Monday, January 26, 2015

Gas station attendants for days

There were a lot of valuable life lessons to be learned this week.

The first being that hard work, diligent prayer, and pleading with the Lord pays off. We prayed and prayed and prayed to find new people to teach to replenish all of our investigators who either dropped us or dropped off the face of the earth and wound up accumulating 8 new people to teach, which is miraculous in and of itself. Out faith has been supplemented, and we are incredibly grateful.

But there was also a lot of revelation received and connections made that strengthened my faith and made me grateful.

This week I've been reading about the people of Limhi in Mosiah, and how in order to avoid contention they agreed to give one half of everything they had to the Lamanites. And that the people of Limhi were obedient and righteous to do so, even though it was unfair.And they lived peacefully for years. Then some wicked men came and stole the Lamanites' daughters. And the Lamanites completely overreacted. Before they tried to investigate the situation, they sought to attack the people of Limhi.

This made me think, how do we master ourselves? How can we control our anger or fear and react in calm and loving manners, always? That's not easy to do! I have a tendency to snap on people. Never yell, but just get kind of passive-aggressive, or sarcastic. And it's never very nice. So how do we overcome that?

We need to learn to be, as Jorg Klebingat says, really, really good at forgiving others quickly. Including ourselves! Limhi responds in a pretty perfect way. Limhi's people find the king of the Lamanites and request to kill him, which would have been incredibly easy, but Limhi refuses and has him brought into him to voice his side. The king explains that they were upset because some of his people had stolen their daughters. And instead of getting defensive and exploding, going to blame it on anyone else, Limhi first points the finger at himself...

"And now Limhi had heard nothing concerning this matter; therefore he said: I will search among my people and whosoever has done this thing shall perish. Therefore he caused a search to be made among his people."

We need to be willing to look inside of ourselves and see if it is actually us that is at fault instead of those that we are judging/exploding on. Because it almost always is. Whenever we are struggling or annoyed, it is always because we are being impatient, or aren't doing everything that we can to develop love and charity instead of annoyance and vengeance. But when we resolve issues within ourselves before we seek to destroy others it is a process of bettering ourselves instead of tearing down others.

Yesterday in Sacrament, one of the members gave a talk on how there are a lot of things we can do in life that are "Spiritual Fruit Loops," so to speak. They may taste good, and not actually harm us, but they gives us no nutritional value. I thought that analogy was so wise. Because it's true. It's east to fill out lives with things that have no value. Maybe they're not harming us, but they're not necessarily helping us either.

We ought to fill our lives with things that make us happy both temporally and spiritually. Family is a really, really good example of this. The more time with spend with our family and those we love, the more satisfaction we get, and there is growth in the process. Anything that does not allow us to grow, we ought to evaluate whether or not it is worth our time.

I apologize if this is incredibly preachy. I think I've forgetting how to be anything else in a setting like this. Yet I have no problem making jokes when I probably ought now to. In any case, I just know how much the Gospel blesses us to reach our potential. And it allows us to find joy in the day to day instead of waiting and waiting for our lives to be better. We master ourselves. And if we want something to be better, we need to change our attitude, and then change our course of action.

And I also know that I love all y'all. And am incredibly grateful for you.

Oh! Here's a story. So a couple months ago we stopped at a gas station to get something to drink and I talked to the cashier and gave him a Pass-Along card. It was a very surface approach and I felt bad as we walked out of the store that I hadn't been more specific or really went into too much depth by way of teaching restored truths.

A few weeks later, the Elders gave us a referral for a guy named James. He lives in an apartment complex that we don't make it out to often because it's quite far away, but every time we were in that area we tried him. Including the time we went to the gas station. When he wasn't there that time, we wound up leaving a Book of Mormon on his porch. Last week, we finally met James and set a return appointment.

