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.


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.


-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


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.