Days Never to be Forgotten; also “You Just Need to Know How to Make a Good Meal Calendar”

This has been one of the best and most memorable weeks of my life.  We are now a trio!! Sister Woodward, from Orem, Utah, arrived in Minnesota fresh from the MTC Wednesday, and joined Sister Luk and me in Rochester! We are having a great time together.  Trios are so much fun!!  And things are going GREAT.  I wish I could do a better job of telling about all the awesome people we are teaching — I feel like I don’t have enough time to tell everything about them all, and also I try to be careful to not include names or personal details in these group letters; I’ve thought of making up pseudonyms, but I think I would just confuse myself and lose track of them all.  But I’ll tell a few highlights of the people we taught this week.  One lady who is fairly busy and hasn’t been able to meet with us very regularly texted us out of the blue on Saturday to ask if it would be all right if she came to church — YES!!! Sister Luk and I cheered and whooped and jumped around the room and had to try and explain to Sister Woodward why we were so excited.  She did come to church, and so did several other people we’ve been teaching, as well as a few friends of members! It was a great Sunday! Well, it was stressful, too, because we were teaching both Gospel Principles class and Young Women’s — welcome to Sundays as a missionary, Sister Woodward!  (Sister Woodward did a fantastic job — she is wonderful!) Last night we had an awesome lesson with one of our Chinese friends, one of our favorite people in this area, and he is praying about being baptized.  He is awesome. We’ve taught him Law of Chastity, Word of Wisdom, even fasting — and he has no problem with anything.  He even comes up with some supportive insight from a doctor’s perspective (because he’s a doctor) as to why such-and-such commandment would actually be quite beneficial.  He just needs to feel and recognize what steps God wants him to take in his life, because we don’t want anyone to do something just to please us.  Except maybe get baptized.  Just kidding — especially get baptized!  I do really, really hope he will be baptized before . . . well . . . before my time here is up.  This is it — the final inning! Gotta make the absolute most of it! 

Poor Sister Woodward — she probably got about two or three hours of sleep Tuesday night before she came here, and she was so tired!  We decided, given the circumstances, it would probably be good to schedule a nap.  We did put it in our plans, but it never happened. We’ve just been so busy!  Sister Luk and I hope she doesn’t have a rough time when someday she gets transferred to a new area that doesn’t have more people to teach than we have time for and doesn’t have meals with members scheduled every single night.  Well, actually, this week was kind of strange. We had quite a few people cancel dinner — I think maybe they were just overly excited to put their names on the beach ball.  So the ward mission leader’s wife took us out to Texas Roadhouse one night, Bishop’s family had us over another night and sent us home with a bunch of leftovers, and now we keep hearing that the ward was rebuked by Bishop in the third hour of church yesterday (while we were with the young women) for the travesty of not doing their job of taking care of us.  One sweet sister called us today and said she had groceries for us — bags and bags of fresh fruit and vegetables!!! And a bag of M&M’s. 😉 Really, this ward is incredible.  Throughout my mission, I’ve been so amazed at how much people do for missionaries.  At the end of our young women’s lesson, we had a little missionary Q&A.  One cute young woman asked if there were any skills we recommended developing to prepare for a mission, such as cooking or sewing.  Sister Luk quickly responded, “You just need to know how to make a good meal calendar.” 

Our lives are so perfect right now.  🙂 We are so blessed.  I hope I do not sound flippant in talking about how well things are going in our area – I know that success is a gift from God.  Sometimes missionaries go through really trying periods, and I am just really happy that that doesn’t seem to be what Heavenly Father thinks we need right now.  I will keep praying that things continue to go so well — unless he has something greater in mind. 🙂 But things are pretty great! 

So now that you know how things are going right now, I need to tell just a little bit about Tuesday and Wednesday — truly, some of the greatest experiences of my life.  Since I am going home a week early and will not have the opportunity to take part in the traditional departing missionary activities the day before I go home, I got to take part in those events with the missionaries who just went home this past transfer.  It was a big group of departing missionaries, many of whom I’ve gotten to work with closely at different times in my mission and who I respect and appreciate a lot. There were a couple others, like me, who, instead of going home, would be going back to missionary work for just a few more weeks.  We all met in Bloomington Tuesday morning.  We had classes on education and dating and watched Elder Holland’s talk, “Of Souls, Symbols, and Sacraments.”  Then we got to go to the temple.  We had was an entire session full of missionaries, including President and Sister Barney (it was their first time in the St. Paul temple). I cannot really convey in an email what that experience was like, or what it was like to gather back at the mission home, and, after an excellent dinner, have a testimony meeting and hear the testimonies of men and women who have just spent two years or 18 months in full-time service of the Lord, having gone through challenges and grown in many ways and shared experiences that no one else would probably really be able to understand.  The spirit present in that room, and the love and gratitude I felt, were palpable.  I feel a little like the Book of Mormon writers who said that that no tongue can speak, neither can words be written to describe their experiences. 

