Saturday, August 17, 2013

July 11, 2013, Independance, Missouri

Sister Luening

Dear Family,
Hey mom, thanks so much for your e-mail it made me cry because I knew what you were saying was true. It’s all about pressing forward with faith and really trusting that God will be there. I have tried to remember that this week and, wow, God has definitely been with me this week. The Visitor Center is actually so cool. I was a little stressed out to learn the history, but I actually have memorized the history fairly quickly. Now the challenge that I am working on is really applying the gospel to the tours so I can fulfill my purpose of inviting others to come unto Christ.
 I also had the best experience so far on my mission happen on Friday. On Friday I taught my first lesson to a new investigator and invited her to baptism. She is a Samoan woman and her husband is a less active member. She agreed to be baptized and we set the date for July 28th.  She is motoring through the Book of Mormon and said she knows Joseph Smith was a prophet. She is awesome! Her English isn't too good, but her member family sits in on the lessons and help to translate some things and then they discuss the lesson with her after we leave to make sure she understands what we taught. It was a little hard at first because she doesn't say much and so we weren't sure if we were really addressing her needs. We prayed to know how to help her more and on Monday when we went to teach her lesson 2,  I was very apprehensive about teaching because I had never taught lesson 2 before - not even in the MTC. But Sister H, my companion, had faith in me and told me I would do fine. I really wanted her to take the lead on this lesson, but she told me I had to. We taught pre-earth life up to death and then stopped because we had another appointment to get to. But we set up to see her the next day and teach her.

The next day we prayed to know how to teach L (the Samoan investigator we taught the day before) better. We weren't sure how much she was understanding. As we headed to her house, Sister H told me that I had to lead the lesson. I told her I wasn't very comfortable teaching life after death and would butcher it. I begged her to take the lead and she told me no. I realized as I was praying in the car to go teach  L that I needed to change my attitude and have faith that the Lord would help me. He definitely did!

Thankfully when we got inside, only L and her husband were there. Usually she would have about 5 family members sit in on the lesson who were members, which we felt was why L was so quiet during lessons and didn't speak up. She probably felt intimidated by them. So having only L and her husband there was the answer to our prayers of being able to understand L's needs. She spoke up so much, she asked questions about lesson one that we were able to clarify and she asked questions about what she was reading in her Samoan copy of the Book of Mormon. It was awesome! The lesson was going so well that I continued from teaching lesson 2  straight on to lesson 3. After the lesson Sister H expressed to me that she was impressed and happy that I taught the second part of lesson two and all of lesson 3, because that is what she felt prompted we should do as well. So our companionship is truly in unity with the Spirit, which is great. L's 8 year old son is also being baptized on the same day as her. It is so cool to see her progress and see how much understanding she is gaining of what this life is truly for and the blessings she is already receiving.
On Saturday I gave my first solo tour, which actually went really well. Most of the people we get in the VC are members checking out all the historical sites. They usually go from Palmyra, New York to Kirtland, Ohio to Independence, Missouri, to Liberty Jail (20minutes away), then up to far west, and Adam-ondi-ahman. But it has been fun to tell people about the history and show them pictures from 1907 and really get to know the history of the area.
On Thursday night (p-day) we had actually been asked by the bishop to speak on missionary work on Sunday. We were so busy that it wasn't until an hour before church that I really had the opportunity to sit down and write my talk. But the spirit directed me to the missionary broadcast notes I had taken and some scriptures to use. The talk went really well and Sunday was really great to meet the people in the Ward. So far we have eaten twice at the R's house. They are so nice. They are a couple in their mid-late 30's and have 4 young children ages 9 to 10 months. Actually the other day they gave us a whole box of pizza and a bag of grapes. They are amazing and gave us some referrals. Actually, every time I give a tour at the VC I ask for referrals and the other day I got my first to referrals from a 16 year old girl, which was awesome. The only problem is I am so busy with everything I never get a chance to call the referrals I get, so I need to try and be better at that.
Yesterday, we had a huge miracle. So we only had about 2.5 hours to tract between studies and the Visitor Center. To get to our area it is about a 45 minute walk. So we  knew we only had about 40 minutes of knocking on doors. It was super hot outside that day, and we were sweating buckets, but I didn't even care, I was just so excited to go do missionary work. So as we were walking I had a prayer in my heart that we would run into people we could teach on the way to our area. Well, my prayer was answered. As we were walking there was a lady heading in our direction a ways up the road and I made a goal that I would stop and talk with her. So she came by and I said hello and asked how she was doing, she smiled said good and walked right past us. I turned around not sure what to say next and she glanced back and asked if we were the Jehovah's Witness people. I said no, but that we were missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She said she believed in Jesus and God and all of that, so I asked what her religious background was. She said she didn't really attend any denomination but had been baptised as a baby, but felt the need to be rebaptized. She asked if it’s common to be re-baptized, so I told her about our belief on baptism and the necessity of accountability.