Then this week we went back and knocked. No one came to the door until we knocked a third time. Finally someone opens the door wrapped in a comforter, looking like he just woke up (mind you, it's 4 in the afternoon....). He smiles really big and welcomes us inside. We're a little confused because this guy is definitely NOT James. But he tells us to sit down and we all look around awkwardly until finally I say, " we know you?" Turns out it was Matthew! The cashier from the Conoco. And what are the stinking odds that he was James' roommate?! He said he thought we were stalking him because the day we met him was the same day we left a Book of Mormon on his porch. It was pretty awesome. He let us sit down with him and teach him the Restoration and we're planning on going back next week.

That night we wanted to knock one more door at 8:55 PM so we went into a random neighborhood we'd never really been to before and knocked the only house with lights on. When he opened the door, once again, I said "do we know you?" and he said, "yeah, I'm the cashier at the gas station up there. You gave me a book a few weeks ago." Dang. We need to frequent the gas stations more often.

The Lord has a sense of humor. I believe it.
Anyway, I love you guys. Say your prayers. ;)

If anyone's looking for a way to help, pray at 7:00 pm every night for a guy named Myron German. We're trying to help him stop swearing. He's 86 years old and my best friend. He signed this contract, so it's pretty legitimate.


Sister Best

Monday, January 19, 2015

Howdy, All Y'all!

Good morning!

I'll try to make this snappy, seeing as it's MLKj. Day and we're sharing the computers in the Family History Center with the other missionaries, but writing a snappy letter usually turns into a novel anyway. So we'll see about that.

This week was so random. I don't really know what else to say. And I only remember bits and pieces of it. I remember doing a lot of finding. On Wednesday we tracted door to door for six hours straight and didn't really realize it until it was time for dinner. We got dropped... again... by even more investigators. Only leaving us with a couple. So this week we spent a lot of time, actually, almost all of our time on our knees praying for prepared people to teach. And we found quite a few. We've set up appointments all of which are for this upcoming week. So this week should exceed last week by far. All the days we didn't spend searching and trying to salvage that which is left of our area were spent ministering and going on emergency/planned exchanges with sisters who needed help.

I have to say, in the most selfish way I'm sure, that I am incredibly grateful to be in the position that I am. Each time I have a desire to be stressed or overwhelmed or feel inadequate, the Lord gives Sister Chandler and I the opportunity to minister to somebody who is suffering worse, which immediately allows us to forget our present troubles and seek guidance on how we can better serve them. It almost doesn't seem fair. But I guess I won't complain. We are consistently forced to turn outward, and it is the best possible solution to getting lazy or prideful.

I had a question earlier this week. Wondering why, if the Gospel's purpose is to bring us infinite happiness, why are there days that are so difficult? Not just as a missionary, but ever! Why do we allow ourselves to fall into the dumps? I learned pretty quickly that it has to do with our own perspective. I've tried to shift my outlook and be... happier. Pray for it, seek for it, just choose to do it. And it happens. Choosing to be happy doesn't mean just smiling and laughing and pretending to enjoy the world. It means working a little bit harder to receive more lasting joy. Being a little bit more patient, trying a little bit harder, pushing yourself a little bit further, studying a little bit longer.

Speaking of studying, yesterday we had an incredible sacrament meeting on Prayer and Scripture Study, and Brother Monson gave a terrific talk. (No, he's not related to the Prophet. And when I asked he winked and said, 'oh, yeah! Uncle Tom!') He talked about how we all have the same amount of time in the day, so we need to stop kidding ourselves. Of course we have time to study the scriptures. I pondered on that. Then he brought up the point of feasting upon the scriptures.

Here's  a personal confession: I've never doubted that the scriptures are the word of God, but I have doubted, and sometimes still do, that they can answer every single question that we have... Some things just feel too temporal. Brother Monson, in his talk, confessed that he's had similar feelings before, but then he squashed that fear with a scripture:

"Feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do." 

Nephi!? What?! Explain yourself!

"If ye cannot understand them it will be because ye ask not, neither do ye knock... if ye will enter in by the way, and receive the Holy Ghost, it will show unto you all thing what ye should do."

Okay. So if we diligently study the scriptures, we will be more able to feel the Holy Ghost in our lives, and he will help us make decisions, and we will be more in tune with him.

