Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Hi family.
     Um, first CONGRATULATIONS to Kelsie, YOU'RE ENGAGED! I was so
excited all day when I got the email. I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU!
     Well this week was certainly an unexpected one. Lots of emotions,
haha. Let me explain... Wednesday night we got a text from the zone
leaders saying we were to be at the stake center the next day for an
emergency meeting with President Johnson. They didn't know what it was
about themselves, so obviously we were panicking all night wondering
what was happening. President Johnson, former business man/ CFO is
never so unorganized about anything. Everything with him is about
productivity and effectiveness. So the big news is, I'm being sent to
a new mission. Baltimore, Maryland! It was not easy news to take in
honestly. I've spent almost the last two years since I got my call
setting my mind on the fact that I had been called to serve in
Pittsburgh, PA, and this is where I was meant to be. I should have
paid a little more attention to the line in the call letter that says
"your assignment may be modified according to the needs of the mission
     I am the only one being sent to Baltimore with only two transfers
left in my mission. Afterwards President Johnson and the APs pulled me
aside and explained how he really did struggle over my name, but knew
that he couldn't give me the opportunity to speak Spanish in the
mission anymore, and that I could there. It was kind of cool, they
said how any time a missionary is changed from one mission to another,
like when a missionary is assigned, a member of the quorum of the
twelve has to approve each case. So if they know it's right, it must
be, right? Haha.
     Baltimore, Maryland here I come?
     So here's how it'll work. The Lancaster stake is being moved into
the Maryland, Baltimore mission. So I may end up staying here until
the end of my mission, or I may spend my last transfer somewhere in
the new mission. I've decided I'll be happy with either. I obviously
love where I'm at and the people here, but if I get transferred, I
assume it will be somewhere else Spanish speaking, so it's something
new. I've already been here longer than average, and with Hermana
Smith WAY longer than average. So it's possible she will stay and I
will go. It's also possible though because I only have one left here
he will keep me and send her. I JUST WANT TO KNOW. Haha. The only
other bad thing is I'll be going home with a group of people I don't
know. When missionaries go home they give a departing testimony at the
last zone conference, and spend the night before they go home in the
mission home with the mission president and his wife. It will be even
weirder if I stay in Lancaster until I go home, because the only thing
that will change will be going home with another mission, haha. This
week is going to be strange. We feel like we're just in limbo right
now, in between missions haha.
     As for her in Lancaster, we're working with some really solid
people right now. Suzie is eating the Book of Mormon up, she's already
midway through the book of Alma, haha. This week we asked her again if
she knew it was true, to which we got a 15 minute explanation of all
the reasons she knew it to be true, and added that she wouldn't have
the book in her hands if Joseph Smith wasn't a prophet of God. Very
happy missionary moment.
     We also started teaching a guy named Pablo from Santo Domingo who
just got here. It just so happened his friend from the DR had been
inviting and taking him to church for a while now. God definitely took
care of him, we found him within 10 days of arriving to the states.
     It's been crazy in Lancaster this week. It was celebrate
Lancaster day on Friday and Saturday, and there was a huge gay pride
festival on Tuesday and Wednesday. We've had some fun encounters! Haha

     That's really all for right now. My mission just isn't going to
end the way I ever thought it would. But it's okay, new things are

Hermana Sears

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Amish make really good cookies