She told us about a lot of the struggles she was having with a friend, but she said she knew God was doing this for a reason. I bore my testimony to her that God loves her and was giving her these trials to learn and grow. To really test our patience and that if we endure it with patience and faith in Him we would receive so many blessings. As I bore testimony of this I felt the Spirit so strongly. All of us were sweating like crazy because it was so hot outside, but as I bore my testimony, the lady kind of interrupted and said smiling and agreeing with what I was saying," Man, I'm getting goose bumps even in this hot weather". I knew those goose bumps were really the Spirit testifying of the truth the spirit was speaking through me to her. She had relayed a story earlier of receiving an answer through prayer from Heavenly Father and she had said she got goose bumps, so I know she slightly recognizes those goose bumps as a sign from God. Anyways, it was a really neat experience. We asked if we could meet with her on Saturday and discuss more about Jesus Christ and his gospel and help her come to know him more. She agreed and we gave her a Restoration pamphlet which she said she would read. I can't wait to see how things go with her, because she is so ready for the gospel, she is searching for direction J I know the Lord heard my prayer in wanting to find people and he answered it. We had about a 20 minute chat with this lady and after that knocked a few doors but nobody was home. She was our miracle that day!

I am so glad to be on a mission. I know that God truly does hear and answer my prayers. I know that it all has to do with attitude and acting on my faith. I know if I hadn't recognized that I needed to change my attitude and go forward into L's lesson with faith that it would not have gone well and the Spirit would not have been there. I am thankful to be a VC sister. There is almost no time to study and I was getting bummed that I didn't feel I was getting the spiritual nourishment from the scriptures that I felt I needed, but the Lord is always with me. Even though I live a crazy busy schedule between VC, finding and teaching and don't get in all the personal study time that I think I should; I know the Lord sees how hard I am working and as long as I continue in diligence and do all that I can, He will continue to bless me. I have made a goal to the 5 lessons you need to memorize from 12 week, done in 5 weeks. So far I have all the points memorized from lesson one, but I need to get scriptures to memorize along with them. My goal is to pass off the lesson tomorrow. I am beginning to doubt I can do it by tomorrow, but we'll see, I am going to try really hard to. I have also started focusing more on how I can apply the doctrine of Christ to the history tours that I give, so that people leave the VC not just having had a great experience, but being more converted and determined to come closer to the Lord.

The senior couples in the VC are so kind. The other day I was a little in the dumps and trying to figure out what I could to more fully have the Spirit with me and recognize it because I really want to apply the doctrine of Christ to my tours. Sister Jones came and sat down by me and shared a message with me that basically said as long as we are working hard and doing as much as we can the rest is in the Lord's hands and he will help us. It was just what I needed to hear and of course, I started crying, lol! I have become such a baby on the mission. She told me she didn't know why but she felt impressed to come over and share that with me. Although she didn't know why she needed to share that with me, I did. It was the answer to my prayer and she was able to be the angel for God that spoke the words I needed to hear right then. It was amazing!! I am truly happy hear.

I have only had a few brief moments of doubt when I first approach things, but I have realized very quickly it is all about attitude. As soon as you change your attitude to an attitude of faith and move forward with steadfast faith in Christ, that is when miracles happen because God is with you and will bless you. I have been moving forward with courage and faith and I know that is why we are able to see success. Something they said in the MTC was go out every morning saying, "A miracle is going to happen today and it will", as long as you have a great attitude with a prayer in your heart to teach and find it will happen. I love it out here so much!
 Thank-you so much, mom and dad, for your support and your words of advice. They really do help me and I love you so much! I love Helaman 5:12 which says "...remember, remember that it is upon the rock of our Redeemer, who is Christ, the Son of God, that ye must build your foundation...a foundation whereon if men build they cannot fall." It is so true! If we have faith and have our foundation steadfastly built on Christ, God will not let us fall. He will be there to help us and to lift us up. He will show us the way and help us see past the mist toward his vision for us. I am so thankful for these experiences I have had, so far. For the faith it is helping me develop. I love missionary work and I love my companion. We are getting to know each other more and she is truly amazing!!

I love you so much and pray that you will continue to have fun in Germany. Let me know what you are all up to J Also, I found a few Dear Elder letters that I guess I forgot to open at the MTC so I have to read those later, ha-ha!

All my love,

Sister Luening

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