Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014, Kearney, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, things have gotten a lot better, which just goes to show that we need patience in all things and they will get better. Of course as Pres. Uchtdorf talked about, I could do a lot better, I am sure, about not just having gratitude once the trial is removed, but also throughout it every day.

So, on Friday we had a MIRACLE!!! We went to dinner at Jeff and Sam's and they had invited - and she told us they invited.... - and I quote, "3 Investigators". Ha-ha-ha, Sam is hilarious she literally called them investigators, and we were like wait, what?! You can't call them that!  YOU are an Investigator, lol! They are hilarious and I love them! So it turned out two of their friends bailed, but the one who came, was Charlie who had come to church on Sunday. So Sister Jarman and I decided we would teach the Message of the Restoration. Charlie was so open about answering questions and letting us know of experiences he has had in his life that have brought him to this point of wanting to find the right church.

The lesson went amazing and he accepted our baptismal invitation of May 24th J YAY!! It was awesome because Jeff even bore his testimony a few times and afterwards told us he feels again how amazing he felt the first time he had this lesson. Something else that was cool, was that after Charlie accepted the baptismal invitation., -  So, cool how the spirit is always there bearing witness of the truth of all things. - Sam piped up and started talking about how amazing Dalton's baptism was and showed him pictures. She bore her testimony about the importance of baptism and how amazing it is. It tickled me to death (that's what we Missouri folk say) that Sam was bearing her testimony about baptism as if she had already been baptized into the church.....and she hasn't, lol! They are awesome and we are excited to keep working with Charlie and to also help strengthen the Stringfellows’ testimony and desire to be baptized.

 Last night we actually stopped by and saw Sam and Jeff. For weeks Sister Jarman and I have been trying to figure out how to help them realize they need to get baptized and not procrastinate it. Well, last night we popped by and Jeff told us he had prayed to know if he should get baptized. Wait! What?!?! Did he just say that?! I was so excited!!! He told us he had a dream that confirmed to him that he needs to stop waiting and just do it already and get baptized. He told us he wants to sit down with us this week and specifically go over what he needs to do to get baptized, woohoo!! It was an answer to our prayers and we are so excited for him J

Now, here comes the sad part of this miracle....opposition in all things, right. Sam got really upset and emotional. Sister Jarman stepped outside with her and talked to her for a while. She knows she needs to find a place to live before either of them can get baptized but is all causing her a lot of stress and now she feels like we have brought this problem upon her because we specifically said that before they can get baptized they need to be living in separate homes.  We left last night feeling so torn about the whole thing and the scripture in Matthew 10:34, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword." really sunk into our hearts. For this divorced couple they have at times felt the peace come into their lives from the gospel we share and they live, but now Sam feels the painful sting coming from the sword of truth. We're excited Jeff wants to get baptized and is ready to put things in motion, but we felt like the worst people in the universe as Sam poured her feelings out to us in letting us know she feels WE are bringing challenges into her life. We're praying that she will feel peace in this overwhelming situation and find reassurance in the blessings she will receive as she strives to live all the commandments, even ones that she doesn't fully understand and that are challenging to live right now.

General Conference was AMAZING!!! I don't know what it was, but Saturday session I felt like I was on fire the whole time! Every talk was incredible. Overall, I think the conference reminded me to re-evaluate and double check that I am using my time of "probation" wisely. Am I really doing all that I can to be on the right path and be continually moving forward on it? I also felt this conference was very bold in reminding us of the responsibility we have to stand for truth and righteousness in a world that is decreasing in morals and in the Lord's standards. It also gave us great counsel and wisdom in how we can truly be disciples of Jesus Christ in word and deed.

Wasn't Priesthood session AMAZING!!! The member we live with told us how awesome it was, so Sister Jarman and I decided we would watch some of it during our studies. My favorite talks out of the Priesthood session was Elder Oaks' talk on Priesthood keys and how women also act under priesthood power through their callings. It was cool because he really showed the necessity of men and women for the priesthood to be fully exercised. I also really enjoyed Elder Donald Hallstrom's talk on "cyber profiling". It really put into perspective how vital each choice is that we make on this earth. It all comes down to which path we want to go down. Also, Pres. Uchtdorf's talk on addiction was really good as well.

 Ha-ha, Dad, much like you, I have determined that when I get home I am going to subscribe to the Ensign. It is such a blessing to be able to review the words of our prophet and apostles. Even in the days of King Benjamin (Mosiah 2:8) they sent out messengers to bring the words of the Prophet to all the people because "they could not all hear his words". I feel that is the same for us as we watch General Conference, we really aren't able to take everything into our hearts and minds. And so we are able to re-read over the General Conference addresses that the words may speak to us in our hearts and minds in different ways.

How lucky we are to be living in a period of time where we have a prophet and apostles to lead us in the right way and give us instruction from the Lord?! It is amazing! I feel so blessed to be a part of this work in helping others come to know and understand that Christ's gospel has been restored to the earth in its fullness. That as we partake in saving ordinances we are placed on a covenant making and keeping path that will lead us to eternal life. I'm so grateful for this gospel and for the ability we have each day to learn more gospel truths and come to know through revelation how we apply that knowledge into our lives. I know this church is Christ's church on the earth. I know that my Savior lives and that His atonement makes it possible for us to perfect our path towards Him.

