Here is the link to a truly remarkable story from Sister Davis's mission.
Monday, May 13, 2013
Monday, April 1, 2013
Marina Zone March 2013
Friends and family,
Another week gone. A little sadness this week, but also an Easter miracle!
Crystal has officially moved and Amir officially got permission to attend the other ward so we were feeling a little bummed about our lack of investigators. Especially with conference coming up. Last conference was Richard's first Sunday coming to church. I can't believe it's already been six months. He has grown so much. He taught the high priests this last week and also starred in the Easter choir at church. We missed both. The first for obvious reasons and the second because we were at the Visitors' Center. He came to our impromptu concert at the VC later that night though so we got to talk to him a bit.
The choir that was lined up to perform for Easter ended up bailing so we had the privilege of throwing one together in three days or so. Sister Shakespear asked me to sing "Savior Redeemer of My Soul" which is what I sang at Richard's baptism so that was a good Easter gift for him. He made Sister Jones and I promise we would record it when we got home. We are such a funny trio of best friends that I'm sure will appear very odd to anyone unfamiliar with our situation.
Miracle: After the concert we got back to our area about fifteen minutes before we had anticipated and we didn't really have any back up plans so we just decided to knock some doors before going in. I took about three random turns, turned left on the third street and snagged the third available parking spot(don't ask me why I chose three) and we started knocking. Lo and behold the families behind the first two doors were very disinterested, but behind the third we found Veronica! She is a middle-aged African American lady who has a seventeen year-old son and I think is a single mom. It was very natural to talk with her. She told us about her Easter and listened as we told her about modern revelation and the Book of Mormon. we offered her one of her own and she gladly accepted and said she would like to learn more!!! I asked when she was usually available and she explained to us that she's battling cancer right now and is almost always home. I was sad to learn that, but I'm also looking forward to sharing with her more about the purpose and plan that a loving Heavenly Father has for her.
We had a wonderful dinner with Stephanie this week. She is... or rather was the less active that Sister Jones and I started teaching back in September. I've missed her a lot because seeing as she hasn't missed a Sunday since October we haven't been able to visit anymore. Funny how that works :) So proud of her.
Love you all! Gotta run,
Monday, March 25, 2013
Making Grandma Dorman proud in her blazer :)
My Chingoo aka friend. LOVE HER
Friends and Family,
It hasn't been very long since my last p-day, but I do have a few updates. Some are a little sad.
Crystal is officially moving :( Her little girl is a little over a week old and she has to be out of her apartment in less than ten days. I'm glad that we are here to help her get everything together, but the chances of her moving to an apartment in our area are slim.
Amir is doing wonderfully well. Our bishop as well as Sister Larsen's bishop are coordinating to get permission for him to be in the other ward so that she can fellowship and translate for him. This is probably the best fit for him, but sad for us because it means we will most likely be transitioning him to the other missionaries. We did get permission to celebrate Persian new year at Sister Larsen's house this week. It was definitely a new and cultural experience. Los Angeles is such a melting pot. I love it!
Tristen cancelled on us this week. It's such a difficult situation because while she says she isn't doing it for Ethan she is doing it because of him, and he isn't coming to church or really keeping the commitments we give him. I guess their deal in the beginning was 5 lessons, so we'll see if once those are up she's done.
Brother Kennedy is brother Kennedy :) He wants the gospel in his life, but the process of making that happen, especially without the support of his wife can be overwhelming. I'm excited for him to attend the Saturday session of general conference and crossing my fingers that he'll be able to retire in May and return to activity.
