Saturday, August 17, 2013

August 1, 2013, Independence, Missouri

Dear Mom and Dad,

I am glad to see that you have been having and amazing trip!! It sounds like you have been able to do so many things over the last couple of weeks and that is such a blessing for you. You two definitely deserve a break!! You two are seriously amazing. I mean you read all of our e-mails on your trip and still write each of us back. That right there is dedication and love towards your children, ha-ha! I have been really fortunate here in Missouri. Apparently this is one of the coolest summers on record, ha-ha! It really hasn't been that bad. I hear it has been crazy hot in Kelowna reaching 40 and it sounds like Europe is really hot too. The humidity hasn't been bad at all. The weather has been wonderful. I think we had one really humid day this last week, but otherwise we had a few rainy days which helped Independence cool down.

Well this last week has been incredible!! On Friday we had an interview with President Keyes and we had such an amazing District Meeting. We focused on what our missionary purpose really means and we talked a lot on how we can help the ward members in the missionary work. The largest thing I got out of it, is that we just really need to have that love and desire to help the members in whatever way we can. Once they see that we really do want to help them, they will open up. I think a lot of the members feel like we aren't there to serve them, and that if they ask us for help that they are taking precious time away from us or something. But the whole point of us being in the Ward is to help them, and especially to help them with non-member friends they are working with every day to bring into the gospel. So a goal Sister H and I have is to really come to build a relationship with the members.

On Saturday, I had a really cool experience in the Visitor Center. Sister H and I took a guy through the VC. He wasn't a member, but he said he came because his member friend told him he should really come here. At first he really wanted to take a look around by himself, but then he decided he wanted to go through the "God's Plan for His Family" video presentation. I was so excited because that is one of the most powerful resources in the VC that helps people to really feel the spirit. As we were taking him through, he actually started to cry a little bit, and just as we were moving into the next room of the presentation he said that last clip hit him hard because his wife passed away two years ago and his mother passed away 4 years ago. I really felt for him, and once the presentation ended just bore my testimony with all my hearts that families can be together forever and that God has given us a way that we can see them again. We then took him through the history and we were able to have a great discussion on faith in Jesus Christ and why it is so important to act on faith. It was really cool! It was just really neat to see how at the beginning he was so closed off from us, but by the end of the presentation we had come to learn so much about his personal life and beliefs. I really hope we gave him a converting experience.

Sunday, was awesome. In Sacrament meeting and Relief Society the bishop and R.S President really chastised the Ward. The Bishop talked a lot on self-reliance and that the members need to be continually doing all that they can. He said there are bees and mosquitos. He said the bees work hard and are very productive. But he said a lot of us are mosquitos. They look busy, but are really just sucking the life out of the bees, ha-ha! It was kind of harsh, but he got his point across. He really emphasized getting proper education, continually trying to learn, and really building up our own testimonies. He also told everyone to exercise. He literally said "drop 20 lbs". It was quite the sacrament meeting. Then in Relief Society the R.S. President said there is way too much complaining and negative, hurtful talk amongst the Relief Society sisters; that there really isn't the love and unity that should be there because people get upset and offended about some opinions that are voiced. She said we need to remember that what people say, their opinions, aren't doctrine, but that they are opinions and we need to remember that. Also some sisters have a feeling of entitlement and have been getting their noses out of joint if they have not received meals when they are sick. She tried to remind the sisters that doing service like meals is not a responsibility in the handbook, but is an act of kindness, and should not be expected, but when it does happen that they receive a meal they should be grateful and see it as a blessing. So there was a huge hammer just kind of slammed on the Ward this last week to really evaluate themselves and repent. It was kind of intense, but definitely needed, ha-ha. 
Lesi's baptism went great! I felt the spirit so strongly, it was incredible to witness that. I can't wait until she receives the gift of the Holy Ghost this Sunday.
 Monday was kind of a tough day. Being out in the area was great! It was raining, but was really nice because it cooled down the area a lot. So it was nice being outside in the cool fresh air. Once I got into the visitor's center I just felt really off. I felt like my tours weren't going very well and just wished that we could have had longer in our area to find people. So, I was really looking forward to Tuesday, which was our full proselyting day. TUESDAY WAS AMAZING!! I LOVE FULL PROSELYTING DAY!! Sister H made it a goal to go see the referrals we have been given over that last few weeks, since we finally had a full day we could devote to our area and not have to go to the Visitor Center. We also made it a goal to teach 7 "Other Lessons". That basically means teaching investigators, potential investigators or others we come into contact with who aren't members of the church. So far we have reached are at 6 other lessons! We are super proud of this because we usually only have 3 since we only get about 1 hour in our area every day.
But anyways, Tuesday was full of miracles. Before knocking on the door of each referral we had, we would say a prayer that these people would be open to listening to us. It was so cool! The first referral from a member we went to see was a woman named R. She is legally blind and 3 months clean so far from a meth addiction. She said she is ready to make changes in her life and wants to learn more about the church. We were able to set up a time to meet with her next week. Then we went and saw a part member family. The mom is an inactive member, but has a son who is turning 8 years old soon so she wants him to be baptized. With talking with her though she said she isn't ready to change and come back to the church. So we are excited to work with her more and hopefully help her to gain a desire to change and come back.

