Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Hello everyone! First off, I must apologize if I did not respond to any of your emails this last week. Last Monday, two whole zones of Missionaries from the Iowa Des Moines Mission decided to come to the Visitor's Center and use our computers for their email time. Unfortunately, they were not very kind or considerate enough to warn us before, so during the time we had planned to come and email, every thing was being used, and by the time they were all done I only had 30 minutes to email before we went to go grocery shopping. So, my apologies! 

Just a little quick note about last week's preparation day- we went to Cantrail, Iowa which is a Mennonite community with an awesome store! There is a senior couple here in Nauvoo, the Meyers, who cook lunch for the Young Performing Missionaries. Also, about once a week they take a group of Young Sisters there to have the "Cantrail Experience". It is a total trip to walk in there and to be surrounded by Mennonites. They are some of the kindest people though, and have great things! I got really excited about their Pesto dip mix and Cous Cous :) haha and it was so fun! The store's name is The Dutchman's ..... Storehouse? Something like that, just remember Dutchman's :) They have all sorts of cheeses, seasonings, bread, meat, and even out door gear like coats and intense boots! It was a lot of fun to go. Apparently raspberry jalapeno jelly is a thing? I saw it, and tried it, and it actually was not quite bad at all! I quite enjoyed it, the spice really brought out the sweet!

After we went shopping at the store, we went to a little Amish store too. As we pulled up, we saw an Amish lady get out of her horse and buggy. I had seen things like this on TV, but never in real life! It was quite the experience. I also thought it was a little bit funny- the Amish pulling up to the store in their horse and buggy, and the Mormons pulling up in a minivan, which ironically contained five women and one man. HA! As we went along, Elder Meyer kept on joking that he thinks the Mennonites probably think we are polygamists because he always rolls in here with his wife and at least four other women. So, as we went into the Amish store, there was no lights, no air conditioning, and the owner even wrote everything down with a pencil and paper! She was very sweet though, and I overheard her speaking what they call, "Pennsylvania Dutch" to the aforementioned Amish woman who came to the store before us. I went over, and started a conversation with the owner about German. When you are raised Amish, your first language is this Pennsylvania Dutch! I could even detect a bit of an accent in her English too. Turns out that the Amish also read their Bible in Höch-Deutsch, so I figured if I talked to her she could probably understand me. The problem was though, that she could understand me, but man her German was crazy! And I thought the Swiss spoke funny! Anyways, we carried on for a little bit, and it was pretty fun to talk to her and learn about her beliefs. She was not interested in ours, but she liked the fact that Elder Meyers bought about 12 of her straw hats :)

This week was  also Transfers! I said goodbye to my little greenie Sister Russell, and now I am companions with the wonderful Sister Mills. We have known each other for a while, and were good friends last summer and are positively overjoyed to be with each other this Transfer! I am always just so happy around her, and we teach so well together- pretty much it is Zion over here in Nauvoo :) 

So Sister Mills is from Cache Valley, Utah, specifically a little place called Mendon. She is 22, and has been going to Utah State University. She is about 5'7", brunette, cuts her hair in a bob, and dresses a little retro. Sister Mills is an incredible singer, and was part of a choir called Latter-Day Voices. Apparently it is a big deal to get in, and she is just incredible- her tone is very clear, and when she sung "Savior, Redeemer" for the Sociable, people were bawling because it was so beautiful. Sister Mills was with me in Carthage when I was there for a Transfer, and was the Carthage Group Leader, which is pretty much a Zone Leader. Now, we get to be together in Nauvoo! 

Also, a lot of other things were changed in the Mission- now, two of my really good friends, Sister Hughes and Sister Hansen are the Assistants to the President now. Geez, I really do not envy their job! So much to do, but I know that those Sisters are definitely the best ones for the job! As for me, it looks like I am still the Scripture Trainer that is like a Sister Training Leader.... thing. But it's great, and actually last night's Training went really well. Every Monday night all of the Young Sister Missionaries gather at the Mission Home and are trained by President Gibbons, the Assistants and myself. I normally have about 15 min to essentially teach and train to the Sister's needs using doctrine from the Scriptures. To be completely honest, I prepare, but I really have no idea exactly what Heavenly Father wants me to say until I am saying it. However, it is a slight reassurance that it really is not up to me, and I am just being a servant of the Lord. If a training goes really well, I cannot help but give the credit to Him because I really did not do much! I am so grateful to be here in Nauvoo and to have the opportunity to be here.

Also, before I forget, this last week was the first week of the Nauvoo and British Pageant! This Summer is very special because at the moment, this is the only time planned when the British Pageant will be here in the United States. To add to that, I get to be in it! At the end of the British Pageant (which is amazing) we have an opportunity to go onto stage during the finale. The whole Pageant has been about the Missionary Work in the British Isles, and how those people were the Pioneers that crossed the plains. The Cast sings, "Come, Come, Ye Saints", and after a transition, all of the Young Performing Missionaries, a few from the Des Moines Mission, and then we (the Young Sister Missionaries) walk on stage as we sing "Called to Serve". We all are wearing a light colored shirt so everyone can see our name-tags, and holding our Book of Mormons. The Director likes having the Young Sister Missionaries in the Visitor Center stand fron and center, so we have a good vantage point to look out onto the crowd. It is such a unique experience to be able to look out and see people with tears in their eyes, and to witness the Spirit touching their hearts, testifying if the importance of sharing the Gospel. Then, we sing "Oh Say What is Truth", which is kind of the "Theme-Hymn" for the British Pageant. The music transitions, and we go to the side of the stage, the full cast comes down the center part of the stage, and about 400 people are in full view and launch into the song, "Redeemer of Israel".  It is such a wonderful and beautiful experience, and I know that I will remember it for the rest of my life. To feel everyone bearing their testimony  of the Savior, and to feel your own conviction sweep through your soul- this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. The British Pageant is then over, and all of the missionaries come down, and we follow-up with the people we spoke to before the Pageant. The big focus this year is to help members to do their own missionary work. To encourage those people to reach out to others themselves, to be a true example of the believers. We then as missionaries follow up with the members after the Pageant via phone and encourage them and help the members be missionaries. I enjoy what I am doing so, so much, and  I truly feel blessed.