I think I've mentioned before that sometimes there seems to be a theme at the Visitors' Center as well as just on my mission in general for different periods of time. The question "why" is one that I've been asked all of my mission, but especially the last few weeks. "Why is there so much suffering?" "Why is life so hard?" "Why is this happening to me?" etc. These are questions that I'm sure we have all asked whether we care to admit it or not. They are difficult questions to answer and even a scriptural answer I've found does not leave the inquirer satisfied. However, I do feel that what I've experienced on my mission, particularly in the last few months, has helped me to find my own answer to these seemingly unanswerable questions and in turn at least have a direction to send others in, in the hopes that they will find their own. I love the account in the beginning of first Nephi when he is shown his father's vision. 16: "And he said unto me: Knowest thou the condescension of God?" 17: "And I said unto him: I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." Many times I feel like that's the best answer I can give. BUT there is so much involved in that short answer that at least for me has made it a very real and even satisfying answer. Mosiah 23:21 "Nevertheless the Lord seeth fit to chasten his people; yea, he trieth their patience and their faith." This has always been and will always be a true principle, but somehow doesn't seem all that helpful when you're the one suffering. I was reading Elder Eyring's recent talk "Where's the Pavilion." and even though I had already heard it, it brought something to light that I hadn't understood before. I have always heard and always taught Moses 1:39. Everything the Lord does is for us, but something seemed to click this time more so than in the past. Even the chastening, even the allowing us to suffer, and even the delaying desired blessings. Elder Eyring said, "The Lord’s delays often seem long; some last a lifetime. But they are always calculated to bless" When I read that it just hit me that it was true. Not in an "Oh an Apostle said it so it must be true" kind of way, but more of a knowing. I know that that is true. I know that God allows us to suffer because He loves us! I know it! He sees what we can become and what needs to happen in order for us to become that. I know that everything we experience whether it seems to us to be good or bad is calculated to bless us. Now what has really been difficult has been sharing my realization with others as they ask these questions and see that it doesn't satisfy or mean much to them. We really do all have to find out for ourselves and through our own experiences what is true. So I guess I'll give you all a challenge because I'm a missionary and I feel like quoting a little mermaid song :) "Ask [Him] your questions and get some answers!"
I guess that's all for now. I love you all very dearly and I appreciate all the insights you share with me. I learn so much from all of you!
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
Does anyone recognize Elder Heun form Kamiah?
Sportin Sister Mueller's clothes :)
Code 4 - No assistance needed :)
Friends and Family,
Well... I don't really have a lot of updates this week, but I will say that it has been a very interesting one. If you're ever looking for a good story just ask me about "pie day" on my mission.
That being said here are the updates:
Crystal : Still babying, but wants to come to church as soon as she feels up to it.
Amir: Doing great! Tons of complications with what ward he is going to attend due to the language barrier, and his backround as an Iranian. We're working it all out though and he is getting more excited all the time. We taught him at the Visitors' Center this week and he was just adorable. He was asking questions about the Word of Wisdom and when we taught it he basically just said, ok it will be hard, but I can give up tea and hookah. Tea and hookah? I've never gotten that before but ok. I asked what that was similar to and then started listing options like marijuana(sheltered) ha ha. He got a little flustered, stopped me and said, "no, no. It does not give you a special feeling! It is just flavored tobacco." Ok, ok sorry :) Anyway, he is really progressing. Our challenge with him is getting him to read from the Book of Mormon because he has a gospel principles book in Farsi and prefers that.
Tristen: The same. We asked Ethan to invite her to church. He said he would go if we got her to go. Oy... This really happened but we joke about it now - Sister Schiel called him a hypocrit... I asked him to read his patriarchal blessing... He told me that he was really glad that I'm teaching her because, "I'm real and I'm a sweet spirit, but not of the fat variety." What?... Anyway, who's the good cop now Richard?! :) Workin on it.
Brother Kennedy: We had a great lesson with him and the Bishop came which was perfect because he has been so concerned with coming back to church and the Bishop was very clear with him that if only perfect people came the building would be vacant. He still works Sundays until at least May, but he has committed to coming to a Saturday session of conference so we are looking forward to that.
I could tell you a lot of stories from this past week, like I said, ask me one day. But here's one that gave me a smile. I really think that part of the reason God sent me to Los Angeles was for the entertainment factor. He knows how much I love to laugh :)
We ate dinner with a member who lives... in a commune. Her housemates Sparky and Micky - a folk dancing couple that has been going strong for 28 years but have not tied the knot, two gay couples, some college kids celebrating St. Patrick's day, and our lovely member friend. It was her birthday so we all joined hands, said grace, and enjoyed a meal that the rest of the house had prepared for her. I even poured the tea! Don't worry, I did not partake. Neither did the member. Sister Schiel on the other hand... no just kidding :) The table conversation was let's say... memborable.
