Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family! 

Holy Cow what a spiritual powerhouse week! I must say I was so glad to have been able to go to the temple last week. I feel like it really prepared me to hear the messages from General Conference. I loved that the messages seemed to be centered around the necessity and blessing of having a living prophet on the earth today. I also enjoyed the many addresses that helped us know what we can do in our lives to develop and strengthen our testimonies that will keep us safely guarded on Ship Zion. I was blown away by the power that was truly projected from those who were speaking. It really reminded me that the Second Coming is truly creeping up on us. On sunday morning I studied in 3 Nephi chapters  6-7. It was amazing to me to be able to compare and parallel the things Elder Lynn G Robbins spoke about concerning our society and lowering their standards far beneath God's standards and laws and how the Nephites did the same thing in those chapters. It was interesting to be able to look into the Book of Mormon and see what was happening to the Nephites at the time right before Christ appears to them. It was kind of like a look into the present and future of things to come before the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. How blessed we are to be able to be guided by living prophets and apostles. 

Here is an amazing experience that happened this weekend. Sunday morning Sister Kang and I decided to stop by our investigators house to invite him to come to General Conference. He was sitting out in his carport and he ended up asking some questions about how a prophet or leader in our church is called. We briefly explained to him that it is through revelation and then told him about General conference. We invited him to come with us, but he said he was going to be leaving around noon to go see his son. We invited him to watch the morning session and before hand to write down questions. We promised him that if he would watch conference he would come to have his questions answered and that he would be able to know for himself that we have a living prophet on the earth today. Well, what do you know, amazingly the very first talk by President Henry B Eyring was on continual revelation through prophets and down the line. And then Elder Russell M Nelson's talk was on "How do we sustain a prophet?". It was  like the sunday morning session was formatted specifically for D. It was awesome!! 

I can't wait for the ensign to come out so that I can more thoroughly feast upon the words of our living prophet and apostles. Their messages were inspiring and uplifting. Their words truly added to the trainings I received in Zone training this last Friday. We have a few changes in the mission. We don't have a ton of memorizations anymore. The only things that we recite and memorize is "Our purpose" and "The First Vision". Some of our weekly key indicators have been changed as to the procedure of counting some things as a key indicator. It is amazing how all of the changes are to help us to refocus on "having the end in mind" for our investigators. To keep the real reason of what we hope for those we are teaching, which is to bring them back to our Father in Heaven through repentance and making covenants. We were also instructed on how we can better use the resources and tools we have to do missionary work and bring others unto Christ. We were instructed on how we can have shorter more powerful spirit filled lessons. It was great!! Ultimately these changes we were told are to help us be more effective and efficient missionaries in preparation for getting I-Pads at the end of the year. It is hoped that by incorporating these changes now we will better be able to utilize the tools that we will be given in the upcoming months and truly be Preach My Gospel missionaries. 

I love this work. It is an exciting time of change for the better. There are so many changes all the time that we need to make sure that we are changing with it.  As Elder Carlos A Godoy of the Seventy mentioned, the difference between misery and happiness comes to just a few small errors. We need to be fine tuning ourselves every day. I love this gospel. I feel so blessed to be living in a time when we have the restored gospel here on the earth. I know without a doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I feel blessed to have walked and be serving where he himself served the Lord with all of his heart might mind and strength. I am so blessed to be serving in the Alpha and Omega mission. I have been called to serve where Our Father in Heaven's Plan for His children truly began and where all things will be restored to its perfect order and frame, when Christ, our Savior Himself,comes to rule and reign here upon the earth. I feel blessed that I am able to change daily through the power of the atonement. To access it each week through the sacrament and be spiritually armed and fortified with the Spririt. What a sacred privilege I have to carry this mantle to be at this time a servant of the Lord and a messenger of His truth. I'm so grateful for all of you. For the support, love and prayers. I feel blessed to have such a supportive and loving family. I love each of you dearly and I know that I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for each of your great influences that have touched my life. I love you and hope you have an amazing week! 