 One of the things I truly feel blessed to be able to witness is to see the Nauvoo Pageant again this year. It is so powerful, and it just pulls at your heart strings as you learn about the Temple, the Plan of Salvation and the Restoration. I know that the Nauvoo Pageant was inspired, and was meant to be here to help so many people. This week, I was able to help a local family from Ft Madison learn about the Gospel. They heard about the Pageant from the Nauvoo Pageant Bagpipe Band. The "Bagpipes" go around to neighboring towns through out the month that they are here and do concerts and invite people to Nauvoo. This one family, with Dave, Crystal, and their three little kids were at the performance in Ft. Madison, Iowa, and decided to come see the Pageant. That night on Pageant grounds I was walking around with Sister Hughes and talking to people. We were walking by the seating area, when I felt that we needed to talk with this family. We talked, developed a connection, and that family came FOUR times last week to see the Pageants. Four. After the second one, Sister Hughes and I taught them the Restoration, right there on Pageant Grounds. It is kind of a funny experience to be surrounded by crowds of people, and to be talking to a family, pulling out a pamphlet, extending invitations, and to finish it off, all holding hands and praying together. Right there on Pageant Grounds! Miracles happen. Then, on the third night they came, Dave cane right up to the Missionary Kiosk and asked what they had to do to be baptized. Well, we can help you with that! Experiences like these just prove that the Lord is Hastening his Work, and places like Nauvoo and the Pageant are a beacon of light that attract people who are prepared. Miracles happen like that all the time here. We literally do not have to go out and find people to teach, they come to us! I have had so many experiences like this family since I have been here, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it. 

This week, Sister Munro's (my MTC Companion) parents came to visit Nauvoo! They are both deaf, so this week I went around interpreted for them at the sites. I think one of my favorite experiences was going to the John Taylor Home, and having it be so busy that the Seniors as us if we can take our group and a whole other big group of people with us and start another tour. Now keep in mind, normally when you give an official tour at a site, you are dressed in the Pioneer dress, and have had an opportunity to look over the outline and know the stories within the past thirty minutes so it is all fresh in your mind. Well, Sister Hughes and I were interpreting that day, and both of us were in normal proselyting clothes and had not given a tour there in over nine months. But, with divine intervention, and I seriously have no idea how- we did it! Heavenly Father helped us remember the stories, and we were able to give a tour that day. Also one of my favorite things when I interpret is to be able to interpret '"The Promise", which is a musical that the Young Performing Missionaries put on here in Nauvoo. It is my favorite performance, asides from the Pageant. It is so good! There is a song called "No Ordinary Brothers" which talks about Joseph and Hyrum after the Martyrdom. Every time that I interpret that song, I can just feel the spirit work so strong and I just love it. Also, at the end, they sing a rendition of "Come, Come Ye Saints" (different rendition than the British Pageant too ;) but as I sign that, I feel that same incredible Spirit. Also, I had the opportunity to interpret for the Nauvoo Pageant for another deaf man who can from Illinois. All I can say is, the Lord truly does choose the weak to accomplish his purposes, and I know that it was only because of Him that I have been able to do so much, or really even to interpret at all this week.

There is kind of a running joke among all of the Young Sister Missionaries that we serve in Mormon Disneyland. But it is true! Seriously! Except we are better because after you pay for your hotel and food, everything is free :) No entrance fee to this spiritual amusement park! Here in Nauvoo there are so many fun things to do, go see, and to watch. Yesterday, Sister Mills and I were assigned to the Sarah Granger Kimball Home, and asides from having a blast climbing trees and stuff in our Pioneer dresses, (no one came for about 2 hrs because we were so far away from the other sites) and we also had a chance to discuss this. I also shared this Mormon Disneyland idea with a group that came in, and the husband laughed and said, "It is so true!" All I can say is, come one, come all! Nauvoo rocks!

On more of a spiritual note, I have really been focusing on trying to have the Spirit be my constant companion. I had an experience a few weeks ago where Sister Russell and I ran into the Des Moines Iowa Assistants to the President at Grandpa John's Cafe. Sister Russell and I were sitting down, and I looked over, saw the Elders, and from across the room the Spirit told me that they were good missionaries. I was a bit surprised that I felt that, and as we exited the restaurant we went over and introduced ourselves. It was only later that I found out from Sister Gines that I found out who they were. For some reason, that experience left an impression. The Spirit was able to witness of someone's "goodness" and charity, from across a busy cafe. To me, it was evidence that if we are living our lives in a way where we can have the Spirit with us, others can sense it too. I want to have that increase and added measure of the Spirit wherever I go, so that people will recognize me as a disciple of Christ. My goal is to live my life in a way- now as a missionary, and after my Mission- that others will recognize goodness and want to know why they can feel God's love through me. 

I love my Mission, and I love being here! I hope you all have a great week!

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