Monday, August 3, 2015

God Be With You 'till We Meet Again

This is still surreal.

Hopefully this email answers everyone's questions in one swish:

Every day we do the exact same things that we've always done, but then we get home and I look at my half-packed suitcases on our living room floor, and I realize that this is almost over. And it makes me sad. Obviously, there are things I'm excited about. But it's hard to imagine. People keep telling me goodbye, and it just doesn't feel over. I feel like any hour President Walkenhorst is going to call me and say, "Actually, we need you to start over".

But I'm ready. 18 months is a long time. I feel tired. I feel excited to apply the things that I've learned and be a more faithful disciple of Jesus Christ.

One night, I couldn't sleep, and I wrote the following:

"It's hard to imagine a life where you're not infinitely within sight and sound of another individual, where you can't offer unsolicited religious advice to strangers on the street and watch their countenance change, where all of your friends have the same standards and morals as you, and are all working toward the same goals. It's hard to imagine that on Thursday, I won't be in a place where Mormons are the minority and Southern Baptists are the majority. I've forgotten what it's like to see vinyl stick-figure families on mini vans instead of "As for me and my horse, we will serve the Lord" bumper stickers on Dodge Rams. This is, indeed, a different world. In my soon-to-be world, there's a different vocabulary. People don't commonly cringe at the sight of sin. There's no white handbook full of rules that feel more binding than commandments. Here, we're accountable for our actions, but it's different. Our punishment isn't disgrace and a lack of blessings, at least not as evidently. As a missionary, everybody expects you to be a missionary. At home, you can be whatever you want. And there's a little bit of anxiety behind all that freedom."

Which is so ironic. I feel like I've always considered myself to be so independent. But now, I don't feel independent at all. I am completely reliant on my Father in Heaven. It's only in Him that we learn anything, it's only through our Savior that we change. All of our blessings come from them, and there is very little we do on our own.

I would love to say there was one over-arching theme I've learned as a missionary. People always ask, what's the biggest lesson you've learned on your mission? For future reference, that is an impossible question to answer. Don't ask me that. I learn something new every hour. Deep, life-changing principles. The experience of serving a mission is so rich and dynamic that to sum up the lessons you've learned is an insurmountable task. Slowly, all of life and human existence clicks into place one vertebrae at a time. Some lessons I learned were vitally important at the time, but have since gone quiet in the back of my mind. But there are a few things I can testify of.

I know that patterning our lives after the example of Jesus Christ is the absolute happiest way to live. I know that surrendering our will to abide by God's will will ultimately grant us success in achieving our purpose in life. I know that it is only in and through ordinances and covenants that we have access to the  requirements for salvation- and by salvation, I mean the ability to walk back into the presence of our Heavenly Father one day, and ultimately to become like Him. I know with surety that Jesus Christ walked the Earth, that He performed miracles by the power of God, that He loves us so much and is so perfect that He was willing to be the conduit through which we could be forgiven for our faults and foibles.

But I also know that true repentance comes only in and through the direct power of God; the Priesthood. I know that there was a time of darkness when that power was not on the earth, and that people hungered and thirsted for truth and for their guilt to be swept away, but could not find it. I know, with all my heart, that when the World was ready to receive the truth again, our Heavenly Father sent Joseph Smith to the earth; an innocent, lively boy with questions. He had to be born in America. He had to be born when he was. It was the only time the World was ready; the timing was perfect. I know that Joseph Smith prayed with real intent, and that his answer was a vision. I have no doubt in my mind that he saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. And that they testified to him of the necessity for a restoration of the Gospel. And I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the Restoration of Christ's church would require the restoration of the authority to act in God's name, a prophet, 12 apostles, and all of the ordinances and covenants required for salvation. Now, when I say salvation in this context, I'm not just talking salvation from the grasp of Satan, or even living in the presence of God, but even salvation from the struggles of this world. Living the principles of the fullness of the Gospel grants us peace in our current, mortal condition. So even when life gets hard, which it is on occasion bound to be so for all people, we can have faith the our Heavenly Father is working intricately in our life to bring us home. And as we allow ourselves to live the Gospel, meaning having faith in Jesus Christ, repenting daily of our downfalls, making and renewing baptismal covenants, striving to maintain the power of the Holy Ghost in our lives at all times, and "pressing forward with a perfect steadfastness of hope", we will be happy. We will be kind. We will be gentle, inviting, meek, grateful. We will serve others. And we will prepare ourselves to live in the presence of God.

This is my testimony, or at least the most minuscule portion of it, and there are 4 thousand ways I have come to gain this testimony. I can't wait to share them with each of you

"For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth." -Romans 1:16.

Thank you, all of you, who have supported me in, been a part of, or simply watched from afar this experience. There are people I have met that I will never forget, I have seen people change, I have watched people give up life-long addictions, I have watched people pray for the first time, and I have been an instrument in helping others know that they are not alone. And I would love to take credit for any of that, because it is so rewarding, but I know that I have simply been an instrument. I am so grateful that my Heavenly Father loved me enough to quietly tell me to go on a mission. I don't remember filling out paper work, I don't much remember how I got here at all, it seems like most of the preparation was a blur, but now I know that it was divine intervention. No one benefited from me coming to the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission as much as I did, and I will forever be grateful for my experiences here.

As to you, my family and friends, I am so excited to see you again. My flight gets in at 4:19 on Thursday evening. I love you.

Love,

Sister Sara Best

These pictures are all pretty cute.
Conor went on a "mini mission" with the elders. I kind of felt like a proud mother sending her son on a mission because I just love him so darn much.
Brother Lusk took us to Pops on Route 66 last Monday. :)




Monday, July 27, 2015

Wanderers in a Strange Land

This was another very special week. I have been shocked, for some reason, that the work hasn't slowed down the entire time I've been here. It has picked up and taken off;  I feel like I've been running for the last six months. But I wouldn't change it for anything, especially not this ward or my companion. She and I have grown together so much. She is purely a Christlike example and being able to learn from her has been one of the best experiences of my mission.

It's been a rush of a week! Jayme was finally able to get baptized and confirmed! There were a lot of weird events that popped up and kept it from taking place, but at last Brother Anderson got the priesthood and was able to baptize his wife. We were both so happy we waited until he was ready to baptize her because it made it such a special experience for them and for the ward, and it was indeed a blessing to be able to witness it. She looked so happy. Yesterday, they met with the bishop and this weekend we're planning to go to the Temple with them! And we're taking Amber to the temple this weekend as well. So it's going to be a wonderfully busy week!

Yesterday, at church, I spent a lot time looking around and feeling the spirit as I looked into the faces of these people that I love. I identified all the people that have grown so much since I have met them, people whom the Savior has truly taken and given direction, forgiveness, and mercy to. All of the members in this ward are kind-hearted, and loving, and have treated us so well. Between the two sets of missionaries in this ward, we've had 8 baptisms since I've been here, and that number would feel completely irrelevant, except for that this ward was slowly shrinking, and it needed people who would play a big part in it, and these 8 people have. They each have huge hearts, firm testimonies of the Gospel, and a desire to serve. I watched as Jayme ran after other people's kids even though she has her own to worry about, I watched as Conor passed the sacrament and gave the most heartfelt talk on keeping and living true to your covenants, as Lance passed the sacrament, and several other of these new members received callings.

We had a lesson with Conor this week and we made him pretend he was street contacting us as a missionary and then he would teach us the first lesson. It was awesome. He's so much more prepared than I ever was to serve a mission. But toward the end, we got to talking about his experience, and he said, "In the second lesson, the missionaries invited me to be baptized and that freaked me out. Just for future reference, it really freaks people out when you invite them to do it so early."
We looked at him for a long time, and both of our eyebrows were raised, and we didn't know how to respond, but finally I said,
"Shame on the missionaries for not inviting you to be baptized in the first lesson."
"What?"
Sister Garner and I laughed and we explained, "Conor, we don't just invite people to be baptized so we can say that we did it and get another member in our congregation. We do it because we love these people. We meet them, and we love them, and we desire that they have the blessings of the gospel in their lives. We want them to learn how to repent, so they can receive true joy. And when they are baptized, only in and through the priesthood, then they can enter into God's presence. And we don't want to keep anyone from God's presence. This is His work, He controls it. All we do is invite people to follow Him."

