Monday, October 6, 2014

October 6, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family! 

Holy Cow what a spiritual powerhouse week! I must say I was so glad to have been able to go to the temple last week. I feel like it really prepared me to hear the messages from General Conference. I loved that the messages seemed to be centered around the necessity and blessing of having a living prophet on the earth today. I also enjoyed the many addresses that helped us know what we can do in our lives to develop and strengthen our testimonies that will keep us safely guarded on Ship Zion. I was blown away by the power that was truly projected from those who were speaking. It really reminded me that the Second Coming is truly creeping up on us. On sunday morning I studied in 3 Nephi chapters  6-7. It was amazing to me to be able to compare and parallel the things Elder Lynn G Robbins spoke about concerning our society and lowering their standards far beneath God's standards and laws and how the Nephites did the same thing in those chapters. It was interesting to be able to look into the Book of Mormon and see what was happening to the Nephites at the time right before Christ appears to them. It was kind of like a look into the present and future of things to come before the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ. How blessed we are to be able to be guided by living prophets and apostles. 

Here is an amazing experience that happened this weekend. Sunday morning Sister Kang and I decided to stop by our investigators house to invite him to come to General Conference. He was sitting out in his carport and he ended up asking some questions about how a prophet or leader in our church is called. We briefly explained to him that it is through revelation and then told him about General conference. We invited him to come with us, but he said he was going to be leaving around noon to go see his son. We invited him to watch the morning session and before hand to write down questions. We promised him that if he would watch conference he would come to have his questions answered and that he would be able to know for himself that we have a living prophet on the earth today. Well, what do you know, amazingly the very first talk by President Henry B Eyring was on continual revelation through prophets and down the line. And then Elder Russell M Nelson's talk was on "How do we sustain a prophet?". It was  like the sunday morning session was formatted specifically for D. It was awesome!! 

I can't wait for the ensign to come out so that I can more thoroughly feast upon the words of our living prophet and apostles. Their messages were inspiring and uplifting. Their words truly added to the trainings I received in Zone training this last Friday. We have a few changes in the mission. We don't have a ton of memorizations anymore. The only things that we recite and memorize is "Our purpose" and "The First Vision". Some of our weekly key indicators have been changed as to the procedure of counting some things as a key indicator. It is amazing how all of the changes are to help us to refocus on "having the end in mind" for our investigators. To keep the real reason of what we hope for those we are teaching, which is to bring them back to our Father in Heaven through repentance and making covenants. We were also instructed on how we can better use the resources and tools we have to do missionary work and bring others unto Christ. We were instructed on how we can have shorter more powerful spirit filled lessons. It was great!! Ultimately these changes we were told are to help us be more effective and efficient missionaries in preparation for getting I-Pads at the end of the year. It is hoped that by incorporating these changes now we will better be able to utilize the tools that we will be given in the upcoming months and truly be Preach My Gospel missionaries. 

I love this work. It is an exciting time of change for the better. There are so many changes all the time that we need to make sure that we are changing with it.  As Elder Carlos A Godoy of the Seventy mentioned, the difference between misery and happiness comes to just a few small errors. We need to be fine tuning ourselves every day. I love this gospel. I feel so blessed to be living in a time when we have the restored gospel here on the earth. I know without a doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I feel blessed to have walked and be serving where he himself served the Lord with all of his heart might mind and strength. I am so blessed to be serving in the Alpha and Omega mission. I have been called to serve where Our Father in Heaven's Plan for His children truly began and where all things will be restored to its perfect order and frame, when Christ, our Savior Himself,comes to rule and reign here upon the earth. I feel blessed that I am able to change daily through the power of the atonement. To access it each week through the sacrament and be spiritually armed and fortified with the Spririt. What a sacred privilege I have to carry this mantle to be at this time a servant of the Lord and a messenger of His truth. I'm so grateful for all of you. For the support, love and prayers. I feel blessed to have such a supportive and loving family. I love each of you dearly and I know that I wouldn't be here if it hadn't been for each of your great influences that have touched my life. I love you and hope you have an amazing week! 

sister Luening

September 30, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Fear not Family, I am Alive! 
So, you were probably expecting my email yesterday, but Sister Kang and I switched our P-day so that we could go to the temple today. It was definitely needed since neither one of us had gone to the temple since May, CRAZY!! It was great to be able to feel the peace and serene surroundings of the temple, and to be reminded of the promises and blessings of our covenants. 
This last week was wonderful. K was baptized on friday and confirmed on sunday. She was so happy and her family was there to support her. I really hope they felt of the very special spirit that was in our dedicated church building. Today at the temple I ran into my old ward mission leader from Kearney. He said that they have about 13 scheduled baptisms for the month of October and guess who they are. J, S and G are supposed to be getting baptized on October 25th at 6pm!! I am so excited!! Also, the T family are going to be getting baptized on that date as well. It is so exciting to see how 7 months ago these individuals were in the beginning steps and now they have deep testimonies and are excited to take the sacred steps of baptism. YAY!! I was so excited!! 
Saturday was great with the Women's General Broadcast. I loved how everything pointed back to the temple and being prepared to go to the temple. I think when people hear "prepare to go to the temple", we automatically associate it with going to the temple for the first time. But we should be preparing to go to the temple every time we go to the temple.I was reminded about how preparation precedes power. Power that comes through revelation and inspiration from the Holy Ghost. I loved being reminded about the wonderful blessings of the temple. It truly is a sacred place where we go to more fully understand our Father in Heaven and His plan for us. The more we understand God, the more we will understand ourselves and our eternal path. I am so excited for General Conference. I can't wait to hear from our living prophet and apostles. How blessed are we to be living in the latter-day restoration in which we truly receive modern day revelation. It is incredible! 
The other day we were talking with one of our investigators named D, and he told us that he was stuck on something. He said, he just can't wrap his head around the fact that both God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith. He said if it had only been Jesus Christ, he could believe it, but God too. He talked about how looking in the bible there was only one case in which God, Himself, actually showed Himself to man, he was referring to Moses. He expressed that it would have had to have been pretty important for Jesus Christ and God to show themselves to a 14 year old boy.  As I served at the Liberty Jail and took a phone call a man had this same concern. I just wish I could say in a way that they would understand and penetrate to their hearts that you know what, you're right! It would have had to have been pretty important. And it was! The Restoration of the Fullness of the Gospel in this last dispensation was the most important thing that would happen to mankind here on the earth. This is the last dispensation of the fullness of times. This time period is ultimately for the world to prepare for the second coming of our Savior Jesus Christ.....I would have to say that is pretty important, yes, even so vitally important that even God Himself with His Son would appear to a 14 year old boy who would later become His chosen prophet on the earth; A prophet to restore back to order all saving ordinances that would allow ALL mankind past, present and future to have the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel, ultimately bringing to pass God's eternal purposes for His children to be able to "receive immortality and eternal life" (Moses 1:39).  I'd say since everything past present and future hung on the balance of the need for a restoration that yes, even God himself would appear to usher in the dispensation of the fullness of times here upon the earth. The restoration was necessary for God's children to be able to fully access the power of the atonement in their lives because it is through sacred covenants to our Heavenly Father and the power of the atonement combined that we are able to overcome the effects of "The Fall" and be brought back into our Father's presence. We cannot have the one without the other. So, yes indeed, I think if the most significant point in history was hanging in the balance, God really would have made an appearance to signify to everyone the importance of the events to follow: The restoration of all things in this last dispensation.
I just want to add my witness that I know that these things are true. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is God's Kingdom established on the earth in preparation to our Savior's Second Coming. I know that God and Jesus Christ did appear to Joseph Smith, and that he was called as a prophet of God. I know that through Joseph Smith the Priesthood Authority was restored back to the earth making it possible for saving ordinances to be received by the living and the dead. I am grateful for temples and for the sacred places that they are. They truly are a refuge from the world and a place to receive instruction and a renewed commitment to return to our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for the sealing power that binds families together eternally. That ultimately our greatest happiness can come through our families as we individually and collectively strive to make and keep sacred covenants with our Father in Heaven. I am grateful for my Savior Jesus Christ and all that He has done for me. That through Him I can become perfect, "even as my Father in Heaven is perfect". I love you all, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 
Have a great week!
Love, Sister Luening

Monday, September 22, 2014

September 22, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family, 

I almost feel like I should have written about my MIRACLE BOMB week before reading all the emails because now I feel like my mind is all over the place. But I hope I can adequately express how truly blessed Sister Kang and I have been this week. I think it was seriously one of the best weeks of my mission. First of all because we could truly see the hand of the Lord in our work everyday and second because we could truly account for our incredible week and we blew our goals out of the water for the week. We had so many people placed in our path this week it was incredible. 

