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

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17th 2014

Awesome lesson with Morgan and Colby Monday night. The situation is so perfect. Morgan and Scott are totally in love, Scott does a great job helping us to teach her. He is such a good person. These are all truly fantastic people. They are just so ready! I feel so blessed that we get to serve here at this time and just watch it all unfold.

Tuesday we did the family mission plan with an older couple who have moved all over and landed in Alabama just a year ago. It was awesome. The wife's pen was FLYING coming up with people. Then she would stop, and we would give her something to help her think of more people, and the pen would go flying again. I had never seen anyone like that. It was awesome.
In the evening, we helped with the Relief Society activity. It was so good! Sister Hall is good at the craft stuff, so she would demonstrate, and since she didn't have much a voice with her sickness, I would shout out the directions, and just crack jokes. I got some of the sisters laughing who don't particularly care for missionaries. It's amazing to see little changes with little opportunities the Lord gives us.

Wednesday we had an incredibly powerful district meeting. Elder Price, my district leader, was on the plane with me from Phoenix to SLC over a year ago, and in my district in the MTC. It's crazy to see how much he has grown, and what a powerful leader he is. He shared his story--his parents are divorced, mom is not a member, dad is. He switched off every other week going to church. He knew without a doubt that this was the true church, but his mom wouldn't allow him to be baptized until he was 18. That was a major trial for him, not getting to hold the priesthood. He ended up getting baptized earlier than 18 in his teenage years, but it killed him to go against his mother's counsel for something he knew was better. The whole district was in tears. When we have the Lord on our side, he works everything out for us.
After District Meeting, I had a lunch meeting with President and Sister Nolan, who are leading the mission while President Hanks is recovering from his back surgery in Utah. President Nolan advises missionaries who are preparing to return home (in the far-distant future). He gave me some things to think about and research on Mondays, it was very helpful. Sister Nolan is a nurse, and Sister Hall had these weird things in her mouth that were very painful. Sister Nolan looked at them and said she had never seen anything like that before. We had talked to the mission nurse about them before, and she advised taking an antibiotic for that as well as the fever that Sister Hall had last Sunday. Sister Nolan called the mission nurse, and we got a call a few minutes later instructing us to go to a walk-in clinic immediately. We were there for 4 hours. Sister Hall has pneumonia, fever blisters in her mouth, a mild sinus infection, and a very slight ear infection! I don't know why this poor girl gets hit so hard with all of these at the same time. Poor girl was in tears leaving the clinic, and we went to Steak 'N Shake to get a milkshake that wouldn't hurt her mouth. When we walked in, I saw someone I recognized!
Background info real quick: When I was a sister training leader in Leeds, I got to know members in lots of different areas, one of them being Sylacauga. There was a sister who helped the missionaries out a lot. I remember months ago, asking her what we could do for her as she gives so much to the missionaries. She said to pray for her husband. He is not a member and a bit hardened against the church. I did so, but I haven't thought about him in a few months.
Back to Steak N Shake. This member happens to be there with her husband. She sees me, and beckons us over. They invite us to join them, and buy our dinner. We were able to get to know him, he is a super nice guy! We did a mini lesson, and it went over well. It was really simple, and he's not going to be jumping into the baptismal font anytime soon, but I thought it was such a miracle that she randomly ended up in Alabaster from Sylacauga (computer shopping), and that God worked the timing out just right so he could meet with missionaries in an informal setting and be softened, if just a little bit.

The rest of the week, we stayed in. We had been taking it easy and taking time to rest for Sister Hall to recover. She was prescribed a super powerful medication. She hates taking medication, and this is crazy stuff. It makes her feel weird (and act a little crazy :p), and it also knocks her out pretty quickly. Her body needs that as she has a hard time sleeping which makes it difficult for her body to recuperate from illness. She is supposed to take it 4 times a day, but it puts her to sleep so fast and for so long, that, were she to take it 4 times a day, she would literally be sleeping all the time, and she doesn't want to do that. I don't mind staying in, I've gotten lots and lots of studying done. Hermana Torres, the native Spanish speaker, went out with me while her companion, Hermana Torgerson stayed with Sister Hall. It was cool, I took the opportunity to introduce her to some Spanish contacts we had made. I had never been with a missionary who spoke native Spanish, it was super cool! We went out on the bikes, and it was freezing cold, but honestly, it felt SO GOOD. I was so happy to just get out, and I love being outside, and the leaves were falling in the breeze, and I just couldn't contain how happy I was to be in it. Y'all know I don't particularly care for the cold, so it was odd how happy I was. We interrupted a game of hackey-sack among 7 teenage boys and taught a little lesson. It was cool. They thought it was pretty cool, and actually gave us some referrals. I have moments that I am blown away at the youth of this generation. Both member and non-member, they just seem to 'get it.' The gospel rings true to them, and they want to help their friends. It was cool.
The rest of the week, I cooked, cleaned, memorized, read a lot. The Elders gave me a stock of amazing talks that were an answer to prayers. I memorized D&C 4 in Spanish, and honestly, it was really good for me.

