Monday, November 11, 2013

September 25, 2013, Independence, Missouri

Sept 23
Dear Family,

     This week has been crazy!! So last week after P-day I was so excited to go to a teaching appointment with the miracle lady whose house stood out to me and wanted to learn more. Well, when we went to go to our teaching appointment she wasn't home. I was so sad!  Later in the week we called her, and she said she had an emergency out in Nebraska so she wouldn't be back for a few weeks. So, we're going to have to wait a few weeks before we can get back in contact with her again. We'll just have to leave her completely in the Lord's hands for a little longer.

Last Thursday was my first Zone Conference! It was so good. Sister Allen was quite emotional because it was her last one and President Keyes had all the departing missionaries get up to bear their testimony, and she was one of those missionaries. A lot of the focus has been on leading by the Book of Mormon. They said that we get too comfortable when tracting relying on pamphlets and cards, when really, if we want to have success as missionaries, we need to be introducing the Book of Mormon at the very first interaction with people. So we did some role plays of street contacting and stuff. Sister Allen and I have really been making that a focus this last week and we really have seen so many miracles. Since last Thursday we have found six new investigators. We have truly been blessed as we have applied the council of our leaders.

     Also in that Zone Conference we found out we are one of two missions involved in a piloting program called " Adjusting to Missionary Life". It is a booklet to help missionaries adjust to mission life and help them keep their stress levels under control. It is a really neat booklet. It has scriptures in it, self-assessment tests, quotes from apostles and just good to know info. It is pretty cool. When sister Allen saw it she was like, " Wow, I really wish I would have had that 18 months ago!!".

      Oh yeah, did I ever tell you that our mission got split about a month before I came out. So, pretty much the entire state of Kansas is no longer in my mission. They split the mission in half and so now there  is the Missouri, Independence Mission and the Kansas, Witchita Mission. Just something I think I forgot to tell you at the beginning of my mission. Another part of the Conference talked about us being " All In!". President Keyes really emphasized the blessings and success that will come to us as a mission as we individually and collectively really put in ALL of our heart, might, mind and strength. He basically said that we won't be perfect right away but as we really show the Lord our commitment to do all he asks, God will be able to mold us and perfect us into the servants He sees we can become.

On Sunday we had three investigators come to Church - it was a miracle!! And of course, this Sunday had to be the Sunday where we had crazy speakers at Sacrament meeting! It was so bad!! Seriously, I was in such disbelief of what was being said, and that it had to be the Sunday when we finally had investigators come, that I couldn't stop laughing. I felt so irreverant, but it was all I could do to not cry, lol! So here are some of the highlights. We had two speakers, the first was okay and spoke on loving one another, so that was fine. But our last speaker spoke for 30 minutes, and he was supposed to talk about forgiveness. For the first 15 minutes he talked about how he was from Samoa and his efforts to get into the military and how some guy told him he could never get into the marines, but he showed him up by passing all the tests with perfect scores (so not really relevant to his topic on forgiveness). Later he went on and a shared about a 2 minute personal experience on how he forgave his brother, which was really good. Then out of nowhere he starts talking about Nephi being commanded to, "take Laban's sword, because Laban was DRUNK! And God told him to smite off his head". Okay! So this where Sister Allen and I started freaking out. We knew our one investigator drinks and we also have a little bit of a language barrier because he from Palau.  He went off for a little bit about how it was because Laban was drunk that he smote off Laban's head. We could not believe what was going on and I just lost it! I was muffling my laughs, but even a member of the bishopric on the stand was trying not to laugh because he was in disbelief of what was going on. After about 5 minutes I finally got control of myself and then the speaker flipped gears again and tells of an experience where he was in the hospital ( I think maybe he was trying to tie it into the previous talk on love) and his wife washed his feet. He related it to the woman washing Jesus's feet. He looks into the congregation with the most serious look on his face and says: " Husbands, when is the last time your wives washed your feet? And women, when was the last time you washed your husband’s feet? You need to wash your husband’s feet!". He ended his talk like that, and the sacrament meeting ended on that note. First of all I couldn't believe the Bishopric allowed him to be up there for 30 minutes. Second of all, okay at least if you aren't going to say anything to him up on the stand, at least have a member of the Bishopric bear their testimony to end the sacrament meeting on a spiritual note. I just couldn't believe that happened. It was awful!!

Luckily the Lord heard our prayer, because our investigators weren't turned off by anything that was said. But on Monday when we met with our Palauan investigator I., we asked how he enjoyed church with us. He said it was okay, but that he felt like he didn't hear any doctrine. Sister Allen and I just looked at each other in agreement that yup, I. was right, there was no real doctrine testified of in that sacrament meeting....pretty sad! Anyways we had a good lesson with him and gave him a Palauan Book of Mormon which he has already started reading. He called us the other day and said he wants to meet with us again this week and come to church with us again. So that is really cool

      Monday was our full proselyting day and we managed to find 4 new investigators and we're excited to meet with them all later this week. Also, yesterday we got to go the temple which was amazing! Felt like a whole new experience, yet was still the same. I like the changes that have been made. I love the temple so much!

     We got some bad news this week. J., our investigator who's baptismal date we are moving, texted us last night and said there are some family issues in Conneticut that he has to go help out with, so he leaves on Friday. We don't know how long he'll be gone, and I am really sad that he is leaving, especially since he was progressing so much! I was really bummed about it last night.

     Also, we met with another investigator that we have been tag teaming with the Elders. The elders meet with her on Sunday and we meet with her on Tuesday. In the last 3 weeks she has been progressing so much and I invited her to church this week. She said church is something she struggles with because of childhood experiences, but she said she wants to come, but her very less active husband won't let her. It is so sad! She has progessed so much and now her spiritual progression has been halted because of her husband. We're pretty sure we are going to have to drop her, because there is no way we can keep inviting her to come to church and place a divide between her and her husband. So we have possibly lost 2 of our three progessing investigators.

     Also, we found out last night that one of our sister missionaries is going home today because of health issues. Last Thursday she had a really bad allergic reaction. She breaks out in hives, her throat swells up and her whole body aches. They think this reaction is triggered by stress, because it has happened once before on her mission and she said it is something she has had since she was an infant. She spent the day in the hospital and has basically been on bed rest for the last 5 days. I guess her mental state is just not good right now, and it is really having a dangerous effect on her physical well-being. So she is going home today and getting tests done to know what really triggers these reactions.

      All in all it has been a crazy week, but we have seen many miracles as well. I'm just so thankful for a functioning body and mind. So many people we meet on the streets at night, worry about us and ask if we at least carry mace with us. I guess downtown Independence is actually a pretty dangerous place. So, I'm also thankful for how much the Lord watches over and protects us. 

     I'm starting to get a little nervous with transfers coming up next Thursday. Sister Allen has finally grasped the fact that she is going home, so she seems to be handling the stress of it all really well. She is a champion of a missionary. I told her I really want to take the lead in what we do this week, since she will be leaving soon and I have no idea what will happen with transfers. What I do know is that I'll be getting a new companion...again, lol!

I love you all and hope you are having a great week!

Dad, thanks for you e-mail! I'm glad to hear that you are still having fun with the youth. Good Luck on the scout camp and hope you don't feel too sore this week from volleyball!

Mom, thanks for sending the package I told you my sizes for sweaters and stuff in the other e-mail. I love you so much and am so thankful for how much you and dad sacrifice for me! You truly are the most amazing parents in the world!

Elder Luening and Anziano Luening, keep up the great missionary work!

Love Sister Luening

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