The next day, the departing missionaries loaded up their suitcases and themselves and pulled out to head to the airport.  A few hours later, since Sister Luk and I are training, we got to meet the new missionaries that had just flown into Minnesota.  It was a super surreal experience to be a part of both ends of mission life within the same day. I am so grateful for these experiences. 

I am so grateful to have the experience of serving a mission.  I know I will look back on this period of my life as a sacred time in which I have experienced God’s power and felt His Spirit and have come to gain a greater testimony that this is His work.

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Begin Last Transfer of the Golden Companionship

Sister Luk and I performed a musical number in Sacrament meeting yesterday.  We were practicing all week and inviting as many people as possible to come hear our number — definitely getting full leverage from the event.  🙂 We actually did have a good number of people who came to church, including one family who we have been inviting the whole time I’ve been here, and yesterday they finally came!!  It was a pretty neat number.  The ward council had talked about how it would be nice to have more musical numbers; Sister Luk and I figured this was something we could help with (and hopefully win the hearts of the ward members even more!), so we told Bishop we could do something.  Bishop asked if we could do a song about pioneers, since we would be doing the number the day before Pioneer Day.  What on earth is a musical-number-worthy song about pioneers?? I mean, we could sing about the oh-how-slow oxcart or the little pioneer children who sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. (I do love those songs, though.)  Luckily, I thought of a song that is on a CD Megan sent me about a year ago with random songs from her mission.  We didn’t even know the name of it, but some members looked it up — “Prayer of the Walking Child” — and Bishop approved it and downloaded the music for us.  There is an optional violin part in the music, as well as the potential to have a small children’s chorus sing “Come, Come Ye Saints” in the background of the last verse.  We actually got some parents who were willing to have their kids come practice with us, and it turns out, our Elders Quorum president plays the violin! He is in his residency, and he told us he was on call Sunday, but he could play with us if he was there. (When we got his text, Sister Luk said, “The men in this ward are so unreliable!”)  Our prayers were answered, and we had the violin and the kids and everything we hoped for on Sunday.  I think it turned out pretty well. 🙂

We also passed out our new meal calendar yesterday.  We had to somehow top the beach ball we used last month, and, since August is my last month, we wanted it to be good.  I’ll send pictures — we put maybe too much effort in this time.  As we were staying up later than we should have to finish Saturday night, Sister Luk said we probably put the most effort into our meal calendars of any missionaries in the world.  I asked Sister Luk what her parents would think of our ridiculous meal calendar.  She said that they would probably feel so bad that they are paying so much money to support their daughter on her mission so she could have great spiritual experiences, and she’s wasting her time making a meal calendar. 🙂 So I’ve corrupted my companion and am crushing the hopes and aspirations of some poor family in Hong Kong.  The ward liked it, though.  In Ward Council, Bishop asked if anyone had ever done anything like that on heir missions.  A counselor said, “One time we printed our meal calendar on blue paper instead of white.”  As we were making it, we were really hoping we wouldn’t get transferred – transfers are this week, and the calendar is pretty personalized, so that could be potentially awkward.  The ward council expressed their hopes that we wouldn’t get transferred, either.  Someone called us the “golden companionship.” Probably because Sister Luk is Asian. 

Last Monday, one of the people we’re teaching from China invited us to play tennis with him. (He knew Monday was the day we have “off” missionary work.  It was pretty fun.  The three of us kept rotating.  Well, actually, Sister Luk and our Chinese friend kept rotating, because I kept winning.  I’m really not good at tennis.  At first, the friend said that I would win if I got 5 points before he got 10.  I won.  The second time we played, he said I’d need 7 points before he got 10 to win.  I won again.  Finally he said we both needed 10 points to win.  I won again.  They decided Americans are better at tennis than Chinese.  I think that’s racist. (I tease Sister Luk about being racist all the time.  It seems to me that Americans are a lot more concerned about not being racist than people from other countries.). Yesterday at church, this friend saw our meal calendar — “You have people to feed you dinner every night?!” Yep. Hopefully his impression of us as benevolent, self-sacrificing missionaries hasn’t been totally crushed by the realization that we are so spoiled.  We pretty much have the best gig out there.  As I saw on a poster once, “This isn’t missionary work — its missionary fun!” Haha!  

