Wednesday, January 14, 2015

January 12th 2015

Such good things happening!
Our mission has instituted an idea from the zone leaders serving in Madison. It is called the "Hour of Power." Every day from 5-6, we focus solely on inviting people to be baptized. The purpose invite more people to be baptized and to get the timid missionaries out of their shells. Miracles have been coming of this from all over the mission.
Tuesday was hectic, and we were scrambling in that hour to find people we could invite to be baptized. President's letter last week discussed "living on the margin." The idea is the miracles happen in the last 20 minutes, the last door, all that. In the last MINUTE of the hour of power on Tuesday, we were in downtown Florence, and I saw a man sitting on a bench. We engaged him in gospel conversation, and I invited him to be baptized at 5:59. Nothing happened. He wasn't ready or interested. As we continued to walk, Sister West sees something shiny in a little boutique. The boutique closed at 6, but the girl working there let us in. He had a great conversation with her. She had recently married and moved to Florence. She is Catholic, and her husband is Methodist, and she was interested in the church. We have been in contact with her and are going to lunch this week. Talk about living on the margin. We were blessed to find other people who allowed us to teach them.

We had an awesome lesson with Jeanine, she finally opened up to us about how difficult it is for her to get over her baptist background, and coming from only hearing anti about the church, to attending and seeing it's good. She agreed to start the lessons over again with a clean slate. We taught her the next day with the assistants who came up and offered to work with us. There were a ton of kids in the house, so it was kind of crazy. She has gotten a little distant from us since then.
Her sister Destiny wants to be baptized so badly, her mom's heart just needs to be softened to allow her to do so.

A good sister from the ward took us out to meet the many less-active Spanish speakers in the ward. It was a good time. There is a family who quit going to church, but still believe. They have two teenage kids who have not been baptized. They agreed to take the lessons as a family again. I'm excited for the chance to have regular lessons in Spanish.

I can't remember if I had talked to y'all about Erica and Keneie. A few weeks ago on a prep day, and while Sister West was looking for blackberries, I started talking to this young couple. They were hilarious and agreed to have us over. The first lesson was awesome. Erica has an incredible mind. She has a military background and despite her being so young is wise beyond her years, while maintaining a playful, childlike demeanor. Keneie was just funny and seemed like a good guy. They had only been dating for a few months. Erica is 6 months pregnant from a previous engagement. They were committed to becoming a family, and we kept family as a focus during the lessons.
Our second lesson, Erica responded great, and Keneie didn't seem sure about it anymore.
We got a text from Erica on Friday and knew something was wrong. She called us and informed us she and Keneie were no longer together. We didn't hesitate to secure some chocolate and meet her at the library. She explained unfortunate circumstances, and we discussed that as well as the gospel. She had told some of her friends she was thinking about converting to Mormonism, and they responded with anti. Erica said that wasn't anything she had read from or any of the literature she got from us. She wasn't phased by it, and simply asked how she should respond. This girl is golden! We invited her to be baptized, and she has a date for January 31st. We just came from her house, and she read from the introduction of the Book of Mormon to 1 Nephi 8. She gets excited by the story, and related it to herself. She is so solid. She was stoked to come to church yesterday, but got called into work. She has a hard time making ends meet, and is a little nervous about providing for herself and her coming daughter. She told us, her second job had her scheduled most Sundays, but she specifically asked for the 31st off for her baptism. We went over Sabbath day today, and told her in order to be able to be baptized, she has to come to church. She responded with such faith, and will get Sundays off no matter what. Erica is incredible!

Wednesday we had interviews with President Hanks in Tupelo, about a 2 hour drive from us. The gps we have doesn't help in the least for long distance trips like that, so driving there and back was an adventure, and rather stressful for me. Hermana West has great trust in me. We determined to see a part member couple we have been trying to get in with all transfer. They managed to avoid our calls and texts. They work in scouts and we had tried to catch them at the church on Wednesday nights before, but hadn't managed to get more than a minute exchange with them. The bishop said that was normally about as good as it got with them. We went directly to see them when we managed to get back into Florence. We were both so tired! We brought cookies for them to the church, and somehow I ended up talking to the husband Joe about cars and guns. Hermana West talked with Bethany about wedding stuff. We were in. They didn't hesitate to schedule a dinner with us. Joe made seasoned chicken strips and I made tortillas, refried beans, and Spanish rice. It was delicious. We were even more in. They love us now. Bethany agreed to start the discussions. Miracles!

Another reason for being so tired after interviews is that Hermana West got the news that she will be training this coming transfer! She is SO nervous. I know she will be an awesome trainer, and we have been going hard in her training. God has been blessing us so much. Our teaching pool has increased tremendously this week, Hermana West is spiritually maturing right in front of my eyes, and we are just seeing miracles everywhere we work. Tracting has been even more effective, and it is just incredible to see what is happening here in Florence right before our eyes.

