Monday, December 29, 2014

...And a Happy New Year!

This week was so great! For obvious reasons (Christmas Eve + Christmas Day, Talking to the family, all were super terrific!) But by the end of the week we started feeling a bit selfish because we'd spent so much time just house hopping and didn't feel like we were really uplifting or strengthening anyone! So by the 27th we decided we were going to go visit everyone who told us to come back after Christmas. There were a lot of them. As we were making the list, we write down the name "Steve" and it really stuck out to me. Steve was not exactly someone who told us to come by after Christmas. We met him in passing as he was storming up the stairs cursing. We asked him if he was doing alright, and he told us he had just lost his job, only a couple days before Christmas. We asked him if we could talk with him about Christ and he essentially said no, so we told him we'd stop by later and he shrugged his shoulders.

So obviously, he was really interested in what we were saying, right?

On the 27th, we trudged up the stairs with Michael Whatley and knocked on his door. Steve opened the door and said, "come on in, Sisters!" We were rather baffled at his warming welcome but we went inside and met his wife Alyssa and their adorable little red-headed son. "We knew you were going through a rough time and we wanted to help make your life easier," I said. He allowed us to sit down and talk to them, and they both were so friendly and loving as we shared the Restoration with them. They seem so eager to change and draw closer to Christ, They both expressed that they were just looking for something stable in their lives. We asked them if they wanted to come to church, and they agreed. We got them a ride. But they didn't come. We called them after and Alyssa apologized profusely, saying, "I'm so sorry. We really want to start coming every week we just had a bunch of stuff come up yesterday morning."

It's so refreshing to see people who are so sincere in their desire. They both said they want to be baptized and they want to read their scriptures.

It's a Christmas miracle. ;)

Leroy is doing really well! He's feeling clean being dip free, and has even said that he's trying to stop drinking Pepsi MAX because he doesn't like feeling like a slave to the caffeine. I love seeing the change in people! It makes everything worth it!

Funny Christmas Eve story. Sooo we had just pulled up to a member's for lunch and as I was getting out of the car, I hear, "Sister Best! Catch!" I drop the papers in my hand to catch... a dead mouse that Elder Wilcox threw at me. Bleck. I sanitized my hands a dozen times before we ate.

It was a blessing to see some of your faces! Thank you for the cards and gifts. It really was an amazing Christmas. We were able to spend it with members of our ward who were so loving. The spirit of Christmas was in their homes as they sought to serve others and focus their Christmas season on the birth of Christ.

There was a talk given in sacrament yesterday that was so powerful. Brother Dean spoke on New Year Resolutions and how as we try to become better, we are doing so to be able to serve others. We should all try to develop new talents that we can use to help others. Because we don't all need to know how to do everything if we each know how to do something. He talked about how it is a way of being prepared. If we saw a friend get into a car accident, we wouldn't just stand and watch. We would run to help them. Do everything we can. It's that way with the knowledge that we have. We should be eager to help others with our knowledge of them Gospel, with our talents and abilities, and with any other God-given gift that we possess.

I love you all so very much! I'm learning, over and over and over again, that when things get tough, blaming God is never the answer. It is vital that we depend on him through prayer and ask him to strengthen us to deal with the cards we've been dealt.

I hope you have a terrific week and a happy New Year!

Love,

Sister Best

1.A hilarious sign we found in one of the member's homes.
2. A super sleepy Christmas morning photo
3. Busted! All the missionaries eating cake between Sacrament Meeting and Sunday School.





Monday, December 22, 2014

Leroy's Baptism

It's a Christmas Miracle!

FENTON "LEROY" TALBOTT JR. GOT BAPTIZED. Goodness gracious. So good. So much heart and energy and prayer poured into that man. So many packs of gum and Vitamin C pills bought to keep him from dipping. I love him with my soul. Let me tell you a story:

Michael Whatley was baptized when he was young. He went to church with a friend for a while and decided he wanted to be baptized. He was maybe 11. Fast forward FORTY YEARS. He went inactive in the church shortly after his baptism and then had the craziest life ever. So a few months ago the missionaries were teaching his neighbor, and she said, "I think my friend Michael would really like what you've been teaching me". So the missionaries found him, found out he's a member, and reactivated him, Right before I got here, he got the Melchizedek Priesthood, and on Saturday he got to baptize Leroy. It was one of the most powerful experiences I've ever witnessed.

When Leroy got changed and returned, he whispered to me, "I feel so clean! I just feel so great!"

Then we all fervently prayed and pleaded with the Lord that he wouldn't have to work Sundays, and he got them off! So he was able to get confirmed on Sunday! Hallelujah!

So that was the highlight of the week. Among many, many, many others. The lowlight was definitely the day before. There's a sickness being passed around the missionaries and I caught it on Friday so I tried  to get up and work through it, but I kept pretty much falling over in public places, so Hermana Anderson stayed home with me while our companions worked our areas for a couple of hours. I tried to sleep but wound up too antsy and made four million phone calls to organize the baptism. After much stress, the work was done. I'm still trying to fight this yucky virus. Lowlight number two was being dropped by four of our investigators yesterday. But I'm going to choose not to talk about that. but enough about me...

IT'S CHRISTMAS.
And the Savior has manifested himself to everyone around us in such an evident way. Any time people complain to us about the commercialization of Christmas, their stress and anxiety, their distaste of individual family members, et cetera. The cure is always the Savior. The cure is always drawing closer to the Lord and trying to understand WHY they're facing the difficulties that they are. This is my favorite part of missionary work. Being able to feel the love our Father and Heaven has for his children, and then trying to help them feel the same thing. It's odd because sometimes you meet people, and you know exactly what would help them, exactly what would fix their problems. We stand so aware of what element of the Gospel would improve the quality of their lives. And to them, we're just a stranger, another vacuum salesman. It's. So. Frustrating.

So here's what you need to do, go tell somebody that God loves them.

The Spirit of Christmas is literally the Spirit of Christ. That spirit that everyone loves so much as a child is whimsical because it is founded in something that is simple and stress-free. The spirit of Christmas is giving and serving selflessly, not getting wrapped up in making sure you're doing enough. Focus your Christmas season on improving your relationships with others, including your Savior, and you will be able to carry on the Christmas spirit for the rest of the year.

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It has the ability to provide lasting change, the kind of change that isn't broken by January 15th, like every other New Years Resolution.

I love you all. I hope I get a chance to talk to some of you via Skype! I'm planning on calling between 10:30-12:00 Utah time. Stay by the computer! Love you all. Missing you to the moon.

Leroy's on the left, Michael's on the right!

Lookin' way cool on a Big Wheel, waiting for someone to show up to an appointment.




Wednesday, December 17, 2014

'Tis the Season to go caroling! Fa La La La La La La La La

 

This week was phenomenal!!!
Let me just begin with all of the miracles/joys/happy things.
(that doesn't mean I'm going to end with the negative things...because there really weren't any.)

So we're going to go day by day right quick.

Monday-Wednesday: Normal missionary blurs. We had an exchange with the sisters in Edmond, and their area just got shut down, and one of the sisters just finished her mission. So it was an odd exchange. I've never been good at preparing people for change. I can't recall too many other specific experiences from the week, but it was just a bunch of goodness. Except that LeRoy ended up dipping on Tuesday. So we had to push off his baptism until this upcoming Saturday. But so far, so good! He's excited to be free from his addiction. Also, we found out his real name is Fenton. Which is super cool.

Thursday: We had our Christmas Conference! Which basically means we woke up at 5, drove to the city, and had trainings for 12 hours. It's funny how the things that sound like torture to any normal teenagers (shoot..I just realized that I'm 21 and definitely not a teenager.) are considered gifts to missionaries.

Here was some wonderful takeaway:

The Lord knows that we CAN change. And as such, he expects us to. We need not bog ourselves down with the things that make us feel worthless. That's not how our Heavenly Father wants us to feel. He wants us to feel like we're progressing. If there's something about our lives that we don't necessarily like, we have the opportunity and command to change it so that we can accommodate our own feelings and allow ourselves to be individually happy. That is what the Atonement of Jesus Christ has allowed us to do.

Also, my Papa collected a series of Christmas cards from family members. If you were a part of that, thank you so much. I received a little package of them at the end of the conference, as well as a Christmas card from the First Presidency, and it just made my heart melt. I love you all a lot.

Friday: Was our ward Christmas party! Any everyone who doesn't come to church was there. And it was adorable. I will attach a picture of the amazing nativity set. They were 2-D realistic animals. Hahaha. So awesome.

