Wednesday, January 22, 2014

January 6, 2014, Kearney, Missouri


Dear Family,

Holy Cow, Elder Luening, sounds like you had a close call....I think that might have been the spirit telling you not to keep walking, ha-ha! Glad you were protected. Mom, Dad, Kass, Scott, and Jeremy I'm glad you had a great New Year's. Sister Morris and I lit a sparkler, but otherwise we were told to do our normal missionary routine. So, we were outside until 9pm and then went to bed at 10:30pm and the next morning said "Happy New Year"! J

Another week has come and gone, and it is soooo COLD!! Today they actually shut down the Kearney schools because the temperature in Celsius is -20 outside with a -35 wind-chill!! CRAZY!! Even President Keyes told us not to be outside because within 8 minutes if your skin is exposed you will get frostbite, causing permanent damage. That includes your face. So it is cold!!!
Last week was hard, but we were diligent and we were blessed! All week we basically just tracted, and on Thursday we had such a huge miracle. The night before in our planning I felt like we needed to put a half hour break in between our studies and our weekly planning (which we never do), and after the break planned out the rest of our activities. Well the next morning about 10 minutes before we finished our studies, the sisters called us and said they were in a predicament and needed a ride somewhere. The ride we gave them ended up taking up that 30 minute time slot perfectly. We followed the rest of our plans that day and it was amazing. We happened to catch a less-active just at the right time at her house, and we were able to spend 30 minutes talking with her, and she said she just kept telling us that she appreciated the visit so much and really needed it. Then as we left and were driving down the road, an investigator we dropped a few weeks ago was riding his bike. We waved to him and pulled over. He expressed to us he still wants to keep learning and we were able to set up an appointment with him for this week. Then we stopped by another less-active and we just dropped in at the right time because she had just gotten off the phone, after being on hold forever and we were able to make some real break-throughs with her. So the way everything was timed and fell into place was incredible!!

The weather the last few days has been kind of crazy. But, we have been blessed to have been given a car for the whole month of January. On Saturday we had appointments fall through and we didn't have too much success tracting, but we worked hard and we knew blessings would come. On Sunday Church was cancelled because a snow storm had rolled in the night before, but we were encouraged by our Zone Leaders to still go out and work, but drive carefully. Sister Morris and I planned the night before that we would tract out a few apartment complexes. The first two doors we tried didn't want to hear what we had to say. Sister Morris already isn't a big fan of tracting, and so she told me she just needed a few minutes to get in the mindset. I gave her a few minutes to collect herself, and then we up to the second floor. Well, the first door we tried on the second floor, a Chinese lady answered. Her daughter and mother were there. We told her why we were knocking on her door and she invited us in. We had a great discussion with her daughter who was our age. She was an exchange student from China going to school in Arizona. Three of them didn't know very much English, but the daughter said when she goes back to Arizona in a few days she wants to develop her own faith and find out what her beliefs are. We left her with a card and she said she would check it out. We tried a few more doors but nobody answered. We headed to another apartment complex and said a prayer. The first door we knocked on, a lady answered and Sister Morris started telling her about the restoration. She said she was Lutheran and I asked her if she ever wondered what church was really Christ's church. She said she had. Sister Morris and I related Joseph Smith's experience and the Spirit was so strong. It was incredible!! We left her with a Book of Mormon, invited her to read and pray about it and asked if we could come back. She said we could, so we are going back on Tuesday. She was seriously a miracle and she seemed so sincere. 

 I'm so thankful for the gospel and for the spirit. I'm thankful that God's promises are real. That as we work diligently and move forward showing the Lord our faith that He will bless us. He won't withhold blessings from us. Sister Morris and I worked hard and even though we had some crazy and disappointing experiences along the way, we were able to find that one soul who needs the gospel and is ready for it. The other day I was reading in preach my gospel and there was a quote by Elder Dallin H Oaks that reminded me of our purpose as missionaries. He said, " We do not preach and teach in order to 'bring people into the Church....We do not preach and teach in order just to persuade people to live better lives....We invite all to come unto Christ by repentance and baptism and confirmation in order to open the doors of the celestial kingdom to the sons and daughters of God. No one else can do this".

As missionaries we are not just enabling others to live better lives and be happier, although that is a wonderful blessing from living the gospel. But we are here as missionaries to bring others unto Christ. That phrase "bring others unto Christ". It is as much literal as it is spiritual. The process they go through may be a spiritual journey at this time, but ultimately as they accept and live the gospel of Jesus Christ, God will "open the doors of the Celestial Kingdom” and they will literally be brought back into the presence of Jesus Christ and their Heavenly Father. What a miracle that is, what a blessing to be a part of. To be able to literally help others come to Jesus Christ! I'm so grateful for this gospel. I'm so grateful to be led and guided by men who hold the priesthood and truly are inspired in our day to lead us and direct us. Without the priesthood we would be lost. The priesthood is real, the gospel is true and as we follow its teachings in patience blessings come.

 I love you all and hope you have a great week! J

Love, Sister Luening

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