Yesterday. Oh man. Ward conference, and it was awesome. After the block we were part of a new member lesson for a 50 year old recent convert named Amanda who was baptized just before we got here. Amanda said she couldn't help but wonder how her life would be different were she raised in the gospel, perhaps she would be married and have a family. WE assured her God still has those blessings for her. She then got determined and said she wanted to get off her butt and do more, and asked about our schedule for team-ups. That has blown up recently also, and we will have 5 team-ups this week, including her now. She is excited. It's awesome to see the gospel continues to change her.
We had a team-up after her lesson with a woman in the ward. She has a beautiful, musical laugh like Grandma Sheffer's and uses it often. She is delightful to be around. Our plans for where we intended to go changed after a sister in the ward asked if we could teach part of a RS thing for this activity Tuesday. We were to pick up a packet from a sick sister in Killen. We decided to go out there, and then work that area with our team-up, Sister Young. When I looked over what members lived in Killen, Diana stuck out to me. The elders had been seeing her, but had only managed to get a ride out there once this last transfer and didn't seem too enthused about how things were going with her. We asked Sister Young if she knew her, and she gasped and said, "I haven't seen her in YEARS, I LOVE Diana." We went, and once Diana realized who she was, she was overcome with joy. She has an incredible conversion story, and immediately committed to coming back to church, especially since she learned her old, dear friend was now in her ward, and she expressed her lifelong desires to be a missionary, and to go through the temple. This is her year. That was an amazing experience.

God is so good!!!

Sister Liz Sheffer

Monday, January 12, 2015

January 5th 2015

Hey y'all, this week FLEW!

All of our investigators who lived a ways out have dropped, which is a blessing because the Lord is leading us to work a closer proximity around our own residence and the church, which will save us on time and miles, and help us to find the elect who can make it to church on their own. We have spent a lot of time tracting and have found awesome people.

Hermana West and I were walking down a street, originally planning on walking a ways down before starting to knock. We passed this house with three red trucks, and a sign that said, "Alabama fans parking only," and a UA flag proudly waving over the porch. Hermana West is still getting used to the football culture here, so we figured we'd knock it and get more acquainted. A man walked out of the side door, and I said something like, "hey sir, we're the local mormon missionaries, and we came to say, 'Roll Tide!,' and we have a unique message about the Savior that will bless your life. What do you think happens to unbaptized children?" Something like that, I don't really remember, but he let us in. He had strong misconceptions about mormons that we straightened up, and we have a wonderful conversation with him. His wife was very soft spoken, and would occassionally try to correct some of the myths this man was expressing about mormons. Upon engaging her more in the conversation, we learned that she was mormon herself! She was baptized in the 60s, and hadn't attended church for decades. She is adorable. It was fun to meet them, she gave us all of her info so we can find her records, and her husband committed to read the Book of Mormon and let us come back.

As we were making visits encouraged by the ward council, we passed a street that had several mailboxes that said "West." Naturally, Hermana West wanted to tract them, and we had good reception from one woman who we are going back to. Hermana West is so excited! I'm excited too.

All of Thursday was spent in Mississippi for a zone training. It was amazing! I had never been to MI before and was happy to set foot there. Also, the training itself was fantastic. We were all jazzed, and the training was put together so well. It really made me proud, especially since one of the STLs was in my zone when I was an STL, and I had worked closely with her. I reflected and was proud to see that this training was better than any I had helped put together when I was an STL. That was a good feeling to see those I helped train grow into such wonderful leaders. I am also so thoroughly impressed with all the new missionaries. These kids are incredible! I know the mission will be left in such good hands. At the end of zone training, I was invited to give my testimony as a departing a missionary. That was really weird. I had seen many other missionaries give their departing testimonies, and never really thought about when I would stand and give mine. My emotions got the best of me, and I promised these missionaries that every sacrifice of the mission is worth it. Every bible bash, every failed appointment, every moment of frustration, every headache, the allergies...everything. Alabama will always be a hallowed place for me because it is where I learned to love the Lord and His children.