Yesterday I played the organ again, and got to accompany the choir. We also got to teach Relief Society. Sister Hall felt well enough to help, and she has developed so much as a teacher! The thing I love most about being on that end of a classroom, and seeing the faces of all the sisters. These are incredible people with strong testimonies, and so much love for other people! A theme throughout the lesson was how prayer is most effective when it is selfless. I can feel the prayers of y'all as well as those in this area, and it is amazing to see what transpires int he lives of those we pray for. I know that because God is real, prayer is powerful. It works.

The district leader calls every Sunday night to get our numbers and hear about our week.  This week, obviously, our numbers were lower than usual, and when I told Elder Price it was a sick week, he said, "well based, on what I'm hearing, it was  SIIICK week." :)

Sister Sheffer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11th 2014

We do meet the most interesting of people. Among the multitude of people this week were a under cover detective, a ski-lift accident survivor, a German emigrant, and a Hawaiian Southern Baptist minister.

Tuesday we helped a woman named Barbara with her house. That is a big project. She asked if she could keep us for a week or two to finish it. We explained that we're not exactly service missionaries, but could help a few hours a week. She's a neat lady and has some incredible stories. She said she will visit with us at church, but wasn't able to make it this weekend.
Barbara lives in the same neighborhood as Justice, so we went to see him afterward. He hadn't kept his commitments again, and kept changing the subject as we tried to teach and testify. It was clear to me, we needed to drop him, so we had a discussion with him, and he finally admitted that his mom wasn't a fan of mormons, and he wasn't likely to read what we told him to. We told him we would be available if he ever did decide to investigate it more and left. Throughout my mission, I have been pretty heartbroken when people with so much potential don't go anywhere. Countless times I have met and taught people who seem so golden, and then they avoid us, don't return calls, drop off the face of the earth. I remember back in Montgomery, standing in front of PJ's door and just praying that she would open to us. After a good bit of time standing and knocking and waiting, and knocking again, Sister Ray would encourage me, but tell me, "Sister Sheffer, she's not going to open the door," and we would have to move on. In a training we received from the church mission department, we were told that the only way we would get the Lord to lead more of the elect to us, is to prove to Him that we can tell the difference. We discern between who is elect and who is not ready by inviting. We are trained on the importance of dropping people so we use the Lord's time perfectly to find and teach the elect. While I've gotten more used to letting people go, it has never been easy for me. This time I got to encourage Sister Hall. She was pretty discouraged. I told her not to worry, that when one door closes, God opens another door, and we would find someone prepared.

We biked to...we didn't even know where, we just biked. I made some Spanish contacts that were pretty promising and sent the info to the hermanas. Then we had a good conversation with a woman on her porch. We asked where she would recommend going to get the least amount of doors slammed in our face (I can't remember how I phrased it, but it honestly was something along those lines). She offered a large neighborhood nearby. We walked our bikes down, looking down streets. I had a super subtle feeling about one particular house. I've learned to trust those subtle feelings and we knocked it. It was the only house we knocked that evening because we were there for an hour. The man who answered said elders were meeting with him regularly, and unexpectedly stopped. He had a notebook of questions and research he had done about our church. He is honest and sincere, and very skeptical. He is a logical person, and researched Christianity with serious scrutiny before developing a testimony of the Savior and deciding to call himself a Christian. He is now doing the same thing with the mormon church. He had good questions, and it really made me come alive to be prepare to answer his questions, which thankfully, all have answers. He said he wants us to teach his children, so they can decide for themselves as well. I feel so good about this family. The father has got to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. It was dark by the time we left his house, and he was very concerned that we were on our bikes. He told us to text him when we got home safely because he was going to worry about us. I know if he studies with faith as he did with Christianity, that he will recognize the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and our faith.

Thursday night we were biking home after a member appointment, that a non-member happened to show up to. We were planning on sharing something different with the family who had just lost a loved one, but when the friend showed up, I had a feeling to share something different, but wasn't as well prepared. I FUMBLED with the scriptures. I NEVER FUMBLE...but I did. In the end, I don't even know what I shared, but I testified and Sister Hall testified, and the spirit was very strong. I was still mildly embarrassed leaving there. On our bikes, I was reflecting on what happened when I see a guy about our age get out of his car. I brake quickly and say what's up, then use an approach President had trained us on, using religious questions. He played along for a little bit, and then said, "Okay, I'm going to spoil this for y'all...we're mormons." I wanted to buckle my bike helmet on my face. He is less active, and his mom came out, and we had a good, brief little lesson since we had to make curfew. God's timing. I still can't figure out how we ended up there, because I thought we were going out of the neighborhood the same way we came in, but we didn't.

