all of that, our third appointment for the night cancelled on us. It was a bit discouraging. But I guess you could say that it built character having everyone and their mother cancel on you.... happens a LOT. We have a baptismal date with Brianne. However, this past week she has been sick and so has not met with us or attended church. I don't want to be lacking faith in her, but part of me is actually wondering if she actually is as sick as she says she is or if she is just trying to avoid us. Hopefully we'll find out in this upcoming week!

So one thing that my companions and I are working on is becoming exactly obedient... even to the really small and seemingly insignificant things. One of the things we realized that we have not been doing is checking the tire pressure and oil when we get gas. So, we repented and said that every time we were going to get gas, we would do those things. So, this past week, we went to get gas and all of us hopped out of the car to do everything in a time efficient manner. Sister Wynn started filling up the car with gas, Sister Liebing started working on checking the oil, and I started working on checking all of the tires and their pressure. On the very last tire, my fingers were getting cold and a little numb, and as luck would have it, I dropped the little cap to the tire pressure inside the hub cap.... also known as the depths of no return. Basically, there was no getting it back. Sister Wynn became super concerned that the air in the tire would slowly start to leak out if we did not quickly find a cap for it. After scrounging around for a bit, we finally decided to take the cap off of the spare. Everything turned out fine, and turns out the cap on the tire doesn't do anything for keeping the air in! The whole situation was pretty great though. It was about 9 o'clock at night. Three girls in skirts, not really knowing what they were doing and attempting to figure things out.

One scripture that has really stuck with me this week has been Helaman 3:35. It says: " Nevertheless they did fast and pray oft, and did wax stronger and stronger in their humility and firmer and firmer in the faith of Christ, unto the filling their souls with joy and consolation, yea, even to the purifying and the sanctification of their hearts, which sanctification cometh because of their yielding their hearts unto God." I have been working on fasting more with a purpose and making my prayers more sincere and heart-felt. I know that the Lord is blessing me with opportunities to strengthen my faith in him. I am so grateful for my Savior and for the chance to teach other people about His wonderful gospel!

Thank you so much for all of your prayers for me!! I love you tons and am so grateful for all of you!!! You are great!!


Sister Spencer