We were both kind of startled at our words, because I don't think, until this moment, either of us realized what clear desire we have to fulfill our purpose. But I think that's why Sister Garner and I have been able to see so many miracles together. And I hope I don't come across boastful, that truly isn't my intention, I've just been praying my whole mission that my desires would be pure, that I could serve and teach for the right reasons, and it wasn't really until this moment that I realized that I have no other motives but that of bringing others closer to Christ.

This morning, Sister Garner said, "I just don't like when people tell us it's such a great sacrifice to serve as missionaries." I laughed, because I knew exactly where she was coming from. In the beginning, it did feel like a sacrifice, because everything was different. We left the things we love to come to a place that we weren't familiar with. But now it feels like we do so little to receive such great blessings and witness such great miracles, and the amount that we grow and change, and the amount that we see others grow and change, is beyond description, it makes anything else in life, aside from your own loved ones back home, seem trivial.

The most prevalent thought on my mind this week has been about the Savior and His overwhelming friendship. He is my best friend and my brother. Not just mine, He gives anyone His undivided attention and love, anyone who seeks it. He is the ultimate source of truth, light, and comfort. Nobody says it better than Ammon.

Alma 26
35: "There never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for he has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding; he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful Being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on His name."

36: "Now if this is boasting, even so will I boast; for this is my life and my light, my joy and my salvation, and my redemption from everlasting wo. Yea, blessed is the name of my God, who has been mindful of this people...blessed be the name of my God, who has been mindful of us, wanderers in a strange land."

That is exactly how I feel. Oklahoma is a blessed place, one of devoted, faithful people. My time here is quickly coming to and end, and I think I'm in denial, but I am grateful for every second of time I have been given to serve among the people here.

I love you all! I don't think I ever thought I'd live to see the day where I would write, "See you next week!" But I'll see y'all next week. :)

Love,

Sister Best





Monday, July 20, 2015

Amber's Baptism!

This is what exhaustion feels like.

I've been around quite a few companions in their last couple weeks, and they always express how tired they are. Or they get really, really sick, as if their body has given up. I already surpassed the really, really sick part. That was last month's problem. But I think the tiredness is kicking in. Maybe it was just a stressful week and all of this is just spilling over from that.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times." ;) But it's not defeat or surrender. I love this work. And I think that I would go into Anaphylactic Shock if we ever took time to just sit down and rest. So to work we go! Because the work is moving SO fast down here! Amber got baptized and confirmed this week!!!

Satan tried really hard to convince her she wasn't ready, that she wasn't worthy, or that she was making the wrong decision. He even made sure she got a flat tire on her way to church yesterday. But she's too strong. She wants too badly to change her life, and to prove to God that she wants to follow Him, so she didn't let that stop her. :) And after her baptism, it seemed like so many of her fears and doubts melted away. She seemed more confident, more understanding. And she was ecstatic about the choice that she had made. I have a good feeling that we will be friends with Amber forever. We've been there to help her through a countless number of issues, and to see her change, truly change, for the better has been remarkable.

Bishop Gillespie was able to baptize her, so the photos are kind of a scattered mash up of his kids and hers. So the blonde kids are his and the Hispanic ones are hers. :)

And Jayme is getting baptized this upcoming weekend! Then we've made plans to go to the Temple with both of them by the end of July, and we're so excited for that! The temple has such an unmistakable spirit inside of it, and to be able to take people there and show them how special it feels inside is one of many ways to help them verify the glory of the covenants they have made.

This week we were able to take a Recent Convert to the temple named Brother Arthurs. He's about 80 years old and the sweetest man I've met to date. He only has the stamina to do one baptism at a time, but that one baptism on behalf of his half brother had him grinning from ear to ear; I'd never seen him smile quite like that before.

I think I've only scratched the surface of the miracles we saw this week, they have become too numerous to express, but I've learned something about miracles in the past little while; they come to those who believe in miracles. Not just because you believe them and they appear, but because you're more aware that all that is given to us is, indeed, a miracle from our father in heaven. He loves us so much more than we can comprehend. And because of that, he actively involves himself in the details of our lives. If it's important to us, it's important to him. Be it work, school, or play, He's helping us call the shots.

The other day, one of the High Councilmen said, "You know what I don't like about you missionaries?" we laughed, because he's a pretty straightforward guy. "What's that?" "You guys use the word "miracles" way too loosely. You call every tiny thing a miracle!"

Naturally, whenever he's around, we poke fun at that comment. "Sister! I found my last Altoid! It's a miracle!"

But I've thought a lot about that comment, because he's right...and he's wrong. I am way more aware of God's hand in my life now than I ever was before my mission. I basically attributed everything to myself or to the people around me, but every good thing does indeed come from God. Maybe we used our agency well in order to earn it, but it was still God's doing that we received it at all. So I have redefined the word miracle, which I previously thought of as a marvelous, magical display of God's power, to now mean anything that happens in my life or in the life of others that could not possibly have happened without God's help. Which is pretty much everything. :)

This seemed to be an overarching theme in church yesterday. The talks were all centered around not just doing, but BEING. You can't teach children not to yell by yelling at them, or not to hit by spanking them. In that same regard, what we constantly think about, we will become. If we fill our lives with Christ and His teaching, the perfect example, the perfect leader, then we will truly be perfected in Him. You'll have to forgive me if my letters all sound incredibly redundant; it must be that spiritual progress and perfection are fascinations of mine, and so opportunities to learn about them are particularly encouraging for me.

In conclusion, one of the speakers shared Hebrews 12:6. "Whom the Lord loves, He chastens". And why wouldn't He?! Why wouldn't He give us opportunities to grow? When a parent corrects a child, it isn't to exercise unrighteous dominion, or to put down the child so it feels lower than them. It is because the parent knows that child can live up to a higher standard, and they can see, from experience, how tweaking the minor things can make a big difference in the overall outcome. I know that's why we're here; striving to perfect ourselves and be better each day so that we can feel God's love more abundantly in our lives.

I'm grateful for this knowledge, and I am grateful for all of you!
I hope you see the miracles in your lives every day.

Love,

Sister Best




Monday, July 13, 2015

"All these things shall give thee experience"

Man oh man oh man.

I just realized I only have about three weeks left in the great land of Oklahoma! And that's hard to imagine. It feels like, and has felt like, I'm never going to leave. But it kind of sunk in this week. We had interviews with our President, and before I even sat down he said, "are you gettin' nervous?" I hadn't thought too much about it. But in a way, I am. Not in the ways I thought I would be, though. I figured I would feel like I hadn't done enough. I figured I would be fearful that I would fall into old habits upon returning home. But to be honest, I really don't feel that way at all. My mission has been the most rewarding event of my life to date, but it's taught me skills that I will use to continue to progress throughout all of my life. Everything from work ethic to how to repent.

So the scariest part of that to me is how to retain all of that information. How can I take the countless lessons I've learned in Oklahoma and apply them wherever I may be? Then I realized, my desires are different. My mentality is different. I can recognize the spirit, I can feel whether something is right or wrong, and when I need to get out. The best way to keep those feelings of the spirit is to heed them. Diligently. When you ignore the promptings of the spirit, they get quieter and quieter until they dissipate altogether. This is the Gospel. Living the Gospel, being obedient, striving to be more Christlike each and every day will change a person. Not just the things that they do, but ultimately the way that they are, and then the things that they do will reflect that.

I shared some of this with President Walkenhorst. He shared with me a series of scriptures that were all spot on.

D+C 38:30: "...If ye are prepared, ye shall not fear."

He asked, "Ultimately, who's in charge? Who makes sure you can't fall too far?" I smiled, and he pointed up. "He has a plan not only for you, but for everyone that you know. Your family, your friends, do you believe that?"

I do. Because I've always been taught that. And it's easy to see that God has a plan for His children when we spend so much time hearing miracles about how so-and-so prayed that God would send someone to help them, and then the missionaries knocked on their door. In fact, that's how we found Amber! But sometimes, even with all those witnesses, it's hard to personalize that promise. That he has a plan for ME individually.

