Monday, January 25, 2016

The biggest storm in the East since 1983....

So yeah.....the snow came.  So much snow.

We started our studies at 8:00 and out my window there was a guy trying to dig out his car so we decided to go help  him. One car turned into three..To four....Until we ended up digging out every single car in our apartment complex.

The Snow Came.......


     So yeah....... the snow came. Haha. So much snow. It's my fault though, I prayed for it. And we got the second biggest storm in the East since 1983 or something. Before the storm hit I was making fun of everyone freaking out about it- walmart was literally wiped clean. When we went there a few days before the storm they were completely out of milk, eggs, bread, all the essentials. So crazy. So it started Friday night, and ended Sunday morning. 
Sunday morning church was cancelled, and we were still stuck in the apartment. The entire fleet of cars in the mission was grounded for the blizzard. Anyway we started our studies at 8 and out my window there was a guy trying to dig out his car so we decided to go help him. We were like "we'll eat breakfast when we come back in after we help this guy." 
     One car turned into two... To three... To four.. Until ended up digging out every single car in our apartment complex. Each one of then was entirely encased in snow- no part of it was visible. Then we tracked down all the owners door to door and got them all unstuck and moved them into the cemetery so that plows could remove all the snow from the lot- as we dug out the cars we had nowhere to put the snow but the middle which created huge mountains of snow, each eight to ten feet high from each car. We didn't walk back in the door until 7 pm where we finally ate "breakfast" hahah. Needless to say.... 30 some cars later today has been a down pday. My back is DONE for hahah. I couldn't tell you how many thousands of pounds of snow we shoveled. But I am now an expert at shoveling and getting cars unstuck. Luckily Hermana smith gives a great back rub.👌🏻
It was really cool to get to meet each one of our neighbors finally. Hopefully they'll be more likely to open their door the next time we knock.(;

Anyway, it was a blizzard I'll never forget! 

     A funny experience of the week- Hermana Smith and I were working on our list of Spanish potential investigators, less actives, etc, and knocking doors. We knocked on the door of what turned out to be the minister of an entire Spanish congregation. At first he played nice, invited us right in. Then when we told him who we were he let loose. Hahaha. 
     He started firing off questions then throwing back anti. Gosh I'm the worst in these situations. To be honest these people make me so mad, the longer I stand there. But I've always been good at just taking it. My companion on the other hand.... Haha love Hermana smith. But she tries to bash hard core with these people. I always just wait and wait.... And wait until someone takes a breath, and bear my testimony. At that point the man tried to start with me again and I just smiled and shook his hand and cut him off with "we're not the enemy here." 
He asked if he could "pray with us" before he left. So we agreed. This crazy guy grabs me by my arms and my face and says "I hope you two have an experience you'll never forget- tonight you'll wake up at 3am and you'll think of me." 
Hahaha I was so shaken up when I left. Thank goodness I am able to let anti material roll off my back at this point. 
We can laugh now. 

     Anyway Hermana smith and I have a bad habit of scheduling appointments on pdays, and we've got one today with Mariana. She lives three miles away and we're still grounded so we're just going to gear up and walk haha. She and her son are great. Her son is only ten and asks questions sometimes we can't even answer. This week we taught the plan of salvation and he was able to sit and teach the entire thing back to us after. Her husband isn't ready to sit down with us yet, but have been really focusing on eternal families with them. It's something Mariana wants but won't come overnight. 

     Laura and Juan are great as always- I will be so sad to miss their baptism February 5. There's a 90% chance I get transferred this transfer. 
We continue to meet more and more of the Spanish community, the Gettysburg ward bishop has even turned over their Spanish members to us. I can't help but continue to hope for a branch here- if not now then one day. It is much needed. 

"..I can live with some human imperfections, even among prophets of God--that is to be expected in mortal beings. I can live with some alleged scientific findings contrary to the Book of Mormon; time will correct those. And I can live with some seeming historical anomalies; they are minor in the total landscape of truth. But I cannot live without the doctrinal truths and ordinances restored by Joseph Smith, I cannot live without the priesthood of God to bless my family, and I cannot live without knowing my family is sealed to me for eternity. That is the choice we face--a few unanswered questions on one hand versus a host of doctrinal certainties and the power of God on the other. And for me, and I hope for you, the choice is an easy one and a rational one." 
- "What is the blueprint of Christ's church?" -Elder Tad R Callister 

That's why true faith is always grounded in pure and simple truths- those are the real pillars of foundation for true testimonies. 
(Oh and I have good news- I didn't wake up at 3am, this church is true,)
Hasta luego
Hermana Sears

I'll send pics later, I've got lots.
Thank you to my loyal friends and family for the continued love and support via letters, emails, and prayers. I couldn't ask for anything more. Never underestimate what even a short note to a missionary means to us. Haha. 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hannah's Sacrament talk from last week!
Our church tour Wedsday!  President and Sister Johnson, Laura y Juan and Gino on the right....

