Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Week 42: Crazy Adventures

Let me tell you about the crazy adventures we have had this week on Martha's Vineyard. Are you ready for the ride?

Monday. Our dinner cancelled, so I don't even remember what we did. Probably records and things. BUT. We found a Brazilian store that's right next to our apartment! Score!!

Tuesday. We had the Book of Mormon WebEx that we have every week (where President told us none of us are allowed to go on Facebook any longer. So you'll just have to bear it without me there until December. I know you can do it.), and after--even though we were planning on doing this on Thursday--we decided to go down to Aquinnah. Now, Aquinnah is the bottom-left corner of the island, and it is like a 5-hour trip to get down there, do some work, and get back to Vineyard Haven, all due to the bus schedule. So we went home, grabbed our bikes, and rode the bus alllll the way down to Aquinnah to stop by 2 less-actives (one of whom wasn't home, but her husband was, and the other moved to Utah but no one knew that). While we were there, we decided to bike down to the Gay Head Lighthouse and Cliffs, because that is a very popular touristy spot and we were already down there and had loads of time to wait for the bus anyways. So we got some great pictures!

On the way down we also taught most of the Restoration to a tourist, who declined the book of Mormon. Oh, well. Almost. Then, ahah, he got on the same bus as us and this other older man to get back to Vineyard Haven. So we were like travel buddies going home. That was fun as always. 

Wednesday. Was actually pretty normal! Everything we planned came through. Service that morning was so fun--people brought baby ducks and chickens and baby lambs for the nursing home residents to see. I got to take pictures on a really nice camera and it was super fun. Later we worked on the digital mission (we are now working on Google+ and it's so cool!!! I love the digital mission. There is so much potential and opportunity there and it's just the coolest!!) and visited with an 11 year old and her friend for "lanche" (snack in Portuguese), then had Branch Council. In MV, the Branch Council basically IS the branch, so that's fun haha. But they are great!

Thursday. The Fishbowl Sisters visited us!! We love them. They are the sisters that work on the Digital Mission full time. They came to help us understand Google+ and get used to the work. Oh, that was fun. They have a lot of energy. Plus, we're a 45-minute ferry ride away from any other missionaries, so we like visits. AND. In the morning, we got a text from a number we didn't have saved.... and it was Sister Meredith from Marlborough!! She and her daughter and Sister Hutchins and her daughter were on the island and they wanted to take us out for lunch or dinner! So we were able to visit with them at Sharky's for dinner and it was literally SO FUN. I love those women so much. Adriana is going to BYU in June and Sara will go to Utah State. And their moms are great. I just loved that all so much. And I really appreciated that they wanted to see me :)

Friday. We went off island for the first time since I got here! Woohoo! We actually went to district meeting this time, which was great, and then we went to Friendly's for lunch. Remember Friendly's? how I always wanted to go there? Yep. And it was delicious. We ran into wal-mart to grab some things and we rode the ferry back to the island and did digital work and worked on our non-existent Finding Pool. 

Funny story from Wal-mart--we had just gotten into the store and this guy walked by me really slowly, just staring. I was so confused. I finally figured out he was looking at my tag (and I was wearing the English one this time, so I don't know why it took him so long to read it). We had a lovely discussion about how we were missionaries, and yes sometimes people think we are Jehovah's Witnesses but we definitely aren't, and we asked if he wanted to learn more. He said "Oh, I'm Jehovah's Witness!" And I was like "okaaaaaay." Haha but he said " It's a website." and I said " It's a website." and we kind of shared this I-see-what-you-did-there-trying-to-convert-me moment. It was actually super funny. Ah, JWs. So interesting.

Saturday! We had service (I love service. It's just the best. The people there are so funny!) and lunch and we taught Ronald without a member. But we had a really spiritual lesson about baptism and trying to understand where he is coming from. He did not accept out baptismal date of May 8th, but he does say after summer he wants to be baptized. So that's something. And he said a really amazing prayer at the end. Those are the best. While we were doing digital work later we skyped this guy in Brazil, Marcelo, who is so cool! I think he'll totally want to learn more. We kind of just talk the first time but then try to teach them later. He's really nice. And to top it all off, we had dinner at the Oliveiras--arroz e strogonoffe. Mmmm. Com salada de fruta pela sobremesa! Eu amo a comida brasileira. Sister Oliveira promised to teach me how to make rice and strogonoffe :) I am so. excited. 