President peeled open his scriptures again (he's good at that). He shared Acts 17:26 "+ [He] hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, + the bounds of their habitation."

He created us, he sent us to Earth exactly when we were supposed to be here, + He will not let us step outside of the boundaries that have been set for us. We have our agency, but He knows us better than we know ourselves. He's not going to let us get ourselves in a situation that we can't get ourselves out of.

D+C 122:7-9 also illustrates this point really well. Christ, addressing Joseph Smith about his hardships, says,
"if the very jaws of hell shall gape open the mouth wide after thee, know thou, my son, that all these things shall give thee experience, and shall be for thy good....Thy days are known and thy years shall not be numbered less; therefore, fear not what man can do, for God shall be with you forever and ever."

I was appalled at how personal this scripture is when I read it. If we are prepared, if we are obedient, NOTHING anyone else can inflict upon us will ever be a set back. All things give us experience. Everything. People always ask the age-old question, "why do bad things happen to good people?" Because that's the purpose of coming to Earth in the first place! If bad things never happened, our faith would never be tested. All things are for the benefit of mankind. ALL things. Too many people take to hating God, or ignoring Him when he allows hard things to happen. We can't always see the full picture. We can never see what He sees, and we will not always be able to identify how something that happens is for our good. But we have His promise that it is.

It reminded me of Alma 42:29. "And now, [insert your name here], I desire that ye should let these things trouble you no more, and only let your sins trouble you, with that trouble which shall bring you down unto repentance." It makes no sense for us to agonize over that which we cannot control. But we can control our own obedience and worthiness, and that is the only thing we're responsible for.

We teach Amber that principle pretty frequently. That she is only responsible for her own decisions, and as she sets an example, her family and friends will follow. She's been working hard to resist temptation, which I can imagine is incredibly difficult; she's surrounded by it. But she came to church yesterday with her sweet niece Mia and her son, Julian, and they announced her baptism. She's so excited. She's getting baptized this Saturday at 2!

Jayme is also taking great strides of progress! Her husband, Brother Anderson, got ordained to be a priest yesterday! So he can finally baptize her! It's kind of a long story why she's not getting baptized this week (aparently they paid a bunch of money to fly in this Japanese karate legend for some karate workshop... I don't even know), but she's getting baptized the 25th. :) And Jayme let us rip up all of her packets of sweet tea and throw them in the trash. (all 140 of them...)

We met a new family this week as well (the continuation of prayers answered) Maleah was a referral from one of the Moore sister missionaries' investigators. There's some solid work happening over here. Maleah met this girl at rehab, I think they were roommates. She's thrilled to be able to turn her life around. As we talked about Joseph Smith and the Restoration, she said that she felt "spiritual goosebumps". The Lord has definitely prepared her to receive the Gospel at this time.

So, anyway. This was a really long week. I keep having a flood of memories come back to me, but trying to document them is getting out of hand. Let me tell you this, though: The Lord knows us. So much more than we think. He listens to our prayers. And because they're a conversation with Him, He tries to talk back to us. So listen for that. The spirit heals all wounds. If ever you're going through a tough time, do all you can to feel the spirit.

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." -John 16:33

I love you all.

Love,
Hermana Best



Monday, July 6, 2015

The Plan of Happiness! :)

Hmmm. If you were Sister Best, what would you write about this week? I'd probably just spew out every thought that comes to my brain.

This week was busy. We had meetings and lessons scheduled nearly every hour of every day. They were all insightful and wonderful. The weekend was spent preparing for and running a booth for the City of Moore's 4th of July event, which was incredibly successful! Our ward mission leader, Brother Lusk, is one of the most dedicated saints in the world, and he let us borrow a TV and an iPad to show Mormon Messages, and he had made these signs to put up, so we looked pretty official. It was fun to hand out Book of Mormons all day and clarify our beliefs to thousands of people! We got sunburned, so President let us wear these nifty straw hats. I keep saying "these", hopefully I remember to attach the pictures, and this will all make a mountain of sense. Inbetween shifts at the booth, we went to the Judy's for a cookout and they invited Amber and her family, and they came! It was a blast. We were all a little bit tired... My companion fell asleep in a recliner and the elders fell asleep on the couch... Hahah. Oops!

There was a day this week where Sister Garner and I had the opportunity to teach the Plan of Salvation four times in one day. Being able to teach such profound truths over and over and over again, and seeing them bring tears to peoples' eyes over and over and over again, is not only a rewarding experience, but a faith building one as well. I don't have all the answers to my questions, I wish I did, but I do know that there is comfort and peace in waiting patiently to receive answers. And I know that no matter how difficult it is to be patient sometimes, the Lord will always help us understand our individual purpose.

We had a leadership meeting earlier this week and President Walkenhorst showed us the training that the apostles gave to the General Authorities before General Conference this year. They talked a lot about Sabbath Day observance and how when we evaluate out own sabbath day, and begin to make changes to devote ourselves more fully to use it as a day of rest and to think about Christ, then our overall spirituality will increase, as will faith and endurance of families. It was mentioned in this training, among so many great points, that "Covenants are not stagnant". When we take the sacrament, when we renew our covenants, those things don't stand still, we're always either moving forward or backward. But it's a path to perfection. Our lives are a path to perfection.

Then President Walkenhorst said something among discussion that will stick with me infinitely. He said, in essence, "The Doctrine of Christ is never giving up on trying to be perfect." We may never achieve it in this life, but when we continue to act faithfully to repent, renew our covenants, and increase the spirit in our lives, and we don't give up because we become immobilized by our weaknesses, then we will progress, we will move forward, and take steps on the path toward our Father in Heaven. Our purpose in this life is striving to be like Him more and more so that we're comfortable in His presence.

Telling people this, helping them see there is purpose to life and that we all have divine identities, changes a person. It has changed me, it changes the people we teach, but ultimately, it changes our desires and we begin to refine ourselves to align our will with God's, because therein lies true happiness.

Hmmm. This is messy and scattered. Updates on people:

Amber: Is still incredible. She has finally begun reading the Book of Mormon and she loves it. She's feeding us this week and she has begged us to show Victor the plan of salvation afterward, so that we will do! I've never seen anyone change like this family has.
Jayme: Still a saint. She and Brother Anderson have truly folded themselves into the ward. He's in the process of advancing in the priesthood so that he can baptize her. They're SO close!
Conor: There are no words. Except that one of the elders accidentally threw a basketball at his face and he had to get new glasses. But other than that, he's made the decision to go to BYU next year, so that's going to be awesome. And we had a lesson about preparing to serve a full time mission and he's excited. "If this church wasn't true, no one would do this for 2 years and feel good about it." Amen, Conor. Amen.
Chasadi (Amber's next-door-neighbor): We had another lesson with her! This time we finally got to teach her the Plan of Salvation and it was exactly what she needed. It helped her understand the priesthood and we have her praying about baptism. She has had a tough life, but she is strong and willing to continue learning. She's wonderful.

Anyway, there are a lot of miracles going on over here! Emails don't do it justice, but I wish you all a happy week! Happy July! Love you bunches!

Love,

Sister Best




Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Independence Day!

Good morning, sweet people!
It's a great day to be alive. The sun is shining, it's not yet 1,000 degrees, so we're doing pretty well!

This email might be pretty short, then again, that is usually my intention and it never quite works out as such. This week we tried to fill our time visiting people we hadn't seen in a while, which was luckily successful on most accounts, and we were able to see many miracles. We still met with Amber, she still blew our minds with her rapid progress, but I have another story to tell about her...kind of.

After we went to see her one night last week, we walked outside and saw her next door neighbor getting out of his car. It was one of those moments where we were just a little bit too far away for it not to be an awkward approach, but you just kind of learn to embrace the awkward and do it anyway, so I yelled,

"Hey! How're you doin?"
"Good!" he yelled back, "How are you?"
"We're doing great! Can we come talk to you for a bit?"

Ha, which is probably a rhetorical question at that point, so we walked up to him, found out his name was Rolando, and set up a time to come back.

When we went back, his wife Chastity opened the door, said they were on their way out and asked us to come back, so we scheduled another time to come back.