So, this week was our no car week. Basically just hit the pavement and asked the members for rides this week, and man did the members step up to help us out, it was incredible. On Tuesday we had exchanges. I was companions with Sister White in Blue Springs first area (my area), which was awesome because we served around each other in Kearney for 3 months, so it was like old times. We had all of these great plans lined up for the next day, and all of our appointments fell through, so we spent the morning re-planning our day and it was truly amazing to see how the Lord guided us throughout the day. We had originally planned to go to farther away areas, but since our plans fell through and so did our rides we decided to work around the area closest to our house. We ended up finding two new investigators and it was incredible how sister White and I were so unified in our doorstep teaching. The Spirit was truly manifest in our teaching. the first new investigator we found his name is C. He is in is 20's, just got laid off his construction job and has a 5 month old son and his girl-friend recently moved out. As we taught him the restoration you could see in his face how it clicked. He said he feels like he really connected with hearing about the great apostasy. He said he had never been taught about it, but how it makes so much sense. We set up a return appointment and now he is on baptismal date for October 18th, wohoo! In the evening Sister White and I tried to contact a former and she was very stand-offish and told us she only visits with people by appointment if they call first. I asked her for her number and she said I couldn't have it. However, as soon as I mentioned Sister Anderson (my MTC companion who opened the area for blue springs and first met this lady) she completely opened up, gave us her number and told us to call and she would love to visit with us, haha! It was nuts. Thank-goodness for sister Anderson and the MTC ;)

We also went next door to try a former name Y, a 19 year old guy named W answered the door. We told him who we were and asked him if he had ever heard of the Book of Mormon. He hadn't and so we explained it to him and taught him about Joseph Smith's experience. He asked us where our church was and said he wanted to come. Unfortunately, the time our church meeting was he had to work, but he said he is going to ask his boss for a sunday off to come check it out. We set up a return appointment. When we went back to teach him we found a team up last minute. Sister Frazier came with us, and as we walked up to the house a lady was walking out the door, it was Y the former we had originally wanted to contact when we found W. We had the most incredible discussion with her on her doorstep. She had faced a lot of abuse as a child and it just so happened that Sister Frazier could connect with similar experiences in her own life. The spirit truly guided us in the things that we shared with her, and we did our best to try and bring peace to her mind and help her see the kind of amazing daughter of God she has become despite the challenges and struggles she has gone through in her life. Each of us shed some tears and we asked if we could come back and share more. It was truly incredible how we had gone there with Sister Frazier hoping to teach W, but then Y was placed in our path and Sister Frazier was perfect for Y and we were able to share a little bit about God's love and plan for us. Seriously, best discussion ever and I just felt so much empathy and love for Y, a woman I didn't even know!! It was awesome! Sister Frazier invited Y to church because everything that we had talked about Sister Frazier said she was actually speaking on in sacrament meeting. 

On Saturday we were finally able to get in the F's home. They are Polynesian, but don't speak the language. A, the mom, is investigating the church and her husband L has been less active since he was 9 so he doesn't know anything. They have three kids from age 9-3. L doesn't have any faith and he is still trying to come to a decision of if God is real. At this point he is agnostic, believes in a higher power to an extent, but not sure if its God or some energy in the universe. He is a really smart and deep thinking guy. I love talking with him. We invited them to come to church and A and the kids came for the first time ever in the whole month and a half they have been learning from the sisters, but L stayed home. Sunday was CRAZY! So as soon as we walked in the building Sister Sika grabbed us and told us to come with her to the kitchen because there was a lady that walked into the church. It turned out that this lady, in her 30's, has been homeless for the last 3 days. She was in a really bad situation, drugs, abuse, etc. and decided to leave, but had nowhere to go. She walked all over blue springs last night and finally found our church building. She pushed the button pleading in her heart that the door would open, so she could finally find a safe place to crash and sleep. Well, the door opened. E said she just stood there completely shocked for a moment that the door automatically opened after having pushed the handi-capp button, and she came inside crying and crashed on the couch and went to sleep. When the Bishop from the other ward came to the building he was the first one here and he said he came through the same door that E (the homeless lady) come through, but it was locked and he had to use his key to unlock the door to get in the building. He said there is no way that door opened unless the Lord opened it for her, because he said that door was locked, he even double checked to make sure they were talking about the same door.

The auxiliary leaders found her some food and tried to make her feel welcome as they tried to figure out how they could help her. She stayed at church the full three hours and our Relief Society President and the Bishop were able to find out how they could help her. Sister Kang and I just listened to what she has gone through over the last few years and she has hit as rock bottom as you can get. But as we talked with her, and as everyone testified of the miracle and hand of God that was working in her life to have brought her here and allowed her to come into the church building, it was amazing to know that god was placing her on the right path back towards him and towards greater happiness and peace for her in her life. By the end of church she really had a completely different countenance than she had had at the very beginning of the day. The sacrament meeting talks were  perfect for her. The focus seemed to be overcoming adversity and trials in our life through the savior. In sunday school we watched finding faith in Christ. It was amazing. All the members were so welcoming to her. Even though she was dressed in jeans an old shirt and had a wool coat. Short hair, pink in the front and blond. Half of it was shaved off and she had a rag twisted around her hair. All the members reached out to her and tried to help her feel loved, even though they didn't know her and they didn't know her situation or background. It was incredible. I really hope that everything works out for E and that she will be able to remember the feelings she had as she was at church and that no matter where she is or where she goes that she will come back to the gospel. 

Well, I feel like I haven't adequately described the feelings and the spirit that was truly evident in each of these miracles this week, but it was amazing. I wish I could just send you a video from my brain to be able to help you truly experience these moments. Each week seems to have more and more miracles, even though this last week seemed to be a little more challenging than the last, but it just goes to show that no matter how easy or hard the week seems to be, if we are still working with all our might the Lord will bless us. It just seems that the blessings at this time or almost immediate rather than later down the road. Sister Kang and I are truly blessed and this weekend we are excited for K's baptism. We moved it up since her back and neck surgery is going to be the following week. She is so prepared. She has been reading the Book of Mormon for 2 years and has been taking the discussions for 4 months. She feels completely ready and excited and as outlined in Doctrine and Covenants 20:37 she has truly met all of those qualifications for baptism. She is amazing! I feel blessed to have been able to really be aware to how much the Lord was in every phase of the work this week and that Sister Kang and I were spiritually in tune enough to have followed the Spirit as it guided us in word and deed.

I hope things get better back home. I hope that everyone turns to the savior at this time for strength, comfort and peace. Find solace in knowing that God has a plan for everything and in a sense even a back-up plan to bless us. When we think we are going the right way and then we find we seem to have taken a wrong turn, Heavenly Father will put another turn on our path to take us in the right direction back towards the happiness, peace and blessings He wants to give us. I know that for sure. Sometimes that turn back in the right direction can seem really long and we have to go slow, but eventually we will get there. We just need to take one step at a time and allow our Savior to lead us. Everything has a purpose and every experience is something that we can learn from, no matter what. I love you all!

Sister Luening

September 15, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family!