sister Luening

September 30, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Fear not Family, I am Alive! 
So, you were probably expecting my email yesterday, but Sister Kang and I switched our P-day so that we could go to the temple today. It was definitely needed since neither one of us had gone to the temple since May, CRAZY!! It was great to be able to feel the peace and serene surroundings of the temple, and to be reminded of the promises and blessings of our covenants. 
This last week was wonderful. K was baptized on friday and confirmed on sunday. She was so happy and her family was there to support her. I really hope they felt of the very special spirit that was in our dedicated church building. Today at the temple I ran into my old ward mission leader from Kearney. He said that they have about 13 scheduled baptisms for the month of October and guess who they are. J, S and G are supposed to be getting baptized on October 25th at 6pm!! I am so excited!! Also, the T family are going to be getting baptized on that date as well. It is so exciting to see how 7 months ago these individuals were in the beginning steps and now they have deep testimonies and are excited to take the sacred steps of baptism. YAY!! I was so excited!! 
Saturday was great with the Women's General Broadcast. I loved how everything pointed back to the temple and being prepared to go to the temple. I think when people hear "prepare to go to the temple", we automatically associate it with going to the temple for the first time. But we should be preparing to go to the temple every time we go to the temple.I was reminded about how preparation precedes power. Power that comes through revelation and inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I loved being reminded about the wonderful blessings of the temple. It truly is a sacred place where we go to more fully understand our Father in Heaven and His plan for us. The more we understand God, the more we will understand ourselves and our eternal path. I am so excited for General Conference. I can't wait to hear from our living prophet and apostles. How blessed are we to be living in the latter-day restoration in which we truly receive modern day revelation. It is incredible! 
The other day we were talking with one of our investigators named D, and he told us that he was stuck on something. He said, he just can't wrap his head around the fact that both God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. He said if it had only been Jesus Christ, he could believe it, but God too. He talked about how looking in the bible there was only one case in which God, Himself, actually showed Himself to man, he was referring to Moses. He expressed that it would have had to have been pretty important for Jesus Christ and God to show themselves to a 14 year old boy.  As I served at the Liberty Jail and took a phone call a man had this same concern. I just wish I could say in a way that they would understand and penetrate to their hearts that you know what, you're right! It would have had to have been pretty important. And it was! The Restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel in this last dispensation was the most important thing that would happen to mankind here on the earth. This is the last dispensation of the fullness of times. This time period is ultimately for the world to prepare for the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.....I would have to say that is pretty important, yes, even so vitally important that even God Himself with His Son would appear to a 14 year old boy who would later become His chosen prophet on the earth; A prophet to restore back to order all saving ordinances that would allow ALL mankind past, present and future to have the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel, ultimately bringing to pass God's eternal purposes for His children to be able to "receive immortality and eternal life" (Moses 1:39).  I'd say since everything past present and future hung on the balance of the need for a restoration that yes, even God himself would appear to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times here upon the earth. The restoration was necessary for God's children to be able to fully access the power of the atonement in their lives because it is through sacred covenants to our Heavenly Father and the power of the atonement combined that we are able to overcome the effects of "The Fall" and be brought back into our Father's presence. We cannot have the one without the other. So, yes indeed, I think if the most significant point in history was hanging in the balance, God really would have made an appearance to signify to everyone the importance of the events to follow: The restoration of all things in this last dispensation.
I just want to add my witness that I know that these things are true. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's Kingdom established on the earth in preparation to our Savior's Second Coming. I know that God and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph Smith, and that he was called as a prophet of God. I know that through Joseph Smith the Priesthood Authority was restored back to the earth making it possible for saving ordinances to be received by the living and the dead. I am grateful for temples and for the sacred places that they are. They truly are a refuge from the world and a place to receive instruction and a renewed commitment to return to our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the sealing power that binds families together eternally. That ultimately our greatest happiness can come through our families as we individually and collectively strive to make and keep sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and all that He has done for me. That through Him I can become perfect, "even as my Father in Heaven is perfect". I love you all, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
Have a great week!
Love, Sister Luening

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family, 

I almost feel like I should have written about my MIRACLE BOMB week before reading all the emails because now I feel like my mind is all over the place. But I hope I can adequately express how truly blessed Sister Kang and I have been this week. I think it was seriously one of the best weeks of my mission. First of all because we could truly see the hand of the Lord in our work everyday and second because we could truly account for our incredible week and we blew our goals out of the water for the week. We had so many people placed in our path this week it was incredible. 