Saturday: We drove to Perry and visited several members of the ward that we hadn't met before. I always love lifting up people who confine themselves to their home. It's easy to help people feel the spirit when they already have a testimony of their Savior. Then, in the evening, ALL OF OUR PLANS FELL THROUGH. It happens. Including the member who was going to come out with us to visit Larry. So, in a panic, we called every single member in our phone. They were all hanging out with each others, I'm pretty sure. So we prayed fervently in a Wal Mart parking lot that this would work out. Then my companion had the idea to call the Spanish sisters that we live with, so that we would at least be able to get into his house. They agreed to join us if they could bring Juan, someone they're teaching, so we agreed, and we called up Michael Whatley, one of the coolest fellas on the planet, and we all went to Larry's house for a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. And it was so solid. We asked Larry if there was anything that would keep him from living the Word of Wisdom, and he boldly resounded, "No! I mean, I'll have to quit drinkin', and smokin', and drinkin' tea. But I can quit anything with God's help." What?! That doesn't happen. We love Larry a lot... he is solid. IN his prayer at the end of the lesson, he prayed that Juan would get baptized, and during the lesson, Juan helped Larry by talking to him how he's in the process of quitting drinking. So... it was pretty much the greatest.

Sunday was kind of the same story. The day was great. We got a lot accomplished, but at night, all of our plans fell through. We went caroling with the Elders and wound up getting to chat with someone we have been trying to visit for months but haven't had any success with, then Sister Chandler and I prayed and prayed that we would find two new people to teach that evening, and it worked! We called up Sister Meldrum and, well, had the following conversation...

"Sister Meldrum! Wanna adventure?"
"...yes! Unless if's the Narnia... I really don't need that trouble in my life right now."

So, she showed up ten minutes later and we walked around a sketchy apartment complex (don't worry, Mom and Dad) knocking on people's doors that had told us they might be interested in listening to us. Sometimes those efforts are futile. But we wound up meeting two new people and teaching them on the spot. One of these people was named Faith, and boy did she fit her name. We taught her all about the Restoration, prophets, the Book of Mormon, just, everything. And she loved it. And the spirit was so powerful. And we taught her standing on her door step. We even set a baptismal date with her and got her a ride to church.

The Lord has just shown us miracles... That's all. Just. Miracles.

As the night wrapped up last night, Sister Meldrum told us that we could Skype our families at her house on Christmas. So now that that is secure, it will probably be around 11:30 or 12 when I call. Let me know if that works for y'all or if it needs to be swapped around.

I'll leave you with Life Lesson #20: Becometh as a Child
Children are innocent, they forgive quickly. They retain knowledge. They aren't hard on themselves. They have no problem trusting others. Their opinions don't impede them from choosing the right. I'm sure many tired mothers would disagree with me on some of those qualities, but God wants us to become like Children. I remember the exact moment when I was younger and I learned what sarcasm was. Somebody had made  abiting comment, and for the first time ever, someone told me, "I was just being sarcastic", then they had to explain that to me. As a child, I never sought to hurt any one's feelings, and if I ever did, I was too tender hearted to go with out apologizing moments later (I'm sure Katie can attest to that)

This is what God expects of us. That we "becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his Father." (Mosiah 3:19)

Most children don't have a sense of independence, they rely on their parents for happiness, approval, and instruction. Luckily, we are able to generate some of those elements on our own, but we are to always look to our Father in Heaven. Because like Children are carefree and not bogged down by their circumstances, neither do we need to be. We have the ability to find joy in all things and trust in God that all things can and will be solved in due time. We are expected to love and make friends with just about anyone, to seek not to contend, and find joy in every situation life brings us to.


I love you all!
I know that our Father in Heaven lives. And I know Christ is the savior of the universe. And my whole life has been changed with that knowledge. Give back to Christ this Christmas! Remember that "he who is in the service of his fellow man is only in the service of his God".

Love,

Sister Best

Some of you may have gotten Christmas Cards. If not, I'm sorry. But here's a picture of them anyway! And a typical porch display in OK.




Monday, December 8, 2014

Disproving Buddy the Elf and the miracle Root Canal

^ Wouldn't a title like that make for a fine children's book?

I will begin my epistle with a tragic yet glorious story from my week.
So for the past two months, I've had this tooth ache. It comes and goes, but it always seemed to come at inconvenient times. Like when I'm trying to sleep. I've been super quiet about it because I don't like to complain. And I don't like wasting mission time with personal matters, and I don't like asking for favors or money or anything. It makes me feel bad. But this week, I hadn't slept for days it hurt so bad, and one morning one of our roommates found me on the kitchen floor hiding behind a cupboard door and clenching my face with my hands. So she practically called the mission nurse for me and requested that I go to the dentist. The mission nurse set up an appointment for me in a city called Edmond. I expected for the dentist to tell me how much it would cost and I would say, "It's fine, I'll just live with it." But instead, they put me under laughing gas, gave me a root canal, and then afterwards told me, "we just like to take care of the sister missionaries." My heart was full of so much gratitude. They answered so many of my prayers.

Highlights:

Stillwater has a parade for everything. Literally everything. So this week we went to the Christmas Parade and handed out He is the Gift pass along cards to everybody who came to give us fliers and stickers. It was a solid exchange, I'd say. My companion even gave one to Santa and said, "this is a card that will help you discover the true meaning of Christmas" Hahah. So bold. I love her a lot.

We set a baptismal date with a fella named Larry for January 12th! And he got so excited about it that he put it on Facebook! Missionaries have been trying to teach Larry for quite some time, but his Dad just recently died, and he seemed as though he had been humbled quite a bit. He even came to church for the first time yesterday and he loved it. He's excited to come back next week! We are SO STINKIN' Excited!!!

Also, LeRoy is supposed to be getting baptized this Saturday!!! Which will be amazing. We have gone through all the baptismal interview questions with him and he seems thoroughly prepared. We just have to keep following up and making sure he's not still dipping.

We ran on not much sleep this week as we drove to the city for a meeting, to that dentist appointment in Edmond, to Woodward for an exchange, and to an outlying city called Perry, all within a matter of 3 days. Which meant waking up at five almost every morning. But it was worth it. We've had an amazing week.

We met several new people because of this He is the Gift Initiative. If you haven't shared it on Facebook yet, do it! Think of all the sad people who don't know how much our Father in Heaven loves them! And are spending their Christmas focused on being stressed out instead of being relaxed and joyful.

CHRISTMAS DEVOTIONAL <--- You should watch this, if you didn't get a chance to last night. It was really good. My companion and I received a lot of revelation from it. It goes hand in hand with something I've been studying lately.

"But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits,without partiality; and without hypocrisy." (James 3:17)

I've been trying to envelop some of these qualities in my own life and be less abrasive and spastic. It's hard for me.

I know Buddy the Elf says that the best way to spread Christmas Cheer is singing loud for all to hear, but I'd have to disagree with that. The best way to spread Christmas cheer is by developing charity for others and then doing something about it. That pure love of Christ will enable us to be creative and sparing in order to bring about much good. In the devotional, Elder Christofferson, in the devotional, mentioned that if we make becoming more Christlike a part of our daily routine, we can have the Christmas spirit, the Spirit of giving, year round. Because it becomes a part of us, not merely an annual occasion to serve. Those who sacrifice in the service of others are doing a wonderful thing. Sister Oscarson said that reflecting on how we can be more Christlike will help us be instruments in bringing about the happiness of others.

I wish I could be more eloquent, but I'm going to have to empathize with the many great men who stated that they were  "not mighty in speaking", because I'm not. But I love my Savior so much. I love our Heavenly Father so much. I feel the love they have for me and for every single one of us, if we want to accept it. I still reflect on the glory that our father in Heaven has restored the teachings of Jesus Christ to the earth so that we may partake of them and be instructed...literally from on high. I love all of you, as well, and want to thank you so much for the wonderful influence, support, and happiness you've been in my life. My heart feels like it's going to explode.

I love you.

Sister Best




Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am thankful for: my FAMILY. 100 percent. It was indeed a different experience having Thanksgiving in Oklahoma with a bunch of random families instead of the Best/Wootton/Ostlund Brunch and the Hennessey Dinner, but we had FOUR Thanksgiving dinners... so I can't complain.

