Sunday, September 29, 2013

September 29th 2013

Best week ever!
Last Monday night we went out with the Relief Society President to teach a woman we found while looking for a less active member. I actually contacted her several weeks ago with Sister Wright and she kept being unavailable and just telling to us to call her again on a certain day. I did so for most of last transfer and all of this one, and we finally got to teach her. It was at a time when she needed it. Her granddaughter had been taken to Birmingham with a brain tumor to receive medical care. We learned this after normal small talk upon entering her house. She looked at me and started to cry a little bit and thanked me for never giving up on her and said she knew that we were sent by God to her. She was in a humble, teachable state and received the first lesson beautifully and said that she felt peace and a burden lifted after the lesson. It's amazing how God has a hand in timing. We are teaching her again tonight.

The multi-zone conference was AMAZING. Elder Kopishke taught things that I needed. I have changed the way that I approach studying, now focusing 100% on my investigators and resisting the urge to puruse topics I want to learn for myself. Interestingly enough I feel a stronger connection with my investigators and am learning for myself like crazy! A focus that stood out to me was always approaching church, study, and anything else with a question. It opens the door for revelation and makes it much more meaningful. We always encourage our investigators to do so now, and I love being able to promise them that they will receive answers to their questions if they diligently seek them. Sister Kopischke is awesome. She has so much energy and enthusiasm, I learned a lot from her.

I got to accompany Elder Madsen, a crazy talented violinist in the mission. We played a neat arrangement of I'll Go Where You Want me to Go. I love getting to be a part of that, and always love seeing my 6'6" 300something pound mission president turn into a bawl baby.

Sister Ray and I were both excited coming back from the multi-zone conference and visited a less-active member. She has a strong testimony, but won't come to church. We have been seeing her for quite a while and have seen her nephew pop in and out, normally completely exhausted from work. Lately he has been talking to us a little more and even sat in for a few minutes. When we left he flagged us down and said that he wanted to start meeting with us. He is going through a divorce with his wife whose mental stability and reliability as a mother has spiraled downward. We look forward to being able to offer him and his children the peace and blessings of the Savior as they go through this.

Afterwards we taught the wife of a less active member who has come to church a couple times. She is very quiet and difficult to read sometimes, but she opened up more and was actually way more receptive than we expected her to be. I was so happy, I couldn't stop smiling that evening.

We got two new investigators in one of my favorite parts of Montgomery. The neighborhoods of full of people sitting out on their porch, and it's a very open, friendly community. When we went to teach one of them, a young girl with a little boy who wants to marry her boyfriend in the temple, by the end of the lesson, the porch was full of some of her friends who wanted to listen to our message. More investigators. :) I love how much people love Christ and love hearing and sharing about him.
In one of my studies this week, I was in 2nd Nephi 11. I love the connection that Nephi seems to feel with Isaiah because as Nephi sais, "he verily saw MY redeemer." he goes on to say that his brother Jacob has also seen him, making three witnesses, but God sends more to prove all of His words (us). We all have relationships with Jesus Christ and there is a unifying element that comes with that within our wards, and here in Montgomery with many others. The missionary's job is to help them foster that relationship through Christ's restored gospel.

Friday was Sister Ray's birthday. :D She is now 21. That was a great day. I wanted to do something for her as a surprise, but that gets difficult with a companion since she is with me ALL THE TIME. When she was in the shower, I scattered happy birthday notes all over the apartment including in the freezer, in her cereal box, etc. She will be finding them for weeks, haha. That morning we did some service helping an elderly lady in the ward make snowmen packets for the young women to assemble (we never know what our days will entail), then went to a yogurt bar where one of our investigators works. We hadn't had contact with her in a while as she wasn't returning our calls, but yet again, we came at a time when she was humble and needing some peace. The place was more or less empty so we got to share a good message with her...and eat yogurt for Sister Ray's birthday :). We had a great district meeting and ate cookies afterward for Sister Ray's birthday. We sang at a rest home that was having a birthday party for all the Spetember birthdays in the residence and ate some cake...perfect. The missionaries in our area aren't the best or strongest singers this transfer, and I had to use a keyboard since they don't have a piano, but they still loved it.
We visited a less active member who has been attending another church. She homeschools and is very clsoe with God, she said that she has been feeling little pulls to come back to our chuch, and since we have been coming around says that she knows it is time to come back and is starting to cut ties with the other church she has become very active and involved in, that was amazing to see.
We tried to see our investigator with the missing daughter. We were surprised when her daughter was the one who opened the door. Her mom wasn't there, but we did teach her and have a return appointment. This could be the perfect time for her, so that was a BIG deal. God is amazing.
We had two other succesful stops that night. We went by an inactive guy's house and asked him to help fellowship one of our investigators. This got him to church even though the investigator didn't make it. people love to be helpful, giving them an opportunity to serve is one of the best ways to help them come closer to Christ.
I treated Sister Ray to dinner, and when we got home we decorated a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting and dark chocolate M&Ms as is her birthday tradition. It was great fun. I also love that she had a birthday because we got music!! Her family sent some great stuff.