Things are still going great out here in Blue Springs :) Sister Kang and I were able to find a bunch of new investigators, some of them weren't very solid but we are really excited to talk with J and his two boys tonight. Last Monday after our dinner appointment we were walking back to our car that we parked a little ways down the street, and exactly that time J and his two sons were riding their bikes towards us. J looked kind of intimidating. He was pretty buff and had tattoos all over. Definitely, MMA status. They stopped and asked us what we were selling. We told them we weren't selling anything and that we were missionaries and just finished having dinner with some members of our congregation. We ended up talking to them for about 15 minutes about the restoration. J said he really wants his boys to grow up knowing God, and that they switch between two churches. We gave them a book of Mormon and asked if we could share more, so we are going by tonight. He was super nice and so open. We're excited to see how things go. 
Also, K is still on date for her baptism. We are really praying that her back surgery won't be scheduled for October 11th, otherwise she won't be able to be baptized for two more months and she is just so ready. She has a deep testimony of the Book of Mormon and knows this is Christ's church restored to the earth. Today she is officially going to completely stop smoking. She was down to 4 cigarettes a day for about 2 weeks and she feels confident that she can give it up completely :)
The members here are so great. There are so many part member families in this ward. Its really interesting because a lot of the non-member husbands come to church with their kids and wives, yet they aren't baptized. It is mind boggling to me of why they aren't baptized yet. WE are hoping to work more with those families to try and dig-out their concerns. Its like the iceberg analogy, most people know about a mild concern, for these individuals, but it obviously goes a lot deeper down than we can see. But in preach my gospel it says, " Heavenly Father knows the hearts and experiences of all people (the complete iceberg) and will help you know what is best for each person." I hope that as we get to know these families and individuals that Heavenly Father will guide us by the Spirit to know how we can best help these individuals progress and become eternal families.
I love this area, I am so grateful for my hard-working and loving companion Sister Kang. I feel so blessed to know that things are going well back home and that so many blessings are pouring into our family. God truly is a God of miracles. Keep working hard. Always keep in mind this saying that I heard on sunday,  "Live in such a way that those who know you, but don't know Christ, will want to know Christ because they know you". `
Sister Luening

September 8, 2014 Blue Springs, Missouri

Dear Family, 
It sounds like everyone is doing well and will be having a fun weekend up in Kelowna to celebrate Chris's birthday :) So transfer calls have come and gone and funny story, so when transfer calls came we were listening to the transfer roster and just as the Assistant said, "okay Liberty South Zone here is your transfer roster", we heard a "beep..... message deleted". Sister Barrow accidentally hit number 7 and deleted our transfer message before we could even listen to it, looking back it was pretty hilarious and we had to ask the zone leaders to forward it to us again, haha! So, in the message it said I would be going to Blue Springs 1st ward. I paused for a second because I knew that Blue Springs 2nd ward was a Visitor Center area, but I knew as soon as they said Blue Springs 1st ward that I would be going out full proselyting again. I felt a little disappointment at first, but it was almost instantly replaced with calmness and a reassurance that God knows me better than myself and that He knows what will truly bring me the most happiness and joy especially in my last two transfer on my mission. So I decided to move forward with excitement, enthusiasm and trust that the Lord really knows what He is doing with me, haha! 
This area is incredible! I have loved serving here for the last 4 days. Sister Kang, my new companion is amazing! She is from Korea, has been out for 9 months, speaks perfect English and she is really funny and so sweet. We both always talk about how we feel really comfortable around each other and can really be ourselves around one another. We have already become best friends. Sister Kang works so hard! She has such a deep desire to truly work her hardest and be better. Sometimes she doesn't see how great she is and gets too hard on herself, and I hope that this transfer I can help her see how incredible of a missionary she really is. I have been praying for a companion who doesn't just want to work hard but does from 6:30am-10:00pm and she is that companion. She works so hard, I love it! We both really push each other to be better because we can see that both of us are truly doing are best! It has been so great planning at the end of the night and being able to look at each other and know that we truly have done all that we can do, and left the rest to the Lord and see the miracles from the day.
We've talked a lot about struggles we have had in previous companionships and how this companionship has just been super smooth from the very beginning. We definitely have the same kind of sense of humor and I think that helps a lot. The other day the zone leaders asked us for the miles and sister Kang was trying to add them up and was struggling to figure it out and finally said, " I should be able to do this", and I couldn't help but say back in agreement to her, " ya, c'mon sister Kang, I thought you were Asian". Hahaha, it was so funny! We all laughed so hard! Anyways we are getting along so well, we are seeing so many miracles and I love that at the end of the night we help each other see the good in one another and talk about how blessed me feel to be companions with one another. We are both praying that we will be together for the next two transfers. With sister Kang, our companionship is 100% all-in and it is awesome!! 
Also, sister Kang wants to exercise and eat healthy. I'm so excited because my last two companions haven't liked to exercise and we were on the top floor of our apartment so doing my P-90X was hard because the floors are paper thin so it would disturb the neighbors. But now we are in a duplex, so I can do P-90X and Sister Kang wants to do it with me. We already did two days together and it has been awesome! We even get up earlier at 6:15am to do it :)  We are doing the " 40 Day Challenge" together. Sister Kang wants to lose 6lbs by the end of this transfer and her reward is she will get to redye her hair, haha! I want to lose more than that, but we will see how it goes. We have been eating super healthy and exercising :) We are excited to help each other in all our goals, spiritual and physical ;)
Another funny thing is that this one elder and I have been circling each other throughout the mission. We started served together in Independence 2nd ward for my last transfer, then he we served in Liberty 1st ward together for my first transfer and he was my district leader and now we are serving together again in Blue Springs 1st ward and he is my zone leader. Its been a ton of fun being able to update him on the people in Liberty and the miracles that have happened over the last two transfers there. Most likely this is his last transfer in this area because his companion goes home same time as me, so they will probably boot Elder Robinson out and bring a new zone leader in, haha! 

Anyways, this sunday we had a mission fast and the purpose behind it was supposed to be for gratitude. We found out last month our mission was blessed to have 57 baptisms for the month of August. It was really cool because for my studies yesterday I was actually in Alma chapter 26 in the Book of Mormon so it was wonderful being able to relate to Ammon about how glorious God is and how much he loves us. Over the last two days. We found two new investigators. One of them was a man named M and we were pretty much able to teach him the entire Message of the Restoration on his doorstep. He seemed pretty sincere as he was listening and Sister Kang and I are really excited to go back and teach him more this week and see how he felt about the Book of Mormon. Also, we have two investigators on date. One of them is Polynesian and we will have to move her date because she is so busy she hasn't been able to meet with us for a week. The other investigator is named K. She is so solid and super excited for her baptismal date on October 11th. We have started teaching her the commandments and she is so willing to do whatever we invite her to do. She is currently working on living the word of wisdom. She has gone from smoking 20 cigarettes a day down to 4, and she is doing awesome! She has a very good step by step plan of how she will quit so she can make her date. We are so excited for her! 
Also guess what?! J S is getting BAPTIZED!!!! I found out at transfers that S moved out of the house and he will be getting baptized the first or second weekend of October!!! I am soooo excited! I really hope that K's baptism and J's baptism won't conflict, because otherwise I won't be able to go to J's baptism. But, I am so excited and can't wait to find out when he will actually be getting baptized. Anyways, things are going great! We are keeping really busy the Blue Springs 1st ward is like a gold-mine it has so much hidden potential :) Its funny, my MTC companions sister Anderson is serving in my old area Independence 2nd ward and I am serving in her old area that she opened. I love it here! I hope I never leave and that Sister Kang and I will get to stay together. I feel so blessed and I know that the Lord has truly blessed me and I know that this is where I am supposed to be. 
Alma 26:35
"Now have we not reason to rejoice? Yea, I say unto you, there never were men that had so great reason to rejoice as we, since the world began; yea, and my joy is carried away, even unto boasting in my God; for He has all power, all wisdom, and all understanding...".
How Great is God!!
I hope you all have a great week, know that I am doing AWESOME and am so happy! Heavenly Father truly knows each of us and what is best! When we go forward with faith and trust in Him we will see the blessings. Sister Kang is taking care of me and we are going to go out and baptize nations! Love you!
Sister Luening

September 1, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Holy Cow! 

