Monday, September 22, 2014

August 25, 2014 Liberty, Missouri

Dear Family!

Well, it has been a great week. Mom it sounds like you really enjoyed yourself in Renada with Sister Sloot. It's been kind of weird seeing school buses pick up kids in the morning and dropping kids off after school. Just doesn't seem possible that this week is labor day weekend. Where is the time going?
A was baptized Saturday, yay! The actual baptism itself was wonderful, but the hour before, HOLY COW was it STRESSFUL!! So we had correlation meeting at the church two hours before the baptism and our ward mission leader left the font to fill while we had our meeting. Well, about 40 minutes into our meeting we get a knock on the door and a guy who was cleaning said that the font was overflowing into the RS Room. So our ward mission leader got up to go see what was going on and we continued with our meeting. Well, once our meeting was done, we all went to the RS Room to check out the damage. Well, that water had overflowed up over all the steps and went into the bathrooms and there 2 doorway sized streams of water on the carpet going from the font to the middle of the RS Room. This was all 1 hour before the baptism was to start. So, we had quit the mess on our hands. The elders left because they said they had some things to do. Our ward mission leader ran home to get his water Vacuum. So Sister Barrow and I were left to mop up the bathrooms. In the meantime we received a huge miscommunication that nobody had done the baptismal programs, so we played a huge game of telephone for 30 minutes to find out that they actually had been done. Anyways it was a lot more stressful than all of this probably sounds, so it was fun! The whole time I was stuck between disbelief that everything seemed to be going wrong and at the same time having the attitude that everything was going to be okay and that even if we did "mess-up" anything for the baptismal program its not like A would know any different. (I know terrible mentality to have, but its all I could think to stay calm and not freak-out). But miracles happened. We got the water mopped up, the water sucked up out of the carpets, and we had the baptismal programs- Nobody knew that there had been such a mess before-hand. The baptism was wonderful. A was beaming, I gave a talk on baptism, Elder Williams gave a talk on the Holy Ghost and Sister Barrow sang a beautiful musical number, "When I am Baptized", it brought the spirit so strong. A family friend got up and presented A with some gifts and bore her testimony and then we had refreshments afterwards. Everything went awesome! A's non-member sister came and she said she had never felt so good in her whole life. So I foresee missionaries working with A's sister very soon :)
Sister Barrow, Me, A and Elder Williams ( notice how color coordinated me and my companion are...we do that a lot, by accident)
Sunday was a huge miracle day for us. A got confirmed in sacrament meeting and S came to church again. She is doing so awesome! We showed her the 20minute restoration video this last week and she wants to see the hour long Joseph Smith movie. So we are going to have a movie night with her sometime this week. She is so close to knowing the church is true. We're going to try and help her recognize the spirit this week, because she really wants to know if this is true, but she wants a big lightning bolt answer. After church we went on shift to the jail and after shift we had about an hour and a half before dinner. We went out and tracted and Holy Cow was it hot. All week it has been in the high 90's. While we were tracting it was 97F. TOO HOT!! After tracting we went to dinner and received a few referrals which we were super excited about and are going to try and contact today. After dinner we went to our appointment to see A. Sister Heiken came with us and we talked about the role of the Spirit in our lives. How it teaches us and testifies of truth. We were able to find out from A how she feels the spirit in her life and recognizes it. We watched the 20 minute restoration video with her and discussed it afterwards. She said she feels like Joseph Smith when he was confused on what religion to join. Right now she is studying from about 4 different religious views. We talked to her about the importance of trying to apply what she reads from the Book of Mormon to herself. We felt really impressed that we needed to invite her to come to church this week. She is a Sunday school teacher at her church, but we invited her. Guess what?! It turns out her church doesn't have church this Sunday because its a holiday(labor day weekend). So she said she would love to come and see what it is like. Sister Heiken offered to give her a ride and we are going to take her on  a church tour on Thursday night before Sunday. It is going to be awesome!! It was a day of miracles. We were able to teach so many people.
We hope this week we will be able to get a bigger teaching pool as we try to work with the members more to seek out those who are prepared for the Gospel. In Relief Society lately we have been doing a missionary challenge. As part of the announcements Sister Barrow and I get up and we invite the Sisters to take a Book of Mormon, card and this week we also included handing out a "Family: Proclamation to the World" pamphlet. Last week a sister took the challenge of giving away a copy of the Book of Mormon and she did it. It was so cool to hear her missionary experience. Also, one of the sisters talked about giving away a card. IT was awesome and got the other sisters fired up. This time 3 sisters took a Family Proclamation pamphlet to give away and one of the members of the Relief Society Presidency took a copy of the Book of Mormon to hand out. It is awesome because we invite, the sisters are taking the challenge and then we get to follow-up and hear of their experiences in relief society. Its great!! 

Mom, I appreciated how you shared with me your insights of the various talks you studied over the last week. Pretty neat that you were studying talks on discipleship, which just happened to be the theme of our sacrament meeting yesterday. They were both very good talks and our last speaker focused his talk off of Elder Holland's Talk "The Cost and Blessings of Discipleship" and he also referred to Elder Bednar's BYU Devotional talk called "The Character of Christ", a talk I heard in the MTC. I guess something that really stood out to me is that the way that we are truly disciples of Christ is very dependent on the attitude we have as we face different circumstances. If we serve with a grudging heart it is almost as if we hadn't done that service to the Lord. But when we serve and live Christ-like lives with an attitude of willingness and wanting to serve those around us, that is when we are truly disciples. When we put off the thoughts and feelings of the natural man and reach outward with care and compassion as the Savior would have done, that is when we are true disciples of our Savior Jesus Christ. Mom, I like how you mentioned that creating the connection between blessings and obedience is something you can focus more on with the sisters. I actually have a favorite quote that I discovered on my mission that has to do with the cost and blessings of discipleship from Elder Holland:

"Everyone of us has times when we need to know things will get declaration is that this is precisely what the gospel of Jesus Christ offers us. Especially in times of need. There is help. There is Happiness. Don't you quit. You keep walking. You keep trying. It will be alright in the end. Trust God and believe in good things to come. Some blessings come soon, some come late, and some don't come until Heaven. But for those who embrace the Gospel of Jesus Christ they come."

I know that through the gospel we will hit bumps in the road. Some of them might be a bit of a speed bump, some might be giant pot-holes that stop us in our tracks for a while, as we take time to repair our flat tire, but I know that through all of those challenges we have the ability to be lifted higher. Through Christ we can feel peace, hope and assurance of blessings to come as we rely on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. As we choose to have hope, "we work through trials and difficulties with the confidence and assurance that all things will work together for [our] good" (PMG- p.117).

I am so grateful for the gospel. I know that at times the burden of discipleship feels very real and can seem to weigh us down. But as we remember the reason behind why we are wanting to be true disciples and ask our Heavenly Father for help, our attitude can change in that moment and we can push forward with hope and trust that things will be brighter as we continue on. I love all of you! I hope that you have a great week. Maybe you can actually fill me in on what you meant by "home disasters" since you, mom and dad, told me any specifics other than they are home disasters. Anyways, I love you and I am excited for another week in the service of the Lord. As our Visitor Center Director, Elder Brenchley would say, "Today is going to be a great day! And why? Because its the only day you can do anything about. "


Sister Luening

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