So, this week was our no car week. Basically just hit the pavement and asked the members for rides this week, and man did the members step up to help us out, it was incredible. On Tuesday we had exchanges. I was companions with Sister White in Blue Springs first area (my area), which was awesome because we served around each other in Kearney for 3 months, so it was like old times. We had all of these great plans lined up for the next day, and all of our appointments fell through, so we spent the morning re-planning our day and it was truly amazing to see how the Lord guided us throughout the day. We had originally planned to go to farther away areas, but since our plans fell through and so did our rides we decided to work around the area closest to our house. We ended up finding two new investigators and it was incredible how sister White and I were so unified in our doorstep teaching. The Spirit was truly manifest in our teaching. the first new investigator we found his name is C. He is in is 20's, just got laid off his construction job and has a 5 month old son and his girl-friend recently moved out. As we taught him the restoration you could see in his face how it clicked. He said he feels like he really connected with hearing about the great apostasy. He said he had never been taught about it, but how it makes so much sense. We set up a return appointment and now he is on baptismal date for October 18th, wohoo! In the evening Sister White and I tried to contact a former and she was very stand-offish and told us she only visits with people by appointment if they call first. I asked her for her number and she said I couldn't have it. However, as soon as I mentioned Sister Anderson (my MTC companion who opened the area for blue springs and first met this lady) she completely opened up, gave us her number and told us to call and she would love to visit with us, haha! It was nuts. Thank-goodness for sister Anderson and the MTC ;)

We also went next door to try a former name Y, a 19 year old guy named W answered the door. We told him who we were and asked him if he had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. He hadn't and so we explained it to him and taught him about Joseph Smith's experience. He asked us where our church was and said he wanted to come. Unfortunately, the time our church meeting was he had to work, but he said he is going to ask his boss for a sunday off to come check it out. We set up a return appointment. When we went back to teach him we found a team up last minute. Sister Frazier came with us, and as we walked up to the house a lady was walking out the door, it was Y the former we had originally wanted to contact when we found W. We had the most incredible discussion with her on her doorstep. She had faced a lot of abuse as a child and it just so happened that Sister Frazier could connect with similar experiences in her own life. The spirit truly guided us in the things that we shared with her, and we did our best to try and bring peace to her mind and help her see the kind of amazing daughter of God she has become despite the challenges and struggles she has gone through in her life. Each of us shed some tears and we asked if we could come back and share more. It was truly incredible how we had gone there with Sister Frazier hoping to teach W, but then Y was placed in our path and Sister Frazier was perfect for Y and we were able to share a little bit about God's love and plan for us. Seriously, best discussion ever and I just felt so much empathy and love for Y, a woman I didn't even know!! It was awesome! Sister Frazier invited Y to church because everything that we had talked about Sister Frazier said she was actually speaking on in sacrament meeting. 

On Saturday we were finally able to get in the F's home. They are Polynesian, but don't speak the language. A, the mom, is investigating the church and her husband L has been less active since he was 9 so he doesn't know anything. They have three kids from age 9-3. L doesn't have any faith and he is still trying to come to a decision of if God is real. At this point he is agnostic, believes in a higher power to an extent, but not sure if its God or some energy in the universe. He is a really smart and deep thinking guy. I love talking with him. We invited them to come to church and A and the kids came for the first time ever in the whole month and a half they have been learning from the sisters, but L stayed home. Sunday was CRAZY! So as soon as we walked in the building Sister Sika grabbed us and told us to come with her to the kitchen because there was a lady that walked into the church. It turned out that this lady, in her 30's, has been homeless for the last 3 days. She was in a really bad situation, drugs, abuse, etc. and decided to leave, but had nowhere to go. She walked all over blue springs last night and finally found our church building. She pushed the button pleading in her heart that the door would open, so she could finally find a safe place to crash and sleep. Well, the door opened. E said she just stood there completely shocked for a moment that the door automatically opened after having pushed the handi-capp button, and she came inside crying and crashed on the couch and went to sleep. When the Bishop from the other ward came to the building he was the first one here and he said he came through the same door that E (the homeless lady) come through, but it was locked and he had to use his key to unlock the door to get in the building. He said there is no way that door opened unless the Lord opened it for her, because he said that door was locked, he even double checked to make sure they were talking about the same door.