What a day of awesome emails! All, I have to say is I am super excited about all the family stuff that will be happening in the next few weeks and months! It is all so exciting :)

Well, it has been quite the morning. So, on the way to morning sports at 6:20am, a bunny committed suicide by racing right under my car as I was driving by and getting run over by my tire. Then, we went home got ready for the day and started our laundry. The washer worked fine for sister Barrow, and then I put my darks in and the washer won't drain and spin dry my clothes. I put it to every rinse cycle and as soon as the rinse is done and is supposed to drain nothing happens. So Elder Kastel (senior missionary) told us he will go over to the apartment and look at the pump to see if he can fix it while we e-mail. Seriously, the Kastels are so nice and spoil us to death. They even want to take us to lunch today.

This week we have had some pretty crazy weather. We had a huge thunderstorm on Friday night, and I woke up in the middle of the night to a huge flash of lightning that kept the sky lit up for literally 15 seconds, and then as the sky was still lit up I heard a booming crack of thunder. I thought that the lightning struck the ground just outside our window, it scared me so bad. Well, when we got up the next morning, it turned out that the lightning had struck a tree and a transformer box on a telephone pole. The wires were dangling with about 2 feet of the top of the pool splintered off and half of the tree had broken off. All of that happened just across the parking lot from our apartment, CRAZY!

Last week, we were able to get quite a few referrals from the members and names of people they wanted us to visit. So, it was great receiving some assignments from the members and building trust with them as we would go see them ASAP and then report back to them on how the visits went. We hope that as we continue to do that over the next few weeks that maybe the members will begin to trust us enough to start giving us referrals of friends and neighbors that they want us to help share the gospel with. Also, our investigator A came to church on Sunday. She enjoyed it and her ll year old daughter H loved church! Sister Heiken did so awesome at helping A feel comfortable and explaining things that were unfamiliar to her. We invited her to come again and she said she wants to, but that she will have to give people in her Baptist church notice so that they can get someone to cover her sunday school class for her. So, she is progressing well. Also, S has been flying through the Book of Mormon all of a sudden and really enjoying it. 

Well, this week is transfer week. We had interviews with Elder Brenchley (the visitor center director over the VC and the historic Liberty Jail). From the interview and his comments to me on Sunday, I am pretty sure that I have done my time in Jail and am being transferred to go back and serve at the Independence Visitor Center :) But we'll see what will happen. He seemed extremely positive that I wouldn't go back out full proselyting, but you never know. Whatever the Lord wants will happen. Really anything is possible, I could stay one more and finish training Sister Barrow, I could go to the VC or I could go back out full proselyting. I'll find out tomorrow. If I do get transferred I will be really sad to leave behind S, A, A and Sister Heiken. Seriously, Sister Heiken is the most amazing member missionary ever!! She is so sweet and always tries to share the gospel in the most loving way ever!
I'm excited to see what will happen this week. Attached I have some pictures from our hobo party for sister Ray's birthday. We all got together at 6:30am and celebrated her birthday it was awesome! We ate oreos and pudding out of the cans. This is why the white handbook tells missionaries to "Be neat and clean. Bathe daily,if possible." These pictures are proof that if we just rolled out of bed and went out and worked we would look like a bunch of hobos ;) 

I hope that you are all doing well! 
Love, Sister Luening

August 25, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, it has been a great week. Mom it sounds like you really enjoyed yourself in Renada with Sister Sloot. It's been kind of weird seeing school buses pick up kids in the morning and dropping kids off after school. Just doesn't seem possible that this week is labor day weekend. Where is the time going?
A was baptized Saturday, yay! The actual baptism itself was wonderful, but the hour before, HOLY COW was it STRESSFUL!! So we had correlation meeting at the church two hours before the baptism and our ward mission leader left the font to fill while we had our meeting. Well, about 40 minutes into our meeting we get a knock on the door and a guy who was cleaning said that the font was overflowing into the RS Room. So our ward mission leader got up to go see what was going on and we continued with our meeting. Well, once our meeting was done, we all went to the RS Room to check out the damage. Well, that water had overflowed up over all the steps and went into the bathrooms and there 2 doorway sized streams of water on the carpet going from the font to the middle of the RS Room. This was all 1 hour before the baptism was to start. So, we had quit the mess on our hands. The elders left because they said they had some things to do. Our ward mission leader ran home to get his water Vacuum. So Sister Barrow and I were left to mop up the bathrooms. In the meantime we received a huge miscommunication that nobody had done the baptismal programs, so we played a huge game of telephone for 30 minutes to find out that they actually had been done. Anyways it was a lot more stressful than all of this probably sounds, so it was fun! The whole time I was stuck between disbelief that everything seemed to be going wrong and at the same time having the attitude that everything was going to be okay and that even if we did "mess-up" anything for the baptismal program its not like A would know any different. (I know terrible mentality to have, but its all I could think to stay calm and not freak-out). But miracles happened. We got the water mopped up, the water sucked up out of the carpets, and we had the baptismal programs- Nobody knew that there had been such a mess before-hand. The baptism was wonderful. A was beaming, I gave a talk on baptism, Elder Williams gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and Sister Barrow sang a beautiful musical number, "When I am Baptized", it brought the spirit so strong. A family friend got up and presented A with some gifts and bore her testimony and then we had refreshments afterwards. Everything went awesome! A's non-member sister came and she said she had never felt so good in her whole life. So I foresee missionaries working with A's sister very soon :)
Sister Barrow, Me, A and Elder Williams ( notice how color coordinated me and my companion are...we do that a lot, by accident)
Sunday was a huge miracle day for us. A got confirmed in sacrament meeting and S came to church again. She is doing so awesome! We showed her the 20minute restoration video this last week and she wants to see the hour long Joseph Smith movie. So we are going to have a movie night with her sometime this week. She is so close to knowing the church is true. We're going to try and help her recognize the spirit this week, because she really wants to know if this is true, but she wants a big lightning bolt answer. After church we went on shift to the jail and after shift we had about an hour and a half before dinner. We went out and tracted and Holy Cow was it hot. All week it has been in the high 90's. While we were tracting it was 97F. TOO HOT!! After tracting we went to dinner and received a few referrals which we were super excited about and are going to try and contact today. After dinner we went to our appointment to see A. Sister Heiken came with us and we talked about the role of the Spirit in our lives. How it teaches us and testifies of truth. We were able to find out from A how she feels the spirit in her life and recognizes it. We watched the 20 minute restoration video with her and discussed it afterwards. She said she feels like Joseph Smith when he was confused on what religion to join. Right now she is studying from about 4 different religious views. We talked to her about the importance of trying to apply what she reads from the Book of Mormon to herself. We felt really impressed that we needed to invite her to come to church this week. She is a Sunday school teacher at her church, but we invited her. Guess what?! It turns out her church doesn't have church this Sunday because its a holiday(labor day weekend). So she said she would love to come and see what it is like. Sister Heiken offered to give her a ride and we are going to take her on  a church tour on Thursday night before Sunday. It is going to be awesome!! It was a day of miracles. We were able to teach so many people.
We hope this week we will be able to get a bigger teaching pool as we try to work with the members more to seek out those who are prepared for the Gospel. In Relief Society lately we have been doing a missionary challenge. As part of the announcements Sister Barrow and I get up and we invite the Sisters to take a Book of Mormon, card and this week we also included handing out a "Family: Proclamation to the World" pamphlet. Last week a sister took the challenge of giving away a copy of the Book of Mormon and she did it. It was so cool to hear her missionary experience. Also, one of the sisters talked about giving away a card. IT was awesome and got the other sisters fired up. This time 3 sisters took a Family Proclamation pamphlet to give away and one of the members of the Relief Society Presidency took a copy of the Book of Mormon to hand out. It is awesome because we invite, the sisters are taking the challenge and then we get to follow-up and hear of their experiences in relief society. Its great!! 