We played football for four hours in the morning with a few members of the various local wards. Well, the Elders did. They decided to play two-hand touch so we ended up getting the other sister missionaries together and playing Football Lite with all the kids. It was awesome. We still got sore. And I walked away bleeding... Success.

Then we were invited to the Institute for Thanksgiving dinner for all the students who didn't go home for the holidays. It turned into a ping-pong tournament that I definitely lost. It was delicious. The food, not the defeat.

Then a less-active member of our ward invited us to dinner that she had fixed and was hosting in an elementary school cafeteria. Nothing says Thanksgiving like strangers, tile floors and fluorescent lighting. I'm sorry, that was cynical. It really was delicious. And we were able to find somebody we had been looking for for months!

THEN we went to the Weiermans for pie. And oh how we love the Weiermans. I would love to describe the events that ensued, but I'll just attach this video instead. [Watch video now]

I definitely got Elder Wilcox back. I wiped the whipped cream off my glasses and cheeks and threw it in his face, then he got Sister Chandler. We smelled really good. But the night wasn't yet over...

To close the night, we played some type of Nascar board game for two hours with some members of the ward. I think we crashed their date night. But it was fun nonetheless. I committed Sister Chandler and the Elders that if anyone offered us food all day, or even suggested that there was more, we had to say yes. So we were pretty darn full.

Victory!

The rest of the week carried on like a normal week.

Well, as normal as missionary work can be.

We spent a portion of this week in trainings figuring out how we can effectively, #sharethegift. The He is the Gift initiative is huge. The church has put a lot of money into helping people recognize the reason for the season. And that it really is Christ. The video they have released is beautiful. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, do so! Right... HERE! They bought the front page of Youtube for December 7th and it will be up in Times Square starting today until January 1st.

This "campaign" has really helped me reflect on what Christmas has always meant to me. And how this is the perfect time to see what Jesus Christ did. That he was, indeed, born. A real person. To come to earth as a gift from our Heavenly Father. I don't mean to get all political, but I have such a strong desire to infinitely have family + Christ-centered Christmases for the rest of my life, being sure to really focus on the meaning of things. My family raised me to always respect Christmas as a time for family interaction. I hope that I always remember that.

I think everyone we tried to talk to this week was drunk beyond coherence. I don't know why. One guy told us he had been bit by a Rottweiler, which explained the blood dripping down his face, but then he hugged me and told me I was his favorite person he'd ever met... what? Another guy told us that he met God and he offered him a cigarette and said, "light 'em up, Brother". He also told us his mother was the statue of liberty and told my companion she had "Merry Christmas eyes". Whatever that means...

I'll try to solidify this email with some spiritual insights, because it really was a week of spiritual enlightenment.

Hermana Anderson, one of our roommates, and quite possibly one of my best friends, is going home in January, and she inspired me to start making a book of 101 Life Lessons I learned on my Mission. It hasn't taken me much time at all to get to 20. I write the title and then a two page description of how I learned it and why it matters. So I'll start relating some of the things I've learned little by little.

Life Lesson  #16: Find joy in the here and now...right now.

This lesson could relate to life lesson #1, "Remember Lot's Wife", but I'm referring more specifically to being able to live in the present without constantly yearning for the future. There's no specific experiences I can think of to relate to this principle, as I usually do, because it is an everlasting lesson. On your mission, or at least on mine, I get distracted when I think about the future, even if it's just an upcoming conference or temple trip... Or P-day... hahah. We learn pretty quickly that there is so much joy found when we simply buckle (or tie or pull or... Velcro...) up our shoes and get to work. And having planned and studied and prayed for those we interact with, we find joy when we are where we're supposed to be in the exact moments we're supposed to be there.

We have joy in our present circumstances because we can trust what the Lord has in store or us and that he's constantly giving us little miracles and blessings, if we'll only recognize them as such. This life is meant to be enjoyable. We're not meant to try to get through this day so we can enjoy tomorrow. We're supposed to be happy each and every day doing the things that are required of us. So much of that joy comes from hope. So much more of that joy comes from friends and family. But our relationship with God, or rather, our intimate friendship with Him and sheer acceptance of his will, will compel us to keep his commandments, and in turn, be happy. Because we'll understand why things happen to us when they do. And what we need to learn from them.


I love you all.

Happy Thanksgiving. And Happy December! Woah!

Love,

Sister Best

Monday, November 24, 2014

Pray in faith!

Sorry if last week's email was pretty stoic. Because it was. I'll try to perk it up a bit because this week has been terrific!

Sending Sister Roberts home was hard. I'm sure she's happy, though. It was even harder to finally see Hermana Hirschi go home. It brought a whole new dynamic to our little house on 905 N. Dryden Circle. But we have really lucked out. My companion, Sister Chandler, is so, so, so great. And Hermana Anderson's new companion, Hermana Haddock, is so, so, so great. And all we do when we're home is laugh and have gospel discussions and love our missions. And I love it a lot.

I've been having this week where I can't control myself. My heart and my stomach and my arms and every part of me are just so full of gratitude. I guess that's fitting for the upcoming Thanksgiving, but I just love my Savior. I keep having these moments where I look at his picture and I get teary-eyed. I receive so much revelation in lessons, in my studies, when I think of him. And it has been such a blessing by way of hitting the pavement and getting to work. Sister Chandler is really good for this. She and I have made all kinds of goals to help us hit the ground running. And we've had a lot of spirit-led experiences as a result of it.

One night, it was 8:48 PM, and we had no idea what to do. It's usually too dark to go door knocking at this point and people get mad.

Sister Chandler: Let's go knock one last door.
Me: Okay, where?
Sister Chandler: Turn left.

Then we agreed on a specific house on that street and wound up talking to a lady and her three little girls. We offered her a Finding Faith in Christ DVD and she seemed thrilled to have it. She told us she was excited to watch it and that she would call us and tell us what she thought.

The next day we left a note on the car of a lady who told us she was having a bad day and didn't have much interest in talking to us. We told her we would be praying for her and that we loved her and we invited her to church. The next day at church, a member of the church, this lady's neighbor, handed us a letter she had written. It was addressed "To the two disciples of Christ that gave me a faith boost". It was so sweet. It's always sweet to think that such a little act can turn a person's day around.

This is something that I have been studying rather rigorously. Every single day we tell people we will pray for them. And I've noticed that people of other faiths are very, very adamant about asking, "will you pray for me?" I never fully understood it. A prayer is a prayer. Whether someone says it for you or you say it yourself. So I decided to crack this case. The first thought I had was in the Bible Dictionary where it says, "The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves AND OTHERS blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them." I liked that a lot. But the words "and others" really stuck out to me this time around. We are all in this life together. If all of our prayers are dependent on our own faith in Jesus Christ, then by the faith of many will our prayers be answered. We can literally help people out of their trials by praying for them. Granted, they need to act in their faith as well, because we have our agency and they are responsible for how they use it, but out faith can help others receive things they need. One of the scriptures this study brought me to is in Luke 22:32.

"But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou are converted, strengthen thy brethren." The TG references for this scripture are, "Fellowshipping; Missionary Work; Sustaining Church Leaders."

And to D + C 108:7.

"Therefore, strengthen your brethren in all your conversation, in all your prayers, in all you exhortations, and in all your doings."

The Gospel IS to share the Gospel. It is our purpose. To rescue, strengthen, bless, and uplift EVERYBODY. Of course we need to do all we can to spread the word that the Gospel has been restored. Because the restored gospel isn't an opinion. It's not just a nice lifestyle choice. It's the truth. It's the way. Jesus Christ didn't say I am one way, he said I am THE way.

This principle reared its head four billion times this week. We saw so many miracles, we found so many new people to share the Gospel with. And we were able to have a lesson with LeRoy in a members' home. They testified of the spirit, and the importance of sincere prayer, no matter where you're at in life. The spirit was so strong, and I know LeRoy could not have denied it. You don't need to be a member of a church to pray. You just need to want to have a relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Well, ladies and gentlemen, this is the happiest I've ever been. Because work will always be work. But working for the Lord will always be rewarding. Be a light wherever you are! <--I never thought I would be this cheesy... I think one of my favorite parts of missionary work is being myself, and still being a missionary. Sometimes people meet us and we just immediately are able to squash what they thought of Mormons before. Because we're normal people. We make jokes, we laugh, we can indeed drink Coca Cola if we want.

I love you all a lot. I am so grateful for YOU. Happy Thanksgiving!

Loooove,
Sister Best.

