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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Yikes, not doin THAT!

"I'm never eating that!"  "I'm not doing that ever."  "Yeah no.  Count me out.  Not doin' it."  There are many variations of how you can say it, but we are all guilty of saying "I never" at some time in our lives.  When I was young, this typically pertained to food.  Yes, I'm guilty of being a picky eater.  My mother would place something in front of me and instantly I would turn my nose up at it.  Claimed I would never eat it.  As I have gotten older and somewhat wiser, I have found that the word "never" is a word to be very careful with.  On the first transfer of my mission I learned a valuable lesson when saying the word "never."

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Wow, did you see her?

Oh Montana, what memories I have of you!  My Grandpa lived up in Libby, Montana towards the end of his life, which is up in the northwest corner of Montana.  Population of about 2,800, not necessarily your thriving metropolis, but it was gorgeous and had that small-town feel I like.  My family and I only made a few trips up there, but each one was worth remembering.  The most memorable was the first time we visited.

My dear old Grampy was Mr. Mountain Man and took us for all sorts of adventures.  We chopped wood for his house, played at the river, went to the swinging bridge (so cool), went to church, and went Libby sightseeing.  It was awesome!  I was really close to my grandfather and loved every minute with him.  There was, however, one very.....interesting experience there.

One night we had dinner with some friends of my grandpa.  It was a campfire dinner on the river bank roasting hot dogs and marshmallows (s'mores, mmmmm.....).  While we were sitting around the campfire we got to talking about where I was going for school.  Told them I was going to BYU-Idaho in the fall and was pretty excited about it.  My grandpa then started to ask one of the daughters in the family about her experience at BYU-Idaho, she had just recently graduated from the college.  The first thing she did was look at me.  Glanced up, then down, then turned for her response.  Boy, did it make me wonder.
It began with my shoes, "couldn't wear those up there."  Then, the jeans, "the jeans, yeah those won't fly."  My shirt, "shirt is probably too bright."  Sweater, "the sweater is just not something you'd wear up there."  And if that wasn't all enough, my hair came next, "hair, probably can't have it cut like that when you go there."  Of course, I had no response for this.  Just nodded my head with a shocked look on my face.  What more could I do?  I had never been torn apart like that before in my life.  Not that I was wearing anything immodest at all.  Let's face it, it was cold and by a river.  I was in pants, warm sweater, tennis shoes, and my hair pulled up in a pony tail.  Appropriate?  Yes.  Clean?  That one may be a no, but who is when by a fire?  She judged me based off my appearance and before getting to know me.  How often do we judge others when we see them?  Look on their outer appearance and not what is inside?
1 Samuel 16:7 But the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the Lord aseeth not as bman seeth; for man looketh on the outward cappearance, but the dLord looketh on the eheart.

The Lord is the one that does the judging.  It is not for us to judge others.  We too need to put on our "Jesus goggles", as a member in Vacaville called it.  See others for what they really are, sons and daughters of God.  We are all worth something.  You don't know what is in someone's heart based on their appearance.  Judge less, look deeper, and love more.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Can you move Mountains?

In the past week I have made it a goal to study about the Savior daily.  Ergo, I have done a lot of reading in the New Testament.  The phrase "O ye of little faith" is said multiple times in Matthew and has been on my mind.  Here is an example in Matthew 14, when Christ walks on water to his disciples:  
 25 And ain the fourth watch of the night Jesus went unto them, walking on the sea.
 26 And when the disciples saw him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, It is a spirit; and they cried out for fear.
 27 But straightway Jesus spake unto them, saying, Be of good acheer; it is I; be not afraid.
 28 And Peter answered him and said, Lord, if it be thou, bid me come unto thee on the water.
 29 And he said, Come. And when Peter was come down out of the ship, he walked on the water, to go to Jesus.
 30 But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was aafraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.
 31 And immediately Jesus stretched forth his hand, and caught him, and said unto him, O thou of little afaith, wherefore didst thou bdoubt?
  (emphasis added)

Peter, when focused on Christ, was able to do the "impossible" and walk on water.  There was nothing he wanted more than to be with Christ.  We too, can do the "impossible", if we have faith.  There just has to be nothing we want more.  Being with Christ should be the only thing on our minds.  The distractions around us can be hard to ignore.  Like for Peter, the wind can throw us off course and distract us.
A little later in Matthew it says "...If ye have bfaith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this cmountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be dimpossible unto you."  Have you ever seen a mustard seed?  It is tiny!  Starts off as this small seed and then grows into a large tree.  Such a small thing can become something great.  Our faith can be the same. 
 Even if we have "faith as a grain of mustard seed" we can move a mountain!  Now, not all of us have physical mountains that we need to move.  Our mountains may be a struggle within.  Something that blocks our sight and hinders our focus.  It may even be a physical temptation.  Whatever the struggle may be,  I know that having faith in Jesus Christ can help you.  Can you move mountains?  With the Lord, YES!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Filth, filth, and more...hey, a floor!

