Monday, November 11, 2013

October 30,2013, Independence Missouri

Dear Family,

     Wow, it sounds like everyone has had a really crazy week; filled with busy activities and assignments, but it sounds like everything turned out well. This last week has been amazing!!

     So, last P-day some of the sisters and I got to go to the National World War I Museum, which was amazing and a ton of fun. I think we spent 4 hours there. It was great! The following day on Thursday, Elder and Sister Benchley (the Visitor Center directors) took us up to Adam-Ondi-Ahman! It was amazing! We got to see the amazing beauty that is up there and feel of the joy of the spirit in that sacred land. We were privileged to be able to go to the sectioned off area of the land that isn't open to the public. We were able to go to the Preacher's rock, where Adam would have blessed his posterity. It was so neat. We also got to go to Far West, the last place the Saints tried to settle before the extermination order was issued 175 years ago on October 27,1848. We were able to see the original cornerstones of the planned temple that was never built. Also we got to go to Richmond to Oliver Cowedery's grave site where the three witness monument stands. We also got to go to the site in Richmond where Joseph Smith was kept in prison overnight. In that Jail he rebuked the guards, and later was transported to Liberty Jail. Anyways, it was an amazing day.

    On Friday we moved into our new apartment with the help of our amazing elders and the Assistants to the President. We had Stake Conference this last weekend and it was amazing. Elder Robins of the Seventy was there and he spoke on missionary work. He really emphasized that the members need to be more willing to engage in missionary work. He also emphasized the importance of not just having member present lessons with investigators, but having "the right member present"; someone who can really connect without investigators so that they can have lasting friendship and fellowship. It was so good!

    On Monday, Sister S. and I were on exchanges, so I went into a different area and served with Sister E., who is from Idaho. We had such a great day. We had decided the night before that we wanted to lead using the Book of Mormon. We set a goal to hand out 4 copies of the Book of Mormon and get 3 new investigators. We had 3 hours out in the area to tract. We saw miracles. We worked up until the last second and the last house we knocked allowed us to reach both of our goals. We were able to hand out our 4th copy of the Book of Mormon and set a return appointment. It was so fun being able to have time to just be out and share the gospel. Sister Erickson is so positive I love it! The only thing that I don’t like about exchanges is the fact that the people you find together you don't get to teach because they aren't in your area, lol! But I can't wait to continue following up and finding out how things are going with them. I'm especially excited about this one lady we found. She didn't seem very interested because she wasn't making eye contact and was fidgeting a lot. I thought she wanted us to leave, but when Sister E. introduced the Book of Mormon and shared a scripture with her, she got really emotional. She told us she had a lot of stuff going on in her life right now, but that she would like to learn more. She took a copy of the Book of Mormon and we set a time to come back and teach her more. It was so awesome and it is amazing to see how through the scriptures the spirit is able to touch their hearts. 

     Okay, now here comes THE MIRACLE OF MIRACLES THIS WEEK!! So, on Sunday after Stake Conference, Sister A. came up to us with her non-member 20 year old niece. They are both Samoan. Sister A. is also Lesi's sister in law (my first convert). Anyways so she comes up to me and says, “Hey, Sister, my niece is ready to take the discussions and get baptized.” What!?!?!?! It was a huge miracle and there are two reasons behind it. So first of all who just comes up to you and says, “Oh yeah, hey, my niece wants to get baptized!?! Secondly, it was an answer to prayer and faith! I'll tell you why. So during our weekly planning, sister S. and I were setting our goals, and we were looking at our goal slot for “investigators with a baptismal date”. I sat and pondered about what goal we should set. I looked at Sister S. and said I think we should set our goal at 2. She kind of looked at me and said, do you really believe we could get two? I firmly told her I think it was attainable but would require a lot of work and a miracle from the Lord. But I assured her that I knew as we put forth our effort Heavenly Father would bless us with a miracle. We thought about it and decided with the help of the Lord we would be able to put our only investigator, I. on date this week, and God could provide us with a miracle! Well, it happened. We received A.!! We had our first meeting and lesson with her yesterday and it went so well. She told us she wants to learn and wants to get baptized. She moved to America 3 years ago. She grew up Methodist, but since moving to America and living with her aunt and uncle (the Atatai's) and coming to church with them, she has already begun to gain a testimony of the church and how much it blesses families. We were able to set her on date for November 16th! Sister S.  and I have so much love for her and can't wait to see how much she really progresses. Sister S. is an amazing teacher. She really speaks from the heart and knows what to say. People just automatically are able to feel of the genuine love she has for them.