Here is a very descriptive photo of me and my companion, Sister Chandler. And a goodbye picture with Sister Roberts. :(



Monday, November 17, 2014

Goodbye, Sister Roberts :(

My Family! Hello, hello!

This week I have to say goodbye to Sister Roberts as she finishes her mission and heads to Utah. Which makes me really sad because she is one of my best friends. This transfer has been such a breeze because we have such open communication and she helped me through so much. But I get to meet my new companion, Sister Chandler, on Wednesday! I know absolutely nothing about her. Except that she's only been out for about five or six months. I'm excited!

I don't know where to start... except that it's like 2 degrees here. And on Wednesday our heater went out... So we woke up and it was 50 degrees in our apartment. For exercise, we all ran around our apartment bundled in our blankets and then fell on the floor and studied in our living room. Bishop Austin saved the day by bringing us little space heaters so we could weekly plan in warmth. It's been a bit chilly. They almost cancelled church because of the blizzard we had yesterday. Which would have been considered a light winter day in Utah. And may I just be the one to say, it is a different kind of cold. A humid, windy cold. The kind of wind that just pierces you to the core. So, needless to say, no one wanted to talk to us this week. But it was glorious, none the less.

We were able to see quite a few people and have quite a few experiences to really feel the spirit, really gauge their progress, like LeRoy. While we were on exchanges, Sister Loder and I went to see LeRoy. He is one of our most progressing investigators, and is really working toward understanding the things that we teach. We saw him this week and he had just finished reading the Children's Book of Mormon and started reading the real Book of Mormon. Before, he really struggled to understand it, but now that he's praying for understanding, we've been able to see a remarkable change in his comprehension. And he finally admitted that he's been struggling to feel the spirit. He comes to church, he reads diligently, but he still hasn't received that spiritual confirmation yet. I found this to be very interesting, and a testament to me, that the spirit speaks to us in a myriad of different ways. Even as long as I've been here, I've seen a change in LeRoy. In his countenance, in his lifestyle, in his attitude. It proved to be that, as the scriptures say, "by their fruits shall ye know them". Maybe he didn't have a first-vision experience of truth and enlightenment, but the improvement in the quality of his life was an indication to me that the Lord is working within him. We suggested that he pray to the Lord for the help to quit dipping. Whenever we see the Savior helping us through our biggest trials, it is a sure sign of the infinite and individual love that our Father in Heaven has for us. I'm sure of it.

Another really wonderful experience was getting to go to the temple with Carla, a woman who was baptized right before I got her. She did baptisms and was so emotional that whole time. We also go to be with one of the twelve-year-old girls in our ward who was going for the first time (Aubrey). It was an incredible experiences, the first time I had done baptisms in quite some time, and the spirit just reached into all of our hearts and testified of the holiness and sacred-nature of the temple. I will never doubt that it is the house of Lord. I have never walked into that building, any of them, and NOT received a witness that there is, indeed, something divine in the work that goes on within. It is nearly impossible to have a negative thought within the walls of the Lord's house. If you have the ability to go regularly and aren't taking advantage of it, you are denying yourself the opportunity to be ridiculously happy and positive in your dealings.

Sister Roberts has been a good example to me of someone who feasts on the scriptures. That's a skill I want to better develop. I've never been too talented at feasting on the scriptures. I can read them for understanding or a quick answer to prayers, but I struggle to really sit down and analyze story by story. So I cracked open the topical guide and decided to study captain Moroni. I received so much revelation through that that I finally just opened up and read from the beginning of the Book of Mormon again. I haven't done that since around this time last year. In the last two weeks, I've finished first Nephi, and it has improved my entire attitude. I've loved reading through 1 Nephi 21 this week. I have the endless question, as everyone does, "Why do good things happen to bad people?" and I've come across two types of "bad things":
1. Self-inflicted, results of our own choices
2. or faith and character-building trials.

Something I've noticed is that a lot of people who endure self-inflicted trials tend to cope with them by acting like a victim. They think that their choices haven't been the cause of their affliction. Yet many people who endure the second kind of trial can generally attribute it to their source; that God is testing and strengthening them.  However both types could be dealt with oppositely. And that's where the faith and character-building comes from. In either instance, we can choose to accept that whether it's our "fault" or not, the Lord is on our side, comforting us, strengthening us to endure it. Isaiah gives an example of this, but I will relate Nephi's explanation of it,

"...for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted."
"But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me-but he will show that he hath not."

He goes on to talk about how a woman might possibly forget her child, but our Heavenly Father never will. We, as human beings, are imperfect. We are incapable of perfect love, no matter how hard we try. But to assume that God will forget you in your trials is to assume that God is not God. That he is not perfect. That you are not his child. And that he does not love you. And that, my friends, is the work of Satan. To make you think that the only person capable of loving you to the fullest extent has abandoned you. Don't listen to that. It's just a load of garbage.

I have loved this week. I have loved continuing to apply the principles taught yesterday and last week at church about self-reliance. I think the Lord is trying to tell me something because it has been the theme of ever organized meeting we've been to over the past two weeks. Anyone who knows me probably knows that I've often considered myself to be a pretty independent person, but I'm definitely one to run to my sources as soon as I hit a road block. ANd it has made me reevaluate my definition of the word "independent". I've been working on turning to the Lord with any question, any spiritual matter, that comes to mind. I'm working on becoming the kind of person that instead of saying:

"Okay, that didn't work... What should I do next?"
saying,
"Okay, that didn't work. So I'm going to try ______ and see if that works. Then I'll return and report."

When we are more self-reliant, when we are rescuing ourselves first and putting our trust in the Lord, he allows us to rescue others with our experiences.

I love this Gospel. I know that it's true. I know that it's the source of all happiness. And that we need not be a victim of our circumstances. I love all of you and am grateful for your support. Stay warm!

Love,

Hermana Best (<--I feel like I'm lying to myself... Sister Best!)

Photos:
Temple with Carla and Aubrey!
Snow day! Pretty companion!



Stay in the Boat!

This week was so inspiring. I say that every week. It doesn't make it less true. Wednesday was my "Hump Day". Whoosh. Where did nine months go? But it was time for me to have some serious reflection. Am I the missionary I want to be? Am I going to plateau or launch forward? Luckily, I chose the latter. We were on exchanges in Enid and when Sister Roberts came to pick me up, she told me she had similar feelings. That she just wanted to work smarter, not harder. My thoughts exactly. And in return, we had a terrific week. We visited, and I'm not one for exaggerations, but probably 4 billion less active members. And ten of them came to church yesterday. We found a couple new people to teach (and then they promptly disappeared off the face of the planet... isn't that how it always goes?!) But the whole week just felt really good. In fact, we've been able to see a lot of people keep commitments this week. LeRoy reads pages and pages in his Book of Mormon every single day. There were just a lot of miraculous moments this week, moments where we didn't know why we were going where we were going, but then ended up exactly where we needed to be.

Shout out to Lewis Hodson! Dang! I'm just getting nephews right and left. I love my family oh so much and I'm excited to meet that little guy. There have been quite a few experiences this week that have made me feel very, very close to my family. Mostly just personal conversations between Sister Roberts and myself. But the family is given to us from God for the sole purpose of uplifting one another and being able to feel joy in this life. Yet we see so many broken, hurting families. And I know every family has their struggles, but I'm so grateful for mine. In every circumstance we face, no matter how they're related to me, I know that my family was specifically designed FOR ME. And they have taught me so much. And I love them (Every single one of you) so much.

There are similar sentiments about missionary work...Why do we do missionary work? To bring people closer to Christ. Why do we bring people closer to Christ? It is a process of strengthening us and helping us grow. It's also because we depend on one another to support the church (And us as human beings!) We all have our own God-given talents, and everybody else has something that you don't have. That's the genius behind callings and assignments. Everybody is needed. Sometimes we try to "rescue" people from less activity or inactivity, and we do it forcefully instead of how it is intended to be done. Clayton Christensen gave a talk in 2011 about this, which is actually what Sister Roberts and I are giving a training on this evening during Stillwater's Specialized Training Meeting, but he says, "As long as the pitch was 'You need the church," it didn't connect. But when the pitch was "We need you", he had this need to help others." Everybody wants to feel needed. We're designed that way. When we can utilize our talents, we feel purposeful. If we had no means to provide for anybody, we would feel worthless. That seemed to be a theme in church yesterday; Self Reliance. So many people we talk to blame their inadequacies or heartache on their circumstances. But we really are agents to act for ourselves, not to be acted upon. If you don't believe me, Read This!