I love you all and pray for you daily. I hope you reflect on the words we heard this weekend and are able to receive additional revelation of the things you can do in your lives to draw ever closer to our Saviour Jesus Christ. Have a great week!


Sister Luening

March 30, 2014, Kearney, Missouri

Dear Family!

Thanks for all the emails! I always love reading them and they are seriously the best part of P-day! Dad, thanks for the email and advice! And yeah, we figured out that we desperately need comp unity. I've noticed a trend that it is generally certain days of the weeks that we do well, and then other days we do terrible. So, I guess on those bad days, we need to try harder! 

 Mom, thanks for your email. Boy oh boy, I sure am "one lucky lady" those talks are like Gold! I only skimmed through some of them, so I'm excited to print them off and read them J!

This week went from the lowest of lows on my mission to the highest highs.... I know - weird! Monday was kind of hard. And we had a situation with a member that was the final straw with everything and we got home frustrated, angry and upset. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back and it broke it really good. We had the biggest mental breakdowns of our lives. Tuesday I received a blessing from Br. Shafer after dinner, and on Wednesday we met with the member to discuss the miscommunication on Monday that hurt us so much. The member took it all really well and told us he didn't mean to offend us, so we decided to move on. Also, we were finally able to bring to the Bishop's attention other concerns we had that were going on in the ward. So hopefully now that it has been brought to his attention it can be resolved.


On Friday, Sister Rogers took us out to meet some of her friends who she was delivering invitations to for her son's “court of honor eagle scout award” party! It was great being able to meet some of her friends. Then, in the evening there was a ward party at Bishop's property! It went so well! There were 160 people there in total and there were 17 non-members. We got to meet a family that the Shafer's invited to the ward party. They have told us for the last 7 weeks that they have been trying to work with them and our ward BBQ with a little training on food storage and emergency preparedness was the perfect introduction for them to the church. They are such a sweet family and we had a great time to talking to them. The Shafer's invited them for dinner and a games night in two weeks that they want us to come to. We're so excited for it J Also, quite a few less actives we've been working with came to the party, which was wonderful!


This week Sunday was the BEST DAY EVER! Normally, Church is super crazy busy for me and my companion, and we are always running around everywhere to stop and talk with LA (less-actives) who show up and Investigators, and so we leave church feeling exhausted and ready to have lunch. But this Sunday was AMAZING! For Fast Sunday this last Sunday, I had pretty much spent the whole week thinking of things I wanted to fast for, and it really helped me to be more focused throughout my fast; it was awesome! Also our Fast and Testimony Meeting was incredible. We had so many investigators, less-actives, potential investigators there! So cool!! Our investigator Sam got up and she bore her testimony, it was soooo cute! I love her!!

 We also had a special combined third hour because it was the fifth Sunday. The topic of Church seemed to be "Sharing the Gospel out of Love for Others". At the beginning of the year our ward was pretty pumped about our Ward Mission Plan and doing missionary work, but over the last few months, the hype has died. So, for combined meeting Bishop had some recent converts, members and myself do short 2-4 minute talks on miracles of missionary work. No doubt everyone mentioned the only reason the miracles happened is because of the love they have for one another. When I prayed for a specific miracle to share that I have seen while in the Kearney 3rd Ward, the miracle that came to mind was just the love that I have been able to witness in the members as I've entered their homes and discussed with them the people they are currently trying to share the gospel with. So my talk was on Love. The Spirit was so strong at church, and it was cool how we were all able to remind one another about the real reason behind missionary work and sharing the gospel. Ultimately, we aren't asking people to go out of their way to share the gospel with each other, we are inviting them to love their friends and family enough to offer them the same blessings that they have been able to enjoy throughout their lives. It was just awesome!

Also, Sam and Jeff brought a friend to church, his name is Charlie. After Sunday School, Sister Jarman and I went up and introduced ourselves to him and told him he could keep the Gospel Principles book if he wanted to. I asked if he had a church he normally went to and he said not really because he was currently looking around for a church to go to. We told him what we do as missionaries, and told him we would love to meet with him. Jeff and Sam told us if we wanted all of us could meet at his house on Sunday and we could teach him a lesson and answer any questions he had. He said yes! Wohoo!! New investigator.

I'm so grateful for the how much the Lord has placed unexpected missionary opportunities in our path throughout the day. Just today at Walmart and while emailing, we have run into non-members who recognize us as missionaries and so we stop and talk to them for a little while. It is neat making little connections with people everywhere we go. The cashier, Denise, at Walmart, she said she has had missionaries visit her over the years and she will always have a special place in her heart for missionaries. She doesn't live in our area, but we told her she should go to church on Sunday and check it out; she said she wants to. So hopefully she will. Also, after we helped with the food pantry move, one of the ladies, named Trish, who calls me "Sister Lavern" (no idea why, lol!), asked us some questions about the temple. It turned out the lady standing right beside me, was a member from the Kearney 1st ward and so we had a great discussion about the temple. It was amazing!

