Monday, December 16, 2013

December 16, 2013, Kearney, Missouri

Dear Family,

First of all, Mom and Dad, thank-you so much for the Christmas package! You are ridiculous! It was so funny to open up the box and see a tree in there, a foam nativity, a painting kit, other little toys and not just a ginger bread house kit... no, no. But rather a gingerbread Village!! Ha-ha-ha-ha! Also thanks for all the advent goodies like the fruit tea and Chrisstollen (spelled that one wrong). You're the best! Also thanks for all the individually wrapped advent treats! My companion wasn't sure whether to say thank-you or not, since we're sure it will just continue to fatten us up, lol! I don't know how you had the time to do it all, you are amazing! Thanks for the 5 CD's worth of Christmas music. Jeremy went above and beyond the call of duty on that one, I was like a 5 year old in the living room opening my package and playing German Christmas songs, ha-ha! 

Also please say thank-you to the Smee's, Kaylee Gibb and Bremen for the letters and pictures! It was so nice to hear from them and to receive their kind words of support. I miss everyone! Also please send a huge thank-you to the Stoddarts for me. They sent me a toque, gloves and a beautiful scarf! Seriously, it was gorgeous and I love it! It was so sweet of them to think of me! It felt like Christmas came early!

This Last week was amazing! We got to go back to Independence for an all day mission-wide conference! We got to drive an hour to Independence with the other set of sisters and it just brought me back to the good old YSA road tripping days. The conference was so much fun! The first 4 hours were about "Using Time Wisely", so we got a list of suggestions of "Things to Do, When Appointments Fall Through", which will certainly come in handy! Then we had lunch and heard a bunch of Christmas musical numbers for the last 3 hours! There were 300 missionaries in attendance, and we got to take a mission-wide picture, which each of us will be receiving a copy of! I am so excited! My zone did a musical number in which I performed a duet, it was pretty awesome...and stressful just because we didn't know how it sounded, but people assured us we sounded great, lol!

This week was full of miracles and some pretty crazy weather phenomena’s. On Friday I went on exchanges with some sisters in Liberty and so I got to spend half the day serving at the Historic Liberty Jail. However that morning when I woke up and we went outside to walk up the inclined side walk to the Liberty Jail, there was a thick sheet of ice on the pavement. We were experiencing the effects of freezing rain. The pavement was like an ice rink! Sister Jorgenson had some close calls, and she finally made it to the grass, and had to grab my hand and pull me up because I just kept slipping down the side walk, lol! It was pretty funny, ha-ha! Because of the weather President Keyes sent out a mission-wide voicemail and told us we were house bound. No driving cars and no going outside! By the time our shift at Liberty Jail ended we were cleared to drive but were told a snow storm would be coming soon, so we decided we should end exchanges early, otherwise there would be a possibility we would be on exchanges the next day as well. The time I spent at Liberty Jail, I definitely needed. It reminded me of how sacred visitor centers are and since only one group came in during the whole 6 hours I was there, I got a lot of study time in, and I focused my studies on adversity. I read a scripture in Hebrews 5:8-9, "though he was a Son, yet He learned  obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, He became the author of eternal salvation...” It reminded me that Christ also had his own trials and experiences which he had to suffer and endure. Through those trials and moments of adversity, he was able to truly take hold of the God-like Divine Nature within himself and therefore fulfill his purpose, to become the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. It works the same way with us!

On Sunday we had so many miracles! We really worked hard this week, but in our number accountabilities it just didn't show. But I really felt proud of our week. At Church on Sunday one of our investigators came to Church. He is in his 60's and his wife is a member. He is basically a "dry-Mormon", and sister missionaries have worked with him for 10 months. He told us during Thanksgiving that he just feels like he hasn't had that great big light bulb moment from the spirit telling him "Yes, the Church is true!", which is why he told us he isn't willing to get baptized. Well on Sunday, our Bishop and Ward Mission Leader felt inspired to privately talk to him in their office, and after talking to him and helping him recognize that he knows the
Church is true he committed to being baptized on December 28th!

After Church was our missionary correlation meeting and our Ward Mission Leader told us what happened and Sister Morris' jaw just dropped....she was so shocked and we both knew it was a miracle! From day one when I got here, Sister Morris told me that her biggest wish before she left the area was that Sam would get baptized, and it is happening! So, not only is the Elder’s investigator, Melanie, being baptized on December 28th, but so is Sam J We have to teach him 3 of the lessons in just two appointments though, because he is going to Arizona on Sunday for a week. He mentioned to us that he doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet, but that he will gain that testimony as he continues to learn in the Church after he is baptized. We know if we can help him recognize his testimony in the Book of Mormon, we can help him recognize his testimony of Joseph Smith. He was so funny. We talked to him on the phone yesterday and he said "I bet you haven't had a more stressful investigator being baptized than me!....have you ever had an investigator who was on date to be baptized not get baptized?", he jokingly said. Sister Morris and I said no, and he said, "Well, there's a first time for everything!". We told him," No there's not, because when it feels right to be baptized, its right!". We joked with him and told him if need be we would wrestle him into the font, lol!

Anyways, over the last few weeks Sister Morris and I have been praying for miracles and opportunities to teach, and we also found out on Sunday that about 5 of our recent converts will be at our dinner appointment tonight and they have asked us to teach them their third new member lesson. That in itself was a miracle because they haven't been able to meet with us since I have been here, so at least 4 weeks!

I feel so blessed! Things seem to be picking up here and we feel so blessed for all the work that has somehow been pushed our way. We are working with one less active family in particular and her non-member parents seem to really like me.  I think it’s because I'm German. Her dad moved to Canada from Germany when he was 5 years old and they have a lot of German traditions and have gone back to Germany several times because he has a sister that still lives there. They are going to be at church next week to watch their grandson pass the sacrament for the first time and they want to have us over for dinner soon J So, we are hoping we will have some great teaching opportunities with them soon and that they have been truly prepared to hear the message of the gospel. Also, another less active sister we have been working with just received a calling last week, so she is officially active in the church!

We have been so blessed this week and I know it is due to a lot of prayers! Also, I found out that two of my recent converts, Apo and Lesi are both going to the temple this week for the first time to do baptisms. I'm hoping I can go to the temple with them...if not I'm just glad that they are able to take that step J Also, on Sunday the elders and sisters and I are singing in sacrament meeting. We are planning on singing Silent Night and I am doing the solo descant for the last verse and then I am giving a 15 minute talk, and Bishop is the other pressure, lol! I can't wait to skype with you all. Thanks Jeremy, for settting up a skype account for me and I will let you all know next week specifics for times and everything for skyping! Love you!
9 days till Christmas J

Sister Luening

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