I'm super excited for a family we are teaching. They are active in a Baptist church and have declined invitations to come to ours since it conflicts with theirs, but we have spent time serving them through yard work and taught them the first three lessons. They have been reading the Book of Mormon and love it. They said that they consider us family and said that they wanted to start coming to our church. So excited, I love love love this family.

I spoke in church yesterday on being a leader. The talk went well and I got really good feedback, and also some loving counsel from a member of the Stake Presidency on how I could make it even better. I'm almost anxious to speak again so I can follow his counsel and make it better, but I'm happy with how it went. The ward is awesome, and the rest of the meetings were great. Sidenote: I have played organ for the ward several times including yesterday, and it is the puniest organ I have ever played, I had the volume on full blast and it was still super quiet, someone told me the speakers aren't set up. Be grateful for the organs that at least produce some sound.

While there are plenty of moments of frustration in this work, the small (and large) miracles always outweigh them. I am so happy serving. Sister Ray is the best companion ever, and these are great great people, and I'm grateful that God works through the small and weak which allows us to serve them.

Take care family,

Sister Sheffer

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sept. 16th 2013

Y'all are amazing. Also, thank you for everything you said to build me. I am staying in pretty good shape, at least enough that I love to bike, and can run an 8 minute mile consistently. :) I don't always recognize the way my talents can be used in the mission, at least not as easily as I recognize how other missionaries are meant to be here for certain people . Not that I am comparing, but I don't feel yet like I am THE missionary for anyone here that is going to make THE difference and guide them to change. I do feel like I am part of an amazing team and pulling my weight to touch lives and invite others to come unto Christ.
I'm glad I have a companion from Mesa too. She actually grew up in the military and was born in Germany (doesn't speak German), she's been all over, but went to high school in Sierra Vista and all her family is there and in Mesa where she lived for several years before coming out and where she is returning. We'll definitely stay in close contact because she is the BEST COMPANION EVER. I love working with Sister Ray, we make a great team and are having a blast.
I think Montgomery is pretty cool, especially since my less active friend showed us some of the historical sites like where MLK gave his speeches and some of the famous churches on our way to a Relief Society activity. That was really cool and very eye opening. It worked out well that I was studying 2nd Nephi 1 this week with 9/11 and all. Many of the messages we shared this week centered around ideas from that chapter concerning the promised land, we also shared about Captain Moroni and the Title of Liberty and connected it with the Armor of God. God has promised that this land will always be a blessing to those who are righteous, despite the turmoil that comes from those working iniquity. Of course the most important battle we fight is against Satan, and I love the protection that comes from exercising faith and holding fast to the word of God. I love that the scriptures are represented by both the iron rod to cling to, and the sword as our offense.
I don't know what is in the air, but all of our investigators are sick. Audrey is so sick that we feel that we can't teach lessons because she isn't mentally sound enough, she still isn't sure what's wrong since teh colonoscopy. Poor thing. Other investigators also are fighting more minor illnesses. Our investigator who wants to be baptized and dropped contact with us we finally found again. She had been through a lot before with incarcerated children, bursting her ear drum, and all other calamities. I wondered how much more the Lord would let her go through. When we finally got in contact with her again, we learned that her 22 year old daughter who had been living with her had taken her car and gone missing. It's been almost a week and she still doesn't know where her daughter or her car are. I feel overhwlemed trying to minister to her when she is dealing with so much. We cried with her as she whispered through misty eyes to us that Satan was dragging her through hell. I'm so thankful for the promises that we have through making covenants with God. Throughout the Book of Mormon, every prophet pleads with their people and their children to accept the atonement, repent, and come closer to Christ. Some listen to their words and others don't, but every time they are about to die, they always express their gratitude to the Lord and their peace that they will enter into His rest. While we want to save our families, and loved ones, in the end, the only salvation we can acquire is our own.
We got to go through the Birmingham Temple on Friday. That was truly remarkable. I love the new video, and just the peace, it has still carried through, and it was such a difference I felt before and after the session. Covenants are such blessings. That peace carried us through Saturday. Saturdays can be a little difficult because everyone is paying their devotions to the number one religion here: football. Everyone was happy this weekend, so visiting people after the games was good, and we got some gooooood food out of it, but during the game is hard. I have to admit it is entertaining to watch the people who are kind enough to open their door, in their Alabama or Auburn shirts and hats with barbecue sauce on the corners of their mouth, speaking super quickly to take care of whatever we need in a couple seconds and run back to the TV. These people are great. Lol.
I'm looking foward to what is in store for the rest of this transfer. It is great to get to know the ward better and continue finding people to share with.
Love y'all,
Sister Liz Sheffer

