Monday, February 23, 2015

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

I got 26 emails today. I don't say that to boast, I say that hoping that I can answer all 26 emails at once. At least the questions therein. :) But to start off, I love you guys. SO much it hurts my soul.

To answer questions: I got transferred to Oklahoma City-South. It's still a sister training leader area, which means it's still English. And yes, we have a car, for all of you who have made the connection that we live right off the interstate and are terrified about us biking or walking. But I will say, our area is actually really nice for being in the city. We drove through the Spanish elder's area the other night, and that's cause for worrying, but ours is pretty classy. :)

My companion, Sister Hirschi, is a gem. She is one of the most hardworking, Christlike people I have ever met. I feel blessed to be able to spend my time with her and learn from her. We won't be companions for long, because she's at the end of her mission and goes home on April 1st, but I feel pretty lucky to be with her for the time-being. We're learning our area together, because she's fairly new to the area as well, so it's been an adventure.

Leaving Stillwater was hard. There are so many people that I adore. The ward was incredible, the people we met were incredible, and the missionaries were all pretty influential. But the ward here, the OKC 2nd ward, has proven to be quite inviting and I'm eager to work with them.

We're teaching quite a few people that have a lot of potential. One fella in particular, his name is Conor. He referred himself to the missionaries online because he was curious about Mitt Romney and Brandon Flowers, and he wanted to know more about what they believed. He ordered a Book of Mormon and got some missionaries instead. He has so much faith. And the Spirit has born such a powerful testimony to him of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. He wants to read the whole book before he gets baptized on March 14th, but anytime we teach a principle, he testifies to us why he knows that it's from God and how applying it to his life has already made him a better, happier person. I wish I could describe the kind of love you feel as a missionary for the people that you teach, but it's hard to do. Suffice it to say, I care about him so much and feel so honored to be a part of his spiritual journey. [Cheesy statement.... but it doesn't make it less true.]

There are quite a few perks about serving in the city. First of all, I know I'm supposed to be here. The spirit has testified it to me so many stinkin' times. But there are some other perks as well... The night of transfers, we got invited to go to the Nashville Tribute Band concert. Which was an oddly spiritual experience. We had some investigators there, and they loved it. All of the songs they played were beautiful, about Jesus Christ. Then, last night, there was a fireside where three recent converts spoke on their conversion. It made me grateful that we all have the opportunity to be converted in our own lives, and that our Heavenly Father has such individualized plans for each of us to discover and draw near to the restored Gospel.

Sister Hirschi and I were able to have a conversation about that principle one night, and she was asking me about what I had learned from experiences I had prior to coming on my mission. I recognized how little our circumstances or our current situations actually define who we are. Maybe that's how the world defines us: by stature, or appearance, or ranking, or wealth, or even sin. But what really defines you is how you choose to live the Gospel. Because developing yourself in a spiritual way is going to be what really counts in the long-run. It's going to develop you intellectually, and actually improve who you are at the root.

Then we listened to a fireside that was given to some youth a while back called "Break Up With the World". It's pretty cheesy, definitely geared toward youth. But he brought up a lot of thought-provoking ideas. What are we holding onto that is holding us back from receiving even more blessings than we are now? He explains that we all have this little battle with the Holy Ghost, where we know somethings that we choose to do, listen to, watch, or say aren't particularly helpful, in fact, they're somewhat hindering. They don't make us feel better about ourselves, but we're obsessed with them. I could name quite a few things that I know I did this with back home. And even on the mission, I know there are things that I do that hold me back. But it really opened my eyes and helped me realize that God sees these things that we do as stumbling blocks, walls we put up to make our lives more difficult. They may seem small, but added up, they keep us from being able to be happier, more successful, easier to be around, kinder, et cetera. So I'm trying to identify how I can be better, and I've already noticed a difference. So I encourage you to do the same. It feels amazing to change. Sometimes we get so comfortable in ourselves that it's painful to evaluate what we could do better and then fix it, but we always come out better, stronger people when we do.

Alma 16:16-17
16And there was no inequality among them; the Lord did pour out his Spirit on all the face of the land to prepare the minds of the children of men, or to prepare their hearts to receive the word which should be taught among them at the time of his coming—
17That they might not be hardened against the word, that they might not be unbelieving, and go on to destruction, but that they might receive the word with joy, and as a branch be grafted into the true vine, that they might enter into the rest of the Lord their God. 

I love you all very, very much. It's tricky to report on transfer week because everything's new. I never know where to start. But I'm happy! Healthy! And the Lord is good! Also, it's snowing here, if you were wondering. Love you!
Hermana Best

Monday, February 16, 2015

The shortest update of life

Hi friends and family alike! Last night we had a weird snow/sleet storm, which is an odd shift from the 80 degree weather we'e been having. But it caused our cars to be grounded. Luckily, a sweet member came to pick us up from our house so we could email at their house. However, this is going to be short.

