Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, its been another great week in Zion! I'm glad to hear that vacation was fun and relaxing. Over the last week, in going to various teaching appointments I have really been able to feel the Spirit working through me in answering different questions that Investigators have had. I have been led by the Spirit in what to say and how to say it with clarity. I have felt truly blessed. S got really sick this week and asked the elders to come and give her a blessing, by Sunday she was feeling good enough to come to sacrament meeting, but was completely exhausted by the end of the meeting. So she went home. I was excited to see her exercise her faith in coming to at least sacrament meeting considering that just a month ago, if she wasn't feeling well, she would have used that as an excuse not to come. So we are proud of the progress she is making. The ward is also getting involved in helping her with a service project having to do with organizing her house. So, I'm really grateful for all the efforts the ward is making in trying to reach out to her. A, has been doing great. She is still on date to be baptized on the 23rd and she is soaking everything in like a sponge. She comes to church having read the R.S lesson ahead of time and in the Book of Mormon over the last two weeks she has read from 1 Nephi all the way to the Book of Helaman. She is on fire! Its awesome. An another investigator we have been teaching is still progressing. We taught her the plan of Salvation. We brought a member with us who lives just down the street from her and has a daughter the same age as her daughter. They seemed to connect really well and it was a great lesson. Our member, did an awesome job in helping to answer some of An's concerns and in inviting the Spirit into the lesson. It was great! Sister Barrow did a great job as well and there was definitely unity in our teaching. Otherwise, things are going well. We managed to have a few less actives come to church as well whom we visited with and invited to come, which was great! All of the investigator we found last week, dropped off, so we are back to finding again, but I feel very blessed because of the teaching opportunities we do have with the investigators that are progressing. This week is Zone Conference and I am super excited for that. I love zone conferences. Last week we had zone training. The trainings were wonderful and the zone leaders asked specific missionaries to bear their testimony at different points in our training. Those testimonies brought the Spirit so strong and I think my favorite phrase that I took from the testimonies was from Sister Hansen. Something that was a large focus in our trainng was the doctrine behind baptism. Our purpose as missionaries and what baptism does for those we teach. Sister Hansen talked about the sacred privilege it is to be a missionary. She mentioned that some people come out on missions feeling like they need to have a good "sales pitch" for why people should become Mormon, and she said, "We are not selling the gospel! We are teaching God's children about their Father in Heaven." It was great being reminded about creating a vision for our investigators. Seeing where they are now and seeing where their father in Heaven would have them be. An eternal perspective is key to helping our investigators progress in the way that they need.

I love this gospel. I'm grateful for the joy I feel in the knowledge I have gained through our Heavenly Father's plan. He didn't just have a goal in mind for us and said good luck, hope you make it. But that he laid out a specific plan with a pathway of steps to follow to guide us back to him, and that is The Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am so grateful for it. I am grateful for the opportunity I have to serve at the Historic Liberty Jail and to remind people of the eternal perspective we must have in our lives. That the challenges and difficulties we face, if we hold strong through them and endure well that we will receive the fullness of joy our Father in Heaven desires for us to have. I'm blessed to be a missionary. Thanks for all your love and support! Have a great week. Keep searching out the missionary opportunities. Dad, good job on inviting mom's aunt to church. That's all we can do, is invite. I love you all! Keep an eternal perspective for yourselves and those you see.


Sister Luening

August 4, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Family Camp!! Sounds like you are really enjoying your time up at Champion Lake :) 120 POUNDS OF BERRIES!! Holy cow! I was waiting for you to say that you were kidding, but the joke never came. I wonder if the berries will be that bounteous next summer. But, now we know what time to plan to go to champion lake next year. The other day I was telling someone that I am just really glad that I am not serving in Michigan....the land of 1000 lakes. It would be mighty tempting to just "fall" into the water, just kidding I wouldn't , but still the water would tease me daily. So what is Jocelynn's boyfriend like? Do they seem serious, do you think it is going to lead down the gospel path towards important covenants anytime soon? ;) I'm glad everyone is enjoying themselves. So what is Jeremy up to these days, I caught that he got a new job, what is it? Also he's doing seminary?? Glad to hear he is keeping busy :)