So here I leave you with a story that solidified everything I've just talked about into a simple story from this week:

The only way to find true happiness is through the teachings of Jesus Christ. This I know. This week, we met with a family who has recently fallen into a rut. The wife was primary president, the husband a Young Mens' leader. Then one day, seemingly out of no where, she decided she didn't believe in Joseph Smith. She went home and told her Husband, and he agreed his testimony was weak as well. So they just left. We visited this family hoping to understand them and discern how we could help them once again, but their demeanor seemed...off. They appeared uncomfortable in their own skin, and a lot of what they said seemed like an attempt to defend, or rather, justify their decision instead of being able to just live peacefully and joyfully like the Gospel allows. I don't say this to back bite, nor am I insinuating that they shouldn't have questions or doubts. BUT STAY IN THE BOAT. There is more truth than there is mystery if you're willing to seek it out. And it makes me sad to see these strangers look so confused and lost, when every one who knew them well as active members of the church said they were so happy and involved. I'm sure, deep down, they know that what they've done was wrong. They've labelled themselves with cynicism and artificial happiness, and it's heart-wrenching. And now they're fearful to jump back in.

Overall, this encounter strengthened my testimony. Because I've seen the behind-the-scenes actions of the Ward, expending their efforts to reactivate this wayward family. No one ever took the time to consider, "Hmm...maybe this couple is on to something" because they saw the negative effects that took place almost instantly and instinctively wanted to rescue them and bring them back to joy. So whenever I hear anybody say, "The Mormons are a cult, they just brainwash people and try to convert everybody". I just have to remember that we are persistent, but it's because there is only one source of being ridiculously happy. There's only one way to not be cynical and judgmental. The Gospel heals.

I know it.

I love you all so much. Pardon the preachy-preach.

Love,
Sister Best

Monday, November 3, 2014

Bonjour, mis amigos!

Sorry for joining two languages together. Spanch, Frenchlish.... Man, Spanglish roles off the tongue way easier. Anyway, Hi everybody!

Can you believe it's already November? Yeah, me neither. I'm going to have to make this quick because Sister Roberts and I are driving to Enid in a little bit for a few days. We have a training to give and a training to go to and then an exchange so... whoosh. And people think Mondays are our days off. Ha!

Each day is something new. This week was especially jam packed. I went down to Edmond for an exchange with the sisters down there and we spent hours knocking doors in the richest city of our mission. It definitely wasn't terribly effective. In fact, one woman told us that we were creepy and needed to beat it. Using the word "creepy" at least five times. But it was an interesting change of scenery. In Edmond there are hills and huge houses. It's definitely the only suburb I've been in since my first night in the Mission home in March. This exchange made me appreciate how much easier it is to have patience than it was at the beginning of my mission. The entire 24 hours I was in Edmond, we only spoke to about 3 people. But my mind has been turned over to the Lord to recognize that while we are doing what we have felt inspired to do, he will watch over us and care for us and ensure that we have success. In his time, not in our time.

This week, we've been able to spend a lot of time in our area with people who haven't been to church in a while, people who come to church but do it just because they have to, and with full blown active members. We're trying to strengthen the relationships we have with them in order to help them bring others to the Gospel, instead of them trying to help us. Because when it's all said and done, we'll leave, and the members will remain.  It's been interesting to hear their stories, their conversions, and how easy it is to forget the faith you once had. I have such a testimony of callings, especially visiting and home teaching, because they encourage people to go out and talk to people who don't feel needed or loved in the Gospel. Sometimes that visit is all it takes to remind someone of their testimony. In the Bible Dictionary, under the definition of faith, it says "Faith is kindled by hearing the testimony of those who have faith." Romans 10:17: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God."

We also were able to go on an exchange with the Hermanas, the sisters that we live with. Hermana Anderson is a missionary that I have always looked up to for her diligence and her love for the Savior, so this exchange was definitely for me. And a lucky excuse to go into their area and speak Spanish again. I miss it. Sometimes I sneak into their office during studies and make them talk to me for a while in Spanish so that I don't get rusty. Hermana Anderson bore her testimony to me about how everything she does is out of love for God. And how she just wants to make him proud. And share what she has with as many people as she can. And I know she is accomplishing that.

Later that evening, because it was Halloween, we were asked to stay inside if we didn't have any set appointments, and no one wanted to set appointments with us on Halloween, so my companion and I cleaned our house and set up our Christmas Tree and decorated it with Restoration Cups (little plastic cups with pictures of the Apostles on them), pass along cards, Book of Mormon action figures, and random ornaments we found around the house. It looks glamorous. Then, when the other sisters came home, we made Pumpkin Apple Cider and watched Mr Kruegers Christmas in our PJs. Effective use of time, I dare say.

So overall, We have been seeing so many miracles, and I'm sorry I don't often include them...But, here's a fun side note... I think we're turning in to full blown Okies down here. The other day we were driving to a little town called "Perry" on a flat, flat, flat stretch of land and listening to Christian country music, probably the most twangy banjo music of all time, and carrying on a completely normal conversation. And then we stopped and evaluated ourselves. And realized we had accents. And were willingly listening to banjo music, and not even satirically. So the OkieCulture is definitely infectious.

Here's where the miracle of the week comes in... On our way back from Perry, we were on our way to the house to eat dinner when Sister Roberts felt really, really impressed to go to Subway. And was oddly insistent on it. So we pulled up to a Subway on the outskirts of town and walked inside to a deserted Gas station/Subway combo... The lady at the SubWay counter, Cindy, was awfully friendly and we chatted with her for a while. It took her a second to glance down and see our tags but when she did she got so excited and told us that she had been taking lessons from missionaries in Texas but then she moved and now there are missionaries who have been trying to contact her while she's been here, but she doesn't know who they are or how to contact them. She is moving into our area in the next little while! Then, without us having to ask many questions, she said, "Do you know why they killed Joseph Smith?" and we looked at each other and then looked at her and she answered her own question, "I think it was because he was telling the truth and everybody was scared." So... Miracles. Needless to say, we're going to go to SubWay at that sketchy half gas station until we can get more contact information from her.

Obligatory Declaration: God lives! And listens to our prayers. And loves all of us a lot.

I love you, too!
Sister Best

Photos: Halloween! -The closest we got to a costume and our Christmas tree!



Monday, October 27, 2014

Homecoming/Birthday Week

Woah! Sorry about the downer e-mail last week. I think I just forgot to include all the good that happened because it really wasn't as rough as I apparently made it sound. Stillwater is doing REALLY WELL.

It's a beautiful fall morning over here. I'm used to October 25th being the first snowfall, but it was 85 degrees on my birthday. So odd. I love it. This week was insanity.

We got to go on our first exchange of the transfer to Woodward. The exchange itself was wonderful, a lot of walking around to find people for them to teach and allowing the spirit to guide and direct conversation in an attempt to aid struggling missionaries. We also found a windmill museum in the middle of nowhere. And a sign that said, "Slapout...Population 8". It's always an adventure here in the middle of Oklahoma.

I was really pleased to have had this opportunity because it helped me apply a lot of what I've been studying... trying to strengthen my testimony in an attempt to utilize it for the growth of others. I think back on all the people in my life who solidified my testimony by sharing theirs with me. I want to be a part of that. I know that the closer I get to Christ, the more easily I can reach out to others. So I've been attempting to change my mindset to have an outlook of "It Matters Not". If I can live constantly in the service of others, listening to what they have to say and valuing their ideas and opinions, and losing myself, being less inward-centered, it will be easy to help others draw unto Christ. Because my own pride and selfishness won't be getting in the way. It makes me think of Alma as he is just caught in a trap of wanting to scream the Gospel but feeling restrained. He says, "I do not glory of myself but I glory in that which the Lord has commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul to repentance; and this is my joy." I've been thinking about that a lot lately.

We spent about 6 hours in the car driving to and from Woodward, which was a lot of glorious companionship bonding time, and can I just say, I really appreciate and look up to my companion. Sister Roberts has such a solid head on her shoulders and a huge heart. She is constantly trying to help me see my worth and strengthening others as well.

We had a few lessons this week, one with one of our investigators named Leroy who is trying to give up dipping, but he is so sincere and it is such a pleasure to see his heart softened every time he comes to church. Hearing stories from his past, I'm reminded of how merciful our father in Heaven is, and how individualized each of our purposes are. Leroy has had a lot of near-death experiences, and it is such a blessing to be a part of watching his change. He has set up a baptismal date in December, a little ways off to give him time to ease off his addiction, but I have a lot of faith that the Lord will make him stronger than his desires. Because the Lord's done it for me. :) And I've seen him do it for countless others.

