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

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