In the car ride home we were joking (in Portuguese!!) that if I can make strogonoffe, arroz, and brigadeiro (the 3 easiest Brazilian foods), I will be ready for marriage. Watch out dad, those American boys will love my Brazilian food. 

I was mostly proud that I was part of a joke in Portuguese :)

Sunday was great! We had that same regional broadcast as you did (I loved it. the talks were amazing!) for church. Later we worked on the digital mission and skyped Rodrigo, a guy from Guadalajara Mexico. I kind of sort of spoke a teensy bit of Spanish to him, since I could understand his Spanish. Cool stuff. We also visited Sister Marshall, a really kind less active older lady, and the Browns with Ronald. We taught about the 10 Commandments and ate cookies. 

It was a full week, even though we didn't think we would have quite so much happen! It was great though. Lots of very funny things happened (like how I tripped over a 1-inch rock .... twice.) and we had a good time. 

I know I am learning so much on my mission, and I am so proud and excited for Jared to go serve in Texas!! That's so cool!!!! And Congrats!!! to Michael and Chase, and in advance to Landon. Missions are the best thing ever.

I loved how Elder Kacher and Elder Anderson both spoke about being examples, being lights, to those around us. "We must be visible men and women of Christ" and "We must keep our light visible". Good reminder! Our lives need to reflect the things we believe. When we do that, we will truly have Christ's image in our countenance. (I also had the pleasure to read Alma 5 this week! Good stuff.)

I love you all. Live what you believe, and be visible men and women of Christ this week! Go share the gospel!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Week 41: The tourists are coming! The tourists are coming!

Today is Patriot's Day!! Happy Patriot's Day! I hope today's title made you think of Paul Revere... it was supposed to. Today is the day that Massachusetts celebrates essentially the Revolutionary war, and, well, patriots! I guess they have a lot of reenactments that go on in Lexington and Concord, at the place where the Boston Massacre was (ok maybe not a reenactment there haha) and places like that. Here on Martha's Vineyard though, we don't have much going on, at least that I know of. I think there's kind of a mini-marathon so all the islanders can run all around the island (which is totally a huge feat... the island is bigger than you think it is!).

Today is also, of course, the day of the Boston Marathon. That means--MOM. DAD.--you should be wearing the Boston Strong shirts I sent you! It's been 2 years since the bombing. Crazy to think about that. But Boston is strong and we all stand together :)

In addition to all of that, Massachusetts has April Break this week. And you know what that means--here come the tourists! Haha I've only been here for a week and a half now, but I can already tell the difference between the islanders and the tourists. And the millionaires. There are a lot more people here now, and a ton keep coming off the ferry every day. But the fun thing is we talk to everyone when we are on the bus, and we've seen some of the same people over and over again! It's a small island. :) 

I really love the members here. We have about 25 active members, so it's really easy to get to know them all really well! Our ward directory is one front of one page, haha. But it's great. The members here are really strong and super involved in missionary work! I might have said that before, but there you go. We naturally don't get fed quite like we did in Marlborough--when you've only got maybe 6 active families who have their own lives it's hard for them to feed us everyday--but that's totally ok! I'm learning more cooking skills :)

This week we did have some member dinners though, which are so fun. Everyone likes to talk a lot, so we're working on having shorter dinners. We also met with President Bilodeau, our branch president, and got his vision of the branch. I'm excited for all the work I know we have in front of us!