On a more spiritual note. Sorry for the whiplash... I got to go to the temple today! It was so peaceful and I had an interesting experience. This will probably sound pretty vague, but I was praying about one thing when an impression for something completely different came out of nowhere. I didn't really think much of it until I opened a letter about an hour later that had everything to do with it.
I know that God answers our prayers! Sometimes not always how we are expecting, but luckily he is WAY smarter than us so it all works out.
I'm out of time, but I love you all!! Thank you for your e-mails :)
Monday, March 11, 2013
Sister Jones' halfway mark!
March of the Mustaches - Zone goal
It's been an interesting week, but good! I've been doing some adjusting even though nothing really changed because I was 100% anticipating and preparing for a change. Sister Jones said it best, "You just stay places chick." True. It will be interesting to see if I end up serving in only two areas and one zone my entire mission. We'll see!
Things are still going well with all our investigators although there is not much to report because most are at a bit of a standstill simply due to circumstance. Crystal is in the hospital about to deliver a baby, Tristen seems to be developing some real intent, and Amir is doing great, but we don't exactly have permission to baptize him... However he is keeping his commitments and whenever we meet he talks about how what he learns answers so many questions he has always had. I think a lot of people would find that if they would give it a chance.
The Visitors' Center has been relatively slow as of late because the temple is closed for cleaning. However, we were able to help with the cleaning which is always a treat and have taken some good tours. One that sticks out in particular is a tour that we took with the ASL elders and their investigator. It was just cool to teach and have them interpret. Emilio is 13 and just starting the lessons, but mentioned that he had already felt the spirit and said after the Joseph Smith film that he believed it must be true. His friend Naomi came along as well. She is a recent convert and is the one that introduced him to the church and the missionaries. The elders told us about her experience and I was floored. It's too good not to share. When she was investigating she wasn't really reading from the Book of Mormon or keeping commitments. This went on for weeks and the missionaries were stumped. They just didn't know how to help her. Then one day they went to teach her and she told them that she had read. She had read because of a dream she'd had. In the dream she saw Jesus Christ. He was signing to her and she asked him how he knew sign language. He replied that he knew every language because he had created everyone and everything. He then asked her to be a good girl and read from the Book of Mormon. She said she would and woke up. Is that awesome or what?! I was so grateful that we were assigned to their tour. Wow. The church is true!
I think that's all of my updates although I do have an update to share. I think I'll just give you the whole study journal entry.
"Ether 12 hit me with particular force today. It's a common scripture that is shared often and has always brought me comfort, but I saw it differently this time. It applied to me in a different way and I noticed some things about the way 2 verses in particular are phrased. Vs 12- 'If men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness.' The IF jumped off the page. It makes me think that all these weaknesses I'm seeing and feeling, although they may seem like regressions, are actually indications that I am coming unto Christ. Now, that doesn't make the refiner's fire any easier, but it does make me feel more confident. More confident that I am on the right path. I have SO many weaknesses that at times I feel overwhelmed and even a little hopeless. Have I ever considered that perhaps seeing those weaknesses is a blessing? That I wouldn't be seeing them unless I was ready to grow and become stronger? 'For IF they humble themselves before me and have faith in me, THEN will I make things become strong unto them.' "
Out of time again, but here is some good news! The e-mail policy for missionaries worldwide has changed and we can now correspond with friends. SO excited! :)
I love you all!