We had some really good experiences this week as we reached out to some less active ward members from a list Bishop had given us.  One man was living in an adult foster home.  I had never met him before.  We stopped by, and he seemed really happy to see us.  He said he had been wanting to come to church, but the elders had been coming a while ago, and for some reason he told them to stop coming, and he didn’t know how to reach them.  He said he prays every night.  Before we left, he reminded us multiple times to get a ride for him to come to church, which we assured him we would!  He came and we sat by him during Sacrament meeting.  “You know, you can come visit me any time you want,” he whispered to us not-so-quietly during the Sacrament. 🙂

Once a week, we’re supposed to have an evening scheduled for visits with the ward council.  This past week happened to be the bishopric’s week to go out with us.  They had scheduled to visit a super cute little family who just moved into the ward.  While we were there, the Elders Quorum presidency showed up!  They joked that the Relief Society would come, too, but then realized that the Relief Society had probably already visited, which was true.  This ward is on the ball! 🙂

We had some really hot, humid days this week. We also had some good rain and lightning, and a tornado warning.  Before one teaching appointment, the guy we were going to teach texted us to say it looked like it was going to rain.  We usually talk with him outside, so maybe he was implying we should reschedule.  We went anyway and just made it through as much of the Plan of Salvation as we could before raindrops started to fall, trying to ignore the the beeping tornado warnings from his phone.  Then we hurried back to our car and stopped by someone who we could visit with indoors.  Much to Sister Luk’s chagrin, we still got drenched just running from our car to the door.  “I hate raining!! I hate it so much!” — a common declaration from Sister Luk. Sister Luk also hates being out in the sun.  She does NOT want to get tan.  She told me that people in Hong Kong often carry little umbrellas around on sunny days.  And sometimes little tiny fans when it’s hot.  🙂 I love hearing about interesting little cultural things about China or Hong Kong from Sister Luk. 

Well, the transfer board just came out! This morning as we left our apartment, Sister Luk said, “I don’t really understand why we have to have transfer.” 

“What do you think we should do?” I asked. 

“Just don’t drive to Bloomington. Just stay in our apartment.” 

But it’s all okay — we’re both staying, and the transfer board says Sister Luk will be a trainer, which means we will be in a trio with a new sister fresh from the MTC! I’m really excited — I’ve never gotten to train on my mission; I wanted to stay with Sister Luk, but it looks like we’re getting to stay together and get to train too! :). Don’t worry, I think we’ll be able to incorporate he new sister into the August meal calendar. 🙂

This will be my last transfer.  I started MyPlan this week and got to reflect a little on some of things I’ve learned and gained thus far on my mission.  I am so grateful for this opportunity.  It will be interesting to see how the world has changed when I come home — I’ve become aware that since I left, the “dab” is a thing, everyone loves Moana, the Star Wars movie chronology has become even more confusing, and fidget spinners are in.  It will be funny to see what else has changed.  (Although, honestly, I don’t usually know much about what’s going on in the world anyway.)  I do feel like I have changed.  One of the things I’ve been thinking about lately is how really, this gospel is all about change.  It’s about realizing that Heavenly Father has a plan for us to progress, and having faith that through Jesus Christ’s Atonement, we can truly let go of the things in our life that are holding us back from that progression and become new.  It’s about how our hearts can be changed, more converted, as we repent every day.  I was reading an article from Elder Ballard this morning — I love the way Elder Ballard talks about goals and personal improvement.  This particular article is from the June 1983 Ensign magazine; it’s called “Do Things That Make A Difference.” (It’s an especially great article for young adults!)  In the article, there is a sentence that says, “Beginning today, stop doing some one thing you know you should not do.”  I thought about this, and at first I thought about little ways that I could be more exactly obedient to the missionary schedule or missionary rules, but as I said a little prayer to maybe think of something that Heavenly Father would have me change, I thought of something that I could do differently in the way I sometimes interact with others.  I know that the Lord can teach us through the Spirit how He wants us to change, and as we seek His correction and turn to the Savior, we truly can become better, as Ether 12:27 teaches.  I invite you to take Elder Ballard’s invitation and write down one thing you can do differently, beginning today.  🙂

Have a great week!! 