So there you go. There's my novel. I apologize if it was boring. Here's an awkward moment on what we would call the Double Door Approach.

Sister Chandler and I were knocking doors at an apartment complex. We knocked once, no answer, we knocked again, no answer, so I reached into my bag to grab a pass-along card while my companion turned around to knock the door behind us. As she did, the door in front of me opened so Sister Chandler joined me at the door and we introduced ourselves to a Muslim guy who was definitely not interested. Then the door she had knocked opened and they yelled "NO" and slammed the door. And we stood in the center of two doors who had rejected us at the same time, and we shrugged our shoulders, and we moved right along. And for some reason, it was hilarious.

Well, y'all. That's my time. I hope you had a remarkable time. Don't neglect your prayers. No matter what you're going through, or who you are, or what you believe, prayer is the way we cope with our present trials. And the first step to resolving conflict.

Um... here's the only photo I have from this week. We made Horchata with lactose-free milk. It tasted like sugar.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Closed for the Season! Reason? Freezin'!

Hi! I think I just spent way too long writing a letter to the President about every crazy thing that's going on over here in StillwaterLand. So I apologize if this is short. But it's been a hectic week! Every companionship in Stillwater changed except myself and Sister Chandler. And every sister companionship that the two of us cover changed except one. So we've been doing a lot of...ministering. ;) And drawing maps with boundaries and labels, and having mini comfort pow-wows, and planning trainings... oh my. You never know what type of missionary work you're going to be doing, but the principle is generally the same... in everything we do we're helping others put their faith in Jesus Christ. Whether they have a perfect knowledge of who he is and what he has to offer, or if they barely understand his nature, it is the same.

But then it's funny. Because sometime we think we understand the Gospel. (I mean, it's all we teach all day long, for crying out loud!) But then sometimes we forget to apply it to our own lives. We think we're the exception. We think we can make excuses. Or we think we can solve our problems on our own. But I'm here to tell you, from my own personal experience, that that's just silly. Maybe we can figure it out on our own, but more likely we're just going to take the long route. The route that is neither scenic nor efficient. It's just harder. And windier. And bumpier. And there are nails on the road. So that's my opinion. And my really vague way of saying that this week I learned a lot about humility and how next time I think my way is better than God's way, I should probably do as King Benjamin says and "always retain in remembrance the greatness of God, and your own nothingness".

That's something I studied this week: King Benjamin's address in the book of Mosiah. He was so wise. Because he didn't just stand in front of a multitude and tell them how to live their lives... He lived his life as an example, just as Christ had. He labored his whole life serving and helping others prosper in the land, inspiring them to be better. THEN he stood in front of the multitude and told them how to live their lives. ;) Because he had seen the blessings that had come from it. And he wanted them to receive those same blessings. But he knew that it wasn't without sacrifice. No one can coast through life and expect to be perfect. We have to fall down and scrape our knees and whine and make really, really stupid decisions. Then we have to make a conscious effort to... get over it. And move on. But repentance isn't just one moment where we turn from sin to obedience. It's a consistent process of being a little bit better than we were the day before until we finally feel comfortable in our own skin. Then we stretch ourselves a little bit further, knowing full well that our potential grows when we do.

We met a really amazing man this week. His name is Dan. I accidentally wrote "Dan the Man" on his record, because he really is the man. We met him while we were walking through a nicer neighborhood, and he had told us that he had just started reading the bible. We went back and sat down with him and taught him the Restoration, all the while he was asking us questions that were guiding us through the whole lesson. Things like, "Well then if there used to be prophets, shouldn't there still be one today?" "Dan! There is!" "No way!"


"I was recently studying the organization of God's church and wondering why churches today didn't follow that same pattern!"

So prepared.

Dan owns a cute little boutique and gave us each necklaces with our abbreviations on them, then he invited us back over to teach him the Plan of Salvation and to eat salmon with a couple from our ward. But it won't be for a little while because he's going out of town... Pray for Dan, Okay? 

Anyway, we have to go drive to Enid now, but I love you guys!