AWESOME restoration lesson with this man and his 4 granddaughters, two of them were 5. It was awesome to see the cute little girls answering questions and bringing the spirit. he said he knows it's true, but he admitted it would be hard because he's so old and has only known the baptist religion his whole life. We have a follow up appt.

Remember Byra? We packed up her house and cleaned it out, since she finally got her new house in Columbiana. This is a great step to prepare her to accept the gospel. She was so appreciative, and that's my favorite kind of work sometimes. Cleaning is therapeutic. Afterward we got to meet some awesome people at a birthday party for a 1 yr old in the ward. The mom went ALL OUT. It was way fun, and neat to put a good light on mormon missionaries. One of their neighbors wants to get together with us and the member family to learn more.

I can't believe how many visitors came to the trunk or treat party. It was awesome!

Yesterday we taught a lesson with a member family and one of the YW's friends who is investigating the church. She is 17, an absolute sweetheart, awful family situation. The YW had already given her a Book of Mormon, and she had already started reading it. She was excited to learn more, and is so open. She doesn't live in our ward boundaries, but we will work with the missionaries over there to help give her a foundation, and prepare her to go to church on her own in her respective ward.

Afterward we got pretty busy with appointments, and finally started heading back to eat dinner after 8. When we got back to our apartment, our neighbor was out with his dog. We had met him briefly before, but hadn't got to know him very well. We talked with him for a bit, then he said, "okay, I have a question. What do y'all do?" He then launched into how he had been living next to missionaries for 5 years, but it was always elders, and he felt embarrassing asking them what the heck they were doing going off on bikes every day in suits. He told us about how he had asked his stepmom and his friends if they knew anything about mormons, but had never asked missionaries directly because for whatever reason he was embarrassed. We had a really good talk with him, and will be teaching him Tuesday night. Too cool.

Transfer calls came Saturday. Sister Hall and I will be staying together in Alabaster, but we will be moving in with the hermanas in the same complex, different apartment, and elders will be moving back into our apartment. It will be very good for the ward to have elders again. We're so sad that the set of sisters we have been working with, and have gotten so close to are going home this week. They are absolute champions and have become close friends.

The gospel is true. The Book of Mormon provides comfort and truth.


Sister Shefffer

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3rd 2014

Long week. So good.

We organized Ms. Barbara's junk room. She doesn't like to get rid of things, but sometimes we can convince her to throw things out. I love her and she loves us too. She called us to thank us and tell her that she considers us family. She said we make her want to be more zealous in sharing Christ, and in praying more meaningfully for people. We were really touched. I think she's the sweetest woman I have ever met.

Wednesday morning was quite emotional. We said goodbye to Sister Wong and Sister Farnsworth. We couldn't even talk because we were all crying so hard. I've never sent a companion home, but that's what it felt like. It was so weird to think we wouldn't see them at the next missionary event, but that they were leaving for home. They are such stellar people.
That morning we cleaned out our apartment to prepare for the elders to move in, and then moved our things into the apartment with the Spanish sisters. We had to clean that apartment too. As Sister Jones says, "You can't preach the gospel like an angel and live like a pig." We got it clean and cute and feel settled in. The elders that got transferred in are awesome. They are both brilliant and learn quickly. The ward already loves them, so we are very grateful they're here. I knew one of them, he had to go home 4 months ago after tearing his ACL playing basketball. He recovered remarkably fast and fought to come back out. The other one is newer and HILARIOUS, upon meeting him, he says, "Sister Sheffer! You're my Grandma!" He started his mission in Clanton when my daughter Sister Warren and a former roommate from Madison were serving there. He says Sister Warren helped to train him. Man, I'm getting old.

We did not stay in for Halloween. We were expected to continue working in safe areas. We went to one of the counselor's in the bishopric's homes. We love his family. His daughter and wife have both teamed up with us before and are wonderful. In fact this is the family whose home we taught Natalie in last Sunday. She came to church yesterday. :) They got a fire going on their driveway, and we hung out there and passed out candy with pass along cards. I met a Spanish family that had been taught by missionaries before. It was cool. The kids actually really liked the Jesus pictures, and we got some teenagers to commit to going on I'd say it was pretty successful.

We did service at a place that missionaries rave about. It's called Delicious bakery and the Spanish branch president who is a convert of a little over a year owns it a works it with his family. They were excited that I spoke Spanish, and we got to fold boxes, and sample pastries. pretty good deal. they showed us their missionary board of missionaries who have come and served. Many of them I recognized, and then he pointed to a picture of Iris Mendoza and said she was the one who taught him when he was baptized! I was excited to tell them she went to seminary with me! So crazy. They love her.

