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!

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