Elder Westling works in the Florence ward with us, this is his second transfer. He is hilarious, but loves the work. He promised me that Jeanine, a non-member in a part-member family we've been working with will be baptized. I know that. He promised that she would be this transfer while I am here. She absolutely could be. I have faith she could do it, but I see it differently now. If she is baptized this transfer, awesome, if she is baptized January 31st, or even the next month, awesome. I don't really care what Saturday she gets baptized on, I just want her to make those covenants and secure her family for eternity.
I remember looking at our mosquito bite-covered legs last summer and joking with my companion that with each bite, our husbands got a little hotter. We were instructed by our zone leaders to go home immediately Saturday around 5 because of a storm. The skies were clear, so we decided to contact a referral on the way that was super close to our apartment. WE had a good conversation, and took a polite rejection, and during this, it starts POURING rain. We were biking and soaked by the time we went the short distance to our apartment. I had to spend just a minute or two playing in the rain in our parking lot, before we went inside and the thunder and lightning started...all out of nowhere, good old Alabama weather. We reported to the zone leaders that we made it back to our apartment safe, sound, and soaked. When they learned we were biking, they told us our husbands just got a little hotter. I honestly don't care if there is a reward anymore. Every little sacrifice itself is just worth it. I'll take the mosquito bites, the biking in the rain, the tracting in the cold, because the work is simply worth doing. It's a privilege, really. I'm happy. Alma 37:34 teaches me that the only way we ever can be truly rested is if we work our tails off. Work bring happiness, especially work for the Savior.

We spent lots of time tracting yesterday between making short visits and lessons to both active and less-active members. We have met mostly the nicest people I've ever met. We have a few return appointments and are excited to see what comes. I love tracting at night.

I absolutely love this work. So privileged to be here.


Sister Sheffer

Thursday, January 8, 2015

December 29th 2014

Last Monday I was writing a letter and pondering on whom the Savior would be seeking during Christmas week. I was convinced that Christ spent much of his time with those who others wouldn't. I thought about all the times I have heard people say they don't associate with certain people because they are 'weird,' or unattractive, or creepy, or smell funny, or something of the like. I wanted to find those people who really needed to feel love and who would be transformed by the atonement of Christ. The day before Hermana West and I accidentally ended up in a sketchier part of town (result of being double transferred and unfamiliar with the area). We were talking to someone on the sidewalk. Given that we were in a neighborhood, we were in front of someone's house. The house had one of those "Forget about the dog, beware of the owner" signs with a picture of a gun. A man inside the house slowly and repeatedly defogged his house. Both Hermana West and I felt a need to leave that area promptly. Hermana West was thoroughly creeped out by any and all houses with similar gun signs.
Monday night, we were biking to a center to contact, and got lost(another result of being double transferred). We changed our plans and tracted in the neighborhood we ended up in. After getting a few rejections, one house stood out to me. I start to approach it, and Hermana West frantically says, "Sister Sheffer!!" She pointed to a gun sign this house had. We were in a safe area, and I highly doubted they would be intimidated by a couple girls on bikes. She was still very hesitant, but walked with me to the door and I knocked. The family there is super nice. They belong to the Church of Christ. We had a good talk with them, and they invited us back. Hermana West is now convinced that we need to knock any and ALL houses with gun signs on them.

Tuesday we had another wonderful district meeting, and then met with the family history consultant as part of Hermana West's training. It was such a wonderful experience. He asked us to close our eyes and try to lift the veil. He asked what we saw. I saw passed family members busily working, but they were SO CLOSE. I know that we all have loved ones that are working WITH us, and they are closer than we realize. I got excited about it, and look forward to spending more time with it.

We met with a wonderful lady, Jeanine. Her husband and kids were baptized early in 2014, and we heard different reasons for why she was not. We were able to establish a good relationship with her. Her house was a little chaotic, and we didn't have an opportunity to ask her, but we did a Christmas lesson with her family. We both feel really good about her. I wrote my talk with her in mind. I was disappointed when she didn't make it to church, since she is normally there. She is so neat. Pray for her, we both think she could be baptized soon.
That same night, we were out contacting, and Hermana West suggested trying Joann's (craft store). WE were on our way, but were distracted by people standing outside. We approached them, and had a good talk about Christmas and keeping Christ the center of it. They were from out of town, but committed to looking up He is the Gift. Without thinking we were continuing to walk in the same direction, when I remembered Hermana West had suggested we go to Joann's. We turned around. It was getting late, and stores were fixin to close. When we walked in, I almost doubted for a second, there didn't seem to be a single person in the store, but we walked all the way to the back to see a woman frantically throwing things into her cart, and scouring the shelves for something. We asked what she was looking for, and helped her find a special kind of yarn she was looking for. She was so stressed and frazzled. When she found everything, she breathed for a second, and we gave her a big hug. She started crying and said we were angels. She then told us of hard other things that were going on, and said she had just been praying for help from God. She readily accepted our invitation of bringing a message of peace and God's love. God's timing is amazing.

