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!

July 1, 2014 Liberty, Missouri "Tornado!"

Hey family!

So first things first, I feel very blessed to be alive today and to have had the opportunity to have read another e-mail! Mom and dad, thanks so much for your e-mails. I really do love getting them every week. I always get a boost from them :) Oh and HAPPY CANADA DAY!! I was  really excited to hear that Germany is in the quarter finals for the FIFA match, and dad if you want to experience some humidity you should come to Missouri, I'm sure the plane ticket won't be as expensive as the one to Brazil ;) Speaking of Missouri, a tornado totally passed by us last night and it was the scariest experience of my life. I literally felt like I was in an end of the world Apocalyptic Movie, you seriously don't even know how terrifying this whole tornado experience was, so allow me to explain.

Yesterday was really really really humid. It was about 85F outside , but with the humidity it felt about 105 F. Needless to say, it felt like a sauna outside. At the end of the night once Sister Morris and I had gotten back to the apartment, we were just hanging out and then all of a sudden a thunder storm popped out of nowhere.  Thunderstorms here are amazing! The lightning never stops, so the sky just continuously flashes. Well, about 10minutes later it was like someone opened the floodgates in the sky, because there was no rain and then all of a sudden there was sheets of rain falling from the sky. The parking lot had a river of water flowing through it. I was looking out our glass door from our third story apartment, and Sister Morris wasn't feeling to comfortable about this storm, but after about 5 minutes she came out from hiding to watch the storm with me. Literally 2 minutes later we heard the tornado sirens going off, which is the scariest most awful noise in the world. We had no clue what to do. 
​Instantly, Sister Morris began to panic. She ran into the bathroom freaking out and I had no idea what we were supposed to do. There was no shelter at our apartment and we were on the third story, perfect tornado bait. We didn't know where we were supposed to go for shelter.  I tried calling the District Leaders, but they didn't answer. I called the Sister Leaders that live by the Liberty Jail (our old house) and they asked if we had the car.  Luckily we did, they told us to stay calm and to drive to the Historic Liberty Jail, because we had about 10minutes to get to the shelter at the jail. Luckily, the jail is only about a half a mile from our house.

Sister Morris was hysteric and I would have been too, except I knew I needed to get us out of there ASAP. I tried staying as calm as I could, and we grabbed our 72 hour kits, I didn't even have time to put on my shoes. We grabbed our stuff, and we locked the door behind us. We ran down the three flights of stairs. Once we reached the door to get out of the apartment, once again fear and panic set in. We had to get to the car, but the raging storm outside and the deafening wails of the tornado sirens haulted us. We took a deep breath, tried to get some courage and raced to the car. Instantly, my socks, shirt and pajama pants were soaked. We threw our stuff in the car, got in, started the car and started our way to the jail, I asked sister Morris to say a prayer as we drove. I have no idea what Sister Morris said in that prayer, but we were terrified and a half a mile had never felt so long in my entire life. We reached the jail, grabbed our 72hr kits and ran to the basement door. The sisters were waiting at the door to shuffle us in. We finally felt safe. We all went into the storm room, and finally the panic kind of sank in. I had been trying to act calm for the most part to get sister Morris and I to the jail, but now that I was there I wasn't sure if I should laugh or cry. I was kind of in shock about the whole thing, and wet and cold. Seriously from the time the tornado sirens went off to us getting safely inside the jail, was like a movie. It was terrifying!!

Once all of us were in the shelter, we texted our mission President to let him know we were all safely in the shelter, and we got a call from the Zone Leaders to make sure we were all safe in a shelter. We grabbed some hymn books and the sisters wanted to sing a hymn. I suggested we sing " Master the Tempest is Raging", hahaha! It seemed pretty fitting, so we did. It was very comforting having all the sisters together and within a few minutes we were  all at ease and laughing and joking about the scary predicament we were in. About 30 minutes later the storm passed and the sirens turned off. We were given permission to return to our homes. Of course, sister Morris and I felt a little uneasy about returning to our apartment, because if the storm came back we didn't want to go through all of that panic again, but we were told we had to return to our homes. We got to our house at about 10:20pm, but Sister Morris and I didn't fall asleep until about 12:30am. So, now I have experienced a tornado, I can cross it off my bucket list, and I hope I never experience that ever again.....unless I am directly by a storm shelter.