Mom, good luck with Girls Camp!  (And, to everyone else in the family, good luck making it through this week!) 🙂

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Crowbars, Scurvy, and a Freshly-Waxed Car

Here are a few of the fun things that happened this week: Sister Robinson took us out to eat last p-day and let us come over and do laundry and play with little Zoey, who is one of Sister Luk’s very favorite little kids. (Sister Luk LOVES kids — she always gives them her cute Chinese stickers before we leave.)  Sister Luk had her first experience using a crow bar as we helped someone tear up some sub flooring — she said it was “super fun” — like the lawn mower. 🙂  We had a Relief Society activity this Thursday.  I was a little bit confused about it at first — it sounded like we were just going on a walk.  But we met at the church together to start, and we had a neat little spiritual thought on pioneers, so then the walk made a little more sense.  It was really fun to walk and talk with the women in the ward — I love these ladies!  

There’s a lady we’ve been visiting who has lots of hard things to overcome.  We invited her to read 2 Nephi 2 from The Book of Mormon and watch the talk Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders Among You.  When we came back, she had inspirational quoted posted around her house inspired by the talk, and she had read the entire chapter and had pages of notes and insights.  She said, “I hope it’s okay, I sort of put myself in these promises and applied it to me.”  Yes!! That’s exactly what we are supposed to do with scriptures–“liken” them to ourselves!! (1 Ne. 19:23)  We shared with her one of my favorite quotes by President Benson, which I have a strong testimony of:

“It is not just that the Book of Mormon teaches us truth, though it indeed does that. It is not just that the Book of Mormon bears testimony of Christ, though it indeed does that, too. But there is something more. There is a power in the book which will begin to flow into your lives the moment you begin a serious study of the book. You will find greater power to resist temptation. You will find the power to avoid deception. You will find the power to stay on the strait and narrow path. The scriptures are called ‘the words of life’ (D&C 84:85), and nowhere is that more true than it is of the Book of Mormon. When you begin to hunger and thirst after those words, you will find life in greater and greater abundance.”

This woman said she’s already seen aspects of this promise be true in her life. 🙂 

We had exchanges this week.  I stayed in our area and Sister Luk went to the Roch 3 Hermana’s area.  That ended up being a tiny bit problematic, because we got an email from a Chinese mom who wanted  to take her son to the 11-year-old scout activity at the church.  Right now, she has her mom and a friend staying with her from China who speak no English.  So we went to her house– yeah!  of course!  you can totally come! we’re so excited! And then got back in our car, and, as she drove behind us, following us to the church, we panicked, trying to call everyone we knew who speaks Chinese because the two women who speak only Chinese were coming to the church, too, and we wanted to be able to talk to them and give them a tour of the building.  As we’re frantically trying to call people (our list of Chinese speakers really isn’t very long), and I’m trying to drive and not lose the Chinese family following me, we totally got lost and took a super long, weird way to the building.  It was crazy.  When we got there, Brother Ebert, the 11-year-old scout leader (who we’d texted about the situation) was waiting in the foyer with Wesley, the only other 11-year-old scout who came that day.  That day, the scouts were working on a public speaking merit badge, and Wesley had prepared a presentation on scurvy.  (Yes, he chose his own topic.) So we sat and listened to the scurvy speech — it was hilarious — and then Brother Ebert found out that ZiQi, the Chinese boy, likes basketball, and we played some lightning.  Probably the highlight of the whole crazy situation was one of the cute Chinese ladies coming into the gym, all dressed up, and shooting the basketball.  

We are super excited that a Chinese man and a woman who served her mission in Taiwan recently moved into our ward — we invited them to joint teach with us this week, and they are awesome!! 

Sunday (yesterday) was pretty fantastic — we had nine investigators come to sacrament meeting — including the Chinese family from the crazy exchange day!  Poor Sister Luk was struggling to try and translate the meeting from English to Mandarin — neither one of which is her native language (Cantonese). We also went out to the Kasson branch, where we’d been asked to speak.  That was the most unprepared I’ve ever been for a Sacrament meeting talk, but we were supposed to speak on repentance, which is something we think and talk and teach about a lot, so I guess we were prepared with things we’ve been thinking about throughout our missions (and lives).  One of the things that I’ve learned about repentance recently is that it is really synonymous with conversion.  In my talk, I talked a little about the role the Sacrament plays in repentance.  There is a fantastic talk I read this week on the Sacrament.  It’s called “This Do in Remembrance of Me,” by Elder Holland in a 1995 Conference address.  There is a Mormon Message based on that talk that is one of my favorites — you should definitely watch it.  It will help you appreciate and understand the significance of the Sacrament even more!  It’s called Always Remember Him

We just got done waxing our cars.  The zone leaders made us do it.  We were pretty salty about it, but the zone leaders did buy the wax and help us, and in their defense, they were just trying to avoid the wrath of the new vehicle coordinator who apparently has been coming down hard on these things.  (I’m pretty sure no one in the mission has hand-waxed one of the mission cars before — that’s okay, we’re repenting now!)  It wasn’t so bad. 