Christmas Eve, we tracted and contacted. The public areas were PACKED. Before we went into a store, a vendor outside said she would pray for us. Haha. Hermana West met her first super nice people who say we are deceived and that they will pray for us to come to know the 'real Jesus.' I was surprised it over two weeks, the people in this area are so kind.
That night we went to the extended family Christmas party of the Hispanic family in the ward. There were a ton of people, so they gathered at the church since they couldn't fit in a home. So fun. So much food. Lots of non-members and less-active members we were able to meet. All such neat people. We had to leave when temptation got too great with all the dancing going on. :)
My love has grown so much for the Bishop's family. They are so so neat, and I was so glad we got to spend time with them on Christmas Day. I think the wife needed it also.

Friday was amazing. There is an older convert in our ward named Martha who joined the church in the 1970s. She is the sweetest person and loves the missionaries. She invited us over for breakfast and asked if we could help her with a few things. We more than happy to, since she has a hard time getting around. Poor Hermana West has a hard time with spiders, and there are lots of them here, and were lots where we were helping Martha. We finished the tasks she needed assistance with and she told us she wanted to take us to two homes to teach the gospel. She drove us out to a far area to see her great niece. We came into a cute trailer, and a girl my age and her mother were tending to a bedraggled dog. Chelsea, the 22 year old, had seen the dog on the road, and seeing what poor condition is was in, got it into her car and took it home. While we were there, her mom was squeezing a sizable ablasion as mucousy, smelly liquid ran out of the wound. I thought I was going to throw up, it was disgusting, and I was amazed at the heart of these people to help such a pitiful creature. They are good souls. Martha boldly told them, they needed to bring Jesus into their lives, and raise Chelsea's baby right, and the only way they could do that was through the church that had the priesthood. Martha is awesome. We got to know them, and of past happenings that made the mom especially feel something like that dog, and completely abandoned by God. We shared scriptures from 3 Nephi 22  with her and it brought her and her daughters to tears. They both agreed to work toward baptism and meet with us regularly. I love those ladies so much. So excited to work with them.

Saturday we weren't feeling well. We got a text from the Bishop's wife saying she was home with sick kids, but they had signed up to clean the church. She asked if we could help with that. We love that family, and couldn't turn down a chance to serve them, so we smiled and did it. We then went to an appointment with Barbara. Barbara had rescheduled twice. Someone else answered the door and said, "Barbara wants to know if y'all can come back later." I'm out of patience for that. I knew Barbara was sitting in the front room listening, and I politely but firmly told her our time is valuable and if she couldn't keep her appointments, she at least owed us the decency of a phone call...somewhere in the middle of my tangent, Barbara said, "okay, y'all can come in." We met with Barbara, her daughter Rika, her niece Sharieka, and her grandbabies Breanna and Malaysia. In our 'How to begin teaching' with them, Barbara expressed desires to change, she said she can recognize Satan working on her, and just wants help to come out of the darkness. She and Rika expressed confusion with the different things they hear from all these pastors, and an inability to know what the truth of it all is. So prepared. They were transfixed the entire time we taught the Restoration. Barbara says she already knows it's true. Rika said this answers all the questions she has had. It was such a neat experience. Barbara accepted the baptismal invitation, Rika, is holding off for some things. Sharieka isn't into it. I love these girls. They color my world.
Kind of crazy that during that appointment, I don't remember feeling sick, but IMMEDIATELY after, I felt that I was about to throw up. We had an appointment with the family we met MOnday night, and were deliberating as to whether or not we could make it. I hated that I didn't think I could. The elders called, answer to prayers! I asked if they could take that appointment for us and they did. We have some great elders. They showed up to our apartment later with pepto-bismol. I had never tried it, but they swore by it. They're testimonies of pepto reminded me of Elder Bednar's story of his son sharing a medicated soothing ointment with his brother and friends. I tried it. I don't really know if it helped at all, but it was really kind.

Sunday we were the only speakers for sacrament meeting. The talks went well, and we are feeling better and better acclimated to the ward and area. Excited for another week with holidays and sickness behind, and people coming back to their lives, we'll hit it hard.

I love y'all.  Y'all inspire me.

Hermana Sheffer

Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 18th 2014

All my dreams are coming true in this transfer. I have always wanted to be an hermana, I've always wanted to train for my last transfer, and I've always wanted to serve in Florence. All 3 wishes granted!

I am training Hermana Sierra West from Holliday, Utah. She's super cute. She graduated from high school this year, and came out to serve. We are having a fun time together. She's outgoing, and people naturally like her. She's going to be a great missionary. :)

This is my third time being double transferred with a new missionary. Every time, God has worked miracles. This week He continues to prove His goodness.