Sunday, September 15, 2013

September 15th 2013

The mission is crazy. It's crazy how much I love these people after 7 weeks. It's crazy how badly it breaks my heart to see the people I've come to lvoe so much suffer through things. It's crazy how much I love doing little things. I was picking up sticks in preparation of mowing an investigator's lawn, and I was ridiculously happy. I couldn't believe that this is my life and what a privilege it is to get to serve as a missionary. Biking? My favorite actividad! That's a good thing, because we cover the entire ward boundary now and have very limited miles in the car. It feels so good to be back on my bike! I love it, but I think I had pent up a lot of energy, because I've had a ton this week, and Sister Ray and I learned that she has to lead in biking because I go to fast (didn't mean to). Sister Ray is super sharp, and I've been amazed at how astute she is and how quickly she's been able to pick things up about the people we work with and the area. She took care of her grandma before coming out and walks, bikes and does everything super slowly. I find ways to compensate and have found things to occupy myself so I don't go crazy like picking up trash in front of houses while I wait for her to get everything settled, or recording thigns in my planner, doing push-ups while I wait for her to have everything ready to walk out the door. She is adorable, a great teacher, and just altogether a great missionary. We are having an absolute blast together and have already had a lot of success. I LOVE SISTER RAY!

We were walking through an apartment complex on our way to see someone, and we said something in passing to a man washing his car for his wife. We ended up having a good conversation about the gospel and set up a time to go teach his family. We were getting ready to pray with him when another guy passed in his car and said, "excuse me, are y'all praying? I'm going to pull over and join you." It was pretty cool. The second guy more wanted to warn us about our religion, but it was good conversation.

We taught a young man Sister Wright and I had contacted and it was great to see his faith grow. We are hoping to use a less active member of our ward to help teach him. We have been able to work more toes in the door with some other less active members. You know people can't resist our charm. I joke, we don't do anything, but it's great to see people start to soften and let us and God in.

Our investigator who wants to be baptized is still going through serious hardships. She was really sad to see Sister Wright go as they had a strong connection, and we haven't been able to see her since. She is sick and ordered by the doctors not to go to work. She has been taken care of by family, which is great, but we have been trying really hard to get in and give her a blessing, but haven't been able to. Some frustrating experiences, but it will all work out in God's time.

Other investigators are doing splendidly and letting us come back more after distancing themselves previously. We've gotten to serve and work hard in and outside of people's homes with weeds, grass, cooking, cleaning. Love it. These are great people.

We went to a baptism for an 8 year old boy in the ward. We tried to get investigators there, but it didn't work out. That was such a strong, spiritual experience. Stinking Primary songs made me cry the whole time thinking about our sick investigator and badly I wanted that for her--and for everyone! I want it so bad, and the Primary songs are so simple and beautiful and true! Again, it will all work out in God's time.

The less-active member who agreed to take yoga lessons and opened up to another sister in the ward is doing splendidly. After an appointment that we broke our backs to set up and get to fell through with our sick investigator, I called her and pretty much ordered food (she's a good friend, I can do that). We went over that night and actually taught her aunt who has been visiting with her. She has come to church a few times, but has no religious background and has been lost and confused with the teachings, but too scared to ask questions or meet with the missionaries. She was very receptive. We're excited to teach her more. She is so humble and willing to listen and was eager to start reading the Book of Mormon, pray, and meet with us more. One of the best parts was to watch the less active member help teach her, after she has been going through dark times, and questioning her own testimony. Her having opportunities to serve others has been the best cure for her depressing times. Love her to death, she is seriously one of my best friends in the South.

Well, this is AWESOME. I'm learning a ton, loving a ton, biking a ton, and having a blast.
Y'all keep being awesome.
LOVE Y'ALL!!!!!!

Sister Liz Sheffer

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 2nd

This week was nothing short of miraculous!

Sister Wright pointed out to me that two of our investigators now are white, I got kind of excited about that since they are generally less accepting. They are also our investigators who more seldom keep their commitments, lol. But I love them, we have a new one who is my unexpected good friend. As soon as we get over the overwhelming smell of smoke upon putting a foot in her house, I feel at home and have so enjoyed getting to teach her and help her move things around the house. She has some health issues, but is so smart and funny when she is alert despite her medication! She is in her 40s and lives with her 'husband' William who I am also enjoying teaching. He participates minimally, and doesn't really consider himself to be taking the lessons, but we try to schedule them when he is there, because he does listen actively. 