The auxiliary leaders found her some food and tried to make her feel welcome as they tried to figure out how they could help her. She stayed at church the full three hours and our Relief Society President and the Bishop were able to find out how they could help her. Sister Kang and I just listened to what she has gone through over the last few years and she has hit as rock bottom as you can get. But as we talked with her, and as everyone testified of the miracle and hand of God that was working in her life to have brought her here and allowed her to come into the church building, it was amazing to know that god was placing her on the right path back towards him and towards greater happiness and peace for her in her life. By the end of church she really had a completely different countenance than she had had at the very beginning of the day. The sacrament meeting talks were  perfect for her. The focus seemed to be overcoming adversity and trials in our life through the savior. In sunday school we watched finding faith in Christ. It was amazing. All the members were so welcoming to her. Even though she was dressed in jeans an old shirt and had a wool coat. Short hair, pink in the front and blond. Half of it was shaved off and she had a rag twisted around her hair. All the members reached out to her and tried to help her feel loved, even though they didn't know her and they didn't know her situation or background. It was incredible. I really hope that everything works out for E and that she will be able to remember the feelings she had as she was at church and that no matter where she is or where she goes that she will come back to the gospel. 

Well, I feel like I haven't adequately described the feelings and the spirit that was truly evident in each of these miracles this week, but it was amazing. I wish I could just send you a video from my brain to be able to help you truly experience these moments. Each week seems to have more and more miracles, even though this last week seemed to be a little more challenging than the last, but it just goes to show that no matter how easy or hard the week seems to be, if we are still working with all our might the Lord will bless us. It just seems that the blessings at this time or almost immediate rather than later down the road. Sister Kang and I are truly blessed and this weekend we are excited for K's baptism. We moved it up since her back and neck surgery is going to be the following week. She is so prepared. She has been reading the Book of Mormon for 2 years and has been taking the discussions for 4 months. She feels completely ready and excited and as outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 she has truly met all of those qualifications for baptism. She is amazing! I feel blessed to have been able to really be aware to how much the Lord was in every phase of the work this week and that Sister Kang and I were spiritually in tune enough to have followed the Spirit as it guided us in word and deed.

I hope things get better back home. I hope that everyone turns to the savior at this time for strength, comfort and peace. Find solace in knowing that God has a plan for everything and in a sense even a back-up plan to bless us. When we think we are going the right way and then we find we seem to have taken a wrong turn, Heavenly Father will put another turn on our path to take us in the right direction back towards the happiness, peace and blessings He wants to give us. I know that for sure. Sometimes that turn back in the right direction can seem really long and we have to go slow, but eventually we will get there. We just need to take one step at a time and allow our Savior to lead us. Everything has a purpose and every experience is something that we can learn from, no matter what. I love you all!

Sister Luening

September 15, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family!

Things are still going great out here in Blue Springs :) Sister Kang and I were able to find a bunch of new investigators, some of them weren't very solid but we are really excited to talk with J and his two boys tonight. Last Monday after our dinner appointment we were walking back to our car that we parked a little ways down the street, and exactly that time J and his two sons were riding their bikes towards us. J looked kind of intimidating. He was pretty buff and had tattoos all over. Definitely, MMA status. They stopped and asked us what we were selling. We told them we weren't selling anything and that we were missionaries and just finished having dinner with some members of our congregation. We ended up talking to them for about 15 minutes about the restoration. J said he really wants his boys to grow up knowing God, and that they switch between two churches. We gave them a book of Mormon and asked if we could share more, so we are going by tonight. He was super nice and so open. We're excited to see how things go. 
Also, K is still on date for her baptism. We are really praying that her back surgery won't be scheduled for October 11th, otherwise she won't be able to be baptized for two more months and she is just so ready. She has a deep testimony of the Book of Mormon and knows this is Christ's church restored to the earth. Today she is officially going to completely stop smoking. She was down to 4 cigarettes a day for about 2 weeks and she feels confident that she can give it up completely :)
The members here are so great. There are so many part member families in this ward. Its really interesting because a lot of the non-member husbands come to church with their kids and wives, yet they aren't baptized. It is mind boggling to me of why they aren't baptized yet. WE are hoping to work more with those families to try and dig-out their concerns. Its like the iceberg analogy, most people know about a mild concern, for these individuals, but it obviously goes a lot deeper down than we can see. But in preach my gospel it says, " Heavenly Father knows the hearts and experiences of all people (the complete iceberg) and will help you know what is best for each person." I hope that as we get to know these families and individuals that Heavenly Father will guide us by the Spirit to know how we can best help these individuals progress and become eternal families.
I love this area, I am so grateful for my hard-working and loving companion Sister Kang. I feel so blessed to know that things are going well back home and that so many blessings are pouring into our family. God truly is a God of miracles. Keep working hard. Always keep in mind this saying that I heard on sunday,  "Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know Christ, will want to know Christ because they know you". `
Sister Luening