Love you!  Hope you have a great week at the Hansen reunion!!

p.s. Sister Luk and I are doing a musical number in Sacrament meeting next week — the day before Pioneer Day!  We’re really excited.  Our song is called Prayer of the Walking Child, and it’s beautiful.  🙂

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Our Life Is So Perfect :)

It seems like this was a pretty short week with the p-day swap.  Probably the most notable thing that happened this week was that we had interviews with President Barney.  It’s interesting to see how he does things a little different from President Forbes.  It was a really neat experience.  We had an opening prayer and knelt together for a closing prayer.  I definitely felt the Spirit.  

Have you seen the new Ask of God video?  Well, it’s not that new–it came out a few months ago, but it’s a newer video depiction of Joseph Smith’s first vision and it’s a little different because it draws upon some of the accounts of that event that a lot of us are less familiar with. One thing that I really like from this video is that it includes some of the things Jesus Christ said to Joseph Smith.  Another thing that I like is, as the vision has just ended, Joseph stands, and his voice in narration says, “I was filled with love.”  I’ve thought about that line this week.  Galatians 5:22-23 talks about the “fruit of the Spirit” and mentions love, joy, peace, among other things.  I’ve noticed a few times after an experience which did help me feel the Spirit and feel my Heavenly Father’s love, such as an interview with the mission president or a session in the temple, I do come out feeling happy and, well, more full of love for the people around me.  I think that’s pretty neat.  I like that phrase, “full of love,” and my experience has shown me that experiences which bring us closer to the Spirit can help us feel more “full of love.” 

Speaking of love, I LOVE this ward!  It’s so great!  We were invited to teach the Young Women on Wednesday night about teaching, which was fun.  The primary classes must have had lessons on missionary work yesterday, because we were invited to come talk to the four-year-olds about preparing to be a missionary, and another little class all drew us pictures! So cute!

Our ward mission leader is out of town for a few months, so we had a new assistant ward mission leader called.  Brother Pettita is great! He and his wife are only here for the summer.  They had us over for dinner in their super tiny apartment and after we left, an investigator texted and asked if we could meet–we knew he’d probably appreciate meeting a new friend, so we went back and asked the Pettitas if they wanted to come, and they did! So we had a great lesson with him and they were able to give him a ride to church yesterday.

We have great things going on here! One of the people we’re most excited about comes to church faithfully every week. Yesterday Sister Luk and I taught Sunday School, and, since we knew he’d be there, we planned to teach about the Word of Wisdom — commandments that relate to our physical health including eating healthy foods, getting enough sleep, and abstaining from alcohol, tobacco, coffee, tea, and harmful or addictive drugs.  This particular individual hadn’t been taught about that yet, but the class went super well, and he even made a comment about how he notices people drink coffee and tea when they are really tired and their body is probably trying to signal that they need more sleep.  He added that he doesn’t drink coffee or tea.  We know he has been thinking about being baptized, and he would need to be living the Word of Wisdom to be baptized.  After that class, we figure he is basically set . . . Unless he has a secret Law of Chastity problem we don’t know about — we’ll have to bring that up. 🙂  He is so awesome!!

Well, that’s about what I have to say for this week! Time is going by so fast! Our ward feeds us pretty much every day (“so yum!” – Sister Luk), Sister Luk had her first experience picking blackberries and using a lawn mower this week (“so fun!”), and we get to see fireflies pretty much every night!  And share the gospel of Jesus Christ every day.  President Forbes pointed out once that there are two groups of people whose lives are dedicated to the gospel full-time: the General Authorities and the missionaries!! It’s pretty cool to be in that category right now. 🙂 As Sister Luk says, “Our life is so perfect!” 

Love you! Have a great week!  And HAPPY BIRTHDAY HANS AND SARIANNE!!!!  

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Happy 4th of July!! / God’s Fireflies

Happy 4th of July!!