Mom, I appreciated how you shared with me your insights of the various talks you studied over the last week. Pretty neat that you were studying talks on discipleship, which just happened to be the theme of our sacrament meeting yesterday. They were both very good talks and our last speaker focused his talk off of Elder Holland's Talk "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship" and he also referred to Elder Bednar's BYU Devotional talk called "The Character of Christ", a talk I heard in the MTC. I guess something that really stood out to me is that the way that we are truly disciples of Christ is very dependent on the attitude we have as we face different circumstances. If we serve with a grudging heart it is almost as if we hadn't done that service to the Lord. But when we serve and live Christ-like lives with an attitude of willingness and wanting to serve those around us, that is when we are truly disciples. When we put off the thoughts and feelings of the natural man and reach outward with care and compassion as the Savior would have done, that is when we are true disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ. Mom, I like how you mentioned that creating the connection between blessings and obedience is something you can focus more on with the sisters. I actually have a favorite quote that I discovered on my mission that has to do with the cost and blessings of discipleship from Elder Holland:

"Everyone of us has times when we need to know things will get declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us. Especially in times of need. There is help. There is Happiness. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until Heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ they come."

I know that through the gospel we will hit bumps in the road. Some of them might be a bit of a speed bump, some might be giant pot-holes that stop us in our tracks for a while, as we take time to repair our flat tire, but I know that through all of those challenges we have the ability to be lifted higher. Through Christ we can feel peace, hope and assurance of blessings to come as we rely on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we choose to have hope, "we work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for [our] good" (PMG- p.117).

I am so grateful for the gospel. I know that at times the burden of discipleship feels very real and can seem to weigh us down. But as we remember the reason behind why we are wanting to be true disciples and ask our Heavenly Father for help, our attitude can change in that moment and we can push forward with hope and trust that things will be brighter as we continue on. I love all of you! I hope that you have a great week. Maybe you can actually fill me in on what you meant by "home disasters" since you, mom and dad, told me any specifics other than they are home disasters. Anyways, I love you and I am excited for another week in the service of the Lord. As our Visitor Center Director, Elder Brenchley would say, "Today is going to be a great day! And why? Because its the only day you can do anything about. "


Sister Luening

August 18, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family! 

Okay, well this last week was great! We had zone conference which is always a great boost! The theme of this zone conference mainly seemed to be on helping those around us come to truly feel the love of God. We also tied that into working with ward and stake leaders in missionary work. It was a great reminder that this work can not be done on our own. We need to go about showing the ward we are there to serve and lift the ward and the members. It was great to be reminded that "We are One" as was said by President Monson in the Hastening the Work of Salvation address. The best day ever this week was Thursday! On Thursday we taught A who should be getting baptized this Saturday. After teaching A we actually went on splits. That was a first for me and it was soooo much fun!! I went out with a lady named sister Solomon. She is hilarious and is going on her singles senior mission to the Salt Lake Family History Center Mission in two weeks. Seriously her sense of humour reminds me of Oma. She is originally from England and she still says some things kind of strange, haha! I went with Sister Solomon to see a Less Active member. We had a great lesson and our Less Active is making leaps and bounds in her progression. She told us that she has been reading from the Book of Mormon every night and praying before she goes to bed and she hasn't had to take any of her pain medications in the last 5 days! That is huge for her! Sister Barrow went with Sister Burch to go and see S and they had a great visit with S as well. 

S is making so many steps in the right direction. We took her to the family history center on Tuesday and we have talked to her a lot about temples and family history work. On Sunday the entire theme was on temples and family history and S actually asked me if she can't do her family names in the temple because she isn't a member. I said yes and she said, hmm, I thought so. Its sooo cool to see the spirit of Elijah working in her and drawing her closer and closer to baptism. The promise in Malachi 4:4-6 is true! Otherwise we also met with our investigator named An. She is making progress and the member we take with us to go visit An is the perfect team-up for her. We talked to her a lot about the sacrament yesterday. She still needs to come to church, but Sister Heiken invited her to come to a RS Activity as a first step to get her toes dipped in the water. She seemed really excited to come, so hopefully she will come next week to the activity that is planned :)

Otherwise, we are looking for more prepared souls to teach. Things at the Jail have been slowing down, so we actually get five minutes to sit down and catch our breath, but presentations are still fairly steady. Just smaller groups or 3-6 people instead of 20-50 people. So that has been kind of nice. I am excited for another week. I really hope that as sister Barrow and I go out that we will find prepared souls that the Lord has for us to find. I love you all! I hope you have a great week! Keep working hard and I hope you see daily miracles in your life! 


Sister Luening

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, its been another great week in Zion! I'm glad to hear that vacation was fun and relaxing. Over the last week, in going to various teaching appointments I have really been able to feel the Spirit working through me in answering different questions that Investigators have had. I have been led by the Spirit in what to say and how to say it with clarity. I have felt truly blessed. S got really sick this week and asked the elders to come and give her a blessing, by Sunday she was feeling good enough to come to sacrament meeting, but was completely exhausted by the end of the meeting. So she went home. I was excited to see her exercise her faith in coming to at least sacrament meeting considering that just a month ago, if she wasn't feeling well, she would have used that as an excuse not to come. So we are proud of the progress she is making. The ward is also getting involved in helping her with a service project having to do with organizing her house. So, I'm really grateful for all the efforts the ward is making in trying to reach out to her. A, has been doing great. She is still on date to be baptized on the 23rd and she is soaking everything in like a sponge. She comes to church having read the R.S lesson ahead of time and in the Book of Mormon over the last two weeks she has read from 1 Nephi all the way to the Book of Helaman. She is on fire! Its awesome. An another investigator we have been teaching is still progressing. We taught her the plan of Salvation. We brought a member with us who lives just down the street from her and has a daughter the same age as her daughter. They seemed to connect really well and it was a great lesson. Our member, did an awesome job in helping to answer some of An's concerns and in inviting the Spirit into the lesson. It was great! Sister Barrow did a great job as well and there was definitely unity in our teaching. Otherwise, things are going well. We managed to have a few less actives come to church as well whom we visited with and invited to come, which was great! All of the investigator we found last week, dropped off, so we are back to finding again, but I feel very blessed because of the teaching opportunities we do have with the investigators that are progressing. This week is Zone Conference and I am super excited for that. I love zone conferences. Last week we had zone training. The trainings were wonderful and the zone leaders asked specific missionaries to bear their testimony at different points in our training. Those testimonies brought the Spirit so strong and I think my favorite phrase that I took from the testimonies was from Sister Hansen. Something that was a large focus in our trainng was the doctrine behind baptism. Our purpose as missionaries and what baptism does for those we teach. Sister Hansen talked about the sacred privilege it is to be a missionary. She mentioned that some people come out on missions feeling like they need to have a good "sales pitch" for why people should become Mormon, and she said, "We are not selling the gospel! We are teaching God's children about their Father in Heaven." It was great being reminded about creating a vision for our investigators. Seeing where they are now and seeing where their father in Heaven would have them be. An eternal perspective is key to helping our investigators progress in the way that they need.

I love this gospel. I'm grateful for the joy I feel in the knowledge I have gained through our Heavenly Father's plan. He didn't just have a goal in mind for us and said good luck, hope you make it. But that he laid out a specific plan with a pathway of steps to follow to guide us back to him, and that is The Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to serve at the Historic Liberty Jail and to remind people of the eternal perspective we must have in our lives. That the challenges and difficulties we face, if we hold strong through them and endure well that we will receive the fullness of joy our Father in Heaven desires for us to have. I'm blessed to be a missionary. Thanks for all your love and support! Have a great week. Keep searching out the missionary opportunities. Dad, good job on inviting mom's aunt to church. That's all we can do, is invite. I love you all! Keep an eternal perspective for yourselves and those you see.