Saturday there was an 8 year old baptism in the ward. It was quite an experience. The family of the child getting baptized has 9 kids--blended family with adopted children, it gets really confused. He is very hyperactive, but has such a strong spirit. He wouldn't sit still during the service, and the whole program was unconventional, but I felt the spirit so strong! This child wanted to be baptized because he knows how important he is. He was confirmed, and again, it was SO STRONG.

We did the Family Mission Plan lesson with two families yesterday. One was the Relief Society President's family. Love them. Lesson was awesome, and then another adorable little (in stature) family. They're so cute. I love watching the spirit work with these families. This generation of youth has no fear with missionary work. I am amazed at the youth, they have desires to share and they do! Afterward, plans fell through so in the last hour, we ended up at Walmart. We don't typically do store contacting on Sunday (or at all if I can find people another way), but we did last night. It was amazing. I taught a man in Spanish, and his demeanor definitely changed by the end of the lesson. His wife is expecting their second baby soon. It was neat that we could even feel the spirit teaching in the back of Walmart. We were talking to a couple younger people, and a young worker approaches us and asks who we are. When we tell her, she said she had some questions about the mormon faith. She has been attending lots of different churches trying to find truth. She is so open, and said the lesson we had with her there really opened her eyes. We're stoked to meet with her again. She works in our area, but lives out of our area, so other missionaries will do the primary teaching, but we will continue to fellowship and answer questions at work. Both of those lessons were miracles. We find lots of  prepared people who don't live in our area. We give lots of referrals to missionaries in surrounding areas, which we love, but also have wished that we could find prepared people who live in our area. I honestly am just happy to be doing this work. I love to teach and it renews my spirit every time I get to teach a solid sit down lesson, but we have to work hard to find people prepared.

I feel that Heavenly Father shows us how much He loves us, by placing people in our path who are ready to be taught right then. Yesterday was a wonderful fast Sunday. We had fasted as a mission on Friday, and were happy to fast again. God inadvertently answered prayers by allowing me to play the organ for sacrament and teach Gospel Doctrine--Isaiah 40-49 :). There was no notice for either of those, but I loved it. I love that the mission has changed me, but I also love feeling like myself. Whenever I get to edit someone's essay, teach a class, play the piano, or speak dance or hockey with someone, it makes me happy. At district meeting this week, I trained on virtue from chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, and discussed how we feel the power and authority of our calling more when we keep our minds focused on our purpose in all hours of the day.  I love when God allows us to use our unique traits and personality to fulfill HIs purposes. I have seen in some other service we did this week, how meant to be the timing was, because my companion and I happen to connect so well with certain people where other missionaries wouldn't, and vice versa. Speaking of connecting with people, Mally is here!!! We're going to lunch after this and it makes me so happy to see her.

Love y'all.

Sister Liz Sheffer

Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20th 2014

I love Lake's contacting tool with the survey. President just trained us on briefer approaches in both tracting and contacting. It includes a brief introduction, a statement, and then a question. The questions on that survey are perfect. I want to try the full survey, I think that's cool. To help our mission improve in finding, President Hanks has us count "unplanned invitations." We used to just count contacts, but everyone counted those differently, so President Hanks said in order for it to count, it must be a specific invitation to be taught, and then we have to ask for referrals. Twice. Whether or not they're interested, we always ask who they know who could benefit from meeting with missionaries, or from service. Often we ask them to think of their friends, family, and acquaintances who may be going through a hard time, have religious questions, are suffering from the loss of a loved one, are sick, lost a job, had a divorce, recently moved in, etc. The same things President Monson encourages when asking for referrals from members. If they give us one, we ask, "Who else do you know?" and keep asking until they have nothing. Our mission standards of excellence are 70 unplanned invitations in a week, so 10 a day, and those have to be independent of tracting. We do store contacting sometimes, which is honestly my least favorite. There are missionaries here who will spend HOURS in Walmart doing store contacting. I have had miracles from store contacting, but I find it's easy for missionaries to be distracted and ineffective in stores.  I can normally find more than 10 people on our way to and from appointments, or while we do less active hunting. I think it's a lot easier to talk to people outside than in stores, but sometimes weather forces us to do our contacting inside. Sister Hall and I committed to never getting under 100 unplanned invitations a week, and we always surpass it. I don't have a strong testimony of numbers, because we're about people, but it does bother me when I don't get my numbers, so I make a strong effort to hit our goals. Of all the key indicators missionaries focus on, the only ones that we have 100% control of are the unplanned invitations and unplanned acts of service (unique to President Hanks). They can say no, but we will still invite them. I don't know why I went on that rant--it's just interesting to see the differences in missions. We have it easier here in our contacting (I think) because of the friendly nature of the South. We'll get nasty people sometimes, but people generally like to help people, and they all love Jesus, and it's not weird to talk to strangers's the South. I imagine that would be harder out West.