We got to switch our p-day to today!! I think Sister Luk was a little less-than-excited about a whole holiday to celebrate America, but it’s been a GREAT introduction to the 4th of July — the zone leaders texted us to tell us to come to their ward’s breakfast party this morning, then we went to the Fourth Ward’s bishop’s house for a big shindig in the afternoon, and then one of our ward members had us over for a party this evening.  It’s been a super fun day! 🙂

Sister Luk hates bugs, but I think she’s developed at least an interest in fireflies.  🙂 She got a bottle to put some in — I told her she needed to poke holes so they could breathe — and then I had to catch some fireflies for her bottle.  

“You can’t kill them, though.” I told her.

“I’m not going to kill them. I’m just going to keep them,” she said.

“For how long?”

“Until they die.”

“Sister Luk! If you keep them in that little bottle with no food until they die, I think you’re killing them!!”

She suddenly looked a little concerned — “Do you think they eat rice?” 

The white handbook says that we are not allowed to keep pets of any kind.  We were not strictly within the handbook guidelines for a few days.  But don’t worry, we finally let Beebee and Doodoo go free (yes, Sister Luk named them).

Monday evening our scheduled appointment fell through.  We thought we’d stop by a part-member family I’d never met, and a lady we’d been visiting who we hadn’t been able to reach all week.  We stopped by the part-member family first.  No answer.  And there didn’t really seem to be much for us to do in that neighborhood, except that there was a cute chalkboard that caught my eye on the cub across the street — someone had set out some “free” items — a bookshelf, a little desk, and this super cute chalkboard which I thought would be great in our apartment — we could put our weekly goals on it!  So then we stopped by this lady, and she was actually home! We found out some of the things that had been going on that had kind of been keeping her from answering us.  We told her we’d love to help her.  “You know what would really help,” she said, “and I feel kind of funny asking this, but I really need a bookshelf. And a desk.”  We told her we’d be right back! Thankfully, the bookshelf and desk were still on that curbside, and we were able to fit them in our car and drive back to the lady’s house.  They were perfect!  “You know,” told us, “I was thinking, you guys are like God’s fireflies.  You go out and bring light to the world.” God’s fireflies.  I like that. 🙂

A few highlights from this week: a family in our ward had us over for dinner and invited a Chinese family! Yay!! And after dinner they had us all go play kickball in the yard.  The Chinese family thought that was really a hoot.  🙂  We had a couple really great lessons with our most progressing investigator.  In one lesson, we talked a little about our Heavenly Father’s plan for our salvation and read some scriptures about how we need to have faith and repent and be baptized to someday obtain eternal life.  In one of the best moments in the life of a missionary, this investigator looked up and, in complete sincerity, asked, “How do I repent?”  THAT is probably the most rewarding teaching moment I could hope for.  Another notable moment this week came when we stopped by a guy we’d seen a few times before, just at his door.  It was always a bad time, but he kept saying we could come back.  I didn’t really think he was that interested in talking to us, but when we went over he came over to meet us and said he’d been wondering when we’d come by again.  “I looked at your website, and I’ve been reading your blog.” WHAT?! That took a couple seconds to register.  I’d known Melia has been posting my emails to a blog — sisterwinters.blogspot.com.  I had hoped the blog could maybe be an extension of my missionary work in some way.  I just was not expecting to hear that someone had actually googled “Sister Winters Latter-day Saint” after we’d handed him a pass-along card, and had been reading my blog! So he’s probably going to read this — haha!! 😀

One of the most significant things that happened this week was that the Forbes went home, and we got to meet our new mission President and his wife: the Barneys!! They had a “meet-the-president” on Saturday and they told us all about themselves.  They’re a super cute, grandparent-type couple.  Super smiley and loving.  That evening we had dinner scheduled with the Thomases.  We had a couple of investigators coming.  President Thomas, who is in the mission presidency, texted us to let us know that the Barneys would also be coming to dinner.  We figured we should maybe try and plan a good lesson. It actually turned out pretty great.  Sister Thomas said that when we left, President Barney said we were really good missionaries, and Sister Thomas told him we are a great team.  😉 (Hopefully now neither of us will get transferred!)

Quote of the week: When I travel to Rochester, I always go to Flapdoodles, and while I’m there I bop into the world renowned medical facility for my annual physical.  We went to Flapdoodles for Sister Luk’s year mark on Thursday, and we’re heading there again to celebrate with the other Rochester missionaries!

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Goodbye to the Forbes!