The last family of the day we went to go see was a miracle!! On Sunday we got a text message referral. It was from a missionary serving down in Concepcion, Chile. He asked us to go visit his non-member parents. So sister H and I went over to the house and we knocked on the door. A large man answered the door and we told him who we were and that his son sent us. He was thrilled to know that his son made it safe to Chile, because apparently he had just caught the plan from Utah to Chile two days ago. We chatted with him for a few moments and then his wife came to the door, she saw who we were and immediately invited us into their home. We spent 40 minutes in their living room talking to them about their beliefs and about their son who is on his mission. It turns out they started out RLDS (Community of Christ), but didn't agree with some things so they branched out and have gone to some other churches like the Restoration church and stuff. But they said they agree bits and pieces of each one, but don't really feel like they belong anywhere in specific. That in itself is a miracle for Sister H and I. They said their son joined the Church back in November of 2012 ( just last year) and in January began his papers for his mission. So cool!! They also have a 16 year old son, who joined in on our conversation. They were so nice. We asked if they would mind if we came by again and talked to them some more. They said that would be great and asked if we would like to come over for dinner next week. So now we set an appointment to have dinner on Tuesday with them. Such a miracle. They seem so ready and I can tell they are just looking for the church that really does have ALL the truth. I can't wait to meet with them more and teach them. I know that the only reason sister H and I were successful that day in finding people who are ready to hear about the gospel is because we prayed for  each person specifically before knocking on their door. In D&C 10:5 it says, " Pray always that you may come off conqueror...". Well we definitely came of feeling like we conquered that day and I know it is because we prayed earnestly with the ability to connect and help those we would come across. This is the greatest work ever!!

Also yesterday I was able to take an older couple through a tour. I assumed they were both members, and as I was getting to know them better, I realized that the older man was actually a recent convert. We had great discussions about the faith of the pioneers and how they had the desire to act on what they knew was right. I could have sworn they were life-long members, and at the end of taking them through the history I asked how long they have been members. Turns out they were both baptized just in March!! CRAZY!! I asked how they came into the church, and they asked me how much time I had to listen, lol! I told them I would give them as much time as they needed because I wanted to hear the story. So we got upstairs into the lobby and sat down. It was so neat to hear their conversion story and they said they can't wait to be sealed to each other next year in the temple. They were so adorable! I also got to take a huge group of YSA through the VC. They were from Texas, I asked them for referrals and one of the guys actually gave me his mom's info, so I could call her and teach her if she would be open to. It turns out he was baptized a year and a half ago, and just got back from his mission in February. So none of his family are members, but he said he has taken his mom to church a few times. So hopefully I can call her this week and talk to her. I'm really nervous, but excited!

I am so thankful for all the miracles I have been able to see this last week. I am so thankful for all of your prayers. Mom and dad I love you two so much and thank you for your prayers and your boosts of advice and encouragement they always help me so much!!

 Elder C Luening, keep up the great work and I can't wait to hear how things are going in Hamburg.
Elder J Luening, I hope the work is continuing to go really well for you. Ha-ha, I was wondering why I wasn't hearing from you, then again I am the more terrible person because I always wanted to write you and then would get caught up on replying to other people and never had time to write you, so I am glad to hear that you made it to Vancouver. Not going to lie, I definitely miss seeing you every morning at breakfast. Keep up the great work in Vancouver. It might be kind of rough going right now, but just like you said, the Lord is always preparing people for you.  
 Auntie Kirsten, thank-you for the letter and sending me the cold packs for mom. They did get to me and that is really cool that Uncle Glenn has been in Kansas and Missouri. I hope you have been able to get over the virus that Craig gave you, and that family camp went well. I want to hear all about camp J!

 Well, I love you all and I am sorry that I did a combined e-mail this week, but it’s all I really have time for today. I keep you in my prayers and keep up the missionary work. You are all amazing and I love you all!!


Sister Luening

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