Well, things this week were AMAZING!! The Lord truly blessed us as we went out with faith knowing that the Lord has prepared souls to join in His Gospel. As we went out and talked to as many people as we could we found 3 new investigators :) It was awesome! The Lord really provided for us this week. Sister Barrow is so awesome! She is always up for going out to work and doing everything. When we tract she always opens her mouth and proclaims the gospel and invites others to draw closer to Jesus Christ. Seriously, she came pre-trained into the mission field. She is bold, and I love it. This week we invited S and A to be baptized. I felt a little weary about inviting S to be baptized, but it didn't come as a surprise when we invited her. S, hesitated and said she needs to learn more before she will commit. We asked her if she's been reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, she said she hasn't been reading it, but she'd been praying about it. She said she got the feeling she needs to read the Book of Mormon, but forgets to. So we have been texting her every morning to read the Book of Mormon and so far she has been :) We taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Her recent convert daughter K, was with us and testified to S that overtime she will come to know that the church is true. It was awesome and S came to church this Sunday. So she is still progressing and now she knows our goal for her which is great.

We taught A, who is on baptismal date for August 23rd, the Word of Wisdom. She committed to live it and the only thing we need to watch is that she drinks one cup of coffee in the morning, but she was positive that she could substitute it for hot chocolate. She is doing awesome and she has read over half of the Book of Mormon so far. She has been taking notes as she has been reading and writing down questions, we asked if she had any questions for us and she said she doesn't because as she continues reading her questions are answered in what she reads. She said she knows the Book of Mormon is true. She also watched the 20minute restoration video and she said she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet of God because of how she felt as she watched it. She is so awesome. She came to church on Sunday and we are meeting with her on Wednesday, we need to start meeting with her twice a week so we can teach her everything she needs to learn before she is baptized, but I know as she keeps learning and has the support from her family that she will definitely be baptized on the 23rd, I am so excited for her :)

We also invited An to get baptized. We taught her the first lesson with a member, and it went really well. An, however also was a little hesitant, but she said she will read the book of Mormon and pray and if she comes to know it is true she will be baptized. Oh and here is a HUGE miracle! Yesterday, on sunday, we only had 30minutes with the car, so we decided we would try to contact a potential investigator. It was actually the non-member parents of a young newly married couple I served around in Independence. We went by and the mom was home, and we found out that her husband passed away a month ago. We told her about eternal families and God's plan for us. We asked if we could come and share more with her, so we are going to come back on sunday. I felt so bad when we left because she was crying, but we gave her a hug and hopefully helped her see more hope than she had before. We're excited to really helping her find greater peace and knowledge in the eternal plan and purposes God has for us.

Otherwise, here is a good laugh for you. Embarrassing moment for serving in Liberty 1st ward. So, back in May when I was with Sister McDonnell we discovered that she had been giving people the wrong phone number to contact us. She had been giving the wrong number to people for the whole four and a half months she had been here. Well, the other day, Sister Barrow and I, went to go see a investigator we found at the beginning of the week named A. He had met with missionaries before, he's black, and he has been cancer free for a year. We went to teach him with some members and when we showed up he was on his porch ready to go somewhere. He proceeded to tell us he tried calling us three times, but his call kept going to a 10 year old boys cellphone number, so he tried the number again to make sure it was right. I guess the mom of this little boy got really mad and creeped-out so she called the cops on A, and the police traced his phone number and showed up to his house to make sure he wasn't a pedophile. I was like no way, so I double checked what our number is in our cell phone. Well, you bet I felt horrible when I realized that the first 6 digits were right, but then I gave him the last 4 digits of my old Kearney phone. So in my mind I had combined two phone numbers together which resulted in him calling a 10 year old boy and almost landing him in jail....WOOPS! Seriously, all day I felt so bad! Good thing is A wasn't furious and he is still willing to meet with us, phew.

Some of the less active members we are working with are also progressing, Sister M came to church and bore her testimony which was awesome. She told us she really feels like her faith is increasing and that she is recognizing the testimony she has. We shared the Mormon message "because of Him" and talked about the atonement of Jesus Christ and what the does for us in our lives in helping us to draw closer to Christ. I guess the very next day the elders showed up to her house and they also felt prompted to talk about the atonement, so Sister M's faith is being strengthened even by just seeing how the Lord really wants her to listen to the things we are teaching her and apply them into her life. It's been awesome seeing her progression in the last few weeks.