We got into the home of a less-active member and her three sons (husband is always gone) after 4 months of the missionaries attempting to. That was amazing. We seriously sat and said maybe two sentences and watched and listened in awe as she talked herself through her reasons for attending another church, gun control, common core, and then why she should come back to the LDS church and read the Book of Mormon. It was something else, we seriously do nothing but create an environment with the spirit, and invite to keep commitments. We went back later and mowed her lawn and cleaned her front and back porch, I'm sure I picked up over 200 cigarettes. Sister Wright who is quite a hygienic person was a little grossed out, but you just come to leave these people so much, you are more than happy to get down and dirty to help make their home beautiful. Her kids are awesome, she homeschools and they are super bright and very in tune with her. I'm excited to work with them more. We had a member come and mowed her lawn after we finished and she fed us lunch. We learned that she also has an underactive thyroid and does her own research and testing from labs and gave us some very enlightening info as to what could be going on with Sister Wright super helpful. 

PJ finally met with us again, it is always such an incredible experience every time that we are together. It makes so much sense that Satan would fight so hard against us being able to meet together. I seriously had chills the entire time, she is such a powerful spirit! She committed to baptism again! We gave her a church tour, which Satan also fought really hard against, but we made it happen. Also an incredibly powerful experience. We ended in the chapel and Sister Wright sang that super popular arrangement of I Know That My Redeemer Lives while I accompanied on the piano. Or course it was beautiful, but PJ made  HUGE deal about it, and couldn't believe it. I about lost it when I looked up from the piano and saw her just sitting in a pew  crying and shaking her head. She told the member who came with us "Did you hear that?!" She went on and on, but of course, it wasn't us, it was the spirit. I love hearing PJ call the church 'her church.' Her grandson she takes care of was sick on Sunday and she couldn't come to church, so we are still fighting against Satan. Amazing experiences. 

We had an amazing experience with one of our investigators who we thought dropped us. We decided to go by her house when we were in the area, and she was outside talking with a neighbor, she started to tell us that she couldn't talk then because there was an emergency situation going on. Her daughter had ran out of gas at a school picking up her little boy. We had met her daughter before, she was never very nice to us. We ended up in a rush taking two empty milk jugs and the little money she had for gas with leftover money a member gave us for lunch a few weeks ago when we helped her move and made it to the school with a makeshift funnel out of a slick (sweatproof) folder I had gotten and were able to help her daughter. She was humbled and asked about the church after opening up about so many troubles she is dealing with. She is in a pretty tough situation, but now we can help her come closer to Christ. Our investigator said that "God sent a miracle" referring to us coming by at the perfect time, and has been in contact with us again, and wants to come back to church. 

Another less active member who is depressed and pregnant, but one of my best friends here made some serious breakthroughs. She doesn't feel loved or accepted by the ward for her own reasons, so we weren't sure how a visit was going to go with her visiting teacher who wanted to help. Her visiting teacher is the Stake PResident's wife, very well-educated, the same one who helped us with yoga. She is an incredible person, but can be intimidating, so we weren't sure if our less-active friend would accept her or let her in. We went with her for a visit, and ended up being there for two hours. With the experiences the visiting teacher had overcoming a rare disease no one ever survives and lots of other miracles, she was able to get into our friend's heart and convince her to come to a meditation class, which is exactly what she needs. It was amazing. Again, we do nothing, but because she loved and trusted us, we were able to provide the opportunity for the visiting teacher to work a miracle. 

We had dinner at the stake PResident's home with this same woman. Their home looks like it came straight out of Pride and Prejudice, and it is amazing to see the relationship they have. The Stake President is incredibly task-oriented, I had never seen an yman so dedicated to washing dishes. He grilled us with doctrinal questions over dinner, I loved it. It helped me to see how much I've learned coming out here. 

I have come to connect with many of the ward members and investigators on deeper levels. This is good because TRANSFERS ARE THIS WEEK. They are transferring all 3 of the other sisters in the ward, and 1 of the elders. The other sisters have all been here for a really long time, and it is the only area in which they have served. The ward and the sisters are pretty attached, so it was an emotional Sunday. Bishop announced their departure over the pulpit, so everyone wants to feed us before Wednesday. The sisters have done so much good and the ward really loves them. I am a little overwhelmed trying to remember everything about everyone in the ward, and all of the missionary efforts they are leaving. We are not sure if they are calling three more sisters to come into the ward, or if it will just be me and a new companion and a set of elders. I've been counseled to be prepared to take over the whole ward boundaries with my new companion in case there is not another set of sisters. I am pretty excited, but there's a lot of work to do. 

I am still in awe at the confidence that is placed in us as missionaries, and at the work we are privileged to do , and the miracles we get be part of by doing so little. I love the people in Montgomery to death, and I'm grateful to have more time here. This work is truly amazing. 

I get to stay in my apartment, so my address will still be the same. I'll get to send a brief email home on Wednesday after I pick up my new companion. 

Love y'all!
Steadfast in Christ!

Sister Sheffer

P.S.  please excuse the poor writing/editing, there isn't time to go back and make it beautiful