So, needless to say, Sister Morris and I are super exhausted and have scheduled in a nap for our P-Day today :) Something awesome though. Our new Mission President, President Vest is here in the mission now. It was sad seeing President Keyes go, but I am excited to see what President Vest is like. He is from Texas and we have interviews with him on July 9th. As a whole, this last week was pretty good. We were able to find two new investigators from member referrals. One of them we are actually teaching tonight. We are eating with the B's tonight. I love them. They are a recently re-activated couple, and they are so cute. They love sister missionaries like their own daughters. Their son and his girlfriend are visiting for a few weeks, and the girlfriend isn't a member, but wants to learn about the gospel so we are teaching the first discussion after dinner tonight :) We are really excited! 

Anyways, I hope everything keeps going well. Mom, don't get too sunburned out at the lake, and I hope you guys are staying cool. I'm bummed that you won't be at Kootenay Lake this year, but I do agree with mom, it will be much nicer for swimming. I love you all so much and I'll send you some pictures from our Tornado experience, I wish I could send you the video one of the sisters took of their escape out of their house running to the Jail shelter. It seriously looks like a scene from a movie with the panic, wind howling, wailing sirens, and screaming but that will have to wait until after the mission. Anyways, have a great week :)


Sister Luening

I took this pic this morning, do you see the "EXTREME ALERT" warning we got last night!? SCARY!!!!
All of the sisters in the storm shelter at the Historic Liberty Jail. In total there were 8 sisters at the jail waiting for the storm to pass.

June 26, 2014, Liberty, Missouri

Hey Family! 
Well, sounds like everyone has had a pretty good week. Things here in the Liberty Stake are going well and the Lord is truly hastening his work. On Sunday ward boundaries were changed to create a new ward called the Doniphan Ward. About a third of our Liberty 1st ward area and families were taken into the newly created ward. So Sister Morris and I spent most of our day yesterday reorganizing our map boundaries, area books and ward rosters. We are sad to see people go and some investigators no longer being able to work directly with us, but we know this is what the Lord wants and we are excited to get closer to some of our other members.
 Sister Morris and I had the opportunity to go to a baptism of a girl named M that we both taught together for a little while back in January and February in Kearney. The Kearney sisters were able to finally pick M back up and she had some pretty amazing personal experiences that testified to her of the need to get baptized, and so she was baptized on Saturday. It was so awesome to see her take this step in her life. While we were there we also got to see J S, another one of our former investigators. He's still going strong in the gospel, but not yet baptized. It was such a tender moment being able to sit with him. He really poured out his heart to me in letting me know how much of an impact I really made on him and his family. He told me how much he misses me. I seriously wanted to just give him a big hug. It broke my heart to know that he still hasn't taken the step to be baptized. I asked him when he would take this step and he sighed heavily and told me he didn't know. He said he knows he needs to, its just things are complicated. He asked me if I would come to His baptism when the time comes and if I would be one of the speakers. I told him absolutely, but that he better get working on it cause I'll only be around for 5 more months, haha. I can tell he has a lot on his plate, and that there a lot of things kind of stopping this from taking place, but I know if he will really put his faith and trust in the Lord and commit to this step that he will be blessed so much. So, I've decided my one wish on my mission is that I will be able to witness the baptism of J S before I go home.