I really felt so blessed this week. The last week was the best week we've had in two months. It was incredible. I know it is because I have a companion who is just as eager and excited to go as I am. We push each other to be better and work our hardest and it is awesome. We go out knowing that the Lord will provide us with miracles and people to teach, and it happens. In preach my gospel it says "faith is having complete trust and confidence in the Lord". I know that is true. I have seen that as Sister Barrow and I have complete confidence in the goals we set for the day and just go out knowing that the Lord will give us his promised blessings as we work with all our heart might mind and strength that he has provided us with the miracles of even superseding our goals. It has been amazing!

I love the gospel! I am excited to keep working with Sister Barrow. Training has been a breeze with her, and all the new sisters in the Jail have memorized the information they need to share when they give tours at the jail. Sister Barrow is doing awesome on her memorizations. Its funny, last sunday, her second day out, she felt overwhelmed with everything she needed to learn, but she has picked up super fast and is doing awesome. I'm definitely pushing her, but at the pace she can handle, so its great! She is a lot faster with memorizing than I was. Hopefully we have another great week like we had this last week. I'm excited to keep serving with Sister Barrow, and our members are getting more involved in the missionary effort as well. Things are going great! Loving it out here everyday :)

I love you all and hope that you are all safe! Keep enjoying the lake! I hope the mosquitos aren't too bad for you. Sister Barrow is getting eaten alive out here and she's allergic to them, so if you look at Laurel's legs, that's the same way my comp's legs look. She has 30 mosquito bites that have turned into giant splotches, haha! But. we love it! It means we're working hard. I'm doing great!

Love You All <3

Sister Luening

July 22, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family,

Well, this has been quite the week, but a great week. Mom, you are right on the ball with knowing that transfers are this week. All I have to say is I should know by now that every transfer has a little twist to it. No mom, its not another "recycled" companion, haha! I am officially training a brand spakin' new missionary- SCARY! I am definitely nervous and just to add to the stress it turns out every companionship at the jail is training a new missionary. So, basically we are really going to have to be on top of our companions in helping them to memorize the history material at the jail and then the lessons that President Vest wants them to have memorized. Hopefully I can be encouraging, and helpful to my new companion and help relieve the stress that she will most certainly be faced with, haha. Elder Brenchley, the Visitor Center director, is pretty nervous and stressed out about our predicament at the jail, seeing as it is the busy season and there is usually only one companionship at the jail at a time, and both companions are giving presentations simultaneously all day long. So, it should be an interesting twist with now having only one companion that can really give the history because the other companion won't know much, if any of the history, for the first few days or week. But, I have complete trust that the Lord is going to help all of us band together and continue having things run smoothly for our guests who come into the Historic Liberty Jail. I am excited to train a missionary. I think it will be a lot of fun. And I am super excited to learn just as much from my companion as she will hopefully learn from me. New missionaries are incredible they carry the spirit with them so strongly. I feel like they bring the Spirit even more into teaching appointments because they have to completely rely on the Spirit. They don't know much, aside from their testimonies of the gospel. They don't have lessons memorized or a rote way of doing things, they just go for it with the faith that the Lord will help them know what to say and how to say it. That's one of the biggest reasons I am excited for a new missionary, because miracles seriously happen with faithful missionaries who are fired up from the MTC :)

So otherwise our week was pretty slow. We tried to meet with investigators but appointments fell through, and on Friday I got to go on exchanges for the day to Kearney. It was awesome being able to go back and see some of the people I left behind. I got to see the S family. Even though J isn't baptized he has a home teaching assignment. At first I was a little skeptical about him being allowed to hold such an assignment, but as I talked to him, I've come to realize it is inspired. I've tried to figure out how we can help J see how much he needs to be baptized and what he is missing not having been baptized yet. When he told me he had the home teaching assignment he told me he kind of feels like he shouldn't have that assignment because he feels he can't fulfill his responsibilities since he doesn't hold the priesthood. Just the fact that he came to that conclusion on his own, really shocked me and helps me see that this is directing his eyes even more so towards the waters of baptism. On Saturday I went to the Trainer's training meeting. Basically where we receive instruction from our mission president's and his assistants on how to train our new missionaries, which went really well. Basically there are three main things that stood out to me. First, follow the missionary schedule exactly. Second, be exactly obedient in all things. Third, love and serve your new companion. Pretty simple, but vital in being able to fulfill our responsibilities and have the spirit in our companionship.