I have managed to get along without a GPS my whole mission, but most of my companions have had one. Hermana West doesn't have one, but a sister serving close by lent us hers to get us into our area about 2 1/2 hours from the Birmingham Stake Center. Her GPS is crazy, and after way too long of it sending us in weird circles in Birmingham on matter what settings we put it on, I just went to the freeway I figured we should be on, and guessed most of my way to the area, calling the elders in Florence when we needed help. Wednesday night was the ward Christmas party, and we were told that all the members were anxiously awaiting our arrival. When we finally got there, late due to the travel delays, one of the elders ran to the microphone and announced the sisters had finally made it. The ward literally applauded when we walked through the cultural hall doors, and we were accosted with hugs and handshakes and grins. It was crazy awesome. We were so tired and so happy. This ward was devastated when sisters were taken out a little less than a year ago, and are ecstatic to have sisters again. The relief society had daily team-ups scheduled with the sisters and had much success with the program, so we will re-establish that.

The next day, we had an awesome miracles. Hermana West was a little nervous about tracting. We were busy during the day, and by the time we had time to tract, it was dark. President told us at transfer meeting to tract in the dark, so we do now. We were actually going to a part  member's house, but oculdn't see the numbers in the dark, so guessed, figuring we would just contact the person if it wasn't the right house. We were greeted warmly by a middle-aged woman. She ushered us in, and we talked for a bit and presented her with cookies. We assumed with the welcome that it was the sister we intended to see. It wasn't. We were surprised. We heard more of her story. She has 4 kids who are all grown, and her husband passed away a few years ago. She has so much faith, and we talked about God's plan for each of us. She walked away for a second and Hermana West asked me, "can we ask to come back?" I said, "of course!" When she came back, she asked us first if we would come back, and gave us her phone number, so we have an appointment with her. She is so neat. Such a wonderful woman. That was the very first door Hermana West knocked on.

Friday we were driving to an area the elders had told us about. After a while we realized we were not on the road we intended to be on, but I figured we'd keep going anyway. Then we see....TRAILER PARK. I immediately pulled off. There are not a whole lot of Spanish speakers in the area, but we normally find them in trailer parks. There are different signs we look for. One is a mop on the porch. We walked around, and it seemed pretty dead, but then we saw a mop on the porch, and I thought for sure, we would meet a hispanic, but an older white woman answered the door. Within a few minutes, she was crying. She had experienced really rough times recently, and hadn't seen any manifestations of God loving her. I know we were sent straight to her. We are seeing her later this week. In that same neighborhood, we found a family that knows a convert to the ward, we had a good lesson with her, and are teaching the whole family this week. We were referred to a neighbor by her and two other people, so we will contact her this week as she wasn't home them.

There was a city parade that night, which was super fun, and we met lots of awesome people who are willing to meet with us. Such blessings.

Yesterday we had a follow-up appointment in the projects. When we were walking to it, I saw this guy on his porch. He was smoking and drinking, so I figured I'd just talk to him for a bit and try to ask for referrals. He asked about our beliefs and such, and Hermana West asked if we could come up on his porch. He said yes, so I'm thinking, "Alright then, we're doing this."  We sat on his porch, and she brought up the Book of Mormon. I asked him some questions and he brought up his beer about 4 times saying that even though he drinks it, he still takes care of people and does God's work. I called him out on the fact that he must be experiencing a little bit of contrition since he kept bringing up his beer. He admitted to it, and I shared the classic Ether 12:27, and we talked about acting in faith. I asked if he would be willing to give up his beer. He said yes. Then I asked if he would be willing to act in faith and dump out his beer right then. He said, "not today." We wrestled with it a little bit, but wouldn't do it. We promised that our message is life-changing and miraculous, and we want him to hear it when he hasn't been drinking. We're teaching him this week also. :) Fun stuff.

Lots more crazy miracle stuff with just being led to people. We have only been here for four days, but we have people to teach. It's awesome. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

Oh yeah, we also found lights and ornaments in our apartment. The apartment had been vacated by elders a few weeks ago, (my third time for that also), so we have been cleaning like crazy, but we got ourselves a tree, and our place is so cute. An adorable little home for the rest of my mission.

Love y'all,

Hermana Sheffer

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't bother knocking doors around here, everyone's NUTS in this neighborhood except for me.

Don't bother knocking doors around here, everyone's NUTS in this neighborhood except for me."
I love the crazy people we meet tracting. We taught a wonderful woman, who was absolutely nuts, but so much fun and has so much faith, who told us the subject line. It cracked me up.

We may have discovered the reason Sister Hall has not bee feeling well. We passed a gluten free section in Walmart, and I remembered two sisters I know who have discovered allergies to gluten on their missions. Sister Hall got permission to take a quiz on line, that said she could very well be gluten-sensitive. She has been eating gluten-free for the past few days and is already feeling better. Poor thing. that's a rough thing as a missionary in the South.