But, with everything else going on this week, I have felt so blessed. Sister Morris and I have been so blessed this week in finding precious souls to help draw closer to Christ. It's neat how the Lord places us in the paths of those who are prepared if we will just ask and then follow the promptings of the Spirit. This is such a special mission. I feel so blessed to serve in the New Jerusalem. Over the last few weeks I have really experienced how much the Lord has been guiding me in this work. While out in the Liberty 1st ward area and at the Historic Liberty Jail it has been such a miracle to have the Spirit truly fill my mouth and guide me to know what to say. I had a neat miracle at the Historic Liberty Jail. In fact this miracle took place on my mission year mark last Thursday on June 19th. I can't believe I've already been out a year now, and I felt so blessed to have this miracle and be able to see how much I have truly grown since my first day in the MTC. So here goes...
 While sister Morris and I were on shift at the Historic Liberty Jail, Sister Jacobs and Sister Albrecht came in with a recent convert named C and his non-member friend named A. This was Sister Jacobs and Sister Albrecht's first time ever meeting A. I had the opportunity to take them through the Liberty Jail and the Spirit was so strong. It guided me in what to share about the restoration of the Gospel. It talked about Joseph Smith's experience and recited the first vision and how the gospel was fully restored to the earth. I knew when to ask questions and when to invite the sisters and C to bear their own testimonies. It was so neat. Normally, I would have been kind of nervous, but I could feel the Spirit place words in my mouth, and it was honestly like I didn't have to think at all, it was just right there and then coming out of my mouth. It was amazing!
 As I focused on our Savior Jesus Christ and the Love of our Heavenly Father the Spirit was so strong. I felt very strongly that A needed to be invited to be baptized and so on several occasions throughout the presentation I touched on the importance of baptism and how that draws us closer to Christ.  Sister Albrecht, Sister Jacobs and C throughout the entire presentation bore their testimonies at the perfect moment. Before heading to the reconstructed jail site, I played the Christus narration. It brought the spirit so strongly and we were able to talk about the power of prayer, which was a perfect segue in talking about Joseph Smith and the sacredness of this place because of the prayer he uttered while here. In the rotunda after listening to the revelations Joseph Smith received, the Spirit brought such a great peace into the room. A could feel it and talked about the calmness she felt. We sang "I know that my Redeemer Lives". I bore my testimony on the truthfulness of the gospel and how she can come to know for herself how much this will bless her life, again I mentioned baptism and hoped that the sisters would invite her to be baptized right then, haha, but they didn't. We went up into the exit room. The sisters and I talked with A for a while and the sisters invited her to learn more about the gospel. A accepted the invitation to learn, but I still felt prompted that she needed to be invited for baptism because the spirit was so strong. I bore my testimony and told A that this would truly bless her life just as the sisters said, and that there will come a point when the sisters will invite her to be baptized and she will have that desire to follow after Christ. Sister Jacobs asked A if baptism is something she would want. She said yes, and the sisters were able to put her on baptismal date for July 19th. It was incredible. I feel so blessed to have been guided by the Spirit and to have been a part of this pivotal point in A's life.
I'm so grateful for the Spirit and for how it directs us in our lives. It has done miraculous things for me in my life and especially here on my mission. I feel so blessed to have the knowledge of the gospel. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God called to restore all the gospel truths and the priesthood keys for us in our day. I know that my redeemer lives. Jesus is the Christ and it is by following His gospel path that we are able to become like Him and return to live with our Heavenly Father and our Families. I love each of you, I pray for you everyday, and I hope that you know how much I miss you, and how grateful I am to be here serving my Heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ. There is seriously no greater thing! I hope you all have a great week, and are continually kept safe in all you do!


Sister Luening

Celebrating my Year mark with some strawberry Short-cake and Sparkling Grape Juice!

