Monday, April 28, 2014

And Life Continues!

Dear Family! 

Well, this past week has been great! We had Jared's baptism on Saturday and it went over super well. He had his mom, aunt, and one of his best friends come! We were able to talk to them at the baptism and his friend said that he might be interested in learning more! When Jared came up out of the water, he said: "Wow, that is great!" At the end of the baptismal service, Jared got up and shared his testimony with those that were there. It was really powerful, he talked about how he has come to know the church is true through reading the Book of Mormon and how much strength he has already gotten from the gospel. He said how he is 28 now, but has been searching through different religions for all of his life. And now, after searching for such a long time, he has finally found a religion that has been able to answer some of his big questions in life. It was really awesome to hear him say that and especially with his family and friends there. I'm hoping that we will be able to start working with them some more. I'll keep you updated on what happens with that. :D

On Saturday, before Jared's baptism, our ward was having a service project up at a local park. We went to that and it was super great! We were able to get 2 of our investigators there and I think that they really enjoyed it. In fact, it was kind of funny. One of our investigators, Don, called us up and asked us if we needed a ride there. We told him that we were good, but that one of the people we were working with did need a ride. So, our investigator gave our other investigator a ride to the service project! At the service project, we helped to stain a deck, picnic tables, move mulch to different places, and trim back some plants that had overgrown. It's been quite a while since I have been able to work outside like that and it was very stress-relieving for me! I think our investigators really liked going as well. It helped them to feel needed and realize that the church needs their help and the things that they can offer. 

The ward members in this area have been super great and supportive! Sister Neil and I have started taking some of our investigators and less-actives that we are working with to meal appointments. It helps so that the members know who we are working with and can ask about them, go up and say hi to them at church or whenever they see them, and offer some of their own insights. I've found that the members here are very eager to support us in our efforts of bringing people closer to Christ, but they don't always know how exactly they can help. Everyone that has had someone over to their house has really enjoyed it and has told us that we are always more than welcome to bring the people that we are working with over. I am very grateful for all of the love and support that we are receiving from them!

Every Wednesday, we go and do service at the Salvation Army helping to give food to the homeless and to those that are in need. It's super interesting to see the different people that come in and their attitudes. Some people come in with the attitude that they are entitled to the food and are absolutely frustrated that they have to wait 5 minutes in line for food, and other people are just so grateful that they get a meal. From serving them though, I have really come to realize that even though some people's attitudes aren't the best there, they are all children of God and he wants the best for them. It's amazing how service can change your view point towards people. The Salvation Army this past week invited us to an honorary dinner that they were providing to all those that worked with the Salvation Army. It was super cool, the dinner that they provided was tasted good, and it was a great way for us to get our name out there with what we do and such. We weren't able to get someone to teach from that, but it really did help people to see us and dispel some of the crazy rumors that go around about us. 

As May approaches, I have found that I have been getting a bit more anxious than normal for my VISA to come. I've been studying patience a lot in Preach my Gospel, but with studying patience, I feel like the Lord has given me even more opportunities to show my patience. Just about every single appointment that we have gone to this past week, people have asked me if I think that I am actually going to be going to Brasil, where my VISA, why it is taking so long, and all the other question that go along with this. It can definitely be a bit hard, but really, it has helped to strengthen my faith by saying it over and over again that the Lord has me where he wants me. I guess I figure that the Lord is all powerful, and if He wanted me in Brazil today, I would be in Brazil today. But I am not, so obviously, the Lord wants me in Tennessee. That really helps to give me more motivation to work hard, so that at the end of my mission, I can say that I worked hard during my entire mission, not just when I was in Brazil. I have no idea when my VISA will be coming, but I do hope that it comes soon.  

Well, I love ya'll so much!! Thanks for all that you do! 

Sister Spencer

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy Easter!!!

Dear Family, 

Hope ya'll had a very Happy Easter!!! 