It was a fantastic week! It was a long week. We got to see Meet the Mormons also, and it was wonderful! Every single missionary was crying with the missionary mom story. So trunky!!! We watched it at the church building that we had personal interviews with President Hanks in. That was possibly one of my most favorite interviews with him. I've worked with him for so long now, that I see him as my mission president, but we're also good friends. With my recent release, he asked my advice on calling and setting up mission leaders, and it was nice to just talk since we have mutual trust. Thinking about it just makes me happy, because I love and respect President Hanks so much. Knowing that I have gained his respect and trust and a lifelong friend makes me uber happy.

I didn't tell y'all about Justice last week. We met this kid outside a store on his bike. He made this box thing that holds an amp he also tweaked and connects to his iPad (he build a holder for the iPad into the contraption as well. He bikes around bumping tunes, and videos some of his rides. This kid is so cool! He's 18, but a junior in high school, and still seems very young.  He was interested in the gospel, and we taught him the restoration since then. He has great questions.

Saturday morning we went to see him, he wasn't home, but we briefly met his mom, but she didn't have time to talk to us. We both felt impressed to tract a certain street. The first house we knocked we got a return appointment. Her name is Letoya and we're teaching her family tonight. We met some cool, uninterested people, and then saw Justice's bike! He emerged from a friend's house and we were able to teach him and the friend. We contacted another one of his friends who came by and asked for referrals as always, she sent us to a lady on the street, who definitely needs some service. She was excited we came by. She is a retired teacher and used to have elders volunteer at the school, and loved them. I think she has great potential. God definitely had a hand in the timing of all that. We went back to our apartment to meet with a laurel.
 We were blessed to have two set appointments with investigators to take her to, and more blessed that they both fell through. As a back up there was a less active family in the area I felt that we should go to. We were slightly delayed with a few detours and waiting for traffic, but finally arrived in the general area, and decided to park a little bit away from the apartment and walk the rest. There was a man just getting into his car, so I asked if he knew the members. He didn't, but we conversed and he was open to us sharing a lesson with him. We taught him a 30 minute restoration with the member. It was incredible. His name is Jonathan, he has a brilliant mind, and the gospel makes sense to him. We learned that he was taught by missionaries when was 12 and set to be baptized, but his mother had qualms and called it off. He is probably close to 30 and it was amazing how much of the gospel he remembered. He is definitely prepared. We invited him to be baptized and while his response wasn't a direct 'yes' or 'no,' he definitely answered in the affirmative. God's timing is remarkable. He was visiting his girlfriend's house, and said he just stepped outside to his car for a breather, he didn't even know why. Then we approached him. The laurel connected with him on an experience he had, and I'm still marveling at all the details that made that perfect. God is a micro-manager.

We got into the homes of more people from the ward. With Stake Conference and General Conference, I feel that even though I've been in this area for a month, I still don't know the ward very well. We've done what this ward calls the Family Mission Plan, with several families, and made some other appointments with other families. The spirit has helped us out so much. This past week, I have felt that I know what I need to do, most of the time, and the spirit definitely brings things/names/people to my remembrance. Sister Hall is killing it. She hates biking, but will suggest it some days because she wants to like it. She has been approaching people on her own, and really just stepping up. I'm so proud of her, and she makes me so happy. I'm very grateful for her memory and skill with logistics, she brings so much to this companionship.

I got to play piano in Primary yesterday during second hour. I really enjoyed that. The chorister had her dad, the former bishop come in with a bunch of old ties, and based on how well they would sing a song, he would cut off his tie at the top, middle, or bottom. The current bishop passed by, and he called him in, and the current Bishop asked if the primary children would sing a song for him. One of the kids called out, "if you cut your tie!" Bishop said, no, Bishop E had planned on cutting his ties, but he hadn't. The kids sang and did a good job, so good that the former bishop distracted Bishop D and cut his tie off!! Bishop was cool about it, but seriously wasn't planning on that.

I love this ward and area. I'm so happy we keep getting to know the ward better, and see them get excited about the work and give us referrals. We have a member missionary class coming up, that I"ll write more about later after it happens. We got trained on it this week, and it's outside the box, but approved by area authorities because it's handbook-friendly. It's going to be really cool. The Stake has been working on it for over a year, and we get to execute it!

The church is so true. So thankful for the scriptures and the spirit they enable us to have every day of our lives. We can get direction and be led by the spirit every hour of our days. That constant companionship is something I've come to love and enjoy more than ever before.

Thanks for your unwearied service. Y'all are amazing.