June 17, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, this last week has been crazy :) To start off let me tell you it was transfers last week. Sister McDonnell and I thought we would be together at least one more transfer since we've only been together one transfer, but knowing my track record for companions and how for the majority of the time I only get a companion for one transfer, fate hit once again, and I'm back on a one transfer streak. So normally we get the transfer roster at about 9am, which we did get on Tuesday evening, but in the morning right after I sent my email to you guys, President Keyes called. He asked to speak with me, and he ended up telling me that he was calling to discuss the transfer I would hear about later that evening. He told me he wanted to discuss it with me so it wouldn't come as a shock. He told me that Sister McDonnell would be getting transferred and that my new companion would be SISTER MORRIS.....AGAIN!!!! I was super shocked, seriously you should have seen my face! I didn't say a thing for 10minutes while President Keyes told me about why we would be companions again. I was sad to know Sister McDonnell would be leaving, scared to take over an area I barely knew, and now excited to be companions with Sister Morris. It brought back fun memories we had together in Kearney.  He said in the three years he's been a mission president there has only been one other time where he has felt two missionaries who were companions previously should be companions again, crazy, huh! So, sister Morris is now at Historic Liberty Jail, which was her dream come true and serving in the Liberty 1st ward with me for her last transfer. President Keyes told me since this is sister Morris' last transfer next transfer I will be getting a new companion again, but I will more than likely be training, that was intimidating to hear. So the next few transfers should be interesting. But I'm excited to be back with Sister Morris, its been a fun week so far and its nice that we already know we get along, and are like best friends :)
So here's something else that is kind of funny. Mom, you asked if the package arrived. It did! So, while I was companions with Sister McDonnell I think just about every morning I would look at her and say "I think my package is going to come today". So for about a month we both eagerly awaited the arrival of my package. And guess when it came, the day after transfers, so Sister McDonnell never got to take part in my package arriving, oh well, haha! Sister Morris says thanks for sending all the Canadian treats :) Its like being together for Christmas all over again. Seriously though, thanks for the package it was so awesome!! The missionary medallion was really wonderful! I love it! The freezies, were a brilliant idea, and I was so excited to see home-made jam and I must say its just as delicious as I remember! Also, all the Canada Day stuff was hilarious to pull out, and you bet I'll be struttin' my stuff on Canada Day! In fact Canada Day this year is on my P-Day, so that will be great, and I'll be sure to deck out my companion with the celebratory things ;) The Canada Football was cute, and that giant  blow-up balloon you sent, you bet I blew it up, and the packaging didn't lie! It does blow up to four feet! CRAZY!!
Things have been going really well though! Sister Morris and I have been finding more people to teach. There's a 15 year old girl named C we taught once and her mom was away in Vegas. Last Saturday, we were supposed to meet with C to teach her the message of the restoration. We realized since we didn't officially have her mom's permission to teach her and since she's not an adult, we figured there might be a mission rule against going and teaching her in her home. We called up the zone leaders and they said we should probably get permission from her mom and not go in their home alone. So we headed to our teaching appointment and figured we would just talk to C about the situation on her doorstep. Well, guess what! Her mom, S, got home from Vegas, and so we were able to talk with her and she wanted to reschedule a time for us to come back and teach her with her daughter C. Now we're going to be teaching both of them. MIRACLE!! S, the mom, was taught last fall, but she got really busy with school and so the missionaries could never catch her at a good time, but we are excited to pick things up again and help them see how much the gospel will bless them as a family :)

So something funny, the sisters at the Liberty House, where we don't live anymore, have been begging me to run over to the house at 6:30am to make them do P-90X. Apparently, they want me to be their personal trainer, haha! So on Saturday, Sister Morris and I sacrificed 10 minutes of our precious sleep, got up early and headed to the house. I kicked their patooties! We did Plyometrics, it was actually a lot of fun doing it together as a group! They want me to come on a daily basis for morning exercise, but we'll see if that happens, I might alternate it and go over there every other day, and just mainly workout at our place. But, its fun getting the whole house back into shape ;)

Dad, I hope you had a great Father's Day! I'm sending a card in the mail today, since I didn't have time last week to finish writing in it. So expect a card in the next few weeks. Also, HAPPY BIRTHDAY JEREMY!! You're 20 years old, that's crazy!! I also have a card in the mail for you. Just know I love you and am super proud of how hard you are working! You're awesome!! Well, I miss you all! I hope you are all doing well. I can't believe how many people seem to keep passing away in the ward. Its sad to hear about, but I know that they are enjoying a state of peace and rest. I love this gospel. I love serving at the Historic Liberty Jail. Over the last week, I have been able to receive my own personal revelation of different lessons that can be learned from the Liberty Jail experience and to help you understand what I teach and testify about everyday in that sacred Historic Liberty Jail, I would invite you to read the talk by Elder Holland entitled " Lessons from Liberty Jail". It is an amazing talk and can really help us deepen our testimony of the Prophet Joseph Smith, the love our Heavenly the Father and the depth and power that comes from the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ.  
Love you all!

Sister Luening

P.S. If you want to read it, here's the link to