Yesterday I embarked on an adventure few have ever experienced.  Yes, there were many obstacles, foes blocking the way, danger around every corner, and a looming feeling of inadequacy.  But, don't you fret, there was a happy end to the adventure.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Music In My Head, Now Online!

Ever have one of those songs in your head?  The ones that linger for days and days?  You try as hard as you can to put another one there and it ends up a failure.  Well this is one of those songs, "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  I heard the piano piece first as my companion plunked away at it.  Later, I looked it up online to listen to it and fell in love!  This rendition is absolutely breath-taking!  It became embedded into my mind.  I would hum along as my companion would play.  I made a meager attempt to sing along, but quickly remembered why I am a "music appreciator" only.
There are many wondrous stories told of a former Elder in our mission who sung this song and brought tears to our Mission President's eyes.  Of course, it was before my time.  But that didn't stop me.  Being the online missionary that I am, I contacted the former Elder and asked him if he had a recording of it.  He didn't at the time, but does now (as you can see).  This is Alex Balagna singing "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing."  Enjoy!

It is truly incredible how music can instantly bring the Spirit into a room, car, park, and your soul.  Music brings the Spirit at any time and any place.  I am so grateful for the power of music!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Have you hit a wall?

My companion and I were talking before bed last night, reflecting on what we had done last week.  What we had accomplished, what we needed to do.  We came to the conclusion that we have a long ways to go.  Not only did we look at this last week, but the previous weeks that we have been together.  A realization came to us, that we had hit a wall.  We have become stagnant.  There is a barrier we have hit that we just haven't been able to break through.  How many times do we hit walls?  Challenges or times in life that we hit a rut that we just can't climb out of.  A wall we can't climb over.  What can we do to overcome this?

The first thing we do is pray.  Ask for guidance and what we can change.  The next is to reflect on what we have done, and how we can improve.  What things are we doing that are holding us back?  I realized that there are many things I can change.  More than I thought.  It has taken some humbling and accepting that there is always room for me to change and do better.  Set the bar higher.  Each day there is a higher 100% we can achieve.  A higher best.  I need to continue to hit the bar I have set, then push it higher.  By doing these things I know that I can break through this wall that has blocked my way.  I know I can do it, and that others can do the same with their challenges.  Christ overcame all of our challenges.  Through Him, we can do the same.  Let's burst through these walls in a heroic manner!  Superman style.

Friday, January 14, 2011

LIfe of a Sister Missionary part 10: The Final Chapter: The Sacred Hour

You'd think that we would have one hour to read a book, tell ghost stories, and bake cookies.  But alas, you'd be wrong.  This hour is a very important one for missionaries.  This is when we update our daily records, prepare for bed, write in our journals, and ponder upon how we can best help the people we serve.  It is the perfect time to receive inspiration.  And it is the most difficult hour to use wisely.  It is easy to get distracted by talking to each other, reading the Ensign, or playing on the piano.  However, this is the time to decompress and ponder, and to prepare for future lessons.  This hour ends with a prayer (shocked?) and bed.  As you can see from this series, we strive to focus each hour of the day on the people we teach, so that we can "earn our pillow" each night.  That is what being a Sister Missionary is all about. 
-Sister Nestman and Sister Franklin

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Life of a Sister Missionary part 9: Well companion, what do you want to do tomorrow?

