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!

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?"
"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!


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

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 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.

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!