But THIS WEEKEND WAS INSANE. We got to spend it with Sister Barlow, the office missionary, who came down to hang out with us.

 Stillwater is a college town, home to the OSU Cowboys and this weekend was homecoming. We spent a lot of time out on the streets trying to contact people that way, getting people to take surveys, handing them pass-along cards, and trying to gather their information. On Friday night, we walked the streets of the "Walk About" where the sororities and fraternities have these massive, elaborate displays outside of their houses to show their devotion to the university and there were 90,000 PEOPLE there. We had to start narrowing down who we spoke to pretty specifically because the first several people we talked to just wanted to Bible-Bash with us. One woman told me she didn't believe my faith was real. I'm going to start making a tally of how often I hear that. I always thought hearing people rip apart our beliefs would be hard and damaging, but it's really not. More than anything, it makes my heart hurt for them, not doubt how firmly I stand.

WE WERE EXHAUSTED. But the next day was my birthday, and day two of homecoming: Game Day. We, once again, drove downtown and walked blocks and blocks until we got to the homecoming parade. This was the Okiest parade I've ever seen. There were a few floats, but most of it was semi-trucks, tractors, and lawn mowers (the kind you ride, and the kind you don't...) My companion, Sister Barlow,  and our roommates, the Hermanas, all told me this parade was for my birthday, and I have to say, it was a blast. I'll attach a bundle of pictures. We also got to chat up a storm over there as the parade was letting up. Then we took off to beat traffic and handed pass-along cards through car windows.


We had a young single adult named Lil' Breezy take us to lunch at Braums. It was the best. He wrote me a birthday rap, and I don't think my life will ever be the same because of it. We ended up doing our studies in the middle of the day due to the game, doing some service for a sweet elderly lady, and then Brother and Sister Pettingill from Wichita Falls and my trainer, Hermana Gonzalez, came up to Stillwater to take us out to dinner with the Elders. It was a blast. Overall, it was a terrific day. A lot of commotion and joy in the air.

I had a chance to open my presents, all of which were so heartfelt, useful, and thoughtful, and the package of letters that was put together for me. It made my day. I almost wept as I read them. If you're lost, my mother and Dane Goodwin collaborated to contact just about every person I've ever met in my life to write me a birthday note and send it my way... and it meant so much to me. If I don't get a chance to write you back, just know I love you and value those notes so much. So thank you so much to everybody who participated in any way in sending something my way for my birthday. It was, indeed, the best birthday I've ever had.

I'll leave you with one more thought. I've been re-reading the Book of Mormon, this time highlighting Christlike Attributes as listed in Preach My Gospel and trying to follow the story line more exactly and how it applies to us in our day. I found a verse that has been weighing heavy on my mind. Lehi has seen the vision of the tree of life, which I talked a bit about in my last email, but several chapters later, as Nephi is explaining the symbolism of everything to his brothers...

"26. And they said unto me: What meaneth the river of water which our father saw?

27. And I said unto them that the water which my father saw was filthiness; and so much was his mind swallowed up in other things that he beheld not the filthiness of the water."

I was so impressed by Lehi's display of virtue in this instance. His mind is so focused on God's love and his words and doing all he can to gather his family and keep them close that he doesn't even take the time to glance over and comprehend the filth of the river. He saw that it was bad, and that was about all the energy he wasted on it. What a great example. Sometimes we let our minds wander, or even our actions revolve, around that which is not expedient to the Lord; things that are trivial and have very little eternal impact. But if we seldom take the time to acknowledge the filth of the world, we will have so much more time to focus on that which uplifts.

I love you all. I know God loves you all. I felt that very strongly this week. The Lord confirmed to me that everyone back home is being taken care of in His own way. I hope you feel it. I love you from states and states away.

Love,

Sister Best

Notable missionary gifts:

Elders Wilcox and Gonzales gave me a tie + directions. Photo attached
One of the Zone Leaders gave me the calculator watch from off of his wrist. Woah. Life made.
The Hermanas got me some leather-scented scratch-and-sniff stickers.

As for the photos... 


Me and my sculpture buddy. If you look closely, you'll see a woman I had just given a pass-along card to checking out the pass-along card. Woot! (Oh, and wearing possibly one of the cutest dresses of all time. 1 of 2 adorable dresses I received for my birthday.)

Me and a semi-truck... in a parade... What?

The glorious tie + directions.










Monday, October 13, 2014

Next Stop: Stillwater

YESTERDAY WAS A SURGE OF EMOTION. We have had the hardest time getting people to come to church the entire twelve weeks I've been here. Which has been so very disappointing. The first transfer, we only ever had one person at church, and this transfer, same story, just Jesus Jr. at conference. But yesterday, we had FOUR people come to church. It was so wonderful. I was able to bear my testimony in Spanish for them and feel their repentance process begin and it was so satisfying. I love finding personal success in the progress of others. It feels rewarding to know the Lord trusts you with his children.

So, basically, one of the members of our ward gave us some really heart breaking news about one of our investigators that just shook me to the core (don't worry, I'm being really vague on purpose. Inquire within.) And then, not even thirty seconds later, President called and asked how I was doing.

"I'm doing okay, how are you?"
"I'm Wonderful! Why are you only okay?"

And I kept my cool for a solid 15 seconds before I kind of lost it. And he calmed me down.
And then slyly told me that I had been called as a Sister Training Leader in Stillwater.
So my emotions kind of turned around, probably selfishly, because this means I get to be companions with Sister Roberts, whom I love and has been my STL for my entire mission, and it gives me more opportunities to improve on things I'm still working on... like patience. And Christlike love. And giving constructive criticism (I especially dislike that one), but it also means I'll be serving English for quite a while, which is kind of a bummer. But Stillwater is only and hour from Enid... So when we go on exchanges I'll be able to come back and visit. I don't know. I just...woah. Anyway. Then we hung up and right that second, Jose called and told us he was outside for Spanish Sacrament. So in a matter of about six  minutes I went for horrified to ecstatic. It's just a bunch of crazy happenings over here.

Later that night we learned that my companion, who earlier had made a deal with President to stay for one more transfer if he let her go at the end of it, is also coming to Stillwater to serve in the Spanish area. And the sisters in Stillwater live in the same house! So it should be quite the party. Her new companion, Hermana Anderson, is one of the missionaries I look up to the very most. I love her guts. So we should have a pretty darn good time.

It was a bizarre week. A lot of hand-off lessons to the Elders and preparing for that switchover, saying goodbye, praying and fasting (oh so much praying and fasting...) for my sweet and wonderful companion Hermana Hirschi. But we had a bundle of highlights:

-Sister Neff dyed my hair dark red in the kitchen sink at the church on p-day. All the Elders watched. It was real weird/awesome/there was pizza involved.

-We got to see Meet the Mormons the Tuesday before it was released in theaters. And it was so good. A lot of people commented on being able to see it already, and that makes me so glad. It truly was wonderful! So inspiring and uplifting. It makes you recognize that it doesn't take much to have a successful and fulfilling life; just the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the standards laid out for us.

-We ate a lot.

I love you love you love you all. Con todo mi corazon.

Fotos:

-This is Rosalinda, whom we love so much and visit her almost daily to read scriptures with her. She's amazing.
-The Hair Dying Ordeal






Monday, October 6, 2014

I DON'T WANT TO LEAVE

Sweet Family and Friends of mine, how I love you dearly! This week was magnificent! Every week is magnificent. But when you get a chance to hear from the Prophet and the Apostles, life gets even better. Because it was SO INTENSE. Let's see.. Let's see... This week was eternal.

Welp, I really don't want to leave Enid. I love this place. The people are so kind. Especially the members, they are so consecrated. And I have grown to love the young women and YSA of this ward. and apparently some of them read my blog... so shout out to Charity, Hannah and Rylan! hahah.