Until next week,
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
|Temple Service - My last one!!|
Richard hand hug
Brother Kennedy hand hug
Sister Isquierdo and Sister Vasilopoulos(mission mom)
Friends and Family,
The phone call came in last night and drum roll... I'm staying! At least six more weeks in MDR with Sister Schiel! I've never been with one companion for more than two transfers so this will be a new experience. I'm really relieved that I get to stick around and be here to see the Ethan and Tristen saga unfold, continue with Amir, help Crystal(she is having her baby this Friday!) and whoever else the Lord puts in our path. I called Richard last night immediately after planning to tell him that I got to stay, since we were all prepared for and expecting I'd go, and I couldn't resist teasing him a little. What's new? I talked to him in a high-pitched voice and told him I was Sister Davis' replacement and that she told me to call him as soon as I got to the area. He asked if he could call back in a few minutes and when he did was very polite and welcomed me to the area. He asked how Sister Davis was to which I replied, "you know how she is... but she'll be ok" He then said, "Well, you know she feels very deeply about people, and she get's attached..."(true) That's where I stopped him, returned to my regular voice and through a little laughter said, "Richard, Richard, I didn't get transferred!" Ha ha! It was too good. Also a little terrible. I think he'll forgive me though in time.
A bunch of great things this week that I'm lucky I get to stick around for. We taught Amir again and it was great. He is super humble and ready to learn. We are still unsure if he will end up in our ward and have to make sure that his family won't murder him in cold blood if we baptize him, but other than that he is doing awesome! We haven't been able to meet with Crystal because she is about to pop, but we had another miracle with her. We asked if there was anything we could do for her and she asked if we knew where to find a cheap car seat. We looked through the ward list for people that might have an extra one she could borrow or have and the first family we called did! We're taking that over to her tomorrow and will conveniently share a message while we're there. When we told her we were just bringing her one for free she said she was so happy she could cry and that it was nice to see Christians that are not only religious on Sunday.
Angel and Enrique update: They are still doing awesome. So proud of them. Angel blessed the sacrament last week. We missed it because we were at the VC, but it has been amazing to see and hear about all their progression. I can't wait to see all that the Lord has in store for them in the future.
Two street contacting stories. One is funny/a little sad and the other a miracle. So we met this young man named Clarence. We said hello and introduced ourselves, he asked if we were Mormon, we told him yes and that we were the missionaries! I was not expecting this but the next thing he did was call us devil worshipers, flip us off, and then run away from us in a full-speed panic! I mean I've been told before that I can be a little intimidating, but I never realized I was down right scary! His loss I suppose. The second one is a little more uplifting. From time to time the Spanish sisters that cover our same area give us referrals and I was thinking that we rarely give them any simply because we don't speak Spanish. So, I said a little prayer in my heart that we could find someone for them. Literally less that an hour later we ran into a Hispanic woman with her three children. The youngest had just hit his head on the cement so I started talking to him and said one of the only things I know in Spanish, "lo siento" he immediately stopped crying and I talked to the mother briefly about the Book of Mormon. She gave me her info and I sent it to the Spanish sisters. Prayers are answered!
We have a new investigator now, Diana. She was a former that we went to visit. She said that she had met with missionaries before, but hadn't been all that interested. Not much to go off of, but somehow she ended up telling us that she had lost a few family members this year and had given birth to a full-term still-born baby girl a few years ago. I was able to talk to her about my mother and family having a similar experience as well as my own losses. I don't think she was expecting me to respond that way and she started listening. I shared Alma 40 with her and talked about the peace that a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation can bring. Now we're seeing her again on Thursday. It's amazing how you can just feel like your wandering around with no direction trying to find people and then WHAM! There they are.
It's crazy to me that I've been in Los Angeles for over a year now. I was reading a journal entry from when I first arrived and I have changed so much, thank goodness! There were all these things that I wanted to become and characteristics that I wanted to develop and it's interesting to look back and see how the Lord has made that happen. I don't know how to explain this exactly, but many of the changes have not come from a conscious effort on my part, but rather a series of experiences that the Lord knew would help me get there. Some, actually most have been difficult experiences that made me stretch and sometimes even question "why?" It's humbling to learn that sometimes God allows us to experience difficulties and suffering not because He doesn't care, but rather because He loves us with an infinite love and understands more so than we do, how much potential we have. I love Him and am learning to trust Him.