    Anyway, I'm really excited to keep teaching I., who has committed to live the Word of Wisdom. He gave up coffee and tea this week, and then we will work on alcohol and tobacco. He is beginning to make progress which is amazing. The Elders in our Ward are also seeing miracles. Our Spanish set of Elders have 5 people on baptismal date right now and our other set of elders have 2 people on date. The work is really moving forward in our ward, it is incredible! It is really cool how well all six of us missionaries try to help each other and try to share the work load. It is really becoming a team effort! We are really putting our investigator's needs before our own and have started realizing that if we think a different companionship could help our investigator progress more than we are able to than we should hand them over to a different companionship. It isn't about us as individuals and companionships, but it is all about the work of the Lord. As we work together as a team, and in unity, the work will begin to explode as we are already beginning to witness.

    I love this work, and I love the transformation that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is truly a transforming power and brings forth so many blessings. I am thankful for all of you and the prayers that you say in my behalf. I am so thankful for the resources we have at our finger tips to help us learn more about Jesus Christ and his gospel. I am thankful for our church leaders who are truly inspired and called of God to lead us and guide us. I know that there are so many people seeking for the truth and I am thankful to be an instrument in the Lord's hands in this great work! I know that Jesus Christ is our savior and redeemer. It is through Him that we are truly able to be changed and molded into our loving Father's sons and daughters with divine potential.

     Mom and Dad, you two are amazing! I bet your presentation was awesome. I'm always so amazed at hearing how much you two are busy doing and then on top of everything except another challenge, ha-ha! I hope you get some really great sleep the next couple nights to catch up with the sleep you missed. Also, dad thanks so much for sending me some of the exercises already. I know you had a really busy week. I really appreciate it!

     Elder Luening, the Spirit is amazing! I love hearing how you are able to apply what you learn in PMG and how much success you are able to see as you diligently put forth the effort and have the faith that changing your regular patterns and behaviours will produce greater miracles. Missionary work is amazing and the transformation that can take place in ourselves and in our lives is truly miraculous to see. Keep enjoying the work, you are a huge example to me!

     Jeremy, I'm glad that you were able to go to the Youth Conference. Your experience with prayer is so cool! Did you find a job, it sounded like you have, but nobody said what job you got, lol!

     Kass, congrats on the nanny job! Send an e-mail and let us know exactly what the job is and how it is going. I would love to hear

Oma and Opa, it sounds like you two are doing great! I am so proud of you for the steps you have taken to come back to church and be able to feel the blessings of the spirit so much more in your lives. Opa, I heard from Elder Luening that you gave a talk the Sunday before conference and that you did a really great job! I am so excited to see that you two are just becoming fully immersed in the gospel and taking on different assignments. You two are amazing. Keep going! I pray for you and hope you are having a great week. I don't think I have ever told you this, but I am so thankful for you two listening to those missionaries that came to your door. For making the changes necessary in your lives to be able to accept the gospel and follow Jesus Christ by being baptized. It was because of you two that all the other events came about to have allowed me to be raised in a gospel centered home with two amazing loving parents, who raised us and taught us about the gospel no matter what. Thank-you for having such great testimonies, and thank-you for always showing your love to us. I miss you and love you!

      I love you all and pray that you are aware of the miracles going on daily in your lives. Have a great week and I can't wait to hear from all of you next week. My P-day next week will be on a Monday by the way because of a special zone training happening next Wednesday.

All my love,

Sister Luening

P.S., mom I don't know if I told you or not but Sister Keyes said that all Christmas packages need to be sent no later than December 2nd to have them arrive on time for Christmas. Also there have been some changes in back-pack regulations. Back-packs are no longer allowed (I have been using a free back pack since I got here). Only side bags are allowed. I know we bought those two cheap side-bags that were more like purses, but they are too small to hold all of my materials and the straps are really uncomfortable on my shoulder once I have weight in it. So, if I could get a good quality side bag, with a shoulder strap that has padding, that would be great. I think if you go on to the missionary dress code and look at the elders accessories section you could see good examples of shoulder bags. Thanks so much, love you! 

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