 I was going to wait to tell y'all until this week so I could send a picture to announce the news, but my props didn't come in time, plus these computers won't let me send pics, so I reckon I'll use my sticks instead. Have y'all read Luke 1 recently when the angel Gabriel announced John the Baptist's birth? The past week's events went more like this:

' There was in the days of Richard D. Hanks, the president of the Alabama Birmingham Mission, a certain assistant, of the zone of Eastwood Bessemer (BEAST ZONE), and his sister was of the daughters of Ephraim, and her name was Elizabeth.

And the servants of the BEAST zone were all righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord [nearly] blameless.

And they had no children, because that Elizabeth...was well stricken in years.

And there appeared unto her, an assistant of the mission President, standing outside of the temple...
And the assistant said unto her, Fear not, thou shalt bear a daughter, and call her name Hermana,
And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at her birth. '

Ok, enough blasphemy. Basically, what's happening is that 9 Hermanas are coming in this transfer, and there are only 8 hermanas left in the mission, so I'm being switched over to Spanish for my last transfer so I can train one of the incoming Spanish sisters. That means a double transfer while training a new missionary in a new language. If that isn't the trunkiest transfer call I've ever heard of. I will receive my new area and new daughter on Wednesday. I'm sad to leave, naturally, but super excited for the adventure to come.

Lots happened this week....
We went to the temple, and that was awesome.
Had some tracting success and taught a few lessons in Spanish.
We had our Ward Christmas Party. It was awesome. There was a talent show, and it was precious. All four of us missionaries gave the spiritual program, and we introduced the He is the Gift initiative. Pretty exciting stuff. I love Christmas, and love using this. I especially love the scripture they chose to put on the pass along cards. It helps us to establish unity with all other Christian denominations. Even when people we talk to try to put down our religion, the atmosphere changes 100% of the time, when we each just start testifying of the Savior. He is so good.

I was impressed as we were fortunate enough to stop by a less active 15 year old's while her best friend was there. We had heard about this friend, and it sounded like she wasn't the best influence. After hearing her story, and background, she is simply confused and has had a rough go with religion. The impressing thing to me, was her quoting John 3:17 rather than 16, and hear her explain her hope of the nature of God. We discussed the role of God, as a loving Heavenly Father, He loves us so much, that He gives us commandments and high expectations for our own gain. She is a good girl, and agreed to take the discussions. I would be super excited to teach her were I not leaving.
So many people here I would be so excited to begin/continue working with. This is a great area, but I have honestly felt that this area needs Sister Hall, and was happy to hear that she will be here to take care of it.

I normally try to avoid all the goodbyes, because I hate it. It's too hard. The ward, especially those involved in music were anxious to hear my transfer instructions since I have been accompanying the choir and playing the organ, subbing in Primary where I can, and so on. The choir director tried to assure me that they love me for me and not just for my piano abilities. Yeah, whatever. :) I'm kidding, I love this ward to death. The Bishop was teary-eyed thanking me for my work here. We talked about some of the happenings in the past few months, and it was inspiring. When we talked about Colby and Morgan getting baptized, I couldn't control my emotions anymore. There was nothing I did for that, it was just flat out a blessing from the Lord to be here at the time that they were prepared. Scott bore his testimony about the Plan of Salvation, and talked about the experience he had with the missionary discussions being taught in his home to Morgan and Colby. He testified of God's hand in having Sister Hall and I here, that we were the missionaries who needed to teach them. I don't know how we got so blessed. It is absolutely just a sheer blessing. Every time I get to this point in an area when I'm about to leave, I always reflect on how worth it the time spent here was. The most rewarding moment: I partook of the sacrament yesterday--Colby was passing it. That kid makes me cry. He has had the priesthood for a week now, and already fulfills his priesthood duties with such dignity, and recognizes the sacredness of the ordinances. I can't wait to see what God makes out of this kid.

One of the most important lessons I've been learning: grace. It is not in me to change. It is within Christ in me to change. I used to think I could make deals with God. For example: I'll open my mouth to everyone, and I'll expect God to come through on His promise to fill my mouth with what I need to say. that's not a bad thing, but it still gives me too much credit. The glory is to God. I can't do a thing. I can't even open my mouth without Him. It's not my nature. I do have to give EVERYTHING, my whole heart to the Lord, and plead for Him to change me.

I love being a missionary. Love y'all.

Hermana Sheffer

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 2nd 2014

"Careful. The missionaries can send you to hell. They're the servants of the Lord."

The mission is amazing. It's amazing how much strength it provides. So many blessings! Whenever I am struggling internally, someone presents themselves, and I get to focus on how much the Savior loves them and invite them to "come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." It's amazing that we can just keep going out here.

Wednesday was blessed. We saw a part member family. Only the wife was home. She is hilarious! She was working on a pumpkin roll, and was frustrated that it didn't seem to be the same recipe she had used the previous year. We had a good visit with her, and she invited us to come to have a Thanksgiving meal with them at 1 the next day. She told us she wouldn't tell her family that we were coming, because her husband would be thrilled as he loves missionaries, but her kids would chew her out. We were a little apprehensive, but she was insistent, so we accepted her offer.