Our investigator Ronald just up and left to go to New York, so we didn't see him at all this week. But no worries--HE has daily contact with US. Haha. I guess he had stuff to do there, but he didn't explain what. We were able to teach Zach and Niveah, our 8 and 10 year old investigators. Their dad is less active, and he hasn't been to church for a long time. So we're trying to help all 3 of them get to church and get the dad ready to baptize his kids, because that will be so special for all of them. The branch is really behind all of it too! But that darn agency thing gets in the way sometimes ;)

We also got a new investigator this week! Wahoooo! Her name is Jamie. She had a baby by c-section 3 weeks ago, and the recovery has been hard for her, so she needs help around the house and with her baby. We heard all about that through the grapevine, but we went over Tuesday to help and she didn't have anything planned for us to do, but she said "So what do you Mormons believe?" And we were like "Well we can tell you!!" So we talked about how God is our loving Heavenly Father, and she told us about a lot of spiritual experiences she's had. We gave her a Book of Mormon and she promised to read it, especially because she pretty much can only sit around all day! We tried to see her again, but she kept moving appointments... so we'll try again :)

We do a lot of digital missionary work here too. Let me explain--basically we go on the computer and we have a few specific websites where we go on and try to talk to people, hopefully about the gospel, but really anything to get them to talk to us. And the idea is that we skype them like right away. That goes against everything that I've ever learned about internet safety, but that's our job. The idea is that we would have face to face connections, like a street contact, but then they could be willing to talk about the gospel with us! It's really bizarre. So we sometimes also add people on facebook (hence me being on facebook now) to talk to them there. That's mostly just really weird. We were asked to make a really lovely video this week about how the digital mission helps us stay productive in areas that are historically less-productive. Ha, that took us FOREVER to do, but basically the gist is that we are doing productive work all day! Plus a lot of times people on the internet could totally be looking for the gospel, but they "know not where to find it". It's cool.

...and sometimes they need some clarification about our church. :)

Oh yeah, and Saturday and yesterday we felt like those pioneer children who sang as they walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked and walked. And walked. We tried to see a less active who wasn't home, but the way the buses are, we thought we could walk there. not so. but the next day we took the bus there but finished in between when buses would come, so we walked alllllllll theeeeeeee wayyyyyyyyyyy to the West Chop lighthouse. We got there, snapped a picture, and the bus came rolling up. Finally. And then later we went to stop by a different less active, but I got us off the bus WAY to early. Same thing with the buses--we were just stuck to stand and wait or just walk. So we did. We walked for a looooooooooong time. 

I actually really like walking areas though, because it makes me feel like we've worked a lot! That's always nice. And last night, we called the former branch president to ask him a question about where this less active lived. He said his wife, Sister Brown, wanted to talk to us, so I said sure! (I thought she was going to schedule a dinner :) ) But what she told us is that she was really impressed that we were out working and it was really good to see that we wanted to work hard. (it was maybe 8:00pm by that time). That was just a really kind thing for her to say and I was grateful :)

I've been really thinking a lot over probably my whole mission about how this is the Lord's time. Of course, there are a lot of things that I would like to do, but that doesn't mean that it is something I should do. Sister Belchior (who went home by the way!! Yikes!!) used to say that we have 18 months to serve the Lord and an eternity to look back and reflect on this time. I'm certainly so far from perfect in focusing solely on this work, but I'm trying my best. So, for Jared, remember that your mission is never about you--it's about the Lord and His will. That's really hard to do, to give your will to the Lord, but that's what consecration is too. And consecration is the real goal of this life, for all of us. We need to always be striving to follow the will of God, not that of ourselves. It's extremely hard to do--it requires giving up all of our natural man--but that's what will bring us the most blessings, and more importantly, it's what will bring us closer to God. 

So that's my thought for you this week! Try to think of something you need to sacrifice to the Lord in order to become closer to Him. We all have so many things we need to give up. I'm not even close to really giving up the things I've already promised, but I'm trying. I do know, though, that as we sacrifice the things that take us away from the Father, we will grow closer to Him and we will find more happiness and peace in our lives. 

I love you all so much. I hope you have a great week! Enjoy the kind of spring weather we're starting to get :)

Monday, April 13, 2015

Week 40: The Lord's Vineyard

Gooooooooood afternoon friends and family! 