     I have a lot of catch up to do.. I don't know where to start!
Well this week we had zone conference, and I got to catch up with how
things in Hanover are going with the missionaries there. It was so
cool to hear that Gino is completely reactivated, preparing for the
temple, and Jeremy is again learning and doing really well. Hannah and
Alivia as well.(: Hermana Busath, Smith, and I did a musical number in
honor of the last hermanas. We sang number 88 in the Spanish hymn
book, a song that doesn't even exist in English.
     We had exchanges this week, and I taught a lesson in English for
the first time in months. Teaching in Spanish is so much easier,
hahah. I've forgotten the words in English. However it was a really
cool lesson. We taught their recent convert Delayna. She was baptized
just a few months ago, her fiancé is a returned missionary. Her family
was not at all supportive of her decision to join the church, and she   has
lost her relationship with them. I kind of realized during this lesson
that I was the result of someone who made that very difficult decision
years ago- my mom.(: I was honestly brought to tears, full of
gratitude for my brave mom who made that decision, and I got to be the
living proof, the daughter of a convert- and a missionary, and of what
her decision could mean to her future family. I assured her that
though what may feel like a sacrifice or detriment to her family now
was truly only an expression of her love and desire to be an eternal
family. I was also able to share about the opportunity I had to do
some of the temple work for my grandma, my moms mom. Mom, would you
mind sending her an email? I will send it to you. Thank you.(:
     We have had some amazing service opportunities these past few
weeks. One was volunteering at the special olympics. I made some new
best friends, and got proposed to once. I made one friend in
particular who followed me around the entire day holding my hand and
telling everyone she had made a new friend.(: It was such a fun day,
such sweet people. The other was spending Saturday on an Amish farm! A
member in the English Lancaster ward has a very close relationship
with an Amish family, and the Amish family has been attending church
here and there- a bold move in the Amish community. So we got to spend
the day picking peas with them. They are the most pure and kind people
I've ever met. They all come up and greet you with a big smile and
introduce themselves. I think they were as excited as we were to have
us there. At the end of the day they fed us an Amish meal, which we
helped them prepare- SO good, took us on a ride around the
neighborhood on the buggy, rode their scooter bikes with us, and even
wanted to dress us up like Amish but we were short on time. We were
invited back. We made especially good friends with two of the young
girls- Susannah, and Linda. They don't meet new people hardly ever, so
this was very special for them. They mentioned when we get married
they would try to come to the wedding. Haha. Such kind people. I
gained an immense amount of respect for the Amish people that day. And
seriously envied their lifestyle! Their way of living is so much
slower, and  more peaceful than today's world. It seriously felt like we had
stepped back a few hundred years in time to when things were much
simpler. Great people.
     This week we had a few interesting lessons. We teach outside
quite a bit- downtown, on the street, amidst all kinds of
distractions. Haha. Literally we were teaching this man names Luis who
is really interested who we just started teaching, and every kind of
distraction imaginable happened during this lesson. We were teaching
the plan of salvation, and he had such a real desire to learn. So in
the beginning, were sitting there and were close to a big fountain
they have downtown. Some guy walks by and starts hanging over the side
and then swimming in the fountain...... Fully clothed and all. No idea
what he was doing. Then a couple comes and sits RIGHT next to us and
start getting extremely.. Friendly with each other. But we keep
teaching. THEN a huge semi truck FULL of ducks drives by leaving
behind a literal cloud of feathers and the most rancid smell. THEN
people keep coming by and trying to give us flags for flag day. BUT we
keep teaching. AND THEN a man keeps pausing by making random creepy
comments interrupting our lesson. THENNNNN a man springs past us,
nearly knocking me over and runs through traffic crossing the street
and disappears between to buildings, with a gun in his hand. He was
shortly followed by a pack of 5 or so police officers on foot chasing
him on foot. We pointed them to the direction the man ran, and one
stayed to ask us some questions about the man. SO after that we
continue teaching.... AND THEN an entire pack of Jehova's witness
missionaries come and set up an entire tent feet from where we're
standing, staring us down. And if it couldn't get any worse..... A guy
from a DIFFERENT church walked right up to us and Luis, and puts a
pamphlet in our hands and walks away. I look at the pamphlet and it
says "the divine plan of salvation." Haha I just started laughing, it
was a joke at this point. So now Luis had two pamphlets in hand, ours-