I guess the biggest news is that I'm getting transferred to Oklahoma City! My new address is:
2751-B W Interstate 240 Service Rd 
Oklahoma City, OK 73159

My new companion will be Sister Hirschi. No, a different Sister Hirschi. Hermana Hirschi is still happily in Idaho. This will be Sister Hirschi's last transfer of her mission before she goes home so it's likely I'll be in OKC until the end of my mission. I'm excited! But pretty bummed to leave Sister Chandler. We've worked through a lot of tough stuff together and have grown to love each other and work really well together. However there's more work to be done elsewhhere! So it should be terrific.

Let's see... what happened this week?

A lot. A lot of finding. A lot of trusting in God. A lot of...getting dropped. A lot of ministering to struggling sisters. A lot of anticipation to find out what was happening. A lot of prayer. A lot of miracles. And happiness.

On Friday, we were able to go on exchanges with the sisters in the bike area, which was a good opportunity to get to know Sister Gubler better, and as we were biking around, the sun was out, and the streets were calm, and I just felt a surge of gratitude emanate through my whole soul. I prayed to my Heavenly Father and thanked him for this beautiful world we live in. And for all of the light and knowledge that we have that gives us so much opportunity for growth and progression in this life.

Something I'm working on is denying myself of ALL ungodliness. It's tricky to do. Moroni 10:32. It means being completely honest with yourself.

I wasn't kidding around, this is short. But I love you folks. And I hope you have a wonderful week.

See you in OKC!


Sister Best

Friday, February 13, 2015

Light Cleaveth Unto Light!

Some weeks you just feel like you're learning so much that you can't possibly retain it all. And I probably can't. But I learned a major life lesson every day of the week. And the experiences we had were beyond compare. I'm excited to get into it! But it might be a day-by-day type of email.

Monday was the best P-day ever. Sister Chandler and I decided to opt out of the seemingly-mandatory routine of sports at the church to go Antiquing. But first, we made a stop at the post office for some of the other Sisters. We were sitting in the car, Sister C. was sleeping while I was writing a letter, I glanced up and saw DAN the MAN. We haven't been able to see him for a couple of weeks because his business burned down, but just the day before I had fasted that we would miraculously get contact with him. And there he was! I bolted out of the car and ran to him, and shook his hand, and he seemed relieved to have run into us. He told us he was leaving town but not to give up on him. Small miracles feel huge some days. Then we went to the Insect Petting Zoo. And that was awesome. I'll attach some pictures. That night, we were able to show up to Faith's house just as she was pulling up, she was coping with her cousin who was dying from cancer so we were able to teach her about the Plan of Salvation in 20 minutes before she had to leave again. Once again, miraculous timing.

Tuesday: We drove to the city for Mission Leadership Council. It was a great meeting, but I probably won't go into much detail. Suffice it to say that we talked about accountability, and how not only missionaries, but every single person has a responsibility to be accountable for their own actions. It doesn't matter our circumstances, it's what we do IN our circumstances that defines us.

Wednesday: We had the most intense training of my life. President Gardner, a member of the stake presidency, gathered all the missionaries in Stillwater together to talk about our eternal purpose, and it gave me so much enlightenment. This is the bulk of what I learned this week. Then I got obsessed with the topic of light. In that, our purpose is to attract light by doing things that bring light into our lives, then radiate light. If we do anything that repels light, we lose light. We are to overcome our weak flesh and allow our spirit to absorb and return light.Then we will attract those who also seek light. And you know what? It's easy to obtain this light. All we have to do is CHOOSE it. Pray for it, smile, be kind, "let your light so shine before men". Other synonyms for light include truth, glory, intelligence, and virtue. This idea of light continued over into...

Thursday: when we went to the temple! And the things I learned there really balanced the sentiment of light cleaving unto light. I walked away feeling a stronger desire to uplift all those around me by offering sincere compliments, turning negative comments into positive ones, and being genuinely happy...all the time. Because there's really no reason not to be happy when you know the true nature of God and how merciful He is. But it's easy to forget. Which is why when someone hurts us, or offends us, we want to feel sad, or blame God, or worry. But be of good cheer. And your example of kindness and sincere compliments will change the heart of them who hurt you. Thursday was also my "mission birthday"! We went to Coldstone to celebrate. ;) But the scooper wouldn't give me anything for free because it wasn't really my birthday...

Friday-Saturday: A blur. We went on exchanges. And when we got back from Ponca, one of our roommates was sick, so we went on splits and worked our area and the Spanish area at once, then we found out one of the other Sisters in Stillwater was sent to the hospital. So it was just a lot of running around, and dashing from place to place. Which seemed to be a storm before the calm.