Another part member family came into my head as we were leaving, so we decided to stop by. We were also a little apprehensive because we had been snubbed by the member in a store previously, and she would never respond to our phone calls. We dropped by regardless. They were bagging leaves. Perfect! We prayed really hard that they would let us help them. They were really nice to us, but wouldn't let us help at first. Finally, they let us. God answers prayers! We had a good time with them, and I discovered the most marvelous invention. They look like giant frisbees with claws on one end, but you stick your hands in them, and they bag leaves like nobody's business. I don't know where these have been my whole life. The non-member husband managed to disappear when he thought we were going to get spiritual, but his wife said it was a big step for him to get to know us and enjoy us.

We were tracting a neighborhood, and Sister Hall has the idea to use the approach that we were coming to share a Thanksgiving scripture. It worked really well. We met some awesome people who don't think they want the gospel just yet, but invited us to eat with them, and gave us referrals.

Team-up with mission-famous YSA, re-baptized, missionary-without-a-nametag April. I love her. We saw a less active family and shared an endurance/Thanksgiving message with them and it was awesome. It was nice to have April with us, especially since she is able to watch the news and converse back with people when they bring things up that we don't know a whole lot about. The world sounds crazy right now.

Thanksgiving day I was having a hard time in the morning. After my personal study, I wandered a little bit around the apartment cleaning--how I get in my zone and process things. I had never wanted to be home so badly. One of the sisters caught me throw my foot up to squash the kitchen trash down. She said, "Tell that trash how you really feel Sister Sheffer." The sisters cheered for me as I let it all out and punched the trash from nearly overflowing down to the bottom third of the trash can, bagged it, and gave it a strong kick across the apartment. That felt good. #missionoutlets We got our things together, and went out to save the world. We had pretty effective contacting int he morning, visited a shut-in in the nursing home, and watched the Thanksgiving mormon message with her (did y'all see the little kid say he was grateful that he gets to play hockey?). It was sweet. Then we went to our appointment with part member family that had invited us the day before. It was good. The kids warmed up to us after a while.
Afterward, we went to open the church for a party. A member of the SPanish branch received permission to have his nephew's birthday party there. The member is a convert, and nearly all the family and friends were not members. We helped set up and decorate, and were naturally roped into staying and practically force-fed a big meal. We had another Thanksgiving appointment at 7 with a super cute active young family in the ward, so we didn't want to go crazy, but didn't have much choice in the matter. :) I heard the convert's conversion story, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my mission. She told me about how many missionaries had contacted her, and tracted into her, and she turned them away. Finally, she was left a card from a missionary saying that she was prepared and that the gospel would bless her life with miracles. It impacted her, and she ended up taking the discussions and becoming one of the strongest members this church has. She is so consecrated, her husband joined two years later and is likewise an incredibly consecrated member. They own the bakery where we give service at. Such great people. As we were sitting and eating with them, who happens to walk into the church building, but the husband in the family we had the 7 o'clock Thanksgiving appointment with. He saw us, and just grinned. He was getting chairs for us for dinner later. You can't make this stuff up.

The active family was understanding about the party situation, and still wanted us to engorge ourselves. They made a good meal. We gorged. It was a good Thanksgiving.

We worked hard all week, and Sunday, found ourselves promising new investigators. We were tracting, and a woman opened the door who didn't seem terribly open. She agreed to let us say a quick prayer with her. After the prayer she seemd to soften, and we talked about the Savior for a good while, and shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. She loved it, and told us that she and her husband had driven through our church parking lot one time, but were disappointed to find that we didn't hold evening services like many of the churches here. She revealed to us that her husband is determined to go to our church. I told her pretty boldly they needed to meet with us. She agreed to read the Restoration pamphlet before we return this week. She looked on the back, and she told us seeing the word "mormon" puts most people off, but not her, because right above the on the back of the pamphlet is JESUS CHRIST and that is what matters to her. She said it seems obvious as we wear him on our nametags, and speak primarily about him that we are a Christ-centered church and there is nothing wrong with us as is so commonly spread here. They are prepared. I'm so excited to work with them. She loves her Savior.

The quote in the subject line comes from a brother in the ward. He said that to his 6 year old daughter when we were at their house doing a missionary lesson. So funny.

The gospel's so true!