the Plan of Salvation, and the doctrine of another- 'the divine plan
of salvation.' And SOMEHOW we were able to manage to bring the spirit
back and finish strong.
     My point here is I am joining the Amish community. Hahaha just kidding.
     I learned the power of the spirit can overcome all barriers this
week. That lesson was one example. The other was a lesson we had with
a family who is less active who missionaries have not been able to
figure out for years why they stopped coming after being the strongest
family. We honestly walked into the lesson only planning on trying to
see if they are reading the Book of Mormon because we could not figure
out what it was they need. A few minutes into the lesson I felt
prompted to share with them a story of a family who went to great
lengths and sacrificed nearly everything they had to get to the temple
to be sealed as a family. After I finished the Hermana just looked at
me and started crying and said "how did you know?" The spirit
completely took over in that lesson, and for the very first time they
opened up to us, completely. Missionaries are not to play therapists
or counselors or take away from the role the bishop should play, but
we were able to simply invite them to take their issues to the
greatest counselor of all- the Lord. When we saw them the following
week she was so excited to tell me about an amazing spiritual
experience she had as she took our invitation and took her problems to
the Lord. The contention that was originally in the family was
completely dissolved as she shared her experience with us. The spirit
is a powerful teacher.
     Another random cool note. During our incredibly distracted lesson
with Luis we had an interesting conversation with the police who
stopped us to ask us questions. After he had asked all about the man,
he asked us if we ever get trouble from the people in the city, some
parts not being so nice. We told him how everyone was reasonable
respectful apart from the usual catcalls, haha. He told us "They know
you're here." (They being the presence of gangs in Lancaster.) "But
they know that you're people of God and if they were to mess with you
that God would be after them." It was kind of an eye opening
experience. To be honest I've been pretty naive to what happens here
in the city. But this was a reminder to me that the promise given to
missionaries is real. D&C 84:88 And whoso receiveth you, there I will
be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand
and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine
angels round about you, to bear you up. This promise is real, as lo as
we are living worthy of it! Another evidence that we are weak without
the assistance of the spirit. It also made me think about how cool it
is that even the toughest people still have a fear of God.
     We also continue to see incredible changes in the branch here as
we have been working closely with the members. I wish this is a lesson
I had learned much earlier in my mission. We have been trying to
include them in every aspect of missionary work- finding, working with
less actives, etc, rather than reserving them for who we think to be
'solid' enough to 'deserve' a member present. And the outcome has
truly brought miracles all week. Most of which were the outcome of
planned events falling through. One day we had planned to have a member
come to three consecutive lessons, all of which fell through. She was
great, she just looked at us as said "come on let's go before you get
sad. There is someone I want you to meet." She took us and introduced
us to two members that the branch did not even know lived here in
Lancaster, two sisters. We started teaching them last week. Another
night we planned to have a man who is inactive himself come out with
us, and yes, that appointment too fell through. However this gave us
the opportunity to talk to him about stepping up in his responsibility
in the branch. As I've been praying for the specific people we should
be working with his name was the one that seemed to enter my mind the
strongest. And I told him that. He expressed how he really did have a
desire for more responsibility in the church, and to be a better
example to his family. He decided he wants to start coming back to
church, and coming out to teach with us once a week. And that he has.
God's ways are much higher than ours. We've gotten so much closer to
the members and their increased trust in us as missionaries is evident
in their sharing of referrals of who we should teach. Basically, Elder
Bednar says it best. "A common element in many of our prayers is
praying that the missionaries will be guided to people and families
that are prepared to receive the message of the restoration. But, we
don't realize, it is our responsibility to find people for the
missionaries to teach. Missionaries are full time teachers, you and I
are full time finders, and as missionaries for life, we should not
pray that the missionaries do our work."
     So there are just a few of the dozens of miracles we have seen
these past few weeks. And I can't end without giving thanks to my
dad.(: I've reflected a lot this week on how blessed I have been with
the family I have. Thank you, I love you guys.