Sunday was so peaceful. I felt that I ought to fast, but I wasn't quite sure why. So I said a humble prayer of gratitude. And wound up having one of the most peaceful Sundays of my mission. My studies were rich and enlightening, our church meetings just flowed straight into my soul, and we were able to have a lesson with a referral from our Ward Mission Leader and dinner in his home. That's the ideal teaching situation, if anyone is wondering. It was a weird experience. He said the Restoration made him feel confused and uncomfortable. The more we explained it, or tried to help him grasp it, the more closed-off he seemed to get. It was so strange. Sister Chandler and I walked away feeling frazzled, because we both felt the spirit so powerfully. And even after we left, our Ward Mission Leader called us and said the same thing, that he felt like his friend's response wasn't congruent with that which was being taught. It made me grateful for what we have. How the Gospel is simple, but we have to open our hearts to let it in. If we try to analyze and don't allow the spirit to speak to us, we can't possibly progress. We can only sit in ideas that make sense to us, but without much application involved.

Sorry for the novel. I promise I try to be brief, it just never really works out.

I LOVE YOU GUYS. Shoot dang, I love all y'all just a whole bunch. I hope life for you is the best.


Sister Best

Monday, February 2, 2015

The Eternal Week

Is it just me, or did this week feel like two months? If it's just me, that's fine. It was still a good week, it just felt like it lasted forever. Maybe part of it was because at the beginning of the week, it was 80 degrees! We shed our tights and cardigans, but by the end of the week, it was back to the freezing, core-chilling temperatures. So it felt like several seasons.

But there were a few experiences that really defined the week. We did a lot of driving. We had a surplus of allotted miles at the end of the month that we could use, so Sister Chandler and I decided to drive out to the other cities that are technically part of our area but that we seldom make it out to. The first day, we tried to drive to Glencoe, but wound up overshooting it by several miles and wound up in a city called Pawnee. (Parks and Rec, anyone?) So by the time we made it to Glencoe, we realized we had forgotten our map and couldn't even navigate the town. So that was interesting. I'm not sure why I mentioned that. Maybe for the Parks and Rec. reference?

But the next day we drove out to Perry, which is a town we frequent a bit more often, and we were able to see a man who is the son of one of the members in our ward. He has had several strokes in his life and a past of drug and alcohol abuse so he is mostly brain dead and bed-ridden, but his mother has requested that we teach him the lessons anyway. He has chosen to allow Christ more fully into his life. Last time we were in Perry, 3 weeks ago, I slipped a bracelet that Dane sent to me on his wrist. It's red and says "Jesus" on it. This week, he tried to get his mom to help him move his arms out from underneath him so he could show us that he hadn't taken the bracelet off. It was really sweet. Every time we talk to him we have the remarkable opportunity to stoop by his bedside and speak to him in simple terms, while his eyes gleam and a smile overtakes his face. He can't do much by way of responding, but every now and then he does, and it's miraculous to see just how close to God he really is. It's touching. And the spirit always testifies to us that he is receiving the words which we are speaking.

This week we also visited a young, 9-year-old girl we've been teaching. Most of her family has stopped coming to church, but her grandmother is adamant that she be taught the lessons so she can see if she wants to be baptized anyway. I've been praying to help me see her the way God sees her, and to develop more of a desire to teach her lessons. Usually she's unfocused and distracted and kind of cold about us being there, so we try to bring visual aids, videos, and other objects to engage her. We were talking about the importance of following the prophet, and we showed her this video. She got a little sad and defensive and we asked her what was wrong. She admitted that she had been bullied at school. She told us about the problems she was facing and the names they were calling her. Many of them were normal, immature names, but some of them were incredibly harsh. Then she started to cry and her grandma came back into the room. She ran to her granddaughter and held her in her arms, and said, "you may not feel special to them, but you're special to me." My heart ached for her, and I started to get tears in my eyes. I saw the love this grandmother had for her granddaughter, and in turn I saw a portion of the love that her Heavenly Father had for her. And since then, it has been easy to be motivated to help her understand, in terms she understands, just how much her Heavenly Father loves her.

This is one of my favorite portions of missionary work. Very rarely do we meet somebody that we don't love, or can't love. We truly can learn to love anybody if we try hard enough. And sometimes it's work. Sometimes we have to "pray with all energy of heart" to be filled with charity. But it is infinitely worth it. We feel so much better about ourselves when we are filled with the spirit and filled with love for others, and we feel better about all of our dealings when we try to help others becomes better; instead of solely concerning ourselves with our own potential.

This weekend my companion and I also found a place called "Insect Adventures" which is deemed as "Oklahoma's First and Only Bug Petting Zoo". So that's pretty exciting. That's what we're planning on doing today. It's $2 to pet a tarantula...Porque no?

We also have the opportunity to go to the Temple this week, which should be amazing.

Life's good in Oklahoma! Oh, speaking of which. While we were in Perry, Brother Hogg gave me an old Oklahoma license plate, like the kind they made in the prisons, that just says "Oklahoma is OK", and the registration sticker is '93, the year I was born! It's probably one of my newest prized possessions.

I love you folks! Keep it classy! Take an account of the blessings you have and what you can do to repay the Lord for them.


Sister Best

Sorry for the lack of photos. Here's one of the only photos I took this week. Probably somewhere between Stillwater and Pawnee. Sister Chandler refused to smile, so her punishment will be this photo of her looking contemplative floating in cyber space forever.