Abunch of the people we have been working with are growing leaps and bounds, especially this week. People who have been learning about the Gospel for a long time are finally keeping commitments. It's amazing. This is my favorite part of missionary work; watching people change. Jesus Jr. is someone who I have seen this difference in the most. I'm pretty much one hundred percent positive he is the reason I came to Enid at all. Last transfer, Hermana Chugg and I were on the North East side of town when the English Elders called us and told us we needed to come say a prayer with a guy they just met. So we cancelled our appointment, which is kind of unheard of, to drive across town and go see this random man. We both felt like he was priority. We ended up teaching Jesus Jr., his father, and his brother the Restoration. Later we would find out, this was the same day he got out of jail for something that he definitely did not do, but he was looking to change his life so he could stay out of trouble. And ever since then, he has been a  sponge. Absorbing everything we share with him. We visit him every other day and share concept after concept that he loves. (In return, he cooks us slabs of meat and gives us Mexican Coke and dulces.)

And ladies and gentlemen, HE CAME TO CHURCH THIS WEEK. Well, rather, he came to conference. But he sat in the chapel and had to contain his emotions as he leaned over to me and whispered that this was the first time he had been to church in 13 years. Gah. I gave him a piece of paper to write down questions he had during the session and they were all so sincere. Questions about repentance and the Doctrine of Christ. I got emotional just sitting there, hearing what he was hearing. He was wearing translation equipment and it still didn't mask the power behind the words and voices of these ordained servants of God. Goodness. Ahh. Goodness.

Yesterday, we had another powerful lesson, the spirit was strong, and after he said the only prayer we've ever not had to help him with, he leaned over to me, and squeezed my arm, and said "yo voy a extranale mucho." uggh. Me too. But it's been such a blessing to be a part of his conversion. And now, it will be wonderful to see what happens next. The Lord is preparing him for great things.

I absolutely adored conference. It answered so many questions. I had so many questions about personal revelation and how we can receive answers to our questions. Conference blew me out of the water in that aspect. If you haven't had a chance to watch it, please do. Saturday Session was amazing, but the whole conference was about being prepared, not lowering your standard's to meet the World's standards because God's standard is immovable and correct. It opened my eyes. And made me fearful. We need to be strong. We need to be lights instead of subjects on which people can pick on and drag us down. If you want more insights on my thoughts on conference, let me know. but I'll quit dribblin' on so y'all can watch it for yourself. Ope, you caught me. "Y'all" is just too easy to say. Hahaha.

Pictures: Trying to get our buddy Jose to smile. not an easy task. ;)
We took all the books out of my bag and filled it with snacks so that Jesus Jr. (and the other missionaries) would stay awake during conference.




Tuesday, September 30, 2014

The Battle is not Yours, but God's

Sooo... A whole bundle of a lot happened this week (and every week for the last eight months). BUT GUESS WHAT?

I got a speeding ticket for the first time in my entire life. For going 35 MPH...in a little town called Kingfisher. It was such a sad, sad thing. That ticket was a hefty 150 bucks! I'll be paying that forthwith... I just wanted to complain because I'm too embarrassed to tell the rest of the missionaries, hahah. One of the other sisters got a speeding ticket a couple weeks ago (for going 80 in a 65...) and nobody will let her live it down. Especially because when you get pulled over on the mission, the President "grounds you" for thirty days and your companion has to drive. But when I sulked up to president and admitted that the reason we were late to the new missionary meeting was because I got pulled over for going 35 mph, he just looked at me and laughed and said, "Well I'm not going to take away your driving privileges for that. Just be careful".

So yeah! What else?

The General Women's Meeting was..uhm...off the hook, if you will. It was so good. The whole thing was on the importance of the temple, which was a little bit interesting seeing as we had an investigator there and we hadn't quite gotten to the temple yet, but on a very selfish level, it was wonderful. It talked all about the importance of keeping covenants and the light that we can be to those around us. It's not a burden to have to live the commandments, or, "the strict standards of the church", it is a blessing to know what we can do in this life to make our lives easier, happier, and better. Commandments are given to relieve us from temptation and trials... Yet we're so darn prideful. Sometimes we just don't wanna do it! Hahaha. In the words of Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "Do we really need to obey ALL of God's commandments?" then he chuckled and said, "I think he knows something we don't know..." Then he goes on to rebuke women who define themselves by their Pinterest boards and their Instagram posts instead of their divine potential. If you didn't watch it, run now. You get to hear his heavy German accent say the word, "Pinterest" and it's the best.

Sunday was... SO DISAPPOINTING. You have this expectation as a missionary that you're basically marketing gold for free, so people should probably just jump right in and do what you invite them to do. And they promise you they're on board. But then you get to church. And there are people who tell you, "yeah, we'll be there!" Or even, "I'm on my way!" And they never show up... It is heartbreaking. Because you know the words that are being said, the spirit that is being felt, is exactly what that person needed. Uggh. We have five meetings on Sunday. All three hours of church and then ward council and correlation before and after. So by the fifth hour, usually we're exhausted, but we gather as missionaries in the kitchen and make sandwiches. This week I couldn't do it. I asked my companion if we could go home and take a nap instead of eat lunch, hahah. She was totally on board. On the way home, I had Hermana Hirschi dial president and the conversation went as follows,

"President, we think you should know that we are working our little tail ends off in every way, and there is not enough Spanish work to sustain both areas in Enid. We have one progressing investigator and he is on probation..."

President Walkenhorst: "Well you keep working your little tail ends off for the next two weeks and then we'll close your area."

And for some reason, that was not the response I was expecting... Hahah. I love this area. I love Enid. And I definitely don't want to leave yet. The ward, our one progressing investigator-Jesus Jr.-, my companion, I love them all so dearly. And this will now successfully be the second area I leave and it immediately gets shut down afterwards. Ugghh... Que triste. Pero vamos a perseverar! We'll keep going until they shut down this area. As for my companion, she may or may not stick around in the mission. She's still praying about it and studying it out. If she leaves, she'll go at the end of the transfer. That was the deal she made with president. I hope she chooses to stay. There are, no doubt, things you learn on your mission that you could not learn any other way. It is a progress of transformation that takes time and will bless her life so much... The transfer ends on October 16th. Her decision will be made by the tenth. And seeing as we'll both leave at the end of the transfer, I'll be celebrating my birthday with a bunch of strangers! Woot! ;)

There's been a lot of spiritual insight this week. We had Zone Conference, and a new missionary meeting, and church, and the General Women's Broadcast. So I'll just going to leave you with a few quotes, do with them what you will.

"If you don't feel inadequate, you're not trying hard enough." <--Thank goodness...

"We don't need to BE the best, we just need to GIVE our best."

"Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed bu reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's." -2 Chronicles 20:15
"...I will fight your battles." D+C 105:14

"Heaven will be full of those who have forgiven and those who have been forgiven."

"Your life should reflect your love of the savior...Rejoice in the Lord and be glad in it."


That's all, folks. I love you. God loves you.

Pictures:

My companion and I did Weekly Planning with cartons of Braums ice cream...Which seemed like a way good idea, but I am apparently super lactose intolerant. And ended up really quite ill. So that was fun.

Hermana Hirschi and I getting stood up by Jesus Jr. We're going to print out this picture and leave it at his door next time he's not home. It seems like a really good idea.





Monday, September 22, 2014

What a wonderful week to be alive!!!

There were a lot of things that happened this week, but I'm going to go ahead and focus on those of greater importance... Oh but first, you should know, we spent three and a half hours mowing grass that was UP TO MY WAIST. Insanity. In the hot, humid Oklahoma sun. And grasshoppers and spiders and beetles kept getting all up in our bid'ness. So I just wanted to mention that... for sympathy? I don't know. Maybe just to humble you if you think your life is hard.

I received so much stinking revelation at church yesterday that it would shock you. I felt like every prayer I had ever had, every question I had ever asked, was answered. But all of this started on Saturday. Woah, forgive the sporadic nature of this email.

On Saturday my companion and I had the amazing opportunity to drive up to the city with Hannah and Rylan Richter, a couple of girls who joined the church with their family last year. And we got to watch them be sealed to their family. I feel so powerfully overwhelmed with the spirit that was felt at this sealing. I cannot honestly state that I had a testimony of Eternal families until that day. Being able to spend the entire morning with Hannah and Rylan felt reminiscent of my own sisters, specifically Katie (sorry others) and the idea that being with them for eternity was so incomprehensible, but it was an overwhelming feeling of joy. The spirit in the room as their family all kneeled together just turned your heart upside down. I wound up afterwards in the dressing room with the Bishop's wife just trying to compose ourselves because the spirit was all-consuming. This is what life is about. This is the purpose of all that we do. Our eternal goal is to become families, sealed together, living with God. nobody in that room could have denied the divinity of the priesthood power that was present. Nobody.   