Here are some photos:

This fellas name is Myron German and I'm convinced we were best friends in the Pre-Earth Life.

This is our cold faces after tracting for three hours in the Oklahoma wind. It's freezing out here!

This is Layla, a cute lil' girl, doing my makeup. She put lipstick on my eyebrows...

Monday, January 5, 2015

A Time To Change

Happy New Year!

It was another great week here in Stillwater. Last night we got "transfer doctrine" meaning that we found out where all the other missionaries are going, and every other companionship in our District is changing but Sister Chandler and myself. It should be very interesting. Lots of new people! We're excited!

All the days just blend together... let's see...

If you're wondering what we did for New Year's Eve... We had permission to stay out until 10:30 instead of 9, and I'm sure we could have gone to a party or something, but we wound up teaching an awesome lesson to Larry about Joseph Smith and modern day prophets until 10:20, and afterwards he prayed, "I know they don't believe in female prophets, but to me, they're prophets. Future prophets!" So... we may have to go back and reevaluate.

We also got a lot of texts this week from people telling us to leave them alone. And that we need to stop harassing them. And that they're comfortable where they're at. You name it, we heard it. So it's been interesting. We've been sorting through everyone we're teaching and trying to focus on those who are sincerely interested and working toward progression. It's hard to do!

"Gee, Sister Best, I thought you said this week was really good?"

Oh! It was. It definitely was. We were able to go on exchanges with the Spanish Sisters that we live with, adn that was so fun for me. I adore Spanish. Speaking it, listening to it, singing it in the shower, eavesdropping on people in Walmart speaking it. It's just the best. So that was the selfish side of things, but then I was able to be with Sister Haddock and we saw so many miracles together. People promising for the first time that they would come to church, and seeing people have a spirit of repentance and a desire to change. Feeling the spirit in their home as we spoke to them in our broken Spanish. There's something so humbling about teaching basic truths with basic vocabulary. We have to rely on the Spirit much more to teach. And it's always a wonderful experience.

We also had a cool experience where we were helping a recent convert with her Doctrine & Covenants seminary packet so she could graduate seminary, and we were answering her questions with ease, things I'm sure I never knew before my mission, and it took me back to studying before my mission. And how I was so lost and really struggling to grasp simple concepts. Now I can hardly believe it. My faith and understanding of this Gospel have grown ten-fold. I feel as though I understand my purpose in this life. And I have such a strong desire to change and come closer to my potential. Change is something I've been studying a lot lately.

I've been reading the Book of Mormon through and really delving into it, studying Jacob and Enos this week. I found a lot of similarities between the two that were really helpful.

Sherem is a man who come into town and starts persuading the people to not believe in Christ. Jacob tells Sherem that his blasphemy needs to stop and stands boldly against him, helping Sherem see what he really believes and what he really wants for himsel. Then Sherem acknowledges that Jacob was right, and apologizes to all those he had led astrat. This is a great display of Sherem's character. Enos has a similar story. He heards of his potential-Eternal Life-and recognizes that he wants that for himself, so he relies on this Father in Heaven and forsakes his sins and pours out his soul to him. Then his heart is turned outward, like Sherem's was, to reach out to his brethren and strengthen them. All of this has testified to me that people can change. No metter how far they've slipped, they can turn around. And when they.we do, it is our responsibility to strengthen those around us.

We are not our faults, our flaws, or our inadequacies. We have agency to choose to be better and prayer as a lifeline to help us achieve it. We are not bound in negativity, or bogged down by anything we can't change, we are empowered in Christ to be and do anything that we want! The strong, beautiful people that we fantasize about!

I know that's true. I know that prayer is the first step to change, to happiness, to solving problems, to New Year Resolutions... to everything. And I know it's possible because God never wanted us to feel alone, or like we've reached the point of no return.

I stinking LOVE you guys!

Love, Sister Best

Photos: Our district, minus Sister Haddock who was too slow getting into the picture.

Proof that even though it doesn't snow, it is SO COLD. It might as well say "20 degrees, feels like, negative 15"