Life here on Martha's Vineyard--aka the Lord's Vineyard--is awesome! We don't go off the island much because it's fairly expensive to take the ferry over to Cape Cod area, so it's me and sister Redden and the island.

Leading up to transfers on Wednesday, Sister Cruz and I visited Michelle and Dylan (the eight-year-old I helped teach), Irma Silva, the Kostetskys (I love love love them and will always stay in contact with them. You can quote me on that.), the Atkins (the family from South Africa), and Sister Meredith, because she's my mission mom. 

It was really hard to leave Marlborough because I love everyone there so much, but I am definitely excited to be here. We stayed with the Cape Cod sisters on Wednesday night after transfer meeting, because we had Zone Meeting the next day. The Hingham South zone is great! I already knew a good chunk of the missionaries here, so that was cool. Also, Elder Walter out there in Arizona knows one of the visa-waiters here in my zone, Elder Quinlin. Go figure. We went to an all-you-can-eat Japanese Hibachi place, and boy that was deeeelicious.

We got back to the island Thursday night and I unpacked and got settled in. Our apartment is really cute! It's on top of our branch president's office, and since he's a building contractor, you would never ever think sister missionaries lived in the building we do. I'll have to take pictures or a video to show you. We only have one bathroom (I no longer live in complete luxury), but it really is a nice apartment. 

As I'm sure you all saw on facebook, I'm now a digital missionary! So what we do is basically try to proselyte online through penpal websites and skype and facebook. It's really bizarre. I was on facebook for a really long time on Friday to try to clean it up--delete pictures and posts to make it "missionary appropriate". I didn't have to do much, but I did take some pictures off that my BYU roommates so kindly posted of me.... hahaha. It's really interesting how the digital mission works, but it does! I'm going to skype a guy in Brazil soon to practice my Portuguese and probably introduce the gospel while I'm at it, because I am a missionary after all. It's pretty cool! 

Otherwise, life in the Vineyard is very similar to other areas! We have 3 investigators--Ronald, Niveyah, and Zach. We do service at a nursing home in the island's hospital, and the old people there are so cute! The branch here is AMAZING. We had branch conference yesterday, so we probably had double the number of people that usually come each week. We have about 25 active people in roughly 6 or 7 families. Everyone has 2 callings. There's one young woman and 2 young men. 6 primary kids. And the missionaries! The Brazilian family in the ward is AWESOME. They were so impressed that I speak Portuguese haha. But there are a surprising amount of Brazilians everywhere on the island! Go figure! I talked with a Brazilian guy on the bus and we tracted into a Brazilian pastor who said we could come back. We'll get a Portuguese branch here before you know it.

Everyone here--members and not--are so kind and courteous. We ride the buses all the time and walk, and every bus driver knows the missionaries! Haha it's funny. All of them already have Books of Mormon too :)

I love this place. Who knew I would be sent to serve in Martha's Vineyard? The Lord did! He has prepared me for this experience and people here that I could specifically touch. It's a different feel here on the island, so the work is a little different, but it's wonderful. And warm! finally! It's glorious. Soon we'll get our bikes out and ride everywhere. I hope we go to the beach soon for one of these pdays :)

I love you all so much. I have had some really neat experiences this week as I've been able to study about humility in Preach My Gospel. The other day something that had been plaguing me all week kind of came to a head right as I started studies, and I was lead by PMG to read Doctrine and Covenants 67. It was really amazing--it didn't necessarily answer the question I had, but it gave me peace about everything. I love how in the first verse it tells us that the Lord is aware of us and our desires. He always knows the things we want and need, and the purpose of prayer (as stated in the Bible Dictionary) is not to change the will of God, but to help us align our will with His. That's a hard thing to do, but it's possible!

I hope you all have a fantastic and hopefully warm week. It's April already, that's crazy! 

I think Jared will go (if in the States) to Washington state speaking Spanish or (if foreign) Taiwan. Or Brazil :) He could go to Rio. No, Brazilia. Definitely Brazilia. (which is where Elder Brown, who he went to EFY with is serving! How bizarre that would be). I'm so stoked to see where he gets called!!! And good luck to Landon and Michael and the others. Crazy crazy crazy. I'm so old now. I want to hear about everyone who gets their mission calls. I can promise that your mission will be the best thing you've done so far in you life and it will change you all for the better.