Sister Sheffer

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 16th 2014

Hey y'all!
I love that y'all get to be involved in service. My testimony has grown greatly this week on unglamorous service. In the work of Salvation as well as in life, we don't often get to see the fruit of our labors. I remember Mrs. Williams and Mrs. LaFontain telling the freshmen team of teachers that we wouldn't see the results of our teaching, but the junior teachers would start to see it when they got our students. As a covenant making and keeping people, we promise things to God without fully understanding God's part of the promise. When the scriptures speak of thrones, kingdoms, principalities, I don't really get what that means. I have learned that I don't have to understand God's part, I just have to understand my part. Sometimes my part is not glamorous, but I'm ready to run whatever errand the Lord needs.

We were blessed to find promising new investigators this week through tracting. The Bosley family is AWESOME We talked the dad after knocking his house, and his questions were great. He is fulfilling the vision of the South by recognizing holes in the other churches. His twin 15 year olds came home at the perfect time. We taught them about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. They were so receptive.They asked great questions and said it seemed true. We invited the to pray individually and as a family about it and we set a return appointment for Saturday. This was Thursday. The zone leaders called us that night and asked what our plans were for Saturday. We told them all we had scheduled so far was a lesson with an awesome family, a lesson with another new investigator we found in that same area, and a service project for a family in the ward. They said " you want to cancel all your appointments for that day and come to Columbiana for a service deal?" Sister Hall and I looked at each other and tried to figure out a way to negotiate moving some of our appointments and only coming for half the day. God ended up providing a way, and we moved/canceled our appointments and arrived in Columbiana at 7:30am with three other sets of sisters and three sets of elders. It was for the Alabama Historical Association. They had a big conference at the Methodist church an we helped set up, prepare, and serve breakfast and lunch and clean up. In between meals there wasn't much for us to do, so we made some calls and conversed with the other missionaries. It was actually really nice to be around all the other missionaries, so I wasn't complaining. After lunch, Sister Hall and I were assigned to stand outside the arts council building and hold up a sign that said "Trolley Stop" for the trolley that came every half hour. Again, lots of down time, we were doing this in the heart of the city, so we could be proactive in talking to people, but we weren't allowed to proselyte unless people asked questions. I did practice a few twirls with the trolley sign, having been inspired by a happy young man we met sign dancing for an insurance company. He loves his job. I told Sister Hall after a good lesson we had with him on the Book of Mormon that I think I would enjoy his job, and that might be something I look into on returning to Phoenix. Wish granted--I got to try my hand at it on my mission. (Limited, obviously I can't go too crazy while I'm in a skirt with a name tag). I was enjoying myself, but during the time when no one was passing, Sister Hall commented that it was a lot of time away from our proselyting area to not be doing missionary work. She said something like "Sister Sheffer, I know how your mind works, is it killing you not to be doing work?" I was actually enjoying myself, and a year ago, the situation probably would have bothered me, but after over a year of adapting to the slow pace of the South, and taking advice from my missionary leaders to take a chill pill, I wasn't really bothered. A volunteer, who we learned was a member passed through and told us how huge this service was. He said the church had been working for years trying to establish a good reputation in the community, and through persistent service, had made it. For this event, the mayor specifically requested young, lds missionaries. He loves the missionaries. It was a big deal, that we didn't offer service for this event, but were invited to come. The mayor and staff were very grateful. That made us feel better about the day lost in proselyting since right after service we had the adult session of Stake Conference. Service softens stony souls.

There was a less active sister we decided to visit. Turns out she's not really less active, she just can't get to church with some health issues. Her husband had been out of town for a few weeks, and she was feeling very lonely. During our visit, we talked very little. I was fascinated by her, and just asked questions about her background and her testimony. Both her husband and her only son have become anti, but she stays strong in the gospel. We bore testimony to her very briefly, and set a time to come help her organize a closet. When we came that day she was in much better spirits. She told us she was amazed at how one single visit from us had given her hope she hadn't felt for a long time and completely changed her perspective on things. That was certainly not us, we didn't even do anything. She told us that we carry a powerful spirit and it changed the atmosphere in her home for good. She then told us the excruciating pain she had been dealing with in a foot had miraculously subsided. She said, "You know who did that, girls!" We certainly do know who did that. God is so loving. I love this woman and am excited to get her more involved in the work.

Yesterday, we had a lesson with a part member family. We had been praying for them, and I really felt impressed that the mother just needed to feel love. Before the lesson, I decided to tackle dishes. Sister Hall talked with them while I did it, because I couldn't multi-task for this very well. Ever dish I picked up had 3-5 little scurrying roaches. I finished, swept the kitchen picked up trash. She was very grateful. God blessed us to feel greater love for her. The love in that room was almost tangible. That experience along with the lesson was exactly what Sister Hall and I needed. For some reason, both of us felt a little downhearted and homesick. Serving other people and bearing testimony is ALWAYS the perfect antidote.