Growth cannot come by taking the easy way.....

Well..... This has probably been my least favorite week yet. How about
I start with the good.
     We had an amazing church tour with Laura and Juan on Wednesday.
Gino was there to teach with us, and President and Sister Johnson were
also there. We taught lesson three- the gospel of Jesus Christ as we
took them around the church. The purpose was to show why/ how we can
accomplish God's purpose found in Moses 1:39 through His church.
Faith- we started at a picture of Christ, and talked about how we can
increase our faith
Repentance- we were by the bishops office and talked them through the
steps of repentance.
Baptism- we showed them the baptismal font
Endure to the end- we ended in the chapel where we spoke about
renewing our covenants through the sacrament and ended by singing "Te
necesito si."
     It could not have been a better night. The spirit was definitely
on our side, the words seemed to come effortlessly as we bore our
testimonies of each step towards returning to our Father in Heaven in
     Such a special night I will surely remember with some of the
sweetest memories of my mission. Laura and their two girls came to
church on Sunday. Juan will be able to come next week.

     So....... Thursday night through Saturday night I had food
poisoning. Thursday I was feeling horrible all day but we were in
charge of our zone training so we stuck it out, but by the time we got
to our dinner appt at seven it was getting bad. We were at the home of
Dillon Matson, the fresh RM. We knew he was all excited to have
missionaries over- he and his brothers had all cooked a huge dinner
for us. So I felt horrible saying anything. Sooo I just put a few
bites on my plate and tried to do my best with them. Anyways, finally I
couldn't make it any longer so I admitted I was feeling sick all day
so they didn't think I just hated the food. Dillon gave me a
priesthood blessing. Honestly this experience built my testimony of
priesthood blessings.
     Sure enough, we couldn't have left minutes later than we did. I
didn't make it home. No more than five minutes later, right smack in
the middle of Main Street. And all the way home. And it didn't stop
until late Saturday night. It was horrible. The first time I was able
to eat anything was Sunday morning- a slice of bread. I still felt
horrible Sunday morning but I knew we needed to be at church for
Laura, so we went.
     It was a good thing we did. Gino didn't show up for church so
sister smith and I had to translate for her all day. I remembered my
blessing promised I would be well enough to return to what I needed
to- and I knew we needed to be there for them.

Anyways, I'm feeling better today. I'm sticking to a Gatorade and
Powerade diet for now. Thank goodness for pday. We've got a super busy
night tonight and a crazy week ahead so I need to get my rest now.

Maybe one day I'll look back and laugh at this, but not yet. Hahaha.

Church is true.
Hermana Sears

"Sometimes we want to have growth without challenges and to develop
strength without any struggle. But growth cannot come by taking the
easy way. We clearly understand that an athlete who resists rigorous
training will never become a world-class athlete. We must be careful
that we don't resent the very things that help us put on the divine
-Paul V. Johnson, quorum of the seventy, (President Johnson's brother)

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Some pictures from our MLC trip....

See those things behind the barn?  Yeah, they call those hills "mountains" around here.
 Laura and Juan shared their traditional "pan do los Reyes, "Bread of the Kings", with us.  It's a traditional Mexican bread they eat around New Years.  Baked somewhere in this huge 5 foot diameter cake is a tiny baby Jesus, and if you find it in your piece you have to come back next year and bring tamales for everyone.  It symbolizes the wise men looking for Christ.  It just so happened I found Jesus in my piece of bread!  I guess I'll be coming back to Hanover next New Years-

The two best things that happened this week......

     Hey so I'm just gonna share the two best things that happened
this week. All of which were yesterday. Hannah gave her first talk in
sacrament meeting! I'll attach pictures of her written talk!
The other miracle- so after sacrament meeting I noticed a man sitting
in the farthest back corner of the chapel and decided to go find out
who he was. I had never seen him before. He looked about 30 or so. His
name is Gino. Turns out he's a member of our ward, Peruvian (speaks
Spanish,) and a returned missionary. So we talked a while, he served
his mission in El Salvador. I asked him to come out to teach our
investigators Laura and Juan with us. He quickly accepted. I thanked
him, and he told me that this was the answer to his prayers.
We asked about the mysterious Gino to the bishop later, turns out this
was the first time he had been to church in seven years.