The weeks go by so fast!  But when I look back at what we did that I remember to write about, I think, “that was all this week?!”  For me, the highlight of the week was zone conference.  Rochester is like Duluth, far removed from other zones, so we have our zone conference by ourselves (the city zones usually have combined zone conferences).  This was our last zone conference with President and Sister Forbes — they shared their final testimonies along with the other missionaries who will be concluding their missions at the end of the transfer.  And it was our last time to see President and Sister Forbes.  It’s kind of silly, but I was kind of on the verge of tears off and on throughout the conference, and I’m not sure if it was the spirit or just feelings about the Forbes leaving that were trying to leak out of my eyes.  I love the Forbes.  I think I’ve said this before, but they’re not at all what I was expecting in a mission president/mission president’s wife.  They are really not intimidating.  They’re super humble and kind of quirky.  And you can tell they love the gospel and they love their missionaries.  They know us.  They know about us.  President Forbes has often said that he thinks about each one of us every day.  We love them and will miss them a lot.  After zone conference ended, we were supposed to go outside and put some kind of grease on our bike racks to keep them from rusting, and of course President Forbes specified that the elders should help the sisters with this — he’s very chivalrous. I feel kind of bad about this, because I’m pretty sure my hand-me-down skirt is a lot more replaceable that the elder’s suits.  In fact, as I was holding our bike rack, President came over with a container of grease and got down on the pavement and was greasing my bike rack.  And soon Sister Forbes was right there, fretting that he was getting grease on his tie. “I like that one!”  That was such a classic Forbes moment.  I hear they have a pretty cool playhouse for the grandkids at their home in Colorado.  They have been informed that they might look out one evening and find that a bunch of missionaries have come to visit and are staying in the playhouse. 

Some other cool or notable things from this week: 

Rongjing, a woman who was baptized about a year ago when she was here doing research at Mayo, was visiting this week from China!  She is a gem.  Super sweet, and in her one busy week–she was here to finish up some research–she helped joint teach several of the Chinese investigators we’re working with right now.  And she bought us dinner. 🙂  She’s the kind of person who you just meet, and you feel like you want to keep in touch with for the rest of your life.  

We also had a neat lesson with a girl we met at the post office a couple weeks ago.  We just started talking with this girl, and she was super friendly and seemed eager to see us again, and we met with her and found out that she is going through a really hard time right now.  It’s amazing how Heavenly Father knows where his children are, what they are going through, and somehow missionaries can come in contact with people in seemingly random situations and not have any idea of what that individual is going through.  

Friday was a little stressful — we’d scheduled too many appointments in just too short of time!!  We were already running late, and we were going to visit someone who had made it sound like she really didn’t have much time for us to visit her, so we’d only scheduled her for a half hour.  I was worried, because she lives in a lock-out apartment, and although we’d made an appointment, I wasn’t quite sure how we’d get in.  Somehow, as we rushed to the door, it was unlocked — HUGE tender mercy!! Sister Luk has tried unsuccessfully to get into that building many times before.  I don’t think that door is ever just unlocked.  But this time, it was!  However, when we got to her apartment, we had a huge problem:  she’d prepared this whole dinner for us, complete with candles on the table and instrumental music in the background . . . and we had no time! Not to mention we’d just eaten dinner! So we tried to eat and visit as quickly and politely as possible and leave as soon as we could without being totally rude . . . and we were SUPER late for our last appointment.  That was a rough night.  

Strangely, I was super sick yesterday.  I don’t remember ever being too sick to go to church, but . . . well, I’ll spare you the details and just say we didn’t go to church, which felt super hypocritical after telling people all week that we’d see them at church.  :/  A couple ward members came over and gave a priesthood blessing.  This ward is so awesome!!  I am so impressed with how the ward members balance demanding schooling, training, or careers, family responsibilities, and callings — and still have time to feed the missionaries!! The priesthood holders who came to give the blessing are both med students, so I knew I was in especially good hands. 🙂  Sister Luk and I kind of have a running joke about one of the counselors in the bishopric — he’s a great guy, young father, in his residency, obviously very busy, and he seems to be asleep more often than not.  Meetings, ward council . . . twice a month we go out and do visits with the bishopric, and this week it was confirmed that this counselor can in fact doze off while standing up!  These are good people.  We love our Rochester 5th ward. 🙂  Oh, I am feeling much better today — it must have just been a 24-hour thing. 