So on Sunday, the whole ward was re-energized. Because I swear that spirit carried over from the sealing to fill the entire ward. Or maybe it was just me. But one of the speakers in church talked about how the Book of Mormon is a record of a fallen people who had fallen because of their pride. And it was focused on how the more we are humbled, the happier and better we will become. But humility is hard. It takes a lot of work. You have to actually make those changes you don't want to make in order to feel that joy you are trying to implement. A lot of times the things that we THINK are hard, aren't actually hard at all. Satan just has a way of making us think they are insurmountable until we actually do them and acknowledge that we are more capable than we think we are. I sought revelation about obedience in Spanish Gospel principles, and then in Relief Society, we talked more about the sealing power. I just know this is God's plan. I have no doubt. It is so refreshing.

On Sunday night, I gave a talk in Spanish Sacrament Meeting on something that has been weighing on my mind pretty heavily lately. 2 Nephi 4: 17-24. How because of our flesh, we feel so weak, we feel a slave to our worldly habits. And sometimes we want to overcome them, to be made better, but we feel physically incapable. But I love what Nephi says. "I know is whom I have trusted..." He says he offered up his voice in prayer and continuously counseled with the Lord to make sure what he was doing was fine, and the Lord constantly reminded him about his strengths, and verified that he was doing enough. Those aren't direct quotes, but they might as well be. If you have good intentions, if you know you're doing what's right, you're doing enough. You don't need to be perfect, nobody expects you to be translated, our flesh is weak, sometimes unconquerable, but through God, we truly can do all things which are expedient in him.

I love you. Especially my family, mostly because the Lord has confirmed to me that we will be together for time and all eternity. Hopefully life is wonderful in Utah/Washington/California/New York/Canada/ wherever else you may be reading this...

Love you.
With all my heart.
GAH! So much.
Okay, love you.

Sister Best




Monday, September 15, 2014

ASDFGTHJUKL;' #Hello

Good morning sweet family of mine! They kicked us out of the library today and so we're at the church and I don't have my journal or my camera. So please forgive the lack of pizzaz that will be this letter home, but I'm thrilled to be here with you all! Hopefully all is well wherever you are.

This week has been fall-like weather, which made for a little more time to break out the bikes without risk of dying. And we just worked our tail ends off. I wasn't quite sure what else to do. My companion still feels positive she is not supposed to be here. And being the kind of person who does not quite know how to succor those who are going through tumultuous times, I decided that the best cure for apathy is hard work. So I made sure we always had appointments, lessons, members to come with us, with very little down time. We had back up plans for our back up plans. And it felt so good. The joy in missionary work really does come from the amount of work we put in. We taught over twenty lessons this week, found a member who hadn't been to church in years, visited several members who were struggling, and found a bundle of new investigators. And my companion, as much as she's struggling, still has not let that effect her work ethic. She gives it her all. She's obedient to the rules, she teaches with her heart, and her spanish is progressing leaps and bounds. The Lord has definitely blessed me with the language so that our investigators can understand us collectively. It's such a special sight to see others in tears from the spirit they have felt by the words you have said, directed by the Lord, in their language. It's definitely something I thought I was incapable.  But this is hard. It's not fun to see somebody that you work with so well, that you love so much, feel like she's in the wrong place at the wrong time. Especially because I know how much a mission changes you, prepares you, and I still feel pretty darn green myself. But I will let her make her decision. She has her agency as much as anyone else does.

Our investigator pool is still fluctuating a bit... But we're working on it. We had to drop a couple of investigators because of their romantic intentions... and one of our investigators is moving back to El Salvador, and our most progressing investigator is on probation... I guess you could say we spend a lot of time on our knees trying to figure out how we could help these men, how we can better prepare for them to meet their needs. It's tricky. But it's still so worth it just to see them get on their knees and say their first prayer out loud... ever. Or to see grown men cry because they have felt the Lord's love in their lives. I always thought the phrase "It's the hardest work you'll ever love" was pretty cheesy, but it is pretty darn accurate. It's emotionally draining. But you get to see how special each one of God's children is to him. That he knows them and knows how to use us to best help them, no matter what the age difference, no matter how inadequate we may feel.

Something I studied this morning had to do with Christlike Attributes, I study it a lot because I believe it is the key to missionary work, but it said that becoming like Christ is a lifelong process. And it all starts with the little steps and decisions that we take and make every day. It's so common for us as human beings to see how far we are from perfection and give up, or break down, or feel inadequate. But we're only as inadequate as we convince ourselves we are. Because when it comes down to it, we have the potential to be like Jesus Christ, and our imperfections are just little rocks to help us get even closer to him (and to help us avoid pride ;) ). Another point I studied said that "You have to become a Christlike missionary, not just to missionary things." I think that's an easy trap to get caught in, but it applies so much outside of missionary work. You have to be a Christlike disciple, not just go to church. You have to have Christlike charity, not just doing something charitable once and pride yourself for it. It's an ongoing process of falling and getting back up. Man oh man is it a struggle, but you become so blessed for that which you conquer.

I love you guys. This email is probably horrendously stoic, and I apologize for that. I guess it's just been kind of crazy this week trying to stay focused so that my companion doesn't get depressed. But you all have my heart!

Adios! Que Dios les bendiga!

Hermana Mejor

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Trust in the Lord with All Thine Heart...

Good morning, all!

I know it's Tuesday, but I promise we're not being disobedient. This week we had mission conference so we swapped our P-day yet again. Yesterday we got to hear from Elder Foster of the Quorum of the 70, and he spoke to us about prayer and the importance of relying on our Heavenly Father in all things. AND IT BLEW MY MIND. You would think this would be a pretty simple concept to grasp for a missionary, but sometimes we get so caught up in always making sure we're on time and have enough people to see and are talking to everyone and are doing service and coordinating schedules that... sometimes we forget to involve the Lord. Forget to be sincere in our prayers and specific and ask him for the things that we need, to guide us and direct us to the people that are ready.  I have recognized that I was not counseling with the Lord nearly enough. But this counsel to be sure to pray sincerely about everything we're concerned about came in handy this week with my new companion!

My "daughter" is amazing. I love her. Her name is Hermana Hirschi and she's from Idaho. She's especially darling because for some reason she doesn't think Idaho is just northern Utah... No, I'm kidding. I really like messing with her because she's Idaho proud. She even works for Spud Harvest in the summers. ;) I love her. She's training me, to be honest. She works so hard, she is catching on so quickly, and she already loves the people she teaches and is a bomb-tastic teacher. So it has been an easy transition. I keep double checking with her to make sure she's okay because I feel like she's doing too well to be a new missionary, hahah.

However, yesterday, she did give me some pretty tough news. She said she has had this overwhelming feeling that she's not supposed to be here on her mission. She's struggling because she wants to be here and she's scared to go home but she feels sure that she is not supposed to be here... So she's been praying about it, and we're going to talk to our district leader today. The Lord also told me to encourage her to request a priesthood blessing from one of the elders, so we are planning on doing that when we are done emailing. I've been praying and praying and inviting her to receive a blessing is all I am sure of. It's interesting because while we were in trainer's meeting, President said something, and while I don't quite remember what his words were, I remember having a feeling that my companion would be likely to go home early. And something told me to have peace about that. This is one of the strangest things I've yet to experience, because I can tell she's being sincere in her desire to be here. Pray for her. :)

So this morning I was wrapped into my studies about putting trust in the Lord and found several scriptures that really helped me a lot. I know the Lord loves me. I can feel it for me. I definitely never felt that way 7 months ago. So now it's just trusting that BECAUSE he loves me, He can do miracles through us. The scriptures I found are some of my favorites. The obvious, Proverbs 3:5-6, and Alma 36:3. I just know that we need to recognize WHO we put our trust in. Trusting in ourselves will fail us every time, trusting in others will fail us even worse.

I love my family and those who have supported me all my life. I reflect back on those who have always helped me, cared for me, and strengthened me, and I am endlessly grateful. I know how special families are, and how much we as people are all connected in some broad way. We have this obligation to take care of one another. To uphold one another. We are responsible for answering each others prayers and being the flesh that God can work with to do so. And so I stand fully aware of how much the people in my life have done that for me. And I know you all are home doing the same thing for others.

Photos:

We found this toad and I thought it would be a good idea to bring it into our apartment while I grabbed my camera... And then it hopped out of my hands and we had to scramble to try and catch it... I guess we have rules for a reason or whatever.

Here's a picture of myself and Hermana Hirschi with Sister Chugg and her new companion!