     So last night he came and taught Laura and Juan with us.. And
we're pretty sure he's either secretly an apostle or on of the three
Nephites. Basically felt like we had Elder Holland as a member
present. It was amazing, we taught lesson three, the gospel of Jesus
Christ. Juan had a hundred questions as usual. Gino was so excited to
be teaching again. You could tell he was an incredible missionary.
Even better was when Juan relayed the story of Joseph Smith. We were
there for two hours, answering their questions, we could have stayed
forever. Laura and Juan so sincerely want to know if all of it is
true. As we set our next charla (lesson) at the church for Tuesday,
Gino said 'I'll be there too.' Then we asked him if he would be there
next Sunday so he could sit with them at church, he said 'yup, now I'm
committed.' We ended the lesson and Laura and Juan shared their
traditional 'pan de los Reyes' (bread of the kings) with us. It's a
traditional Mexican bread they eat around New Years. Baked somewhere
on this huge five foot diameter cake is a tiny baby Jesus, and if you
find it in your piece you have to come back next year and bring
tamales for everyone, haha. It symbolizes the wise men looking for
Christ. It just so happened I found Jesus in my piece of bread! I
guess I'll be coming back to Hanover next New Years.. I owe Laura and
Juan tamales.
     As we got outside their apartment building Gino was in tears, he
shared how he knew how prepared Laura and Juan are, and that he will
wants to be a part of everything with them.
I am so happy we were led to Gino, incredible he hadn't been to church
in seven years and all this happened the first day he decides to come
back. God knew exactly what we needed, what Laura and Juan needed, and
what Gino needed.
He was the answer prayers and we were to his!

     So Hermana Smith and I have something up our sleeves. Might as
well come out with it. This week we have interviews with President
Johnson and we are planning on proposing we start a satellite branch
here in Hanover. We have two days to contact all the Spanish less
active members in the area, as well as our potential and former
Spanish investigators. We really believe we can do it, and it could
mean huge things for Hanover. If it happened, Gino would make an
incredible branch president. As today is one of our precious days to
contact people, we won't have time for pday today.

     Oh yeah- another thing I'm happy about. This ward... Struggles.
There are so many huge unrealized opportunities for service. So in
ward council I brought up the Reid's and Remington's and why they
weren't getting help. As a result they will both have men in the ward
twice a week in addition to our twice a week physical therapy visits
with them! This will mean so much for John and Tom. I have watched
them struggle and digress for months because they weren't getting the
help they needed. I am so so happy for them.

The church is true.
Hermana Sears

Ps. Included some pictures from our MLC trip also. (See those things
behind the picture of the barn? Yeah, they call those hills
"mountains" out here.)

Can you find the 2016?

Can you find the 2016?

Happy New Year!