I love you!

Monday, April 6, 2015

Week 39: It's Spring, I'm Halfway Done, Time for a Vacation, Right?

Of course it's not time for a vacation! But President didn't listen to me. Guess where he's transferring me?

Martha's Vineyard!

Seriously though. I wouldn't even have been smart enough to think that one up. It was the place I LEAST expected to go. 

I talked to the sisters who are currently serving there, and they said there is a 25-member branch on the island and they currently have 3 investigators! I also happen to be going at a great time, right during Spring and Summer, so we'll have lots of contacting to do! It will definitely be a very different work than here in Marlborough. Plus, we only come off the island for things like Zone meeting or interviews with President Packard. The closest missionaries are in Cape Cod, a 45-minute ferry ride away. Yay!

But hey, who else gets to say they lived on Martha's Vineyard? Pretty much just the people that do live there hahaha

Boy oh boy will I miss the Marlborough ward though. I did not have any idea before my mission how much you can come to love so many people so quickly and without reservation. I love each person in this ward so so so much and I am extremely sad to be leaving so soon. I was serving here for 3 transfers--4 1/2 months--but it feels like 4 ;) (ps dad I told that joke that you say "feels like 23" when you say you've been married 22 years, but it wasn't as funny to the other people... sorry)

I am grateful in that respect for things like facebook that will allow me to stay connected with all these people I love so much when I go home. Especially because I don't even get to say goodbye to the whole ward since we had Conferenceon Sunday...

Charity--the pure love of Christ--is real and it will change your life. I will always remember the Marlborough ward as one who I love and who loved me :) WHEN I come back and visit, you KNOW I'll be visiting this ward on a Sunday. I love them.

One great thing about this week is that we got to visit a lot of members :) We also did a grand total of 12 1/2 hours of service, which is probably 6 times more than we usually do, so that was pretty exciting! We cleaned some nasty window sills, moved a Brazilian lady, helped a 1st-grader with her math homework, and served food to those who need it. 

On top of all of that, we have TWO new investigators this week! The first, Maria, is a friend of the Silvas in the ward. Haha she's a funny lady. She talks very quickly, so it was hard for me to understand her. She'll definitely get baptized though :) The other is the 9-year-old daughter of the Kostetsky family!!! You have NO IDEA how happy that makes me. I've been working with that family literally my whole 4 1/2 months here, and the entire family has progressed so much. The daughter wants to be baptized, the mother started to read the Book of Mormon a bit after 8 years, the father wants to be worthy of the Priesthood and temple covenants again so he can baptize his daughter, and the autistic twins are just perfect :)

If I've done nothing else in my time here in Marlborough, I knew the Kostetskys and helped them come closer to Christ. And if no one else remembers me, I do think they will. And that's just fine by me. 

So Sister Cruz and her new greenie will continue to teach the daughter and help her prepare for baptism, and I will do my best to make it back for that, because that is not something I could easily miss. 

We also finally talked with Gabbi--I love her. Pray for her please. We had a lesson with the Crocketts (new investigators from last week) about receiving revelation. Beth will get baptized too, I know it. 

The work here in this area is amazing. The miracles of the Lord are amazing. Just like Elder Andersen said in Conference this weekend, when we see the hand of the Lord and the miracles happening in His work, we can see the miracles in our own lives better.

I encourage you all to remember what Elder Nelson said--think about the things you've learned at Conference and ask yourself "what will I do to CHANGE because of these things?"

I LOVED CONFERENCE. We sadly missed the Saturday morning session, but we'll watch it soon. I was so grateful for the Spirit I felt and the wonderful talks that we shared. I learned so much and especially enjoyed Elder Bednar's, President Uchtdorf's, and Elder Pearson's talks. I need to study Elder Pearson's again for sure.

I love you all so much and hope you enjoyed conference and your past week too :) Have a fantastic week! Remember to apply what you learned at conference.