Monday, April 7, 2014

I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve and for such a wonderful experience in the Idaho Pocatello Mission. Over these past six months, I have felt like I have been given the wings to fly. I have felt such a great amount of trust and love from President and Sister Brinkerhoff. Because of their efforts, I feel complete. I am whole, and I have felt the strengthening power of the Atonement in my life. I feel like I am ready to take on the world, and I will never forget them, and as cliche as it sounds, they will forever hold a place in my heart. Words cannot express how grateful I am to them, and how much I honor their sacrifice to serve myself and the other missionaries assigned here. They are friends and mentors who have forever changed my life!

This week has been packed full of strengthening sisters! On Tuesday I was in Idaho Falls helping a sister that has had a big problem with homesickness. We spent a bit of time talking about the reasons why we are serving a Mission, and how we can stay motivated. This Sister is an incredible missionary that has a gift for teaching, and gains great joy when she is helping others. The hard time for her though, and when she gets homesick, is in the morning when it might not seem like she is doing, "Missionary Work". To help fix the problem, I had her do some mental re-writes for her Morning Schedule. Instead of thinking, "I am studying to help myself", I had her re-write it to say, "I am studying to help my investigators". We broke down every action of the morning schedule, even showering, to help her re-focus on her purpose. I also had her and her companion categorize their Patriarchal Blessing into Commandments, Warnings/Advice, and Blessings. This way they could receive personalized guidance from the Lord as to what they need to do right now on their Missions. It seemed to help, and hopefully these Sisters can receive strength from this exercise to help her homesickness. 

On Wednesday I was in Shelley! It was such a wonderful surprise because Brother and Sister Call, who served in Nauvoo in the Mission Presidency, took myself and two sisters out to lunch! We went to Chinese, and it was such a fun experience to see them and to talk about Nauvoo again. They are so wonderful, and brightened my day! It also helped me get more excited about going back to Nauvoo. That day I was with some Sisters and helping their Area. A common thing I have noticed on these Exchanges is that I am helping a lot of Sisters with their Whiteboards and Area Books! A lot of Sisters just seem to not know how to organize or have a vision for what they are doing, and luckily I do! After giving training on these things, the sisters are able to plan more effectively, concentrate on those who are truly progressing and focus on their purpose. After this Training and re-direction, we were able to go out and set a baptism date for April, so these Sisters can meet the Standard of Excellence!

On Wednesday I was in Blackfoot, and it was a day of mixed emotions. I was very impressed with the progress that a certain Sister has made on her Mission. She started off on a very bad foot, but with the help of an excellent companion she has become an entirely different missionary. It has actually changed from her new companion being strengthened instead of this sister being the one in need! It is so wonderful to see the Atonement work in people's lives in so many different ways. However, there was this huuuuuuge drama, with pretty much the Sisters talking to their Zone Leaders that night and saying that I was a terrible missionary for not inviting someone to be baptized that day, when I am not assigned to their Area. I had only been there for a few hours. and I have been given specific instruction to be in the background and only be their cheerleader, not a crusader for their Area. UGGGGGH I just truly hate drama, and I am so over it. I think after my mission I will turn into a recluse so that I will just not have to deal with people! Just kidding, I am too social to do that, but sometimes people can be really dumb! I have to love them though, and view them as Christ would. It sometimes can definitely can strain your soul though, to almost a breaking point!

Friday was my last Missionary Leadership Council...... :'( crying all around! It was so wonderful but so terrible at the same time because I realized I might never see these people that I love so much ever again! Thank goodness for Facebook right? 
I was really inspired by the training given in Mission Leadership Council and I have created several goals for my personal progression. The more I learn, the more I realize how little I know, and how insignificant I am in the grand scheme of things. I love the quote by President Uchtdorf that says, "This is a paradox of man: compared to God, man is nothing; yet we are everything to God". As more time goes on, the more I come to understand the truth of that statement. I also have come to truly realize that positions of Leadership are given to those that need to serve their fellowmen. In my past I felt like I have served others, by being a Sister Training Leader, but being a Traveling Sister Training Leader is a whole other world. For these past two weeks I have had the goal to perform at least one significant act of service for each companionship that I have been put with. It has resulted in a lot of polishing boots, cooking breakfasts and hand massages- even diagnosing problems with hair care! 
Even though I do not spend a lot of time for myself, I have never felt more fulfilled or loved. I truly have found the joy in losing myself by serving others, and because of that I am happy.
 Later that night, I went with the Sister Training Leaders for the Southern half of the mission, Sister Creek and Nielson. They are just delightful and it was so cool to see their Area! They cover Grace Valley, and it is soooooooooooo beautiful! Also it was pretty cool because I got to see the very start of the Wasatch Mountains. It was a bit weird though to think that my family lives right along these mountains too..... but I got over it. We went to a.... I don't really know if you can call it a town, more like an area called Thatcher, and it was so beautiful! I love seeing all of the beauty around me. The past few nights I have been sleeping on the ground, and I have gotten to a point where I have gotten used to it!

On Saturday I went with the Soda Springs Zone to watch General Conference, and I got to see my good friend Elder Araya! It was so fun to see him and say a final goodbye before I left for Nauvoo. That day I was with Sister Jones and Chavez in Soda Springs, and it was a blast. We were tracting out some apartments, when I saw a family outside shooting a bow and arrow. The Holy Ghost said to go talk to them, so we did! They turned out to all be non-members, and we got on a great conversation. I also am a firm believer that people could care less about what you know unless you show your love for them, so I started to talk about Archery and they family. Then, being my typical self, asked if I could shoot the bow :) It was so fun! I loved it! They also were shocked that I could just pull it back no problem because it was set at a tension weight(or strength? whatever it is called) of 45 lbs, so I just said that because we are missionaries we have the strength and power of God with us :) They started to laugh, and we talked about religion, and they agreed to let the missionaries come back and teach them! It was a very fun day in Soda Springs :)  
On Sunday I was with Sister Riera and Rawlins in Arimo, ID, aka the middle of the middle of nowhere. Truly, there was nothing around. It was a pretty slow day, and very windy! It was actually funny, when we knocked on doors people said it was too windy and we should be inside. There is nothing too windy when the Lord is on our side! We had some fun, got windburn on our faces, and had an opportunity to pet some horses on the side of the road. Then, we went to a lady's house who vomited every five minutes. It was pretty disgusting, and I was nooooooot impressed! Safe to say, I am thankful for my good health!

This past week has been excellent. I have enjoyed seeing various parts of the Mission, and I have come to peace with my departure because I know I have served my best. I spend these next two days in Pocatello, and then I fly out very early on Thursday morning! I have loved being here, and am sad to go, but excited for the adventure to come. 

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