September 8, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family, 
It sounds like everyone is doing well and will be having a fun weekend up in Kelowna to celebrate Chris's birthday :) So transfer calls have come and gone and funny story, so when transfer calls came we were listening to the transfer roster and just as the Assistant said, "okay Liberty South Zone here is your transfer roster", we heard a "beep..... message deleted". Sister Barrow accidentally hit number 7 and deleted our transfer message before we could even listen to it, looking back it was pretty hilarious and we had to ask the zone leaders to forward it to us again, haha! So, in the message it said I would be going to Blue Springs 1st ward. I paused for a second because I knew that Blue Springs 2nd ward was a Visitor Center area, but I knew as soon as they said Blue Springs 1st ward that I would be going out full proselyting again. I felt a little disappointment at first, but it was almost instantly replaced with calmness and a reassurance that God knows me better than myself and that He knows what will truly bring me the most happiness and joy especially in my last two transfer on my mission. So I decided to move forward with excitement, enthusiasm and trust that the Lord really knows what He is doing with me, haha! 
This area is incredible! I have loved serving here for the last 4 days. Sister Kang, my new companion is amazing! She is from Korea, has been out for 9 months, speaks perfect English and she is really funny and so sweet. We both always talk about how we feel really comfortable around each other and can really be ourselves around one another. We have already become best friends. Sister Kang works so hard! She has such a deep desire to truly work her hardest and be better. Sometimes she doesn't see how great she is and gets too hard on herself, and I hope that this transfer I can help her see how incredible of a missionary she really is. I have been praying for a companion who doesn't just want to work hard but does from 6:30am-10:00pm and she is that companion. She works so hard, I love it! We both really push each other to be better because we can see that both of us are truly doing are best! It has been so great planning at the end of the night and being able to look at each other and know that we truly have done all that we can do, and left the rest to the Lord and see the miracles from the day.
We've talked a lot about struggles we have had in previous companionships and how this companionship has just been super smooth from the very beginning. We definitely have the same kind of sense of humor and I think that helps a lot. The other day the zone leaders asked us for the miles and sister Kang was trying to add them up and was struggling to figure it out and finally said, " I should be able to do this", and I couldn't help but say back in agreement to her, " ya, c'mon sister Kang, I thought you were Asian". Hahaha, it was so funny! We all laughed so hard! Anyways we are getting along so well, we are seeing so many miracles and I love that at the end of the night we help each other see the good in one another and talk about how blessed me feel to be companions with one another. We are both praying that we will be together for the next two transfers. With sister Kang, our companionship is 100% all-in and it is awesome!! 
Also, sister Kang wants to exercise and eat healthy. I'm so excited because my last two companions haven't liked to exercise and we were on the top floor of our apartment so doing my P-90X was hard because the floors are paper thin so it would disturb the neighbors. But now we are in a duplex, so I can do P-90X and Sister Kang wants to do it with me. We already did two days together and it has been awesome! We even get up earlier at 6:15am to do it :)  We are doing the " 40 Day Challenge" together. Sister Kang wants to lose 6lbs by the end of this transfer and her reward is she will get to redye her hair, haha! I want to lose more than that, but we will see how it goes. We have been eating super healthy and exercising :) We are excited to help each other in all our goals, spiritual and physical ;)
Another funny thing is that this one elder and I have been circling each other throughout the mission. We started served together in Independence 2nd ward for my last transfer, then he we served in Liberty 1st ward together for my first transfer and he was my district leader and now we are serving together again in Blue Springs 1st ward and he is my zone leader. Its been a ton of fun being able to update him on the people in Liberty and the miracles that have happened over the last two transfers there. Most likely this is his last transfer in this area because his companion goes home same time as me, so they will probably boot Elder Robinson out and bring a new zone leader in, haha! 