Sister Luk and I had a movie night when we got home one evening this week — we popped popcorn and watched The Testaments on our mini DVD player!  We’re really living it up!  I hadn’t watched that movie in a while.  It’s a good one.  A thought that I had as I was watching it this time is that the message of the gospel is really all about change and cleansing.  I heard someone recently talk about how, as a husband and father, you need to just take out the garbage — in other words, if there’s anything negative in what you’re thinking or feeling, just get rid of it and don’t dig it back up or bring it back in again.  Even as the Savior was being nailed to the cross, he held no resentment for those who were wronging him.  In the movie, the bloodied figure of Christ is replaced a few scenes later with a shining white Savior who has overcome all. He invites us to come unto him, to repent, to completely set aside those things that are tainting our souls and become “new creatures.”  And he promises that we can be truly cleansed through his Atonement.  It’s our choice, but he really can help us become something different, something better.  We need to be willing to let go of the things holding us back, and let him heal and make us whole.  I want to share my testimony that I know that Jesus Christ is truly our Redeemer, and that His promises are sure.  Whatever choices we have made or whatever has been done to us that makes us feel scarred or unworthy can be fully erased–completely gone–through Christ’s Atonement.  He is the source of strength, healing, and the remission of our sins.  He is the way find peace in this life and ultimate eternal joy. 

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FIREFLIES!!

Things are great! We’ve been busy and, honestly, kind of stressed.  I kind of like being stressed.  That means we have things to do, which is much better than the alternative!

We are teaching some really neat, sincere people facing various challenges right now.  Several have some pretty serious word of wisdom concerns (smoking, drugs, that sort of thing).  I attended my first addiction recovery meeting yesterday!  Another challenge we’re facing, particularly with some investigators with a Hindu background, is helping them understand that the gospel of Jesus Christ is where we find truth that is not really found anywhere else.  It is actually important to follow Jesus Christ specifically. While we were visiting this family, the little boys were exited to show us some pictures and things upstairs.  “Look! God!” One boy pointed excitedly to a shrine featuring assorted Hindu gods, I think.  I noticed a little pass-along-card with a picture of Jesus Christ on the shrine table.  So something hasn’t quite clicked, I guess. (I thought that was kind of funny.) Another concern that some Chinese investigators brought up is that they don’t feel that Jesus Christ is relevant to people in China.  I have really found the verses about “other sheep” in 3 Nephi 15 and 16 especially significant — Jesus actually tells the people in the Americas at they are some of the “other sheep” that he talked about to the Jews.  And he tells them that there are other sheep still that he will go visit!  So we know that after Jesus Christ’s resurrection, he truly appeared to groups of people — scattered tribes of Israel (for they are not lost to the Father) — around the world! He is relevant to all people; He is the Savior of the world.  Even if we don’t have records of him from all nations right now. 🙂

Sister Luk and I had a super strange experience this week — we had just parked and we’re walking down the street to visit someone in our ward when we were approached by a couple of people who waved and said, “Hi! We’re doing what you’re doing! Want to have a quick bible study?” Sure! I mean, I’m always up for talking with people. 🙂 But this was just weird.  First of all, some people happened to drive by as we were starting our conversation and passed us all iced tea, which, of course, we didn’t want.  I figured hey must have been with the other missionary group.  Then the guy kept opening up scripture verses and asking us these super obnoxious questions — totally the opposite of the type of questions we learn about in Preach My Gospel or Teaching in the Savior’s Way.  “So do you think it’s talking about literal clouds? Do you?” I just felt really bombarded.  It turns out these people believe “second-coming Jesus” has already come.  Interesting.  Knowing that I had different beliefs, they shoved a bible at us and said, “Here, prove it!” But it was a good learning experience: I learned that I do NOT want to come across the way that they did or make anyone feel belittled in their beliefs or interpretation of the scriptures.  I don’t think you can really “prove” anything with the scriptures — ultimately, your beliefs require faith.  And it was a great example of something I heard in the MTC and have thought about throughout my mission: people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. 

We had a neat Relief Society experience this week! There was a sweet spirit there.  I love the Relief Society.  I love the spirit of sisterhood we have with women of all ages and walks of life worldwide.  One of our investigators came, and she loved it.  At one point, she asked what a person would do to join.  One of the Relief Society sisters standing nearby encouraged her to listen to what we have to say and shared her testimony that that she wouldn’t trade what she has (in the gospel) for anything.  It was really neat.  

This week, the fireflies came out!!  I LOVE FIREFLIES!! We don’t have them in Washington — I think they are so magical! When we have time, Sister Luk and I catch fireflies when we get home at night. 🙂

I got an email from the girl I taught in YSA — she’s dating someone in the YSA ward pretty seriously and asked if I would consider being her maid of honor.  Oh my goodness — YES!! I feel so blessed to have been able to be part of her conversion.  I am so grateful for where I am right now and the experiences I’m having and people I’m meeting.  It means a lot to know that I have made a difference in their lives; mine is definitely being changed as well. 

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