Well this week has been so great! Sister Neil and I are being so very blessed in this area! I can truly say that Sister Neil and I are experiencing miracles in this area. This past Sunday, we had 3 investigators at church!!! Jared, Rocky, and Don all came. It was really great to see them there! Jared currently has a baptismal date for April 26th.... this coming Saturday! He is keeping all of his commitments, has stopped smoking and so he should be ready to be baptized on that date. He truly is awesome and prepared! We were teaching him earlier this week and he said a comment that really stuck out to me, he said: " I didn't know Jesus until I opened the Book of Mormon." I find it very inspiring how much time Jared has invested to know if the things that we are teaching him are true. Jared is super committed to the gospel and I have felt so honored to teach him. His countenance has changed since we first taught him. God is definitely a God of miracles! 

We have gotten Don to start reading and praying daily. He expressed how he expects to get some big, thunder bolt answer as to whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. We called him on Saturday night and invited him to come to all of church and he agreed! After church, we had a lesson with him and talked about the feelings from the spirit and how the spirit can teach us the truth to all things through different means and watched the Lamb of God video. I think it helped him out. I know that he felt the spirit really strongly in the lesson and during church. It should be really great to see where things go from here. :) 

I'm sure that you are all super happy to hear that there are no longer any teenagers in the family!!! I had a super great birthday! Sister Neil was super nice to me and took me out to dinner at this pizza place called Mellow Mushroom. It was super good, definitely a great way to celebrate the end of my teenage years. The Elders in this area were super nice as well, they made me a surprise cake! It was really sweet and we had a great time! Thanks so much for all of the Birthday wishes and everything! I felt very loved, and it was nice! 

Sister Neil and I had a pretty funny experience this past week. We went to go and see this lady named Betty. I don't even know where to start describing her. She's this old-ish lady who is partially blind. She says she can't see, but she definitely can see. When we got to her house, she had all of these signs up saying "God is real." "Believe in God." To get into her house, we passed through these two sheets hanging up, went past a creeper van, and then there she was. It was just weird. Anyways, we get in the house and start talking to her. She kept mentioning how the cops were watching her and told us that she had all of these pictures of cop cars watching the house. She showed us the pictures, and I don't think that she realized that there was a police station near her house... Anyways, the conversation moved on and she started talking about her neighbor who was a thief and a vagabond and to avoid her at all cost. It was just weird, we didn't take her too seriously or anything, but it was a bit creepy. When we were walking out to our car, after leaving her house, we see the neighbor that Betty was talking about.... and the lady was right by our car. As we pass by her, we greet her, tell her hi, and then keep going because she gave us no response. Once we got in the car, we sat there for a minute looking up which house was closest for us to go to next. I hear my companion gasp, so I scream as an instant reaction. Then, I look up, and there is the creepiest lady I have ever seen like 2 feet from my face. I shrieked at the top of my lungs. Turns out, the poor lady only wanted to know what time it was... but boy oh boy, she sure gave my heart a jump. I'm sure that you can imagine how Sister Neil and I were feeling now--aka nerves on edge. At the very next house that we went to, we were walking up to the door, and from behind us, we hear this super deep man's voice say "Ain't nobody live tharr." Because of the previous events and the condition of our nerves, my companion and I both shrieked because he had surprised us so much. Poor guy. I think he was just about as freaked out as we were at that point! It made for a good laugh for Sister Neil and I in the car. 

One really cool experience that happened this past week was when we had about 15 minutes before we were supposed to go in for the night. One of our appointments had cancelled on us, so we were left with this awkward time gap. Sister Neil and I decided to go and see one of the less-actives in the ward that we had not met before--Jason G. Both Sister Neil and I felt strongly like we should go there. We get to the house and it looked like a house from Jumangi. There was cutsu (sp? [kudzu] Weird ivy plant that over powers everything!) all over the place, part of the porch was caved in, and the house was not very well kept up to put it nicely. Nonetheless, we went up and knocked regardless. Nothing happened, no one was there, and at this point it was time for us to go home, so we did. What was cool though was that when our District Leader called us at night, he asked us if we knew anything about a person named Jason G. We told him how we had tried to go and see him that very night. Anyways, our District Leader told us how he had gone to see that very person earlier that day. It wasn't super big, but it was a great reminder to me that this truly is the Lord's work and that he is in charge! 