Then we went back for the third time and they weren't home. This isn't largely uncommon, so we did what we usually do and left a sticky note on their door. "Hi there! It's the missionaries. We stopped by for our appointment and were sad to have missed you! Give us a call so we can reschedule." Then we left our phone number. This is usually the routine, so it's surprising how many phone calls we don't receive. Actually, to be honest, it's surprising when people DO call us. :) But she did! A couple days ago, she called us and apologized up a storm for standing us up. She said she would make us brownies if we would come back.

When we got to her house we found out that she had been talking to Amber and Amber had been testifying to her about the change that had happened in her life. Chastity told us that ever since Amber started meeting with us, she's a completely different person; she has more confidence, she has more faith, she can feel the spirit, and she's cut out all kinds of negative from her life. She's just happy. Increasingly happier every time we see her.

So this sparked Chastity's interest and she wanted to learn why we do what we do. We explained our purpose a bit and then taught her the Restoration, but eventually all of her questions gave way to the Plan of Salvation. We had already been there for about 40 minutes, so we asked her if we could come back and teach her something that would answer more of her questions, like

"I don't think this is in the Bible, but I don't really believe in the type of Hell where there will be fire and burning. I'm sure it exists, but I don't think many people will go there"

and

"I have always wondered why I'm even here. Where did we come from?"

We wanted so badly to answer her questions, but we had to leave, so we set another appointment for this upcoming Tuesday. I love being able to answer the questions of the soul, and helping people find the answers to their own questions!!!

This week in my studies I found this scripture particularly poignant in Alma 38,

"And it came to pass that I was three days and three nights in the most bitter pain and anguish of soul; and never, until I did cry out unto the Lord Jesus Christ for mercy, did I receive [help/answers/comfort]. But behold, I did cry unto him, and I did find peace to my soul."

I wouldn't say that I'm currently in the most bitter pain and anguish of my soul, and I'm sure anyone reading this isn't either, but we all know to some degree what that feels like. But whether we're in the depths of despair or woke up on the wrong side of the bed, this scripture is proof  that prayer works. That when we humble ourselves, and get on our knees, and ask for specific help, he will come to us to comfort us. It is required that we come to Him when we need help. And I don't know why we are too stubborn to do so at times, but the minute we lean on the Lord, assistance comes immediately.

"There is no other way or means whereby man can be saved, only in and through Christ."

It's easy to deal with problems by turning on the TV, or gossiping, or venting to your companion, which is my solution, but when we turn to the Lord, he is always first to shed light on the situation and help us overcome whatever we're going through, be it physical, emotional, spiritual, or otherwise. He is the source of all comfort.

I know he answers prayers. I know he loves us. In the name of Jesus Christ, AMEN.

Love,

Sister Best


Monday, June 22, 2015

The Shotgun Wedding Planners at it again!

Good Morning!

It's been a long, crazy week. After a jam-packed, Satan-attacked day on Saturday, Amber and Victor got married! So many events transpired that kept it from being a day of smooth sailing, but when it all worked out, it was marvelous, and they looked so happy, and they invited about 30-40 of their non-member family members and friends, so the church was full! It was a blast. I'll attach some pictures. Their kiddos were freaking out, so they all look incredibly unhappy, but usually they're little beams of sunlight.

After their wedding, literally that night, somebody came to their house, beat up Victor with a hammer, and he had to get some staples in his head... Eeesh. Sometimes I remember what a sad world we live in; how many people need the Gospel. But he's healing. They let us come over yesterday and have a lesson with them on the Family Proclamation. We talked about how true happiness is founded upon the principles that Jesus Christ taught, and that we cannot find it in any other way, at least not lasting happiness. They both agreed that they felt that was true, and that they wanted to eliminate bad from their lives. Even Victor who, before we met him, didn't even think Jesus Christ was real, nor did he believe in God. They vowed to come to church every week. We let it slide this week because he was in the Emergency Room... Lllll.

The biggest turning point for Victor was when Bishop Gillespie had Amber and Victor in his office at the beginning of the week. Bishop wanted to interview them before he married them, and he let us sit in. Before this, we hadn't really been able to get Victor to sit down and talk to us. He would usually get in the shower when we came, or go outside in the garage to work on things. But Bishop Gillespie really helped them feel the spirit and set goals for themselves. He invited them to pray with each other every night, he told them how to find happiness in marriage. And when he was done, he said, "Victor, have the Sisters told you that the Book of Mormon is a record of your ancestors?" He perked up and we sat in awe as Bishop recounted the entire Restoration of the Gospel to Victor. He promised Bishop that he would listen to us and step up to be a better husband and father. Woah.

This has been glaringly evident to me. There is such a dramatically stark contrast between those who keep the commandments of God and those who do not. Sister Garner put it really clearly while we were talking about this the other day. She said, "God's not going to punish you if you don't keep the commandments, but if you're not being obedient, he can't protect you." I thought that was a pretty good answer to the question I have heard so many countless times. "Why do bad things happen to good people?" It's not to say that bad things don't happen to commandment-keeping people, but I know that we are infinitely more protected physically, spiritually, and mentally if we if we are obedient. I wish I were perfect, it would make life incredibly easy, I feel like I fall down every fifteen seconds, but the Lord is pleased with improvement. He's pleased when we stand up for our beliefs.

And sometimes we still have bad days. But we are working towards eternal happiness. This scripture really helped me this week. (Read the whole thing, the first part sounds like a soft rebuke, but it gets encouraging.)

"Remember and always retain in remembrance the greatness of God, and your own nothingness, and his goodness and long-suffering towards you, unworthy creatures, and humble yourselves even in the depths of humility, calling on the name of the Lord daily, and standing steadfastly in the faith of that which is to come! If you do this ye shall always rejoice, and be filled with the love of God... and grow in the knowledge of that which is just and true."

Mosiah 4:11-12

Sometimes I think these emails are for me. :) I just write down my feelings and hope that they're coherent.

I love you all very much!

Love, Sister Best

Oh, PS, last night Sister Garner and I found out that we're staying together for my last transfer, which really wasn't a surprise. But I'm excited! Another 6 weeks with my partner in crime in our area that is on fire! :)





Monday, June 15, 2015

Where We Should Turn For Peace. :)

Seeing Amber progress has been the highlight of the century. She is growing leaps and bounds. Her boyfriend Victor doesn't believe in God, but when we went to her house the other day, we started talking to him and he said,

"I love that you girls come and talk to Amber. She's always been a good woman, but she is an even better woman now. She's just happier; more patient with our kids."

And Amber has said that many people have commented on that. This week, she had been begging us to teach her the commandments, so we taught her the Law of Chastity, the Word of Wisdom, and the 10 Commandments. It's was interesting to teach the 10 commandments because in Oklahoma, everyone is well "versed" in the Bible. (See what I did there?) When we teach them things like the Atonement or the 10 Commandments, they have a hard time understanding any difference between what we believe and what they believe because it's already quite clear to them what it means. But Amber has no religious background whatsoever, so she soaks everything in, recognizes that she feels the spirit, and deems it as truth.

We taught her the commandments using hand signals so that she could remember them, and when we taught her the third one "Thou shalt not use the name of the Lord thy God in vain", she blushed and got all worked up.

"That's a sin?!"
"Well, yeah."
"OMG! I feel so guilty!"

We giggled a little and then just looked at her.

"Oh man... this one's going to be tough for me. But I can do it!"

She is so humble. So ready to learn. When we teach her something, she applies it instantly. She came to church again yesterday and brought her two littlest kids, and they sat reverently. (It might be because we brought 6 bags of Cheerios, crayons, and Gospel Art books to keep them entertained.)

Yesterday, we found out that the Bishop is going out of town for a couple weeks, but Amber wants to get married before her baptism, so the Bishop is going to marry them this week. Sister Garner and I are getting really good at planning Shot-Gun weddings. If anyone needs to elope, contact your local missionaries. We're excited for them! Excited to see Victor inside the church. So many of the members already love Amber, I'm sure they'll love Victor as well. :)

We're been spending a lot of time with Jayme and Amber, trying to get them ready for their baptisms. Jayme wants her husband to baptize her so we're going to delay her baptism for a little bit, but she's still on track and going strong. The work of the Lord is progressing rapidly and everything is going so well.