Hey hey.
Happy New Year! Another one gone. Our New Years Eve was spent deep
cleaning our apartment.. So we've had a good clean start to the new
year. And thanks to my fam we had our own New Years Eve "party," haha.
Thank you so much, love you guys!
     New Years Day we had to celebrate the PA Dutch way by having pork
and sauerkraut with some members. Apparently it's basically a sin here
not to eat it on New Years Day, it brings "good luck and prosperity."
I've had enough pork and sauerkraut to last me a lifetime... or maybe
a year. Anyway not a fan. I also had to lucky chance to eat hogmaw
this week........... a PA traditional as well. Stuffed sheep stomach.
Dang amish.
     So it was a good week work wise here. We broke ground with quite
a few people we're teaching. Here are some highlights with our special
people here.
     Faye. This week we decided to teach sabbath day observance, one
we've been avoiding because she has been obviously unavailable to
attend church. So we decided we'd focus on the things she can do to
keep the sabbath rather than what she can't. Anyway we were talking
and when we mentioned church had moved from 9am-11am, she told us she
can make it at this time, that she couldn't do the early because of
some of her medications, but if we supplied an isolated room away from
people and germs, she may just be able to come. We showed her how to
watch a broadcasted sacrament meeting from BYUtv online every week and
for now that's what she's been doing. Haha the day Faye gets to come
to church I think I'll just cry. You would understand if you had just
one conversation with her.
     Laura y Juan. Yo solo les quiero mucho. This week we also taught
them Sabbath day observance, another one we had been avoiding because
we knew they both worked sundays. We were also so scared to tell them
that the ward here in English speaking only.... and that the branch
they would attend was not only an hour away but had an attendance of
ten or less people. But when we broke it to them they weren't even
shaken. Juan's response was
"No hay sacrifico demasiado grande para Dios."
"There is no sacrifice too great for God."
      So if that tells you anything about this family...  They are so
accepting of the gospel, they read el Libro de Mormon every week as a
family and always have many questions. Whenever we teach something we
ask him if he understood everything and he just says "claro." - "Of
course," or "clearly."
     This week we had such a breakthrough with Becky and Jeremy. We
were completely at a loss with what to do with them, so we went to
visit them to try and feel the situation out, we've been fasting and
praying about it for weeks now and getting nowhere. So when we went
over, we hadn't seen them for weeks. It felt completely dark in there.
Yes, the curtains had always been drawn shut every time and there was
always a thick cloud of smoke in there, but it just felt so so dark.
We decided we would start going over every other day for 20-30 minutes
just to read a chapter from the Book of Mormon with them in hopes we
could invite the spirit into their home. So we returned, and it was
just Becky. We began reading and she ended up sharing with us
everything their family is going through right now. Mark, her
boyfriend is in prison. That day after our lesson we asked her if she
would let us clean, and we did. That night we went back to bring
dinner and play games and spend time with she and Jeremy to take her
mind off things. She and Jeremy both even accepted a priesthood
blessing from some men in the ward. While there the member who gave
the blessing realized he had done Jeremy's baby blessings when he was
young. Becky even found the picture from that day.
     Liz. So we were planning on teaching the plan of salvation. And
so we began. We got halfway through the lesson before she just stopped
and said
"This is a lot. I don't understand." She was clearly overwhelmed and
Earlier in our visit we had been getting to know her and I had asked
her about when she was younger and she had mentioned how she loved
fairy tales, how she always thought life was supposed to be like our
fairy tale.
So gears started grinding in my mind and it clicked.
     I taught the plan of salvation in a fairy tale for Liz all on the
spot. Beginning with a King (God) who sends his child (us) out of the
kingdom to live and learn on his own, (earth) but sends a 'knight in
shining armor' to save him. (Jesus Christ.)
I explained how the plan of salvation is our real life fairy tale- how
we can have our 'happy ever after,' and return to our Heavenly Father.
     She was quiet a minute, but with light in her eyes looked up and said
"I feel like this might be it, what I'm looking for."

     Lastly, sacrament meeting on Sunday was so good for me. So...
Pennsylvania testimony meetings are notorious for.... Rambling and
sharing things you really shouldn't over the pulpit hahah. So I always
secretly hope investigators don't show up those days. So this week the
first persons got up and starts going off and I just start
thinking.... 'Why does God trust our sacrament meetings... And the
church to random people who will get up and tell 20 minute stories
about their cats and what their cats did that week and what their cats
ate that week etc etc etc...?"
     Well the sacrament meeting was my answer, it was great. One woman
got up with mental health issues and talked about at first I cringed a
little but then she went on to talk about how the church is the only
place we can come to be healed. She said people like her fill the
"emptiness" with either good things or destructive things, she had
tried both. But this was the only place that could ever fill it.
     The next that got up was John Remington. The one who has suffered
from giomboree. This week we got the news that he has digressed
severely, he got a cold from a grandson and had lost his entire left
side again, the strength he had just began to get back after months
and months of intense physical therapy. When I heard my heart just
sunk. But there he was, Sunday morning. They were told the van they
use to transport him in his wheelchair would be unavailable, but he
still came. Somehow his wife had managed to get him there by herself
so he could be there to bear his testimony like he wanted. He bore his
testimony on the power of prayer. He said that all throughout his
illness prayer was the only thing that strengthened him. Of course
there were no dry eyes on the room as his wife held the microphone for
him up there.
     The next was Sister Varga, a convert in the ward who comes out
with us weekly. She's just....... Completely herself. There's only one
of her. She shared about her atheist background. Her husband is still
atheist. She shared her conversion story and how much light the gospel
had brought into her life.
     The next was out Hannah... She bore her first testimony! It was
simple but so sweet, she talked about her sister missionaries and then
her love of the Savior. Then she came down from the stand and hugged
her crying sister missionary on her way back to her seat. Best moment

     So my question was perfectly answered. By way of testimonies from
many different perspectives of the members that make up this unique
ward. Whether from the perspective of a former atheist, someone
experiencing mental or physical challenges, a recent convert, or a
returned missionary, each one had an impact on every person
differently. And that's why God knows exactly what he's doing.

K that all this week. All is well. ✌🏻
Hermana Sears

Ps. Here's our New Years party. We made 2016 with ourselves. Enjoy