We felt prompted earlier last week to text a lady in the ward. She let us know that her 13 yr old daughter was having a hard time with some things. We asked what we could bring for her and she said a lesson on acceptance and purpose would be good. We arranged a time and showed up. We knew this girl had been having some health issues and figured that she's 13 and trying to understand these issues and all the insecurities that come at that age. We were wrong. She had gotten in trouble at school and her mom and her boyfriend from the words of his mouth, "invited the sister missionaries to come help (their) family." He then used the word "intervention." We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but we were happy the boyfriend who is not a member had that kind of trust and confidence in us. I was so grateful for Sister Hall who has a gift for relating to people. I had never had that kind of experience for myself except in parent/student meetings as a teacher. Interesting experience. I was happy to get out of there. I want that family to be eternal so badly.

There were some other cool experiences, but the member's iPad I'm using since the library is closed freezes every few minutes so this is a long process. I'll close with one of the greatest spiritual experiences I have ever had. Crazy enough, it was in a role play. None of our investigators are progressing, so for this role play, I last minute decided to just be Liz--myself. I invited Sister Hall to practice teaching the restoration on me. I had real questions, but they faded as she continued to teach. When she got to the Joseph Smith story and the Book of Mormon and told me about how Christ came to America, I couldn't hold the tears back. This message is so true, and it resonated so deep, like something I had always known. Like most missionaries who were born into the church, I wonder how I would respond to missionaries and the lessons had I not grown up hearing the gospel.  I feel so blessed to have this gospel in my life. "Called to know the richness of His gospel." This work is so real. A high councilor over missionary work talked about the reality of the work and testified of how every single person in that conference could get up and share an experience of how th had a part in the work. There was a lady we met who didn't want to take our card--it was a really funny conversation. She finally said, "OK, had it not been for this neat mormon I met on a plane two weeks ago, I wouldn't care to check this out." We won't see most of the fruit of our labors until the next life, but they are plenteous and sweet. Alma 32:42-43.

Love y'all,

Sister Liz Sheffer

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9th 2014

Last Monday we had fhe with a part member family. The mom's name is Joy and she has 3 beautiful blonde girls, two teenage, and one 6 yr old. They all converted a few years ago, but are semi-active. Her boyfriend JP just moved in with his two girls. They are an adorable family. The two families mesh beautifully and Joy and JP are the some of the best, nicest people I've met. JP came to church last Sunday which is when we solidified an appointment to do fhe. It was his first one and he was so excited! We had a lesson on recognizing the spirit, it was really neat. There was a powerful moment when Sister Hall was bearing her testimony and I know JP felt the spirit. He is a police officer and has a crazy work schedule, but oh, do I want to see this family become eternal! The girls came to mutual on Wednesday and it was awesome. It will take the whole ward to bring the family in in their entirety. I don't think Cato is out West, but it is one of the best department stores for sister missionaries. They sell lots of classy, skirts that are long enough for us to wear and have great sales on dressy clothes and jewelry. Every sister missionary here loves Cato, and we are fortunate to have one right down the road from us. We have popped in there to do some contacting and met the workers, who we're good friends with now. One of the names is Asterik, and she is so precious. When we stopped by to see her, she and her coworker were frantically trying to catch a lizard. We did some service. :) I was able to trap it, and Sister Hall had the courage get it into a trash can and take it outside. We then had a really neat lesson with Asterik on prophets while we helped her put out some new clothes. Pretty cool, but it takes a lot of discipline not to be eyeing the clearance while we're teaching. FOCUS. I was astounded when I learned that she has three children, one of whom is 13, and she looks not much older than us. People here age so gracefully! Nobody has wrinkles! Some people say it's the slower pace, others say it's the humid climate, I don't know what it is, but it throws me with people's ages. 

