Wednesday, May 28, 2014

May 27, 2014, Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family,

Thank-you so much for all the emails. I love hearing about your week and of the testimonies and gratitude each of you have for the gospel in your own lives. It truly is amazing!! This week was full of Miracles, aside from Saturday, haha! Saturday was hard on Sister McDonnell and I. It was our full proselyting day and only 3 people opened their doors and talked to us the whole day we were out. So we went home at the end of the night kind of bummed, and then on top of it we found out that our 17 year old investigator named K, who isn't really allowed to meet with us, now her parents have told her she isn't allowed to come to church until she moves out of the house in August. It was a low blow and hit Sister McDonnell pretty hard. In the last hour of the night as we reflected and pondered on our day, I thought about what these low experiences do for us. As we laid in bed, I mentioned to Sister McDonnell, how blessed we are to have these experiences.
I hope the way I explain this makes sense.  I know that K has a strong spirit and that although at this time she is faced with this trial that she will eventually be able to receive and accept the gospel. I thought about how just like in Adam and Eve's experience they recognized the necessity of experiencing trials so they could really see how sweet the good experiences are. I feel the same is with us as missionaries. The devastation that came to Sister McDonnell and I when we found out that K couldn't meet with us, really reminded me more deeply of what a blessing the gospel is in our lives. It deepened my determination, conviction and desire to want to share it with everyone. If we were successful all the time and teaching all the time, I think that I would get into a pattern and would slightly lose sight of how amazing this gospel truly is. But when I see people reject it or lose that opportunity in their lives, it pierces my soul and causes me to wonder,why don't they just accept the gospel. Don't they know its going to bless their lives. It helps me to regain the vision of what the gospel can do for others, and helps me to re-enforce what my purpose is here serving the Lord as a missionary. Through the hard days I am able to recognize how sweet the experiences really are when people accept the message of the restored gospel and bring it into their lives. 
 Well, I feel pretty blessed. We only really seemed to have one hard day last week, and many great teaching experiences out in our area. Last week in my email home, I mentioned that we were hoping our investigator S could come to the Relief Society Activity. Well, after exercising our faith with 2 straight hours of calling everyone in our ward on our P-Day, miracles did not cease and we were able to find people to drive us and S to the activity as well as to other appointments we had that night. The activity was really great, it was a poor turnout only about 9 sisters came, but it actually was really good for S because she was able to comfortably mingle with all the sisters and built some great relationships with them. S really seemed to enjoy herself and later on Saturday we invited her to come to church, and guess what! She came to church! Normally, she would have gone with her grown daughter to the Liberty 2nd ward, but with our invitation she decided to come to the proper ward. She really enjoyed it and she signed up to bring something to the "munch and mingle" after church next week, and she signed up on the missionary calendar to feed us, haha! We were kind of worried about her coming to church because we were asked to teach the Beehive class. In Beehives we taught about Testimonies and how to strengthen testimony through praying with faith and reading our scriptures for revelation. It went really well and luckily because we had prepared for the lesson, when I was asked by the Bishop to bear my testimony on scripture study in place of the youth speaker in sacrament meeting, I was directed by the Spirit what to say.