Before Planning
After a long day of work, we top it off with a little planning.  Each night for 30 minutes we plan for our next day.  We fill each moment of the day with: what we will do, teach, where to go, who to visit, who to call, and what to study.  Almost everything in the day is planned out for every hour in the day, plus backup plans.  All of these plans are written in our handy dandy missionary daily planner.  Of course, we begin the planning, with a prayer.  We pray for guidance and direction as to what to plan.  After we fill each hour, we outline the lessons we will teach.  We make a list of things to do.  We plan out what we will study the following day in our personal and companion studies.  And we set goals for the day.  During all of this, we strive to be guided by the Spirit.  We are representatives of Jesus Christ; we are sent to do what He would do.  At the end, we pray (YAY). 
Back home, I did nothing like this.  I sorta had a list of "to do" items in my head, but I definitely didn't know what I was going to do each moment in the day.  My time is so much more effective now.  It isn't wasted on things that I don't want to do or that have no use.  Planning allows for my time to be spent doing things I want to do rather than things that I just "end up" doing because of poor planning, like watching a TV show I don't like, or sitting and doing nothing.  I would much rather be swimming, out with friends, or reading a book by Orson Scott Card.  Proper planning = an awesome day.

Friday, January 7, 2011

God has a sense of Humor

Today I am taking a break from the "Life of a Sister Missionary" series to share with you an experience I had.  Yesterday was a day to remember and I thought it appropriate to share what I learned.  The day began as all others do on the mission.  Things were going great.  We were teaching, it was sunny, and everything was wonderful.  Most days are like this.  The Spirit is always there and you just can't help but feel happy about life.  However, my day took a very drastic turn.

Something happened that made me mad, well, furious.  Worst feeling ever!  As soon as I got mad, the Spirit left me.  There are few times in my life that I have felt the Spirit completely leave me, but never on my mission.  The anger I was feeling turned into complete frustration and confusion.  The only thing I could think to do was to pray.  Pray for guidance, peace, comfort, and forgiveness.  I have no idea how long I was actually on my knees, but it was for a long, long time.  It was one of the most powerful experiences I have had!  I was literally crying to the Lord to help me, to show me what I was to do, and bring me back from the lost state I was in. 

As I was praying, I realized that the Lord gave me this trial for me to learn and grow.  It was an answer to my prayers.  You know that common phrase: "be careful what you pray for?"  Wow is it true!  The last few months I have been praying for charity, to see people the way Jesus Christ would.  Heavenly Father must have a sense of humor.  Praying for charity, in my mind, did not equate to becoming infuriated, but it is how I needed to learn.  It taught me how to view things from another's perspective; how to respect someone else's opinion even when I don't agree.  What I really needed was to be humble.
After a lot of reflection, I am grateful for my little "break down."  It has helped open my mind and heart to the changes I need to make.  The Lord answers our prayers.  Not always the way expected, but always the way that will help us best.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Life of a Sister Missionary part 8: Feed His Sheep

At 10 a.m. we head out.  But, before we leave the house, we say a prayer.  Then, we leave the house and begin sharing the Gospel.  As missionaries, we go out into the world to share the gospel with everyone.  Young or old, male or female, black, white, or purple, we are called to share the gospel to all the world.  We invite everyone to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.  That is our purpose.  Everything we do is centered around that purpose. 
Throughout the day we do various things that help us fulfill our purpose such as tracting, proselyting on the street, visiting referrals, and teaching.  It is exhausting work sometimes (or all the time), but it is the most rewarding thing in the world!  Seeing the change in a person's heart as they hear the message of the restored Gospel is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.  It is very humbling to go out each day wearing the name of Christ on my chest.  To be a representative of Him.  We serve the Lord and find His sheep that are searching for truth.  John 21:17 "He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, aFeed my bsheep."  I love my Savior.  That is why I go out each day.  Rain or shine, tired or wired, we serve Him.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Life of a Sister Missionary part 7: Learning with the Companion

Hour 2 is companion study.  Companion study begins with a song (you thought I was going to say prayer, that's coming).  Music is a wonderful way to invite the Spirit.  I will confess, my voice is not the greatest, but that doesn't stop me from singing praises to the Lord.  The next step is the opening prayer.  Have I stressed prayer enough?  We pray for guidance and to know what insights to share with one another, what to talk about, and how we can work together best.  After the prayer, we read from our missionary handbook, the rulebook for missionaries.  As representatives of Christ, we need to know how to act appropriately.  How we can be better representatives of Him.  Then, we share what we learned during personal study.  I can't count the number of things that I have learned from my companions.  Not only do I get the chance to study for myself in personal study, but I get to hear what my companion learned.  It is a humbling experience.  There is so much you can learn from someone else.  There are things I never dreamed that my companions would teach me.  Once we have discussed what each of us has learned, we plan what to teach during the day and what we can do to better help the people in the area.  We end with a prayer, of course.  Companion study has helped me so much!  My family better be ready because when I get home, I intend on having companion study.  Someone will have to be recruited to join me.
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