I love you all! Have a great week. Write me... :)
Monday, February 25, 2013
Friends and Family,
So many miracles this week! I think just listing them will be the most efficient this time.
Miracle #1 : Angel vs. Pei Wei. So earlier this week Sister Schiel was moaning her devastated moan, as she tends to do, because we learned that Angel's new job was requiring him to work Sundays for the rest of eternity. I told her not to fret and that he'd figure it out mostly just to calm her down, but also because I felt confident that he would. Next thing we know one of our ward missionaries informs us that he went over for a new member lesson and Angel had already taken care of it. Get this. He basically told his boss that if he had to choose between his faith and his job he would choose his faith. Not only did they rearrange his schedule, but they told him they could see him becoming a manager. Is that like ensign material or what? Go Angel!
Miracle #2: Richard is perfect for Brother Kennedy. The first time we met him he made coming to church sound like an impossibility. We met with him and brought Richard twice this week and when Richard invited him he was like, "Yes, I know I need to. I can't come this week, but I'll ask if I can change my work schedule so that I can be there." The buddy system. It works! Their family situations are very similar and Richard joked that while he has been praying for us to find someone like him he wasn't expecting God to be quite so specific. He just meant someone that would be interested in our message, but what he got was someone close to his age with similar obstacles. They really are adorable together. Richard was showing him how to listen to the scriptures on his phone and I thought I was going to overflow with pure delight! So cute. I told Richard that this is his prayer being answered even more specifically than he had anticipated. He agreed and said as usual, "I love doing God's work!"
Miracle #3: Tristen did not eat us. Tristen is the girlfriend that didn't take the money. We finally met with Tristen this week and I was SO nervous. I've been stressing about it for weeks because her boyfriend has been so nervous and telling us that she is basically atheist, very intellectual, "If you use the phrase, 'I know' she'll eat you alive because you don't have any tangible proof," etc. Then two days before the lesson he strolls into the Visitors' Center and wants to know what our game plan is. So we tell him and then he admits to us that he doesn't read the Book of Mormon regularly, prays probably twice a week, and rarely attends church. WHAT?! So we are being expected to perform a miracle with this chick and homeboy isn't even active?! I'm panicking at this point so we talked to our ward mission leader who literally said, "She takes a dump just like everyone else," and advised us to teach and testify as we would of we knew nothing about her and just leave the boyfriend out of it. So I'm still a little nervous, but feeling better because I've devised a fault proof lesson plan for a very slightly interested, but mostly closed off atheist individual. We finally meet with her and it turns out her step-family is Catholic, she is completely respectful, and asks us questions like, "how do you maintain a connection with God?" AND she said a kneeling prayer at the end of the lesson. So confused! So pleasantly surprised, although a little annoyed that I spent so long preparing a lesson for someone who definitely was not her. Maybe it will come in handy later who knows. Anyway, so she is going to read Alma 32 and pray about the Book of Mormon. I told B.F. that he better read it as well because he can't expect her to get answers and ultimately join the church if she doesn't read and pray and he can't expect her to do those things if he isn't willing to. Whew! If nothing else I hope he comes around.
Miracle #4: I speak Farsi. No I really don't, but Sister Larsen does and she helped us teach our first lesson with Amir. He has a baptismal date for March 24, but we're not sure how that will work with his Muslim heritage. Funny little anecdote to go along with that. We were visiting a less active in our ward who is older and when we told her that we were teaching Amir her jaw dropped and she exclaimed, "I've never met a Muslim who was not also an Islamist!" Ha ha, Sister Schiel almost lost it.
We had another mini-missionary this week, but she wasn't so miniature. She is 20 and in Los Angeles for an accounting internship. It's always fun to have them and get an extra boost of excitement about the great work we're privileged to participate in on a daily basis.
As far as an update on Crystal. She is still doing well. She's been in the hospital this week because she went into early labor and they want the baby to wait, so lessons are kind of on hold, but prayers are always appreciated :)
That's all for now I guess. My fingers are crossed that I'll stay in Marina del Rey. So many great things are happening!
I love you all :)
Sister Jenna Michele Davis