I'm grateful for the blessings the Lord extends to us, as we show our willingness and desire to work and help others. The Lord never lets us down. I've been trying really hard to be positive and see the positive one likes a whiner
J!  I love you all and I keep you all in my prayers. Lately, I've been reading the talk by Elder Ulisses Soares from the October General Conference last year called "Be meek and lowly of heart", its pretty good J! I love you all and I'm grateful for all the love and support you show me in your emails! I'm getting really excited for mother's day, even though it is a month away! Can't wait to see you all!!


Sister Luening


March 23, 2014, Kearney, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, transfers have come and gone, and I am sticking around in Kearney. I did find out my MTC companion is being transferred to the Liberty Jail, and I haven't heard from her or seen her in 5 months, so I hope I will be able to see her sometime soon and catch up with her. Also, one of the sisters, Sister Harward, who came into the mission 2 transfers after me, was just transferred to Kearney 1st ward, so we get to see her often and have P-days together. Her and Sister Harris are like two peas in a pod; they are hilarious!! Things here in Kearney are same old, same old. As for my companion’s and my relationship, I think this has been the hardest week for us, and I know there are a lot of external things in my companion's personal life that are causing her stress and then adding stress into our already struggling relationship, so it has been hard! But I'm pretty sure we're both glad that its P-day and we have a chance to get a break from things and unwind. It always comes just in time.


Otherwise, I think my finger is getting slightly better. The swelling and bruising has gone down quite a bit. But cool MIRACLE! So, Sister Jarman and I went back to the clinic last Tuesday for a follow-up, and we had the same nurse we had the week before. She asked us a bunch of questions about missionary service, and our daily routine. We started telling her about our morning studies, which got us into a conversation about the Book of Mormon. AND we ended up offering a Book of Mormon to her and she accepted it! It was awesome and she said she would check it out J Miracle! Also, then the doctor who came and examined my finger turned out to be a member of the Church and we told him what happened and he said he would follow up with her. It was so awesome! I just wish we could tract into her, ha-ha!

Also, guess what?! I got to meet Elaine S Dalton (used to be General Young Women's President). There was a fireside in Liberty and we got our investigator Sam to go and she was so impressed with her talk. It was perfect because Sister Dalton always does a phenomenal job of talking about our divine nature as children of God and also about the importance of covenants and the temple. Of course those things just happened to be the topic. After the devotional we stood in line and talked with sister Dalton briefly and got to give her a hug and take a picture, Sam said the sweetest things to her and Sister Dalton was just beaming. I can't believe how gorgeous she still is for her age; it’s crazy!!

Also, do you know what last Thursday was?! It was the FULL EQUINOX! So we tried balancing an egg on its end, and guess what...we didn't just balance one, but we balanced two!! Awesome!! 

Another random thing, I don't think I ever told you, but my last companion, Sister Morris, and I made up our own lyrics to the cup song on a movie called "Pitch Perfect" and our member video taped it and put it on youtube. I'll have to email the link to you so you can watch it, ha-ha! Don't judge, the lyrics are sweet, but the video is kind of lame, also I look like a train wreck on it, because it was at the end of the night and I was probably at the gained a lot of weight, blaaaaaaah! But, hey, since that video I've lost ten pounds, woohoo! And we won our weight loss competition against our zone leaders. They weighed in at their starting weight, lol!

Also, Bishop gave us another referral. His son's girlfriend came to Dalton's baptism 3 weeks ago and she started reading the Book of Mormon after that, and now wants to take the discussions. We get to teach her the message of the restoration tonight!
J So that's exciting, otherwise we had a pretty good week in the fact that we were able to make quite a bit of contact with less actives and finding out information about if they moved out of the area or not, so we're still working hard.

I know this church is true and I want to share a quote by President Uchtdorf that I put on my planner, that I have found a lot of strength in over the last couple weeks:

" There may be some among you who feel darkness encroaching upon you. You may feel burdened by worry, fear, or doubt. To you and to all of us, I repeat a wonderful and certain truth: God's light is real. It is available to all! It gives life to all things. It has the power to soften the sting of the deepest wound. It can be a healing balm for the loneliness and sickness of our souls. In the furrows of despair, it can plant the seeds of a brighter hope. It can enlighten the deepest valleys of sorrow. It can illuminate the path before us and lead us through the darkest night into the promise of a new dawn."

I know that God is real. I know that He is the only one who truly understands everything that is going on in our daily lives and what we are feeling. I know that He truly is the only one that we can go to, to pour out our hearts in gratitude and sorrow of things going on in our lives. I've come to the realization that when nobody seems to be there or it seems you can't tell anyone what is going on, you can tell Him. And as it says in James 1:5,".. [He] upbraideth not...", he will not judge nor criticize. He will be there full of understanding and love us unconditionally. I know our Father in Heaven loves each of us. I am grateful for this gospel and I am grateful for the opportunity I have to learn and grow while I am out here on my mission.

I love you and I pray for you! There are days I wish I could just sit down and talk with you face to face, but obviously that's not possible, ha-ha!  Don't worry about me, I'm doing well and I hope you have a great week!

Love always,

Sister Luening