Sister Sheffer

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 25th 2014

Hi dear family,

I just returned from a lacrimation session in the Library bathroom. I told President Hanks in my letter to him that since the news I received this morning, I would go bolder and testify with more conviction the things that I KNOW to be true. I know that God's plan of happiness for His children is real. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2 Peter 1:16. In our zone conference yesterday, the idea of standing boldly and defending the faith, and having confidence in our testimonies was weaved through every meeting. I know that the Plan of Salvation isn't a fable or a fairytale. It's a real thing. As I was reading Abinadi's sermon in my personal study this morning,  I took a big step back to look at those with whom I am working. We are a part of the Lord's work, something so much bigger than ourselves. We are working with innumerable forces on both sides of the veil. Abinadi is still working. I'm excited to meet him someday, because I have some questions for him. They're not untouchable. One day we'll get to have lunch with them, and "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." Helaman 3:30. The more I read the Book of Mormon, the more aware I am of the sense of family. Numerous times, we see success prevail when people remember the deliverance of their fathers. We all work together in this. I feel that I will get to work more closely with Uncle Vince now than when he was in Maryland.

I have told all of my companions about Vince and Val. The most down to earth, classy, gracious, and intelligent people I know. The senders of the one boxed package I have received on my mission. Just good people. I am so happy that God has allowed his sealing power to be on the earth so incredible people like them can feel the power of that bond through life, death, and beyond.

The fruits of the gospel are sweet.
Last Monday, we created a jeopardy game for fhe with Morgan, Scott, Colby, Max (5 yr old) and another family from the ward. It was fun and covered all of the lessons we had taught them. For missionary work, we worded the answer "what Colby wants to do when he turns 18" (Colby frequently expresses his desires to serve). It was the other team's turn, but when we read this, Colby shouted out "GO ON A MISSION!" Then he seemed so touched, and asked, "Is that really what the card says?" We affirmed it, and he asked if he could keep it. He keeps it in his wallet as a reminder of his goal. Such a good kid.
They had their baptismal interviews on Friday night. Our district leader, Elder Price, said, "well Morgan, you can go first, unless Colby is dying to." Colby was in the gym at this point, but as soon as Elder Price said that, he flung open the gym door, and marched across the hall to the room we had designated as the interview room. Smoothly flinging his hat to a chair, he said "let's do this!"

The baptism went so well. Everything was beautiful.  We held the towel for Morgan, and when she came into the bathroom, she was glowing, and said "that was awesome!" She demonstrated to me, Alma's description: "[she] came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit."
Her father came. His wife passed away in August. A sister from the ward put an early thanksgiving dinner together after the service for Morgan and her family as well as her own family who is close with Morgan, and a large part of her joining. At the dinner I had a good talk with Morgan's father. He said that with time he will take the missionary discussions.
Cool experience for me: Morgan's best friend's name is Becca. She and Becca were attached at the hip growing up and even into their adulthood. This is how Morgan came into contact with the church initially. Becca's brother Scott lives in Madison. I got to know him and his wife Cortnie when I served in Madison a year ago. Cortnie was dating Scott in high school and she was not a member. Cortnie is super cute, and Scott's siblings teased him about having a 'trophy girlfriend' as she didn't dress very modestly. Scott's mom always encouraged him to invite Cortnie to church. He was too chicken, so finally his mom invited him to church. Cortnie happily accepted the invitation, took the missionary lessons, and was baptized. She threw all of her immodest clothes away, as she didn't want anyone else to wear those clothes either. She now has two children, and teaches Sunday school. She and Scott are a powerhouse couple, and we taught a discussion to a nonmember in their home when I was in Madison. Cortnie joined the church here in the Alabaster area. They came down for the baptism, and it was wonderful to catch up with them, and hear how awesome it was for Cortnie having been baptized here 14 years ago, now get to see Morgan be baptized.

We taught the full first discussion to Barbara, and she was blown away. We invited her to be baptized, and she says she wants to continue learning, and believes it is true, but just has a hard time leaving her church she grew up with. She did attend the baptism, and called us later to thank us for inviting her. She wants to visit church, and has meant to, but hasn't been able to get ready in time in the morning. She is the sweetest lady.

Michelle Ray, my second companion back in MOntgomery passed through Alabaster with her parents. When we were companions, I was very strict with my diet, and refused to eat donuts, despite her on MANY occasions, trying to tempt me. I promised her that after her mission, I would eat a donut with her. We met up when they were here, and got donuts. It was amazing. She is beautiful. The owner of the donut place, unbeknownst to us, is the sister of a woman in the ward. She is not a member. We were happy to meet her, and hope that in time, she will allow us to send missionaries to her home. She doesn't live in our area.

Morgan and Colby's confirmation blessings were amazing! I scribed as much of it as I could and will type it up for them to keep. They have great blessings coming for them. Colby's spoke of his mission and the impact it will have on the work. Colby has great sway with people around him. His charisma is too large to be contained in a single room. He is going to be a powerful force as a missionary.

This gospel is true, and we are part of a great work.

Sister Sheffer