Also, on Sunday, we took Laura Blanch tracting with us. She has her mission papers in and is waiting for her call. The day before, on Saturday, we had taken Sage, one of the young women with us, and one person actually talked to us, so it wasn't as successful as we had hoped. But, on Sunday, we had a miracle with Laura. All day we had been praying that the street we had decided to tract would produce some sort of miracle. Well, the third door we knocked on a guy in his late 20's answered. His name was C and as we introduced ourselves, he just kind of smiled at us and said, "Oh, ya I know you're church. " We asked how he knew of it and he said that he had actually gone to our church for the first time earlier that day. We were so shocked and asked him what he thought of it. He said he had a blast, and that he loved how family oriented it was. He said he went to the Liberty 2nd ward because his friend, Br. Edwards, had invited him and his wife to come. So they both went and had also brought their two year old son. He had a few questions for us and as we answered them for him, we asked if it would be okay if we set up a time to teach him and his wife more. He said he would love that. He told us he wasn't normally the church going kind of person, but that he would love to come again. We asked about his wife, and he said that she was Baptist and would maybe be more hesitant about learning more, but that he would talk to her. He was super friendly and it was such a miracle that we were guided to his house, on the same day that he came to church for the first time. So cool! We're excited to see what happens with C. We'll find out this week if we do have the blessing to teach him, or if the Liberty 2nd elders will be given that opportunity. I'm just excited for C and his wife to experience the joy and blessing of the gospel. 
On Thursday, we met with our investigator L for the last time as she went back to Brazil on Saturday since her student exchange program was finished. We shared with her some verses out of 2 Nephi 4 to help her remember the testimony and feelings she has felt here and that it will be hard for her going to Brazil, but that as long as she leans on the Lord for strength that he will help her and direct her closer to the gospel and lead her to her goal of baptism. On Friday, we had a great discussion with our Investigator R over the phone. We are teaching R through teaching center in the Liberty Jail. He lives in Washington and we call him every week. Well, this time our conversation was very interesting. So we called him and asked him about the usual, you know how his week has been and everything, and then all of a sudden we heard someone say to him, "welcome to the temple. What brings you hear today?" We heard some mumbling in the background and then someone said" are you meeting with the missionaries?" we heard R explain to them that he was talking to us on the phone, and after saying that we heard a man pipe up and say" well, that's wonderful, I met with missionaries 27 years ago and it blessed my life". Sister McDonnell and I were in shock and disbelief. Then all of a sudden the phone went dead.  We were so confused. He knows about the temple?! What is he doing at the temple. So, Sister McDonnell and I called him back and asked him about where he was. He explained to us that he went on and saw a picture of a temple and later discovered there was a temple nearby, so he decided he wanted to come and check it out. We asked him if he ran into people he knew and he said that they were complete strangers, but very friendly. I think that is so cool, that whoever those members were, saw him and followed the promptings of the Spirit to say hello and bear their testimonies to him.

We asked R what he thought about the temple and he said just sitting on the grounds he feels so peaceful and happy. He again mentioned that he wants to have this feeling for the rest of his life. We taught him the rest of the Plan of Salvation and we just felt very prompted to help him recognize that the peace and joy he feels as he learns about the gospel is just a sliver of what he will feel in the eternities living with his family and with Heavenly Father. He just seemed so amazed and over-joyed about that. At the end of our discussion he told us that he is really beginning to know that all of this is true and that he just wants to keep learning more and more. He said this is bringing him so much hope and happiness into his life. He also, told us he wants to tell his parents about this amazing knowledge that he is receiving. I feel so blessed that Sister McDonnell and I have the opportunity to teach R. He is so prepared and has a great desire to learn and apply the gospel into his life. When the Lord says that we are to come forth with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, the way R feels and acts is the definition of those two words. He is incredible and I am so grateful to be a tool in the Lord's hand to be a vessel for the Spirit to flow through and to bring him that greater light and peace.

I love this gospel! I'm so grateful for the love that our Heavenly Father has for each of us. I know that he knows us perfectly and what we need in every moment of our lives. I know that as we sincerely pray to him that He will be able to bring us the comfort and blessings we need at that time in our lives. The answers don't always come right away, but I know that through the hard times as we try to look at it through an eternal perspective that we will be able to see the blessings and miracles amidst the trial we are being faced with. I love my Saviour Jesus Christ, I know that through his infinite love and atonement he truly is able to take our darkest night and help us to direct our attention on the brightest star and allow us to feel and see the brilliant glow of the brightest star. I love each of you and I pray that you will have a great week. "Remember God in every thought, doubt not, fear not. "


Sister Luening 

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