A few things I learned this week:
        1.        Satan works hard to stop the work of the Lord. We have to work harder.
        2.        The Amish make really really really good cookies
        3.        I can run a mile in a pencil skirt in 9 minutes if I really need
to catch a bus
        4.        Garments can double as a sweat suit in 90% humidity, haha
        5.        The church is true. But I already knew that
        6.        I am SO grateful for my parents. I knew that already too though.
        7.        Poison ivy reacts really quickly with skin
        8.        You can ride a roller coaster in a skirt

Hermana Sears

Monday, June 6, 2016

It's been a good week. I am making the days count, not counting the days.....

Mi familia,
     Sooooo Hermana Busath got emergency transferred this week.)))))):
A sister had to go home early and we were the only trio in the
mission, so there were no other options. It was super sad- Hermana
Busath got transferred with only two weeks left in her mission. Which
could only mean that I will be staying another transfer here with
Hermana Smith. But I was so sad losing Hermana Busath, I feel like I
lost my best friend! Haha I've never cried losing a companion before,
but she and I were both pretty sad. I love her!
     However, I also really enjoy working with Hermana Smith. She and
I are different missionaries but we balance each other out perfectly.
And we've been companions already before, so we've got each other
figured out already. Serving one more transfer with her will mean we
will have served 1/3 of our missions together. Good thing I like her!
Haha. I'm really looking forward to this coming transfer with her-
we're going to do good things together. We both like to work.
     This week we had a lesson with Suzie again. She has begun to
recognize the spirit. She told us she has never felt as at peace as
she has as she has read the Book of Mormon and when we come, and how
in the past she would never have let anyone in, but said for some
reason she knew that God was with us, and that the message we carried
was true.
     Carlos is the best! I feel like he's our grandpa. At first glance
some may question teaching him, but when you start teaching him he's
amazing. He loves learning. It's never too late to find the gospel. We
invited him to come with his family with us to the Philadelphia temple
with his family.

     Mom, you'd be proud of me. I'm doing so well with the health
challenge. It's great. And having a gym here doesn't hurt. But when
the one cheat day comes, I use it well.(((:

     This week my highlight was spending time at the branch presidents
house. They are an amazing family. Because he lives in York it was the
first time we all got to sit down with him and talk about his vision
for the branch. Afterwards we knelt with their family in prayer, and
the spirit flooded the room. As I prayed I felt like this small little
group of people could change Spanish speaking Pennsylvania.

     I feel so blessed to be where I am. And so grateful to have
waited so long in my mission to be here when I'm a much more
experienced missionary- spiritually and with Spanish. When you near
the end of your mission you realize how much you have changed as a
missionary. Sometimes think back to your first area and just cringe,
or laugh. Haha. When I think back to Butler I wonder how I ever
managed to teach someone in Spanish. That one's still a mystery.
Anyway, the learning is still most definitely an every day thing, but
all that I have learned up to this point I am now able to apply now,
here, where I need it.
     I still have my moments of feeling inadequate. Those will never
go away, but that's what drives me to be better, so I'm okay with
     What I've learned is we never need to worry about comparing
ourselves to anyone else. Because the Lord will never compare us with
anyone. He will only compare us to the potential he knows we hold
within ourselves. He knows exactly what each of us are capable of- as
missionaries, as members, as mothers, fathers, husbands, wives,
brothers, sisters- and that is the only expectation he holds us to.
Not any other standard that another person has established. I find
comfort knowing that God doesn't only judge us for our actions,
because it is part of our human nature, and an effect of the natural
man to make mistakes every day. But he also knows and judges us by our
hearts. He knows every detail about who you are, not just what you do.
So if we are every getting down on ourselves about how imperfect we
are, or what weaknesses we have, we can remember that God knows us,
perfectly. And He sees us for who we are now and who we are becoming,
not who we've been. That is the beauty of the Atonement of Jesus
     The greatest lesson of all that I have learned here though, is
repentance. How to apply the atonement to my life every single day.
And I've seen that success in all things in life will depend on how I
apply it. Gaining an education will require constant effort, learning,
growing, and perhaps making mistakes. Marriage will be applying the
principles of forgiveness and repentance. Life is a constant
succession of correction. The opportunity to be corrected is a
blessing. Sometimes I feel like each of my flaws are so tangible
they're visible. And then I look at it as a chance to change. Before
my mission I don't think I could describe who I was. But today,
because all my weaknesses have been so exposed the last 15 months, I
know who I am. I am not serving a mission for myself, but the Lord has
allowed me to grow personally as I've put Him first, the people of
Pennsylvania second, and myself last. The more you lose yourself, the
more you find yourself.
     Missionaries are proof to me that God is capable of anything,
haha. If He is able to execute the work of salvation through an army
of 80,000 imperfect 19-22 year olds, He can do anything. Every
missionary offers something completely different. And God doesn't just
work through them despite their individual weaknesses, but works with
their weaknesses. Sometimes we are sent to people who need our
     I'm reading in Alma right now, and it is just more evidence that
God has always worked through imperfect people, but is still able to
accomplish His purposes.

     So here's the end of my rant. It's been a good week. I am making
the days count, not counting the days. I've got a lot to do in the
next three months.

The church is true.

I love you!
Hermana Sears