Something that was made glaringly evident to me this week is the Lord's individual love for each one of his children. It seems like He is always striving to push His way into our lives and we are always fighting against it, but He wants us to rely on Him, He wants us to forgive ourselves so we can love ourselves like He loves us. Not in a prideful way, but in the kind of way where you feel good with who you are because you recognize that you matter, that you have purpose. And that your ultimate purpose is to be of service to others.

This was made obvious to Sister Garner and myself a couple weeks ago. We went to a Jimmy Johns (because it's my favorite place in the universe so sometimes we splurge) and were sitting in the lobby. I looked up and read a poster on the wall that told some long anti-climactic story. I finished reading it and shrugged and looked down at the table, then Sister Garner looked up and read the same thing. She shrugged and looked down as well. So I tried to evaluate why we both had had such apathetic responses to this poster. I realized it was because we're so used to being saturated in the Gospel! Everything we read in the scriptures, everything we talk about with others is uplifting. That poster was so secular, it had no point, we didn't feel the spirit when we read it, so we shrugged and went on to talk about the Gospel because that's the source of all patience, truth, and happiness.

Seek for the good.

I have loved this song this week. The lyrics are so powerful.

1. Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace
When other sources cease to make me whole?
When with a wounded heart, anger, or malice,
I draw myself apart,
Searching my soul?
2. Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
3. He answers privately,
Reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind,
Love without end.
Text: Emma Lou Thayne,



I love you guys. I pray that you had a blessed week and were aware of your blessings.

Love,

Sister Best

Today we went to the Tiger Safari in Tuttle, famous for the 2015 "Tigernado". If you're unfamiliar with what that is, and I'm sure you are, Google it. We got to feed tigers! And Llamas! :)





Monday, June 8, 2015

Miracles with the Oklahomies

Hmm.

I've never been good at not exaggerating. I guess I just rested my case with that statement. But I'll rest it again: I have never been so happy in my entire life.

This week was incredible and I hardly know how to start. Sister Garner and I have been hitting the ground running, and the Lord has blessed us every inch of the way. We have been trying to devote ourselves to the activities that are the "best" use of time. However, sometimes we forget to eat all day and then we have to reevaluate, hahah. But we're both just so excited. There's so much work to do in this area, and the Lord keeps throwing it on our laps!

There are three main things that happened this week that I want to talk about, but that's not even a glimpse of the miracles we saw.

1)
The first was on Tuesday. We had told our investigator Jayme that she and her boyfriend (who's a member of our church) would need to get married before she got baptized if they wanted to continue to live together, and they do, because they've been together for 8 years and they have a daughter together. <--Run-on sentence of the century. So on Tuesday, we went over for our appointment, and they asked us if we could come back later that day. We shifted some plans around to accommodate that, and when we returned, they surprised us and told us they had spent the day ring shopping and getting their marriage license.

Then, on Wednesday, they met with the bishop, and because of extenuating circumstances, we all learned that he planned on marrying them on Sunday! This Sunday! Like, yesterday. So Sister Garner and I had four days to plan a wedding. That was a challenge. Luckily, the ward we serve in is incredible, and they all stepped up and pitched in; especially the relief society. It was such a great display of charity to see people who hardly knew them bring gobs of food and decorations to help set up. Their wedding was very simple, but it was cute. They both wore cowboy boots and their cake was made out of cupcakes. :) Jayme's getting baptized on the 20th! Yay!

2)
The second also happened earlier this week, the Spanish Elders gave us a referral for a girl who had flagged them down and asked them what they were doing and if they could teach her about God. She lived in our area, so they gave us her information and we made her top priority. Her name is Amber, she's barely a year older than me, but she and her boyfriend have 3 kids and have been together for 7 years. She said she had been praying for someone religious to knock on her door and teach her anything about God because she wasn't raised religiously at all, but she has such great faith in Jesus Christ. She said flagging down the Elders was the answer to her prayers (talk about being proactive in receiving answers!)

In our first lesson, we didn't have much time, we barely taught her any restored truths, but we testified of our purpose, and that we wanted to help her gain the relationship with God she was looking for. She was captivated. The spirit was so strong that we said,
"Amber, we want to help you work toward baptism"
"I would love that! I've never been baptized before!"

So the next time we went back, we explained simply the Doctrine of Christ. She knows a lot more than she thinks she does, but we talked about faith and repentance and it answered a lot of her questions. When we started talking about the spirit, and how the spirit talks to us, she said, "Oh, I don't have that."
"How do you feel when we're here?"
"I can't even describe it! I feel warm and happy and peaceful. Honestly, it's the best feeling ever."
"Amber, that's the spirit. And after you're baptized, you can receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and those feelings won't leave you."

Her jaw nearly dropped to the floor.

The next day, we went back (Yes, 3 times in a row) and she had invited her Sister-in-Law, Italia, to join us. Amber said to her,
"These girls are helping me learn about God just like we've always wanted! And I'm getting baptized on July 11th! You should do it with me!"
"Okay!" said Italia.

Then our jaws nearly dropped to the floor.

Amber helped Italia brush up on everything she had learned so far, and then we taught them both the Restoration and they were both captivated. They said they had both always wondered why there were so many churches and that the Restoration really helped them understand that. Amber said,

"you guys could tell me anything and it wouldn't offend me."
"Amber, the church you're about to join is lead by Jesus Christ"
"Woah. I believe you. I'm excited!!!"

Every time we say something that usually makes people hesitant, she just perks up and gets excited.

"Church is 3 hours long"
"I have 3 hours to give to the Lord every week!"

"We believe in a latter-day prophet"
"I felt the spirit when you said that!"

Then she came to church! She brought two of her own children and two of her nieces, (an 8-year-old, two 3-year olds, and a 1-year old.) and she handled them like a champion. It was kind of awkward because we're in the mission president's ward, and he was sitting right behind us while we practically babysat her kids during Sacrament Meeting. But it all worked out; we even caught him making faces at her baby, Julian. :)

She faces the same issue as Jayme and Timothy, living together with kids and unmarried, but during relief society, she leaned over to me and said, "I told my boyfriend that I want to marry him before I get baptized and he agreed! Will you help me?" "Of course!!!"

Miracles.

3)
A couple weeks ago, I wrote about David and Kimiko, a couple who wanted to get baptized at the end of June, but we lost contact with them! He sleeps days and works nights so it's hard to ever catch them. Earlier this week, one of our appointments got rescheduled, and we had Conor with us, and Sister Garner, who is utterly inspired, said "Let's go see David and Kimiko." We agreed that this would kind of be a last-chance opportunity for them so we could focus on those who are truly receptive, so right as we pulled up, David's car pulled into the parking space. "Hey David! Long time no see, can we come talk to you two for a bit?"
"Sure! Come on in!"

We walked inside and sat on the couch for a few minutes until finally David left. We looked around, confused, and then Kimiko walked out of a dark room, rubbing her eyes. She had just woken up, but she came in and plopped down on the couch and we started talking. Her demeanor changed nearly instantly and she started to share some personal insights about why she felt that God didn't listen to her prayers. Her words nearly had me in tears. We tried to explain God's unceasing love for His children, but no one did a better job than Conor. He sat quietly thumbing through the Bible until he found what he was looking for and then he sat in silence.

"Do you have something you want to share?"
"I really do. Everyone always reads John 3:16, it's every Christian's favorite scripture. But no one ever reads John 3:17: "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through Him might be saved."

Kimiko started to cry. Conor bore his testimony in overcoming sin and weakness. We bore our testimony of the Holy Ghost's role in all of that; that he's the comforter, and that devoting herself to Him will help her remove all feelings of guilt and shame. She confessed that she still really wants to work toward baptism,, so we re-commited her to it, setting a new date. She was thrilled. She even offered a prayer, one of her first prayers in a long time, and it was humble and simple, but perfect.

Then we left, and Conor made the comment,
"Wasn't it interesting to see her countenance change?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, when we first got there, she was tired and impatient with her kids, but as we kept talking, she became much more patient and loving, even though her kids were just as rambunctious."