On sunday, sister Morris and I had a huge miracle. So, Br. R brought his less active wife, and son to church. And his son brought his non member wife, A. We talked with them in class and after church we asked A if she knew too much about the church. She said she had skimmed through the Book of Mormon, but didn't know too much about the church. She said its a little different compared to what she is used to, because she grew up Baptist. We asked her if we could come over and teach her about the church. She said she would like that, so we are seeing her on Saturday. Sister Morris was sad that I scheduled the appointment with A for after she leaves, but I tried to keep in mind that this would be a great opportunity for my new companion to jump straight into things and start teaching a brand new investigator from the very beginning. so we are really excited to see how things go with A. Otherwise, Sister Morris and I are teaching the first discussion to a lady named S and her 15 year old daughter C. We haven't been able to meet with them for a few weeks, but last week they told us to come back tonight, so I'm praying they don't bail on us again. I'm hoping with my new companion we can get the ward picking up a little more in helping in finding people to teach. We have so many members that are willing to help out in teaching in our investigators, but its hard to teach people that don't exist, lol! So we are trying to find new ways of how we can help the members see that there are opportunities around them to share the gospel with friends, neighbors and acquaintances. In sacrament on sunday we had the high councilman come and speak and he spoke on the hastening of the work of salvation. You know he said, " In Liberty the field is white and ready to harvest". That just kind of hit me in a different way. We recite Doctrine and Covenants Section 4 every day, but hearing him say In LIBERTY the field is white, just gave me a new perspective and determination to find those who are ready. Sister Morris and I haven't really found new people to teach this transfer, but it reignited that fire in me to know I am here in the Liberty area because this is a white field. There are people prepared, we just need the help to find them. Either Sister Morris and I can reap all day long by ourselves, or we can get the members to reap with us and do it in a few hours. Either way the work will move along, but it just depends on if the members truly want to help the Lord in His process of Hastening of the Work, or just watch it happen. It reminds me of Elder Uchtdorf's talk, are you sleeping through the restoration? What are we doing to help the Lord in His work of bringing souls unto Christ?

I love you. I pray for you everyday. Have fun at the lake, stay safe working and doing everything that you are engaged in back home. I am excited for yet, another adventure this transfer. This work is truly being hastened, the prophets and apostles have told us. They have extended the invitation to join in this great work. I love that I get to be so deep in this work at this time. It is amazing! I'm just glad to be a servant at this time. Let's square our shoulders to the plough and continue forward, united as members and missionaries, with a determination to serve Christ to the end.


Sister Luening

P.S. President Vest called me yesterday and wanted me to tell you that they figured out my release date. It will be Tuesday, November 25th. 

July 28, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!!

Well, this week has been crazy. I officially have P-day on Mondays again :) I'm super excited to be able to play sports on Mondays with all the other missionaries, wohoo!! So on Thursday I was supposed to get my new companion Sister Barrow straight from the MTC, but it turned out she was sick and so she was still at the MTC getting tests done at the clinic in Provo. That put a new spin on things. Needless to say, I was already really nervous and stressed that I was getting a brand new missionary so when Elder Moss (AP) told me that I didn't have a companion I started panicking a little bit. I asked what I was supposed to do and he just nonchalantly said, "Uh just find someone to go in a trio with." I asked who and he told me to choose. So needless to say there was no organization or planning made and so then I started worrying about what would happen to my area and investigators if I was in a trio in a different ward and had no time to work in my assigned area. I started to freak out and soon enough the senior couples began talking to elder moss and told them I have to have a companion because otherwise the Liberty Jail wouldn't be able to function...which by the way is very true. We are already down, technically half of our sisters since we half of them are new and can't take presentations because they don't know any of the history, which basically leaves one sister on shift and one senior couple to try and run the jail.
After an hour, president talked with the Assistants and they decided that Sister Heylen would be my companion temporarily until Sister Barrow came into the mission. Sister Heylen was actually being transferred from the Jail to the VC, so she grabbed some clothes and food and we headed back to Liberty together. Well, sister Heylen and I were together for a total of three days until sister Barrow came in to Liberty from the MTC on Saturday at 4pm :) The time I spent with Sister Heylen was awesome! We saw so many miracles. We found 2 new investigators and we put A, the R's non-member daughter in law, on baptismal date for August 23rd! It was 3 days full of miracles!
When Sister Barrow got dropped of at the Liberty jail we basically jumped straight into everything. We dropped her stuff at the apartment, went to dinner and then we taught S the message of the restoration. S has been struggling with excepting the Book of Mormon as scripture, so we decided to re-teach her the message of the restoration. We had Sister C come with us, and let me tell you, Sister C and S are two peas in a pod, so that was awesome. After the lesson, S said the Book of Mormon made more sense to her, and so she said she will read it and pray about it. We also found out that she has been tight on money which is why she hasn't been coming to church, she can't afford gas in her car, so Sister C offered S a ride to church. S came to church on Sunday, so that was awesome!