Anyways, this sunday we had a mission fast and the purpose behind it was supposed to be for gratitude. We found out last month our mission was blessed to have 57 baptisms for the month of August. It was really cool because for my studies yesterday I was actually in Alma chapter 26 in the Book of Mormon so it was wonderful being able to relate to Ammon about how glorious God is and how much he loves us. Over the last two days. We found two new investigators. One of them was a man named M and we were pretty much able to teach him the entire Message of the Restoration on his doorstep. He seemed pretty sincere as he was listening and Sister Kang and I are really excited to go back and teach him more this week and see how he felt about the Book of Mormon. Also, we have two investigators on date. One of them is Polynesian and we will have to move her date because she is so busy she hasn't been able to meet with us for a week. The other investigator is named K. She is so solid and super excited for her baptismal date on October 11th. We have started teaching her the commandments and she is so willing to do whatever we invite her to do. She is currently working on living the word of wisdom. She has gone from smoking 20 cigarettes a day down to 4, and she is doing awesome! She has a very good step by step plan of how she will quit so she can make her date. We are so excited for her! 
Also guess what?! J S is getting BAPTIZED!!!! I found out at transfers that S moved out of the house and he will be getting baptized the first or second weekend of October!!! I am soooo excited! I really hope that K's baptism and J's baptism won't conflict, because otherwise I won't be able to go to J's baptism. But, I am so excited and can't wait to find out when he will actually be getting baptized. Anyways, things are going great! We are keeping really busy the Blue Springs 1st ward is like a gold-mine it has so much hidden potential :) Its funny, my MTC companions sister Anderson is serving in my old area Independence 2nd ward and I am serving in her old area that she opened. I love it here! I hope I never leave and that Sister Kang and I will get to stay together. I feel so blessed and I know that the Lord has truly blessed me and I know that this is where I am supposed to be. 
Alma 26:35
"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, 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...".
How Great is God!!
I hope you all have a great week, know that I am doing AWESOME and am so happy! Heavenly Father truly knows each of us and what is best! When we go forward with faith and trust in Him we will see the blessings. Sister Kang is taking care of me and we are going to go out and baptize nations! Love you!
Sister Luening

September 1, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Holy Cow! 

What a day of awesome emails! All, I have to say is I am super excited about all the family stuff that will be happening in the next few weeks and months! It is all so exciting :)

Well, it has been quite the morning. So, on the way to morning sports at 6:20am, a bunny committed suicide by racing right under my car as I was driving by and getting run over by my tire. Then, we went home got ready for the day and started our laundry. The washer worked fine for sister Barrow, and then I put my darks in and the washer won't drain and spin dry my clothes. I put it to every rinse cycle and as soon as the rinse is done and is supposed to drain nothing happens. So Elder Kastel (senior missionary) told us he will go over to the apartment and look at the pump to see if he can fix it while we e-mail. Seriously, the Kastels are so nice and spoil us to death. They even want to take us to lunch today.

This week we have had some pretty crazy weather. We had a huge thunderstorm on Friday night, and I woke up in the middle of the night to a huge flash of lightning that kept the sky lit up for literally 15 seconds, and then as the sky was still lit up I heard a booming crack of thunder. I thought that the lightning struck the ground just outside our window, it scared me so bad. Well, when we got up the next morning, it turned out that the lightning had struck a tree and a transformer box on a telephone pole. The wires were dangling with about 2 feet of the top of the pool splintered off and half of the tree had broken off. All of that happened just across the parking lot from our apartment, CRAZY!

Last week, we were able to get quite a few referrals from the members and names of people they wanted us to visit. So, it was great receiving some assignments from the members and building trust with them as we would go see them ASAP and then report back to them on how the visits went. We hope that as we continue to do that over the next few weeks that maybe the members will begin to trust us enough to start giving us referrals of friends and neighbors that they want us to help share the gospel with. Also, our investigator A came to church on Sunday. She enjoyed it and her ll year old daughter H loved church! Sister Heiken did so awesome at helping A feel comfortable and explaining things that were unfamiliar to her. We invited her to come again and she said she wants to, but that she will have to give people in her Baptist church notice so that they can get someone to cover her sunday school class for her. So, she is progressing well. Also, S has been flying through the Book of Mormon all of a sudden and really enjoying it. 