Sister Luening

August 4, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Family Camp!! Sounds like you are really enjoying your time up at Champion Lake :) 120 POUNDS OF BERRIES!! Holy cow! I was waiting for you to say that you were kidding, but the joke never came. I wonder if the berries will be that bounteous next summer. But, now we know what time to plan to go to champion lake next year. The other day I was telling someone that I am just really glad that I am not serving in Michigan....the land of 1000 lakes. It would be mighty tempting to just "fall" into the water, just kidding I wouldn't , but still the water would tease me daily. So what is Jocelynn's boyfriend like? Do they seem serious, do you think it is going to lead down the gospel path towards important covenants anytime soon? ;) I'm glad everyone is enjoying themselves. So what is Jeremy up to these days, I caught that he got a new job, what is it? Also he's doing seminary?? Glad to hear he is keeping busy :)

Well, things this week were AMAZING!! The Lord truly blessed us as we went out with faith knowing that the Lord has prepared souls to join in His Gospel. As we went out and talked to as many people as we could we found 3 new investigators :) It was awesome! The Lord really provided for us this week. Sister Barrow is so awesome! She is always up for going out to work and doing everything. When we tract she always opens her mouth and proclaims the gospel and invites others to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Seriously, she came pre-trained into the mission field. She is bold, and I love it. This week we invited S and A to be baptized. I felt a little weary about inviting S to be baptized, but it didn't come as a surprise when we invited her. S, hesitated and said she needs to learn more before she will commit. We asked her if she's been reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, she said she hasn't been reading it, but she'd been praying about it. She said she got the feeling she needs to read the Book of Mormon, but forgets to. So we have been texting her every morning to read the Book of Mormon and so far she has been :) We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her recent convert daughter K, was with us and testified to S that overtime she will come to know that the church is true. It was awesome and S came to church this Sunday. So she is still progressing and now she knows our goal for her which is great.

We taught A, who is on baptismal date for August 23rd, the Word of Wisdom. She committed to live it and the only thing we need to watch is that she drinks one cup of coffee in the morning, but she was positive that she could substitute it for hot chocolate. She is doing awesome and she has read over half of the Book of Mormon so far. She has been taking notes as she has been reading and writing down questions, we asked if she had any questions for us and she said she doesn't because as she continues reading her questions are answered in what she reads. She said she knows the Book of Mormon is true. She also watched the 20minute restoration video and she said she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet of God because of how she felt as she watched it. She is so awesome. She came to church on Sunday and we are meeting with her on Wednesday, we need to start meeting with her twice a week so we can teach her everything she needs to learn before she is baptized, but I know as she keeps learning and has the support from her family that she will definitely be baptized on the 23rd, I am so excited for her :)

We also invited An to get baptized. We taught her the first lesson with a member, and it went really well. An, however also was a little hesitant, but she said she will read the book of Mormon and pray and if she comes to know it is true she will be baptized. Oh and here is a HUGE miracle! Yesterday, on sunday, we only had 30minutes with the car, so we decided we would try to contact a potential investigator. It was actually the non-member parents of a young newly married couple I served around in Independence. We went by and the mom was home, and we found out that her husband passed away a month ago. We told her about eternal families and God's plan for us. We asked if we could come and share more with her, so we are going to come back on sunday. I felt so bad when we left because she was crying, but we gave her a hug and hopefully helped her see more hope than she had before. We're excited to really helping her find greater peace and knowledge in the eternal plan and purposes God has for us.

Otherwise, here is a good laugh for you. Embarrassing moment for serving in Liberty 1st ward. So, back in May when I was with Sister McDonnell we discovered that she had been giving people the wrong phone number to contact us. She had been giving the wrong number to people for the whole four and a half months she had been here. Well, the other day, Sister Barrow and I, went to go see a investigator we found at the beginning of the week named A. He had met with missionaries before, he's black, and he has been cancer free for a year. We went to teach him with some members and when we showed up he was on his porch ready to go somewhere. He proceeded to tell us he tried calling us three times, but his call kept going to a 10 year old boys cellphone number, so he tried the number again to make sure it was right. I guess the mom of this little boy got really mad and creeped-out so she called the cops on A, and the police traced his phone number and showed up to his house to make sure he wasn't a pedophile. I was like no way, so I double checked what our number is in our cell phone. Well, you bet I felt horrible when I realized that the first 6 digits were right, but then I gave him the last 4 digits of my old Kearney phone. So in my mind I had combined two phone numbers together which resulted in him calling a 10 year old boy and almost landing him in jail....WOOPS! Seriously, all day I felt so bad! Good thing is A wasn't furious and he is still willing to meet with us, phew.

Some of the less active members we are working with are also progressing, Sister M came to church and bore her testimony which was awesome. She told us she really feels like her faith is increasing and that she is recognizing the testimony she has. We shared the Mormon message "because of Him" and talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ and what the does for us in our lives in helping us to draw closer to Christ. I guess the very next day the elders showed up to her house and they also felt prompted to talk about the atonement, so Sister M's faith is being strengthened even by just seeing how the Lord really wants her to listen to the things we are teaching her and apply them into her life. It's been awesome seeing her progression in the last few weeks.

I really felt so blessed this week. The last week was the best week we've had in two months. It was incredible. I know it is because I have a companion who is just as eager and excited to go as I am. We push each other to be better and work our hardest and it is awesome. We go out knowing that the Lord will provide us with miracles and people to teach, and it happens. In preach my gospel it says "faith is having complete trust and confidence in the Lord". I know that is true. I have seen that as Sister Barrow and I have complete confidence in the goals we set for the day and just go out knowing that the Lord will give us his promised blessings as we work with all our heart might mind and strength that he has provided us with the miracles of even superseding our goals. It has been amazing!

I love the gospel! I am excited to keep working with Sister Barrow. Training has been a breeze with her, and all the new sisters in the Jail have memorized the information they need to share when they give tours at the jail. Sister Barrow is doing awesome on her memorizations. Its funny, last sunday, her second day out, she felt overwhelmed with everything she needed to learn, but she has picked up super fast and is doing awesome. I'm definitely pushing her, but at the pace she can handle, so its great! She is a lot faster with memorizing than I was. Hopefully we have another great week like we had this last week. I'm excited to keep serving with Sister Barrow, and our members are getting more involved in the missionary effort as well. Things are going great! Loving it out here everyday :)

I love you all and hope that you are all safe! Keep enjoying the lake! I hope the mosquitos aren't too bad for you. Sister Barrow is getting eaten alive out here and she's allergic to them, so if you look at Laurel's legs, that's the same way my comp's legs look. She has 30 mosquito bites that have turned into giant splotches, haha! But. we love it! It means we're working hard. I'm doing great!

Love You All <3

Sister Luening

July 22, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, this has been quite the week, but a great week. Mom, you are right on the ball with knowing that transfers are this week. All I have to say is I should know by now that every transfer has a little twist to it. No mom, its not another "recycled" companion, haha! I am officially training a brand spakin' new missionary- SCARY! I am definitely nervous and just to add to the stress it turns out every companionship at the jail is training a new missionary. So, basically we are really going to have to be on top of our companions in helping them to memorize the history material at the jail and then the lessons that President Vest wants them to have memorized. Hopefully I can be encouraging, and helpful to my new companion and help relieve the stress that she will most certainly be faced with, haha. Elder Brenchley, the Visitor Center director, is pretty nervous and stressed out about our predicament at the jail, seeing as it is the busy season and there is usually only one companionship at the jail at a time, and both companions are giving presentations simultaneously all day long. So, it should be an interesting twist with now having only one companion that can really give the history because the other companion won't know much, if any of the history, for the first few days or week. But, I have complete trust that the Lord is going to help all of us band together and continue having things run smoothly for our guests who come into the Historic Liberty Jail. I am excited to train a missionary. I think it will be a lot of fun. And I am super excited to learn just as much from my companion as she will hopefully learn from me. New missionaries are incredible they carry the spirit with them so strongly. I feel like they bring the Spirit even more into teaching appointments because they have to completely rely on the Spirit. They don't know much, aside from their testimonies of the gospel. They don't have lessons memorized or a rote way of doing things, they just go for it with the faith that the Lord will help them know what to say and how to say it. That's one of the biggest reasons I am excited for a new missionary, because miracles seriously happen with faithful missionaries who are fired up from the MTC :)