I am so grateful for this Easter Season that we have been able to have! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer and that he came to this Earth, lived a perfect life, and atoned for our sins all because He loved us. I also know that Jesus Christ lives today and guides this church. He wants us to succeed in this life and follow the commandments because they will bring us the most happiness in this life. 


Sister Spencer

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Sister Spencer's Birthday Week! Send her mail! :D ~Tara

Dear Family! 

Well this week has been very good! Our investigators are progressing quite nicely and have been improving quite a bit. We are truly seeing so many miracles in this area and I feel so special to be a part of it! 

This past week we taught Jared the Plan of Salvation and the Word of Wisdom. Wowee, I don't even know what to say about Jared. He is just on fire. When we taught him the Plan of Salvation, he kept making comments about how loving and kind God is and how it just made sense. We would ask him a question that would lead into the next point that we were going to teach and he would just answer the question and explain the next point to us! He is also doing really well with the Word of Wisdom! He committed to stop smoking. He is still working on it, but he truly is showing a real desire and it truly is amazing! 

We have started to teach a new family--the Looneys. They have a friend who is out on a mission who referred them to us. The Looneys are doing super well. When we went over this past week we just answered some of their questions and introduced the Book of Mormon. They are truly prepared to hear the gospel... so open! It's great!! We have another time set up to go and see them this week to teach the message of the Restoration. I am super excited and think that they have a LOT of potential! 

Another person that we have started to re-teach is a gal named Tami. For past missionaries, she has been an eternigator (eternal investigator). Since I am fairly new in the area and my companion has not taught her before, we decided to go and teach her the lessons all over again. We taught her the Restoration this past week and it was sooo great! She made a comment in the lesson that really stuck out to me. She said "You know, the more I hear the Restoration, the more it just makes sense!" We tried to commit her for baptism on May 3rd, but her husband is getting a hip replacement the week before so she won't be able to do it. This week she should be praying about a baptismal date that feels good for her! So excited to see where things go with her!!! 

We've been doing a ton of work in this area re-activating some of the less-actives. There are so many tender mercies on a daily basis that my companion and I see. It is awesome! 

My poor, poor companion has been so incredibly patient with me this past week. I guess that I have started to get some real crazy sleeping habits. :P Everyday this past week I have woken up my companion either because I have been sleep talking so much or just thinking it is time to get up. One night, apparently I woke up around 1 in the morning and thought it was time to get up so I sat up in bed and turned on the lamp that was right next to me. The light on woke my companion up so she watched me for a minute in bed and then finally asked me "Why is the light on?" Her speaking to me must have woken me up. I looked at my watch, realized it was 1 in the morning and so I looked at her and said: "I don't have the faintest idea!" We both went back to sleep after that. I keep apologizing to Sister Neil about it. She is very good natured and always just says it is funny for her. Really though, now I'm not as surprised as to why I am sooo tired when I wake up in the morning!! Even at night I am still talking and teaching points of the gospel! 

This past week I had the chance to watch this mormon message. If you have time, I would highly recommend ya'll to watch it:
I know that God truly is our loving Heavenly Father. We all make mistakes and do things that he would rather us not, but despite all of that, he will never abandon us in times of trial. As we put our faith and trust in God, and put him first, he will truly help us to come out on top in life. I know that God wants us to succeed, and most of all, that God loves us much, much more than we can comprehend!! 

Sister Spencer

Monday, April 7, 2014

And the work continues!

Dear Family!! 

