Monday, May 12, 2014

May 6, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Wow! It sounds like everyone has had quite the week with the moves and church functions going on. But, I'm glad to hear that the hand of the Lord has been present in all the craziness and business of your weeks to have helped you be successful in it all :) And, I almost had a heart-attack when I saw the pictures Chris emailed to me of him and Madisen. I literally thought they were engagement photos, haha! then again, I still think if they do get engaged that they should use them as engagement photos because they were beautiful! SKYPE!!!! Yup we get to skype this week and dad is right that this will be a tri-skype event! Mother's day, mom's Birthday and my birthday! It is all very exciting :) And I am so excited to see everyone. I was nervous a few weeks back around Easter when I got kind of homesick that skyping this time around would be a lot harder on me than last time, but now I feel at ease about everything and I'm just excited to see all of your faces :)

Well, I have officially been TRANSFERRED!!! I am now serving in the Liberty 1st ward :) I'm not going to lie it was really hard leaving Kearney! I cried in the car on the way to transfers. It really did become my home here in Missouri over the last 6 months and it was hard leaving all the wonderful families and investigators there. But I've adjusted to this area really well. My new companion is Sister McDonnell. She is awesome! She is from Vancouver Washington and juts finished being trained by my first trainer. So its been a lot of fun being companions with her because we do everything in a very similar way. It was like instant companion unity and we communicate with each other really well :) Its been awesome and she has been great at filling me in on all of the things about this area and our investigators and members. Hopefully I will have it all down soon! I am living in a house right behind the Historic Liberty Jail with 3 other sets of sisters.

 I AM SERVING AT THE HISTORIC LIBERTY JAIL! That's right the same place Joseph Smith, Hyrum Smith, Lyman Wight, Caleb Baldwin, and Alexander McCrae were held prisoner from December 1, 1838-April 6, 1839.  A very humbling and trying 4 and a 1/2 months for those great men, but also a time that refined those men into the greater leaders and witnesses of the church that they needed to be to really solidify the foundation of the early restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It has been so awesome to be able to learn of all the events of the early saints here in Missouri and of the rumours and persecutions that led up to those men's arrest into the Liberty Jail. the historic Liberty Jail really is a sacred site and there is such a strong spirit that resides in the dedicated building. The Lord has really blessed me with a sharp memory. I only had about an hour to memorize an hours presentation worth of history, but I managed to do it. My first day at the jail I took a few presentations with Sister McDonnell my fabulous new companion, and then the second day I took my first two presentations by myself. I love being back at a Visitor Center! Its so nice to be able to meet so many different people and be able to share my testimony with them.

Yesterday, I had a miracle! In the last ten minutes before our shift ended. A couple walked in, I could tell they weren't members of the church. they obviously and rightfully looked confused as they walked in the building expecting to see and old abandoned jail and rather walked into a nice lobby with pictures of Christ on the wall. I introduced myself to them and asked them what brought them in today. They inquired if this was where they could see the jail. I told them it was and that this was church owned property  because we consider the jail very important to us because our first prophet was held prisoner here for a time. Of course the expression on their faces were very quizzical. I asked them if they would be interested in hearing the history of the jail and how our prophet came to be a prisoner here for a time and they responded that they would love to hear what I had to say. So I took them into them into the room and I found out that they were a baptist couple heading to their home in Arkansas. I started them off at the panel which shows pictures of the Original Liberty Jail and talked about the logistics of the jail. Then I told them about Joseph Smith by bringing them over to our panel all about Joseph Smith. I told them of Joseph smith's experience in looking for a church to attend, and then I recited the first vision. As I recited in Joseph Smith's own words the vision he saw, the Spirit filled the room. After I finished explaining his experience and bearing my testimony, the woman said "Whoa, that gives me chills".....SPIRIT!!! It was so awesome! I told them how the church was organized through Joseph Smith under the direction of Jesus Christ. I also explained the Book of Mormon to them. It was great!

After sharing the history of the persecution of the saints and the unlawful arrest of Joseph Smith and his companions, I took them to the rotunda where the reconstructed jail stands. they listened to the narrations of Joseph Smith's experience in entering the jail and also his experience while there. Including the revelations given to him found in Doctrine and covenants section 121-123. The spirit was so strong as the narration played the response of the Lord to Joseph's plea for help for all the suffering saints and their desperate situation. This couple was so touched by the things that these men went through. After the presentation I asked them if they would be interested in learning more about the church. I told them I could send missionaries like myself to their house to discuss more. Haha, they said, "wow! you mean they will send YOU all the way to Arkansas to see us?!", unfortunately they declined the offer after realizing I wouldn't be able to go to them in person. so, I asked them if they would be interested in a copy of the Book of Mormon. they said they would like a copy and that they would check it out. I really hope that they do read and pray about the Book of Mormon. They were so open to all types of religion. In fact they even told me they don't like to say they are Baptist because titles segregate everyone and ultimately what it comes down to is that we are all Christians. I really like that :)

Well, I have really enjoyed my time so far at the Liberty Jail and I am so thankful for the spirit that has been with me to lead me and guide me in the things that I can personally share with those who enter into this sacred site. I have been guided and directed in the experiences I have shared with them and in the testimony that I have gained myself that this church is Christ church restored on the earth again through the prophet Joseph Smith :) I'm so grateful to have a companion to help me readjust to the time crunch I am now facing for proselyting in our area. I used to have the whole day and now we only have about 3 or 4 hours if we are lucky after we serve at the Liberty Jail. But, Sister McDonnell has been teaching me the important lesson of "being where your feet are!". Basically when we are in the jail not worrying about the things we will need to do after shift but dedicating all of our heart might mind and strength to the Liberty Jail while we are there and then when we leave focusing and devoting all of our time and attention to the Liberty 1st ward area. It been a lot of fun so far, and I can't believe how fast the days are flying by being here. I'm so grateful for how my testimony is being strengthened through all the experiences I am able to have on my mission. I'm so thankful to be able to serve in this sacred site at this time of my life. The spirit in that dedicated building is so strong and my testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and more importantly of my Savior Jesus Christ is being deepened every day! I love this work. I love this gospel. I know that this gospel is led by the Lord Jesus Christ. This is His church! I love you all and I can't wait to see many of you on mother's day! I know the Lord hears our prayers and is aware of each of you at this time in your lives. I love you! Have a great week!


Sister Luening

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