Well, this week is transfer week. We had interviews with Elder Brenchley (the visitor center director over the VC and the historic Liberty Jail). From the interview and his comments to me on Sunday, I am pretty sure that I have done my time in Jail and am being transferred to go back and serve at the Independence Visitor Center :) But we'll see what will happen. He seemed extremely positive that I wouldn't go back out full proselyting, but you never know. Whatever the Lord wants will happen. Really anything is possible, I could stay one more and finish training Sister Barrow, I could go to the VC or I could go back out full proselyting. I'll find out tomorrow. If I do get transferred I will be really sad to leave behind S, A, A and Sister Heiken. Seriously, Sister Heiken is the most amazing member missionary ever!! She is so sweet and always tries to share the gospel in the most loving way ever!
I'm excited to see what will happen this week. Attached I have some pictures from our hobo party for sister Ray's birthday. We all got together at 6:30am and celebrated her birthday it was awesome! We ate oreos and pudding out of the cans. This is why the white handbook tells missionaries to "Be neat and clean. Bathe daily,if possible." These pictures are proof that if we just rolled out of bed and went out and worked we would look like a bunch of hobos ;) 

I hope that you are all doing well! 
Love, Sister Luening

August 25, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, it has been a great week. Mom it sounds like you really enjoyed yourself in Renada with Sister Sloot. It's been kind of weird seeing school buses pick up kids in the morning and dropping kids off after school. Just doesn't seem possible that this week is labor day weekend. Where is the time going?
A was baptized Saturday, yay! The actual baptism itself was wonderful, but the hour before, HOLY COW was it STRESSFUL!! So we had correlation meeting at the church two hours before the baptism and our ward mission leader left the font to fill while we had our meeting. Well, about 40 minutes into our meeting we get a knock on the door and a guy who was cleaning said that the font was overflowing into the RS Room. So our ward mission leader got up to go see what was going on and we continued with our meeting. Well, once our meeting was done, we all went to the RS Room to check out the damage. Well, that water had overflowed up over all the steps and went into the bathrooms and there 2 doorway sized streams of water on the carpet going from the font to the middle of the RS Room. This was all 1 hour before the baptism was to start. So, we had quit the mess on our hands. The elders left because they said they had some things to do. Our ward mission leader ran home to get his water Vacuum. So Sister Barrow and I were left to mop up the bathrooms. In the meantime we received a huge miscommunication that nobody had done the baptismal programs, so we played a huge game of telephone for 30 minutes to find out that they actually had been done. Anyways it was a lot more stressful than all of this probably sounds, so it was fun! The whole time I was stuck between disbelief that everything seemed to be going wrong and at the same time having the attitude that everything was going to be okay and that even if we did "mess-up" anything for the baptismal program its not like A would know any different. (I know terrible mentality to have, but its all I could think to stay calm and not freak-out). But miracles happened. We got the water mopped up, the water sucked up out of the carpets, and we had the baptismal programs- Nobody knew that there had been such a mess before-hand. The baptism was wonderful. A was beaming, I gave a talk on baptism, Elder Williams gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and Sister Barrow sang a beautiful musical number, "When I am Baptized", it brought the spirit so strong. A family friend got up and presented A with some gifts and bore her testimony and then we had refreshments afterwards. Everything went awesome! A's non-member sister came and she said she had never felt so good in her whole life. So I foresee missionaries working with A's sister very soon :)
Sister Barrow, Me, A and Elder Williams ( notice how color coordinated me and my companion are...we do that a lot, by accident)
Sunday was a huge miracle day for us. A got confirmed in sacrament meeting and S came to church again. She is doing so awesome! We showed her the 20minute restoration video this last week and she wants to see the hour long Joseph Smith movie. So we are going to have a movie night with her sometime this week. She is so close to knowing the church is true. We're going to try and help her recognize the spirit this week, because she really wants to know if this is true, but she wants a big lightning bolt answer. After church we went on shift to the jail and after shift we had about an hour and a half before dinner. We went out and tracted and Holy Cow was it hot. All week it has been in the high 90's. While we were tracting it was 97F. TOO HOT!! After tracting we went to dinner and received a few referrals which we were super excited about and are going to try and contact today. After dinner we went to our appointment to see A. Sister Heiken came with us and we talked about the role of the Spirit in our lives. How it teaches us and testifies of truth. We were able to find out from A how she feels the spirit in her life and recognizes it. We watched the 20 minute restoration video with her and discussed it afterwards. She said she feels like Joseph Smith when he was confused on what religion to join. Right now she is studying from about 4 different religious views. We talked to her about the importance of trying to apply what she reads from the Book of Mormon to herself. We felt really impressed that we needed to invite her to come to church this week. She is a Sunday school teacher at her church, but we invited her. Guess what?! It turns out her church doesn't have church this Sunday because its a holiday(labor day weekend). So she said she would love to come and see what it is like. Sister Heiken offered to give her a ride and we are going to take her on  a church tour on Thursday night before Sunday. It is going to be awesome!! It was a day of miracles. We were able to teach so many people.
We hope this week we will be able to get a bigger teaching pool as we try to work with the members more to seek out those who are prepared for the Gospel. In Relief Society lately we have been doing a missionary challenge. As part of the announcements Sister Barrow and I get up and we invite the Sisters to take a Book of Mormon, card and this week we also included handing out a "Family: Proclamation to the World" pamphlet. Last week a sister took the challenge of giving away a copy of the Book of Mormon and she did it. It was so cool to hear her missionary experience. Also, one of the sisters talked about giving away a card. IT was awesome and got the other sisters fired up. This time 3 sisters took a Family Proclamation pamphlet to give away and one of the members of the Relief Society Presidency took a copy of the Book of Mormon to hand out. It is awesome because we invite, the sisters are taking the challenge and then we get to follow-up and hear of their experiences in relief society. Its great!! 