Conor was spot on. This is the most exciting part of missionary work. When you get to see someone change. We see it two ways, we see it gradually over time (watching someone drink and smoke and be mean to really cleaning up physically, emotionally, and spiritually) and we see it immediately, just as Conor described. But either way, it's a testimony to me that drawing nearer to God is the best way to change. It's the only way to truly change for the better. Heavens, I've seen that within myself! Just devoting my time and energy to God had helped me love others, helped me love life, and helped me love myself so much more. Loving God entails keeping His commandments, especially serving others, because that is the source of all happiness. I have been FILLED with His love. I'm full, about to explode. This world is beautiful, the people in it are incredible, and we are all so blessed. Yes, there's some bad in the world, but the miracles and the positive things outweigh the negative ten fold.

This was a theme in church yesterday, even though it was difficult to fully pay attention, it was often said that we all go through phases, no matter what phase of life we're in. But we have to trust that through it all we are improving. Sometimes we trust God more than other times, but no matter how we feel, no matter how far away from Him we feel, the truth never changes, we can always rejoice in our Savior Jesus Christ, even when there's seemingly nothing more to rejoice in.

I know that's true. I know that He lives and that his atonement was infinite, to save us not only from our sins, but from our bad days, our negative thoughts, and our sadness. He is there to succor us and help us understand why we're going through what we're going through.

I love you. Thank you all for the shining lights you are. :)

I know this scripture is well read, but it just rings in my brain every hour of every day,
"Come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God...then ye may be perfect in Christ." Moroni 10:32

He's not here to condemn us, but to lead us to perfection. I know that to be true.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Pictures: Anderson's wedding! Jayme, Timothy, and their daughter Hauna. :)




Monday, June 1, 2015

We Believe and are SURE

It was another wonderful week.

Are you sick of me saying that? :)

I guess it's really just a matter of perspective. I was looking back on earlier emails from Wichita Falls and recognizing that I used to admit when certain weeks were hard, but now it's just a matter of perspective. We can't afford to get too down in the dumps if something hard happens because it wastes too much time, and it causes us to dwindle in unbelief. If we really trust God, it's hard to assume that anything that happened was an accident. And I've started to see patterns. Anything that we perceive as bad always ends up well in the end. This truly is the Lord's work.

But with all that being said, it really was a marvelous week.

Last week, we met a sweet girl named Shiyun or "Shi" for short (Pronounced "She"). She [or Shi, whichever you prefer] lives in our apartment complex and just moved here from mainland China. She goes to school at the community college across the street and we met her while doing service at the Christmas Connection, a free department store for people with financial needs. I've had very few experiences teaching people who don't believe in God, but Shi was the first person I'd taught, especially in Oklahoma, who didn't have any understanding or knowledge of who God or Jesus Christ were whatsoever.

Sister Garner and I were baffled as we planned for her because the Gospel can either be complex or it can be simple. But teaching her about God, you have to teach her about her purpose in life. And teaching her about Jesus Christ, you have to teach about Adam and Eve, you have to teach about WHY we need a savior, you have to teach about the commandments and their attached blessings. So what seems simple to us becomes complex in no time.

But the most important part of teaching is the spirit. We've come to that conclusion over, and over, and over again. Especially this week.

And as we taught basic truths to Shi in her living room, she tried to find words in her limited vocabulary of how she felt. I thought the words she used were thought-provoking. "I feel warm. Moved. Inspired." That's how the Gospel makes me feel too. We brought Conor with us and he was able to explain the spirit. He was able to explain how it feels to go from kind of feeling the spirit, but not identifying it as such, and knowing that the spirit testifies of truth.

Then we taught Shi how to pray. Shi/e offered up a powerful, peaceful prayer. Her first prayer ever. I tried to hide my tears, but there's something so sweet about hearing someone talk to their Father in Heaven for the first time, especially as resolutely and inquisitively as she did.

We had a lot of wonderful teaching experiences this week, and most of them really forced me to rack my brain. On Tuesday, we taught Vania and Rob and their friend Mike again in their living room. They have so much knowledge about the Bible, that their questions have a tendency to bombard the dynamic. But I've been in situations where it feels like people are trying to defend their faith and disprove ours, Vania's questions aren't that way at all. She sincerely has a desire to learn and know if this is true.

She explained it to us last night, "This has eternal consequences. If what you're teaching me is true, I want to know it, because it's the difference between salvation and damnation, and I want to teach my children the truth!" Then she started to tear up. She has such a desire to know that it's true. But she's struggling to unlearn the things that she's known her whole life as a protestant and replace them with what we're teaching her. So the Godhead, prophets, eternal families, these are all such foreign concepts to her, and the challenge has been to help her set aside knowledge and focus on faith.

Yesterday, Vania came to church, and after church she and her husband and their five kids came over to our Bishop's house, who has six kids, and we all ate dinner and had a lesson in their home. It was noisy, but it was powerful. Our Bishop has a general authority demeanor about him, I guess you could also call that the spirit. ;) And our lesson went all over the place. Their questions are so deep and the vocabulary we use is completely different than that which they are used to, everything from the light of Christ to testimony to grace to et cetera et cetera et cetera...

Finally, it was evident that they need to pray about Joseph Smith. If a person can get a spiritual witness that Joseph Smith was a prophet, everything we teach makes sense. Baptists believe that if you believe that the Bible is the word of God, then you can believe that everything in it is true. This is no different. If we can help someone receive an answer as to whether or not Joseph Smith was called of God to restore His church, then they can't deny that it IS God's church, and that He still loves and speaks to us today.

I love being able to look from the outside at people's lives and see the Lord's hand in their lives. It's a special ability we have as missionaries to recognize God's presence in the lives of others, even when they struggle to recognize it themselves.

I know that this is The Church of Jesus Christ. The church that, if you actually try it out, if you actually live by its standards, you can know that it is true. And there is no other way to know it. Until you see that His Atonement can change you through living advanced and higher commandments, it is hard to recognize that those elevated commandments are from God, given to us for the enhancement of our lives. The Spirit has testified to me too many times that this is His church, that He governs it, and that it teaches the principles of eternal life.

John 6:66-69

 66 ¶From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him.

 67 Then said Jesus unto the twelve, Will ye also go away?

 68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.

 69 And we believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.


This is, alongside Peter, my testimony. I believe and am sure that Jesus Christ is the Son of the living God. And that he still offers us the words of eternal life. When we study them and gain them for ourselves, it is a path to eternal bliss and blessings. I love you all. So much. So much.

Love,

Sister Best

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May showers kill April's flowers

Que pasa, mi familia?!

It feels like the most eternal week of life because we've had so much to do! And, as usual, the weather has been acting up. There have been a couple tornado threats, but nothing too serious. Now we're just constantly under flash flood warnings. It's rained more this month than it ever has in the month of may ever. The ground is incredible saturated, streets are turning into rivers. I've attached a really bizarre picture of a guy kayaking down one of the streets in our boundaries. :)

To follow up on last week's email, once we concluded P-day, we got to go to visit Vania and her husband, Rob! They had put their kids to bed, and when we got there, they had baked cookies and had a stack of bibles/notebooks/Book of Mormon all piled up  and ready to discuss. We brought Sister Gillespie, the Bishop's wife, who has a very similar family dynamic (i.e. 4 billion children, husband in the military, Mormon/practically Mormon) and it was a wonderful discussion. She had so many questions! Questions about the trinity, about life after death, about the prophet, about families, about all sorts of things. And there's still something so satisfying about being able to address every single one of people's concerns in one way or another, to the point where they find peace and comfort in what used to be their trials and concerns.

After we left, their kiddos got sick, and the storms hit, so we're going back again tonight. I'll follow up next week. But Vania's best friend from Utah, the one that introduced her to the church, is also moving here to Oklahoma today! So that should be a remarkable help in her search for answers. The Lord is wonderful.

The storms and craziness also kept us from visiting with the other family we met last week, but he's asked us to come back tomorrow, so that we will!