So otherwise our week was pretty slow. We tried to meet with investigators but appointments fell through, and on Friday I got to go on exchanges for the day to Kearney. It was awesome being able to go back and see some of the people I left behind. I got to see the S family. Even though J isn't baptized he has a home teaching assignment. At first I was a little skeptical about him being allowed to hold such an assignment, but as I talked to him, I've come to realize it is inspired. I've tried to figure out how we can help J see how much he needs to be baptized and what he is missing not having been baptized yet. When he told me he had the home teaching assignment he told me he kind of feels like he shouldn't have that assignment because he feels he can't fulfill his responsibilities since he doesn't hold the priesthood. Just the fact that he came to that conclusion on his own, really shocked me and helps me see that this is directing his eyes even more so towards the waters of baptism. On Saturday I went to the Trainer's training meeting. Basically where we receive instruction from our mission president's and his assistants on how to train our new missionaries, which went really well. Basically there are three main things that stood out to me. First, follow the missionary schedule exactly. Second, be exactly obedient in all things. Third, love and serve your new companion. Pretty simple, but vital in being able to fulfill our responsibilities and have the spirit in our companionship.

On sunday, sister Morris and I had a huge miracle. So, Br. R brought his less active wife, and son to church. And his son brought his non member wife, A. We talked with them in class and after church we asked A if she knew too much about the church. She said she had skimmed through the Book of Mormon, but didn't know too much about the church. She said its a little different compared to what she is used to, because she grew up Baptist. We asked her if we could come over and teach her about the church. She said she would like that, so we are seeing her on Saturday. Sister Morris was sad that I scheduled the appointment with A for after she leaves, but I tried to keep in mind that this would be a great opportunity for my new companion to jump straight into things and start teaching a brand new investigator from the very beginning. so we are really excited to see how things go with A. Otherwise, Sister Morris and I are teaching the first discussion to a lady named S and her 15 year old daughter C. We haven't been able to meet with them for a few weeks, but last week they told us to come back tonight, so I'm praying they don't bail on us again. I'm hoping with my new companion we can get the ward picking up a little more in helping in finding people to teach. We have so many members that are willing to help out in teaching in our investigators, but its hard to teach people that don't exist, lol! So we are trying to find new ways of how we can help the members see that there are opportunities around them to share the gospel with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. In sacrament on sunday we had the high councilman come and speak and he spoke on the hastening of the work of salvation. You know he said, " In Liberty the field is white and ready to harvest". That just kind of hit me in a different way. We recite Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 every day, but hearing him say In LIBERTY the field is white, just gave me a new perspective and determination to find those who are ready. Sister Morris and I haven't really found new people to teach this transfer, but it reignited that fire in me to know I am here in the Liberty area because this is a white field. There are people prepared, we just need the help to find them. Either Sister Morris and I can reap all day long by ourselves, or we can get the members to reap with us and do it in a few hours. Either way the work will move along, but it just depends on if the members truly want to help the Lord in His process of Hastening of the Work, or just watch it happen. It reminds me of Elder Uchtdorf's talk, are you sleeping through the restoration? What are we doing to help the Lord in His work of bringing souls unto Christ?

I love you. I pray for you everyday. Have fun at the lake, stay safe working and doing everything that you are engaged in back home. I am excited for yet, another adventure this transfer. This work is truly being hastened, the prophets and apostles have told us. They have extended the invitation to join in this great work. I love that I get to be so deep in this work at this time. It is amazing! I'm just glad to be a servant at this time. Let's square our shoulders to the plough and continue forward, united as members and missionaries, with a determination to serve Christ to the end.


Sister Luening

P.S. President Vest called me yesterday and wanted me to tell you that they figured out my release date. It will be Tuesday, November 25th. 

July 28, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!!

Well, this week has been crazy. I officially have P-day on Mondays again :) I'm super excited to be able to play sports on Mondays with all the other missionaries, wohoo!! So on Thursday I was supposed to get my new companion Sister Barrow straight from the MTC, but it turned out she was sick and so she was still at the MTC getting tests done at the clinic in Provo. That put a new spin on things. Needless to say, I was already really nervous and stressed that I was getting a brand new missionary so when Elder Moss (AP) told me that I didn't have a companion I started panicking a little bit. I asked what I was supposed to do and he just nonchalantly said, "Uh just find someone to go in a trio with." I asked who and he told me to choose. So needless to say there was no organization or planning made and so then I started worrying about what would happen to my area and investigators if I was in a trio in a different ward and had no time to work in my assigned area. I started to freak out and soon enough the senior couples began talking to elder moss and told them I have to have a companion because otherwise the Liberty Jail wouldn't be able to function...which by the way is very true. We are already down, technically half of our sisters since we half of them are new and can't take presentations because they don't know any of the history, which basically leaves one sister on shift and one senior couple to try and run the jail.
After an hour, president talked with the Assistants and they decided that Sister Heylen would be my companion temporarily until Sister Barrow came into the mission. Sister Heylen was actually being transferred from the Jail to the VC, so she grabbed some clothes and food and we headed back to Liberty together. Well, sister Heylen and I were together for a total of three days until sister Barrow came in to Liberty from the MTC on Saturday at 4pm :) The time I spent with Sister Heylen was awesome! We saw so many miracles. We found 2 new investigators and we put A, the R's non-member daughter in law, on baptismal date for August 23rd! It was 3 days full of miracles!
When Sister Barrow got dropped of at the Liberty jail we basically jumped straight into everything. We dropped her stuff at the apartment, went to dinner and then we taught S the message of the restoration. S has been struggling with excepting the Book of Mormon as scripture, so we decided to re-teach her the message of the restoration. We had Sister C come with us, and let me tell you, Sister C and S are two peas in a pod, so that was awesome. After the lesson, S said the Book of Mormon made more sense to her, and so she said she will read it and pray about it. We also found out that she has been tight on money which is why she hasn't been coming to church, she can't afford gas in her car, so Sister C offered S a ride to church. S came to church on Sunday, so that was awesome!

 Sister Barrow is from Herriman Utah, but grew up in Oregon. She is 19, but her personality and disposition actually reminds me a lot of myself. She isn't crazy all over the place, but she isn't really timid, she's calm, sweet, fun and confident. Its been a lot of fun being with her so far. She is super outgoing, loves to laugh, is going to school for vocal performance and has such a deep testimony. Actually she reminds me a lot of Zyanya. Her whole family is musically talented, in fact her dad sings in the MOTAB choir. So, she loves MOTAB! Seriously she only listens to MOTAB. I still haven't really been able to catch Sister Barrow up on our weekly plans because we've been busy busy busy which is awesome! Hopefully by tomorrow we will have a lot more order to things. Sunday was incredible! All of the talks were on missionary work. Brother B talked about his experience of working with the sisters to be reactivated, a youth speaker spoke on pure love, Br Bl our new ward mission leader spoke on how "the field is white all ready to harvest", and I spoke on conversion and true discipleship. It was such a powerful meeting and so many people cried throughout it. In fact by the time I got up there I had cried so much, I was a blubbery mess, luckily I only had 5 minutes to speak ;) Loved it!

I think it is incredible how much the Lord is truly preparing his children to hear the gospel. Yesterday we went to teach a lady who became our new investigator she kind of blew us off, so I decided we should try to see a guy named C we tracted into back in May. If you remember me talking about this guy basically he had been invited to come to church with his wife and child by his friend from the Liberty 2nd ward. He loved it and wanted to learn more, but we were never able to get a hold of him after that. Well, we went over and he was home and opened the door. Again, he just raved about how much he loved church and wants to have this church be his church. He said this is what he has been searching for his whole life, but his wife is baptist and at this point told him she won't change, so he is trying to respect her. He said she loved it to, but her parents and siblings have been really anti towards the church. But he said she doesn't have a very good relationship with her family and so its just a matter of time before they push too hard and she will no longer listen to them. We asked him if he got a copy of the Book of Mormon and he has read almost to the end. He said he knows its true. We left him with our number and told him when he and his wife are ready to come again the doors are open and we would love to see them. He said as soon as his wife gives the go ahead they will be there. Otherwise, we are just going to drop by monthly to see if any progress has been made. He is so prepared!!