Mom, I appreciated how you shared with me your insights of the various talks you studied over the last week. Pretty neat that you were studying talks on discipleship, which just happened to be the theme of our sacrament meeting yesterday. They were both very good talks and our last speaker focused his talk off of Elder Holland's Talk "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship" and he also referred to Elder Bednar's BYU Devotional talk called "The Character of Christ", a talk I heard in the MTC. I guess something that really stood out to me is that the way that we are truly disciples of Christ is very dependent on the attitude we have as we face different circumstances. If we serve with a grudging heart it is almost as if we hadn't done that service to the Lord. But when we serve and live Christ-like lives with an attitude of willingness and wanting to serve those around us, that is when we are truly disciples. When we put off the thoughts and feelings of the natural man and reach outward with care and compassion as the Savior would have done, that is when we are true disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ. Mom, I like how you mentioned that creating the connection between blessings and obedience is something you can focus more on with the sisters. I actually have a favorite quote that I discovered on my mission that has to do with the cost and blessings of discipleship from Elder Holland:

"Everyone of us has times when we need to know things will get declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us. Especially in times of need. There is help. There is Happiness. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until Heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ they come."

I know that through the gospel we will hit bumps in the road. Some of them might be a bit of a speed bump, some might be giant pot-holes that stop us in our tracks for a while, as we take time to repair our flat tire, but I know that through all of those challenges we have the ability to be lifted higher. Through Christ we can feel peace, hope and assurance of blessings to come as we rely on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we choose to have hope, "we work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for [our] good" (PMG- p.117).

I am so grateful for the gospel. I know that at times the burden of discipleship feels very real and can seem to weigh us down. But as we remember the reason behind why we are wanting to be true disciples and ask our Heavenly Father for help, our attitude can change in that moment and we can push forward with hope and trust that things will be brighter as we continue on. I love all of you! I hope that you have a great week. Maybe you can actually fill me in on what you meant by "home disasters" since you, mom and dad, told me any specifics other than they are home disasters. Anyways, I love you and I am excited for another week in the service of the Lord. As our Visitor Center Director, Elder Brenchley would say, "Today is going to be a great day! And why? Because its the only day you can do anything about. "


Sister Luening