But the miracles don't stop there.
Last Sunday, we had a couple just randomly show up to church, he confessed that he was a member that hadn't been to church in a while, but his wife wasn't a member and had taken all the missionary discussions. Back then, she was undergoing surgery that wouldn't allow her to endure baptism, but now she can, and she wants to! Pray for the Andersons! :)

One more sweet little story. On Thursday, every single appointment we had fell through. Luckily, it wasn't much cause for discouragement because we had planned for some flexibility throughout our day and planned backups for all of our appointments, as we usually do, but even those fell through.

So eventually, we went through the ward roster and started trying to find families we'd never met before. We wound up at a house looking for a family named the Harrys. We, instead, found their brother who said that the diligence of their home teacher had encouraged and inspired him to go back to church for the first time in years.

After we left, we realized we weren't too far from his home teacher's house, so we thought we would stop by to thank him for magnifying his calling so well. When we got there, he told us that he knew where the family we were looking for lived, but that he wasn't sure exactly what house. So his wife showed us on a map the street to look for and told us to pray about it and then tract. "You're likely to find a family even if it's not the family you're looking for."

So we got up and left and as we were getting in the car, their cute little daughter Emeri ran outside. She's about 5 years old, so we ran out to make sure she didn't run into the street and asked her if she wanted to pray with us. She said yes so we knelt on the sidewalk and she said,

"Dear Heavenly Father. Thank you for my family. Thank you for the missionaries. Please help them find a family to teach the gospel to. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."

It was the simplest, most precious prayer I'd heard, but it was so powerful. We thanked her and drove to the destined street. We both picked three house and decided to knock on the house that overlapped. The woman who opened the door explained that she and her husband had several children and they would all be interested in hearing about what we had to share with them, but that she wanted to wait until they could all be there together. So we plan on going back this week to visit with them.

I know that the Lord answers our prayers. He has answered all the prayers to help us find families to teach, He has answered the prayers of those we teach who are searching for the truth, and I know He answers your prayers. It may not be in the way or in the time that you want, but constant prayer helps us align our will to God's will, ultimately helping us to identify our answers. God knows what's best for us. He knows when someone is ready to receive the Gospel, or when we need to feel His love for us.

I love you guys. I hope you have a terrific week.

Last week, we went to the Science Museum. So here's Sister Garner and myself. :)

Love,

Sister Best




Monday, May 18, 2015

Cuantas Vacas En El Campo? Muuuuuchas!

Good Morning, family!

To start, I would like to ask each of you a favor. Would you mind praying with Sister Garner and I that we will be able to find, teach and prepare for baptism 2 new families? That is our goal! We've been fasting and praying for it. Our ward is quite small here in OKC and we have two families moving out during the summer, two families that are a huge asset to our ward, which is always sad, so we've been praying to be able to replace them. :)

We've actually seen a lot of success with this goal, though. On Friday, we were getting ready to visit with a family we've been struggling to sit down with recently. As we were in our car, we prayed mightily to be able to find a family who was prepared, then we knocked on their door, and we heard the Mom whisper to her kids, "tell them we're on our way out or something". Ha. Got it. So we walked back to the car and Sister Garner said, "Let's go check on our Media Referral."  Media Referrals are people who have referred themselves on the internet to receive a Book of Mormon or meet with missionaries. If they request a Book of Mormon, the missionaries come with it. ;) That's how Conor was found, so I guess you could say they're usually pretty promising.

So we went to visit her, her name is Vania, and we pulled up to this beautiful house in a beautiful neighborhood. It's a part of our area that we don't frequently spend time in unless we're eating dinner at a member's house because we haven't had much success up there in the past. And to be honest, big house are intimidating as a missionary. So we prayed for faith and strength and then we knocked on the door. Her husband opened the door and welcomed us with a smile and invited us in. He was  followed by four of the world's most adorable children who ran up to us and started hugging us and showing us all their toys and awards and things. Vania walked in holding a fifth kid and she lit up. She said they had just gotten back from their family walk and then she introduced her kids and started showing us around. We were confused. This looked like a typical Mormon family, their decor was even pretty Pinteresty and they had a sign above their fireplace that said, "There is Sunshine in My Soul Today". I think the confusion showed across our faces because she looked at us and said, "Oh! By the way. We just moved here from Utah from Hill Air Force Base because my husband is in the military and there we made some friends who were LDS and we fell in love with them! They were the sweetest people! And so I wanted to get to know more about your church and have you over for cookies and to hang out with me and my family."

What.

That never happens.

She was just getting ready to put her kids to bed, but she invited as back so we have an appointment with them this evening and we're taking the Bishop's wife. Sister Garner and I are just anxious to go back. This P-day kind of feels like a burden. ;)

This is the second family we've started teaching. The first, we found on Monday. We had had an appointment with a man we met knocking doors named David, but we accidentally went at the wrong time, and then we just never showed up afterwards because we got distracted with something else. But when we went back the next week, he said "Where were you? I waited for you!" We felt so bad! We scheduled another appointment and promised to keep it.

This Monday, we went to their house and he invited us inside where he, David, and his wife/girlfriend Kimiko sat on the couch and listened intently as we taught them about the Book of Mormon and how the Gospel blesses families. They have a couple little kiddos and their faces got brighter and brighter as we talked and as we learned about them and about their experiences. We explained the priesthood and it made so much sense to them, so we extended a commitment to them to be baptized by the priesthood and they accepted! June 20th should be the day!

It was a really good week. We saw a lot of miracles on top of those ones, and it's just an overall blessing to work with Sister Garner. Because working with her doesn't feel like work, it just feels like fun. But we definitely do work. We were talking about how this is the most successful, hardest working, and fun we've been or had on our missions so far. And the nice thing is that it's pretty likely that she'll be my companion until I'm finished. :)

This email is long. Forgive me. I just wanted to share some miracles. I'll leave you with this thought:

God is in the details, so we don't need to be. We don't need to be engulfed in every tiny detail because they all make up one perfect picture. And if we're obedient, God' in control anyway. If we look too closely at the little things, we miss the big picture, and then we spend our time just squinting and getting a headache instead of enjoying the process.

I love you guys. I didn't take many pictures this week because it was hectic, but here was a pretty priceless Oklahoma shot. We have to watch the weather if we're under Tornado watch, which we definitely were on Saturday, and this was a picture that was sent in of a tornado in a city called Elmer. And what the sky looks like on tornado-esque days.


Love You Mucho!

Love,

Sister Best




Monday, May 11, 2015

Whosoever Shall Lose His Life for My Sake Shall Find It



This week was, once again, so interesting.. There's no other way to describe it.
On Monday, we had P-day and were able to work that evening, then on Tuesday, Elder Corbridge of the quorum of the seventy came and spoke to us, then we were able to do work that evening.

But Wednesday through Saturday, we were on Tornado Watch and we had to be careful not to go too far from our shelter. On Wednesday, about six tornadoes came through Oklahoma. Oklahoma City is pretty central, a little to the West of the center of the state, but that means that whenever tornadoes come up from Texas, they almost always pass right over us. Luckily, they usually barely hit us and hit surrounding cities instead. Which isn't that lucky, it's actually pretty devastating for the cities they hit, but the houses in those cities are much more spread out so there isn't as much damage as there could be in a city like this one.

On Wednesday, we went back and forth from watching the weather to ducking in the storm shelter. From about 3 o'clock to about 11 o'clock at night, we had to make sure we knew what was going on because the sirens kept going off. And the poor weather man, Mike Morgan, was on the screen for about nine hours and his eyes started getting bloodshot, and we all started to get delirious, so at 9:00 when he said, "Listen up, a tiger has escaped from the Tuttle Wild Life Safari" we all just bust up laughing and started making "Tigernado" jokes. The biggest problem we faced was street flooding. We've been on flood watch for days because all the rivers are overflowing from all the rain we've been receiving, which meant Wednesday night we had to stay at a member's house instead of going home. It was disorienting as a missionary and made us feel like.. not missionaries. Especially from the amount of time we were in jeans doing clean up in a devastated little city called Bridge Creek. But the crazy week gave us time to study and reflect on the things that we learned during Mission Tour, which was a lot.