Wowwee!!! This has been SUCH a great week!! I feel so honored and blessed to be a servant of the Lord. There are truly miracles that are happening here! Jared is progressing very well. We got all of his misunderstandings resloved... primarily that we get paid to be missionaries, and have had some absolutely awesome lessons with him. We taught him the Message of the Restoration this week.When we went into the lesson, he presented us with 3 pages of notes that he had written on the reading he had given us before. It was pretty legit. At the end of our lesson, we invited him to be baptized onApril 26th. He accepted. He told us: "I just know this gospel is true. When I look in your eyes I can tell that you know that it is true. And then, when I read the Book of Mormon, I feel different. I feel good. I just know it is true!" It was super cool to be a part of that. And then, on top of ALL of that, he attended ALL of the sessions of general conference, including the priesthood session, and has started to attend the YSA activities. It is very inspiring for me to see how much he is changing his life and how enthusiastic he is about the gospel. He left us a voicemail this week and he started off the voicemail by saying: "Hey soul sisters!" It gave my companion and I quite a laugh. Jared is great.... and yes, he still does remind me of Napoleon Dynamite. 

There's another girl that we are starting to work with. Her name is Toby and she is 9 years old. She wants to get baptized on April 19th, but we might have to have her push it back a week because she is having two parties on that same day. It's super cool to work with her! She seems a bit shy, but I think she will open up to us more as we come over more and more. I feel so humbled to come in this area and help all of these people prepare for baptism. This truly is the Lord's work!! 

Don is also progressing quite nicely. He came to one of the sessions of conference and has been looking up previous sessions of conference on the computer. I feel like he knows the gospel is true, but that he just doesn't realize it himself yet. We are still working with him to recognize his answers to prayers. 

Also, we are starting to help one of the members of the congregation come back. His name is Hunter. He wants to prepare to go on a mission. We have started to re-teach him the lessons and he has a ton of great questions! It's super great to work with everyone here!! 

Well, my poor companion this week has found out that I have weird sleeping habits. I've been talking in my sleep a lot and apparently it has been waking her up a little bit. There was one night though where I woke up in the middle of the night because I thought it was time to get up. I looked at Sister Neil, and she did not move. The first and only thought that went through my head was that she had died. I was mortified. I did not know what to do so for a good 15 seconds I just stood there and watched her with wide eyes. I did not want to touch her or anything and I was debating on if I should call anyone or turn on the light to see if she looked white or anything. Well, thank goodness for me and my companion, I had apparently been talking before I got up and that had woken my companion up. She was watching me look at her and finally, after that awkward 15 seconds for her, she just said: "Sister Spencer, it's two in the morning." Immediately, the biggest feeling of relief swept over me. And then I realized how it was sort of awkward that I had been there watching her so I crawled into my bed under the covers and went back to sleep. 

What a great week and session of conference!! [link to General Conference here] Two of the talks that really stood out to me where President Uchtdorf's and President Monson's. In President Uchtdorf's talk, a few of the highlights that stood out to me was that he mentioned how being grateful can take away our sorrow. We shouldn't be grateful just during the good times of our life, but also during the hard times as well. Being grateful in our circumstances is an act of faith and shows our love for God. And then, when we strive to develop our gratitude, we can more fully develop all of the other Christ-like characteristics that we want to develop. I have being working more on trying to develop Christ like characteristics and I feel like that was one of the personal answers of how I can further develop the specific characteristics I am working on. In President Monson's talk, the whole theme of love really stood out to me. I really liked how he said that actual love is the very essence of the gospel. One poem that he said was: "I have never yet felt the twinge of regret for being too kind." We meet a lot of people on the mission, and all of them are going through some sort of battle and hardship. Without fail, all of them could use just a little more kindness in their lives. President Monson mentioned how love and forgiveness go hand in hand. Forgiveness allows us to heal. 

Well, I was going to send pictures this week, but I forgot my camera. So maybe next week. I love you all and am so grateful for all that you do for me!! You are great and I love you so much!! Have a great week! 

Much love, 

Sister Beth Spencer