 Sister Barrow is from Herriman Utah, but grew up in Oregon. She is 19, but her personality and disposition actually reminds me a lot of myself. She isn't crazy all over the place, but she isn't really timid, she's calm, sweet, fun and confident. Its been a lot of fun being with her so far. She is super outgoing, loves to laugh, is going to school for vocal performance and has such a deep testimony. Actually she reminds me a lot of Zyanya. Her whole family is musically talented, in fact her dad sings in the MOTAB choir. So, she loves MOTAB! Seriously she only listens to MOTAB. I still haven't really been able to catch Sister Barrow up on our weekly plans because we've been busy busy busy which is awesome! Hopefully by tomorrow we will have a lot more order to things. Sunday was incredible! All of the talks were on missionary work. Brother B talked about his experience of working with the sisters to be reactivated, a youth speaker spoke on pure love, Br Bl our new ward mission leader spoke on how "the field is white all ready to harvest", and I spoke on conversion and true discipleship. It was such a powerful meeting and so many people cried throughout it. In fact by the time I got up there I had cried so much, I was a blubbery mess, luckily I only had 5 minutes to speak ;) Loved it!

I think it is incredible how much the Lord is truly preparing his children to hear the gospel. Yesterday we went to teach a lady who became our new investigator she kind of blew us off, so I decided we should try to see a guy named C we tracted into back in May. If you remember me talking about this guy basically he had been invited to come to church with his wife and child by his friend from the Liberty 2nd ward. He loved it and wanted to learn more, but we were never able to get a hold of him after that. Well, we went over and he was home and opened the door. Again, he just raved about how much he loved church and wants to have this church be his church. He said this is what he has been searching for his whole life, but his wife is baptist and at this point told him she won't change, so he is trying to respect her. He said she loved it to, but her parents and siblings have been really anti towards the church. But he said she doesn't have a very good relationship with her family and so its just a matter of time before they push too hard and she will no longer listen to them. We asked him if he got a copy of the Book of Mormon and he has read almost to the end. He said he knows its true. We left him with our number and told him when he and his wife are ready to come again the doors are open and we would love to see them. He said as soon as his wife gives the go ahead they will be there. Otherwise, we are just going to drop by monthly to see if any progress has been made. He is so prepared!!

The Liberty area truly is white and ready to harvest. I think about the last couple days and on one street alone where 4 member families live, the elders have 5 other houses of investigators they are working with and we have 3 houses with investigators. Seriously all on ONE street. How incredible is that?! With the ward split a lot of the members wondered how we would be able to keep the missionary work going. Well, let me tell you even though we have a very small densely populated  area to work, there are people prepared and they are everywhere :) It is amazing and I am excited to continue to help Sister Barrow find the vision of how great this place is and how much greater it will become as we find those who are ready.

Even the members are starting to get into the missionary spirit. Saturday night we had a last minute ward party put together and there were quite a few non-member families that came. It was a great success. I know that as each of us continue to deepen our conversion in the gospel we will see how much the gospel blesses our lives, we will gain a desire to share it and as we pray for opportunities to share the gospel and the courage to take hold of those opportunities sharing the gospel with friends, co-workers, and neighbors will be natural because we will be doing it out of sincere love for them. We are a doctrine of Christ people. We learn it, we live it, we love it and we share it with love through the spirit.

I love this gospel. This work is truly incredible! If we show the Lord our faith and our willingness to do his will we will find opportunities to share the gospel truths that bless us daily. Luke 22:32. I love you all! Thanks for all of your love and prayers it means more than you know! I have Monday P-day from now until whenever, so I hope to get an email next week :)

Love you all!!

Sister Luening

Sister Barrow and Sister Luening