The Liberty area truly is white and ready to harvest. I think about the last couple days and on one street alone where 4 member families live, the elders have 5 other houses of investigators they are working with and we have 3 houses with investigators. Seriously all on ONE street. How incredible is that?! With the ward split a lot of the members wondered how we would be able to keep the missionary work going. Well, let me tell you even though we have a very small densely populated  area to work, there are people prepared and they are everywhere :) It is amazing and I am excited to continue to help Sister Barrow find the vision of how great this place is and how much greater it will become as we find those who are ready.

Even the members are starting to get into the missionary spirit. Saturday night we had a last minute ward party put together and there were quite a few non-member families that came. It was a great success. I know that as each of us continue to deepen our conversion in the gospel we will see how much the gospel blesses our lives, we will gain a desire to share it and as we pray for opportunities to share the gospel and the courage to take hold of those opportunities sharing the gospel with friends, co-workers, and neighbors will be natural because we will be doing it out of sincere love for them. We are a doctrine of Christ people. We learn it, we live it, we love it and we share it with love through the spirit.

I love this gospel. This work is truly incredible! If we show the Lord our faith and our willingness to do his will we will find opportunities to share the gospel truths that bless us daily. Luke 22:32. I love you all! Thanks for all of your love and prayers it means more than you know! I have Monday P-day from now until whenever, so I hope to get an email next week :)

Love you all!!

Sister Luening

Sister Barrow and Sister Luening

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

July 8, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, I'm glad you got some humor from my last e-mail from my song choice during the storm, and we made it through another storm safe and sound last night (which just happened to be the one week anniversary of the last tornado). This time there was no tornado, but we had crazy thunderstorms and we were on Tornado watch. So sister Morris and I got permission to sleep at the old Liberty House with the rest of the sisters. Let's just say we were definitely prepared. We brought our 72 hour kits, journals, cameras and blankets. I figured since we were prepared a Tornado wouldn't only likes to prey on helpless victims. I'll have to show you a picture of our tornado preparations. So, I never realized how bad our apartment room really does smell until I got to the sisters house. Everyone and their dog smokes in the apartment building, so when you first walk into the apartment it is almost unbearable , but our apartment room smells a little better because we put glade plug-ins in the wall. But, I didn't realize how much that stench really clings to us and our apartment. Seriously, when we got to the sisters house with our bedding and we went to go to sleep our bedding smelled disgusting, and in the morning the sisters' room smelled like smoke because of us...woops!  So, in the future if I get lung cancer, we'll know why, haha!

Well, it sounds like everyone has been really busy. Chris has been slaving away up at Fort Mac. Mom, you've been busy as usual, so that didn't surprise me, but I didn't realize that you also had the calling of Young Women's Camp Director. Just another thing on your plate, right ;) Sounds like dad has still been busy with work and his calling with High Council.

Otherwise things this week have been pretty good. So, dad asked if I got a new mission president, and you bet I did. Actually , Sister Morris and I got to take him through the jail. He looked a little more than exhausted with everything that he has had to do in the last couple weeks with being thrown into the thick of things, but he really enjoyed the tour and shared his own testimony and thoughts on the experiences that Joseph Smith faced. It was great! Tomorrow we have interviews with President Vest, so it will be nice to get to know him a little more. Things with our investigators have kind of come to a stand still. We're still trying to work with S, but its been tricky meeting with her because she's been so busy. We were teaching C, the B's daughter-in-law, but now she is back in Wisconsin. Actually, our lesson with C last week went really really well. We taught the Restoration and her Less-active FiancĂ©, P, sat in on the lesson as well. After we read through the introduction to the Book of Mormon with them, P looked at us and said, you know there's things that you just read in their and explained to me that never really stood out to me like that before. It was awesome! The spirit was definitely not just teaching C, but P as well. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and to pray about it to know if it is true. The next day they came into the Liberty Jail, but they didn't say much as they came through. On the 4th of July we went to the MacDonald's to celebrate Independence day, and the B's, P and C came. We found out that right after going to the jail, they headed to the Independence Visitor Center (20 minutes away) and went through there as well. C, asked if we were free tomorrow night and if we could meet with her and talk with her privately. So the next day on Saturday we met with C. As soon as we had sat down, she told us that she had received an answer to her prayers, of course I got really excited right away, but within a few minutes she explained to us that the answer she received was to "not put a label on her relationship with God". That was not what I was expecting to hear. She's non-denominational, and she said she will still go to church occasionally with P, but otherwise she feels like she shouldn't make any huge changes at this point. She still wants to learn a bit about the church. She thanked us for being so understanding and willing to come teach her. She was impressed that we just spent time helping her understand the scriptures and build a greater relationship with God. Sister Morris and I have decided that God definitely has a plan for her, and you know maybe this is part of it. Maybe she just needs to search a little more to realize that this is it. C gave us her information so we can call her or e-mail her when we are on shift at the Jail in our teaching center. So, although she's not changing right now, I know that over time she will be brought back to the Gospel and have a desire to learn.

We also had zone training this week. A lot of it focused on Faith in Jesus Christ and in order to help our investigators and less active members progress, Faith is where we need to start. Its the building block of everything else and is what leads to the desire to act and make changes to align oneself with the Savior and his teachings. It was good to be reminded of that, and it was really neat as we were going through the training that I was able to receive a lot of personal revelation for our investigators and area. Over the last few weeks, even from last transfer sister McDonnell and I had been trying to figure out how we can help people develop a desire to change. Ultimately, it will come through their understanding of their divine relationship to their Heavenly Father and their Savior Jesus Christ. If we truly understand that relationship and the love that our Heavenly Father, we will come to understand more clearly his plan for us and how much that will bless us not just in the here and now, but ultimately in the eternities. As we come to understand those blessings and that joy, we will have more than just a desire, but a determination to follow our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ to the end. Obviously it won't always be easy, and things will come our way that might make our focus a little cloudy or hazy, but I know that as we continually turn to our Heavenly Father that we can be reminded of that eternal Plan of Happiness he has created for us, and we will come to know to a tiny degree just how much Heavenly Father has in store for us if we will, but follow His Son.

In coming to understand our Heavenly Father's plan, I feel just as Nephi felt as he explained the plan of salvation in 2 Nephi 9 and exclaims throughout it, " O the wisdom of god!...O how great the goodness of our God....O how great the plan of our God!....O the greatness and justice of our God!...O the greatness of the mercy of our God....O how great the Holiness of our God!" (vs 8, 10, 13,17, 19, 20). I love each of you and I hope that you too have come to know and understand the magnitude of our relationship to our God. That he is not just our supreme ruler and creator, but that He is our Father, and that as we strive to understand our relationship to him, as his sons or daughters, that we too will come to understand to a greater extent the importance of His plan and the blessings that will come into our lives as we follow His Son and  our Elder Brother, Jesus Christ.
I love you all and hope everything continues to go well back home. I pray for you and I'm glad to hear that the Lord is continually watching over you and protecting you.


Sister Luening

P.S. So, it turns out I may be coming home in January rather than the end of November because there isn't a transfer in December, which would have been the month of my release date. One of the sisters who came out with me called the mission office and asked them about it, but they said they weren't sure if we would go home a transfer early in November or just stay a few extra weeks until January. They should be figuring it out in the next few weeks. But, mom, I need you to please call the mission office and let them know that I will be flying into Kelowna, because I think on my original mission papers I put Spokane. but since I need to be released in Kelowna that would be most convenient, right? Sister Atwood who is in charge of all that said she needs to book flights in August, so she needs the proper fight information before then. So if you want to decide where you want me to fly into and then let her know, that would be great. Thanks!