Takeaway:

A good attitude produces good results, and ultimately, we shape our own lives. Everybody has hard things they go through, every single person, but it is the way we choose to respond to it that ultimately determines what kinds of life that we live. If we see that good and choose to remain positive, it will effect the outcome of our entire lives. I loved that because it connected really heavily to something I've had on my mind recently, in order for us to do anything, we have to understand why we do it. I think about a rebelling teenager, if you tell them to do something, they're not likely to be too happy about it, they'll probably do the opposite, just out of spite. But if you explain the why behind it, if you explain the ways it will benefit them or protect them, they will be more apt to do it.

Elder Corbridge once said something along the lines of that we cannot be happy if we do not want to do the things that bring happiness, even if we do those very things.

Our attitude means everything. Because life is tough, and it's always going to be tough. If it weren't, we wouldn't learn anything, but growth comes from choosing to be positive in tough situations.

Elder Corbridge listed 3 things we need in order to have faith:
1) An idea of God's existence
2) A correct knowledge of God's attributes, characterisitcs, and perfections
3) Understanding the the course that you are pursuing is acceptable to God.

Then he stated that most people who struggle with their faith believe in God but don't believe in themselves. I know that's true. I have seen it time and time again. People refuse to fully live the Gospel because they are fearful that they aren't cut out for it, or that they can't do it because they've already strayed too far away from it and they can't get back on their feet. Or that it's too hard to change.

Those people are exactly right and they're exactly wrong.
They're right because they can't do it. Neither can I. Neither can you. None of us are capable of being anywhere near living with our Heavenly Father  on our own. But that's why we need to be dependent on our Savior. It's only through Him that we gain anything. It's only through HIM that we CAN be like Him and live to see God and be with Him again.

Which is why they're wrong, the Atonement is for everybody. Being able to access it is as easy as inviting the spirit into your life. It's done by reading the scriptures, praying, and going to church. Every Sunday. Man, I sound like a broken record, but it's because it's SO true! There's no way to reinvent the wheel, there's no way to do it your own way. So be anxiously engaged, not overly anxious and under engaged. ;)

"When we forget about ourselves, there becomes so much more of us to find!" -President Walkenhorst

I love you folks with my whole heart!

Pictures:
Coming home from Tornado clean up.
Sweeping flood water away from our ward mission leader's house.
Playing monopoly in the shelter.

Monday, May 4, 2015

May The Fourth Be With You

There was a lot of spiritual insight this week that came from 3 main events.

1) Interviews with our mission president
2) Stake Conference with Elder Corbridge
3) Going to a temple sealing with a recent convert and her husband

But first, I want to talk about something that doesn't happen every day in missionary life! Grandma Margaret came to visit me! Hahah, we got permission, don't you fret, but it was so fun to see her. The day she came, it was a torrential downpour, but it didn't make the day less sun-shiney. We had a ball! I'm sure she's told most of you this story by now, but she is an incredible missionary! She tried to pay some guys at Jimmy Johns to go get her key for her, because we locked ourselves outside of the car, but they wouldn't take her money. They went to get the key, came back, and refused to take her money. We put it in a Book of Mormon and told her to give it to the man, and so she said, "These girls are missionaries, and it would make them very happy if you would take this book." He promised he would take it, but not the money, and she told them she would only take the money out if he would promise to read it. He agreed, and then they left.

My favorite part of this interaction was watching her face light up as we walked away. She was so excited to have given out the Book of Mormon, and it reminded me how abnormal it is to share the Gospel. It feels relatively normal for us, but to see her celebrate the mini-success reminded me to look for the joy in spreading this message, no matter how small the interaction may be. I love Grandma, it was such a special treat to see her. And, luckily, it didn't make me too homesick ;) Especially because the next day we had interviews with President Walkenhorst. And he has a knack for helping us get back on track just by being a spiritual motivator. He shared this scripture with me in D&c 43:34, which says, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. Treasure these things up in your hearts and let the solemnities of eternity rest upon your minds." It tied in to something I've had on my mind a lot lately this week which is the law of Consecration. How can we give everything that we have and are to God? It's a lot of work!

But something Elder Corbridge said really stuck with me. He shared a scripture about serving God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. And he said, "In that, there's good news and there's bad news. The bad news is that we have to give Him everything we've got. The good news is that we only have to give Him everything we've got." Then he pointed out how God doens't require anything of us more than we have to offer. He only wants what we're willing to give, until that will expands, and we're willing to give Him more. He also pointed out that life is easier when we do give him more. "Life is hard enough under the BEST of circumstances, without up making it any harder than it needs to be." When we keep God's commandments, and do what we can to surrender all that we are to become all that He wants us to become, we avoid a lot of human drama that accompanies being stubborn. I'm learning that in a very real way. :)

The theme of conference was centered around participating in Family Councils, and there's only so much I could glean out of that as a missionary, but something that really stuck out to me was the ability we have to constantly teach one another using Gospel principles, without really sounding too preachy. When we apply the fundamentals principles and doctrines of the church and the Gospel to every day situations, and when we advise others to do the same, it is possible to solve our worldly problems. that was a powerful lesson to learn. We can serve and teach people who don't share our beliefs just by privately helping them live the Gospel. :)

Being in the temple with the Wilsons was a special experience, indeed. It's always special to see families be sealed to one another. And our lacking frequency of Temple-attendance made it an especially potent spirit that was present. I'm so grateful for the restored truths we have on the Earth that make it possible for us to feel the spirit more abundantly in our day to day lives!

Read this: Proverbs 17:22

I love you guys! Happy Mother's Day! Hopefully I'll get to see some of you via Skype on Sunday. :)

 Happy Birthday Christie!

Love,

Sister Best

Pictures: Dinner with Grandma Maggie and Conor and the wonderful people that GM lives with. :)



Monday, April 27, 2015

April Showers Bring May Flowers! (Unless the hail crushes them)



This week we had the glorious experience of taking four recent converts to the temple, and it was incredible. Our ward has been on fire with missionary work these past couple transfers and I feel so blessed to be a part of it! Being in the temple was a special experience. It always is, but only having the opportunity to go once every six months makes it indescribably stark against the day to day routine. The spirit abounds and exceeds any other fear or worldly emotion. Only peace, joy, and understanding exist. I love the temple. I was struck with the realization that, despite its beautiful interior, it really is plain. It uses simple geometric shapes, most everything is white or neutral, and while there are a few paintings of the savior in each room, the beauty of the temple comes from the pure light and spirit of Christ the radiates in all that transpires there.

Sister Garner and I are doing really well. I love her so much, she is one of the most positive people I have ever met, and she really helps me see a more eternal perspective of things. When there are bumps in our schedule, she's always calms and ties up loose ends by finding the positive in each individual circumstance. I'm grateful for her, she's teaching me a lot.

This week was a smidge discouraging, just because we spent so much time trying to find new investigators in every single way we knew how, and we weren't having any success. At least not in that area, but we did meet a lot of people and at least try to share the Gospel. Sometimes I feel like God's just building our characters. :) Last night, at 7:30 pm, we both felt impressed to go visit a family that we've been trying to get in contact with for months. Sister Hirschi and I found them when we were looking for a less active member named Alicia. The mom's name was also Alicia and she seemed really confused when we asked if Alicia was home because they had just barely moved in a couple of days before. They seemed promising so we kept trying over and over again, when I'm sure normally we would have given up and assumed they weren't interested.

But last night, the Dad, Kyle, and their two kids came outside and set up chairs for us and we taught them the basics. None of them have any religious background, but they said they've been looking for it. They have been craving church for their family. So for the first time on my mission, we were able to teach somebody about God, about Jesus Christ, about Adam and Eve, things they had never heard much about. Seeing their faces transform from inquisitive to ecstatic made my heart melt. As we began talking about our need for a Savior, Alicia came home from work and immediately joined us, so we were able to teach their whole family about what it means to have Faith in Christ, and how we show that Faith. It was amazing. It was the answer to so many prayers to be able to teach such a powerful lesson to a family that is in such dire need of the Gospel. Watching it transform lives always reaffirms our faith of its truth.

One more thing before I take off, I hope everyone I know in my life knows that I am grateful to know them and that I love them. I am constantly reminded that we are a sum total of the experiences we've had, and people have such a large influence on us as a whole. So thanks for being part of my life. :)

I LOVE YOU FOLKS.

Bye!

Sister Best