Funny story.  I've told y'all how the youth are super strong in this ward, and there are several laurels preparing to serve missions. We text them a scripture every day from our studies and challenge them to be use it during the day. We also had root beer floats between conference sessions with them so they could invite their not-yet-member friends. Anyway, we  have lots of fun with them. We went out on team-ups with one of the laurels named Kiera on Tuesday. Kiera needed to eat dinner and offered to take us to Zaxby's--a good southern fastish-food restaurant. She told us that one of the young men from the ward just got a job there, but we didn't see him, apparently he was working int he back. While we were ordering our food, I ended up talking to one of the workers and inviting him to visit The next night we went to the church for our coordination meeting which starts a half hour after mutual--awesome because it gives us a chance to associate with the youth. The young man who works at Zaxby's came up to us and told us what unfolded after we got our food the evening before. His story went something like this, "So, apparently you gave my manager a card with y'alls #, right after y'all sat down to eat, one of my coworkers went up to my manager and said, "Dude! That girl just gave you her number! And she doesn't even KNOW you!" My manager was like, "Nah, dude, it wasn't like that," and my coworker was like, "yes, it was dude, I SAW it!" "Nah man, it really wasn't, she's a missionary..." Then the member was able to tell them that we were from his church, and defend his poor manager. We laughed about it for a while, but at least all his coworkers know he's a mormon, and more people than the manager want to go visit We've had some good experiences tracting and contacting on our own, and did splits with the relief society presidency Thursday evening. So cool. I love straight up serving. There have been chances for us to show our love for members by cleaning for them after surgeries and getting to teach and strengthen the kids while we do so. The RS president is amazing. She just goes and goes. She is always tired, but she gives more anyway. We had zone training this week and it was excellent. The leaders in our zone did a wonderful job, and the 4 departing missionaries this transfer bore their testimonies. My mama, Sister Wright was one of them. I can't even say how wonderful it was to talk with her, and do a musical number with her for her last zone training. Our experiences together over a year ago mean so much more now. She is an angel and has changed for the even-better over the course of her mission. She gave a powerful testimony. One thing she said was, "own up and live up to the power and authority of your calling." Which way do we face? We met with Byra and were able to help her. She is having a really rough time. She got full custody of her youngest grandchild, but is struggling finding the means for day care. There is delay in the house she was supposed to move in to, so she is living out of boxes. Our last lesson wasn't being received well. She will not be getting baptized any time soon. But we will continue to serve her. She will understand the significance of all of this sometime. I sure love her. 

Conference was amazing! What a wonderful weekend! So many prayers answered! After conference God super-blessed us to be able to exceed our weekly goals when we didn't think we would meet some of them, and we were able to find new investigators. One is another part-member family. Wife is less active, husband is Catholic, and with the other missionaries pretended not to speak English. For some reason, he didn't pull that with us, and when we visited them, actually opened up more than the wife did. He agreed to weekly meetings with us on his only evenings off. I switch on and off with Spanish with them, which seems to make them more comfortable. The others we haven't gotten to know super well, but they are a family that was referred to us. We'll see them tonight. They seem way cool. Once again, God answered our prayers thoroughly and delivered on His promises. I love this gospel. I love our leaders, they are truly men of God. 

Steadfast and facing with the Savior,Sister Liz Sheffer

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

September 29th 2014

So....some updates on our gators from last week. We went back to teach the three older black men--whom we had taught in a storage shed type thing. I know it sounds really sketchy, but just trust that it's not, it's completely open and facing a road. I promise we're being safe. Anyhow, we went back to teach them and were surprised to see not only the three men we had taught previously, but an additional 5 other people. Upon seeing our arrival, Mr. Shephard excitedly shouted out, "my teachers are here! Now y'all folk need to listen to what these two ladies have to say!" ONe middle-aged white man chuckled and said he would listen, then asked what church we were from. When he learned we were mormons, his demeanor changed and he immediately started bashing. Sister Hall shrank, and I politely defended and answered questions. We had an interesting discussion. He had no valid argument, which was apparent to the other people there. In the beginning, he wouldn't let me finish a sentence until Mr. Shephard piped in and told me, "why don't you just TELL him what you told us the other day about your beliefs." I replied, "I would love to, Mr. Shephard, but I'm afraid he won't listen." The other man back down a little and said he would like to listen to what we had to share. We shared a short restoration lesson and testified. The spirit was present until the white man started bashing again. At this point, we were just trying to get out of the situation. I felt a little trapped, so finally just stood up, smiled as genuinely as I could, and said "It was SO nice to meet you, we have to be getting along now. Mr. Shephard felt really bad, and expressed his desire to read the Book of Mormon. We left him with a copy and are trying to find a way to meet with him by himself this week. The other two gentlemen are very kind, and we enjoy discussing the gospel with them, but they are not open to change. I still have a good feeling about Mr. Shephard, whom they call "Shep."

We had an AWESOME lesson with Byra when we went to her home and taught the restoration. She said there is no way this could be fake. We asked if she would be baptized, and she said yes, but she wanted to be baptized in a river. We can make that happen. We tried to commit her to a date and she said she would have to pray about it. When we followed up the next day, she hadn't had time to read the pamphlet all the way through again and pray as she had committed to do. She asked if we could come with her to her church, and she would come to ours the next week. We made sure she understood our purpose as full-time ministers for our church. We are still hopeful she will step up and keep her commitments so she can feel the spirit again and get answers to her prayers.

Wednesday was my first exchange in several months not as an STL. It was nice. Sister Carr came with me. We had both heard about each other, and had seen each other at MLCs and other meetings, but had never had the chance to work together. I took the opportunity to plan a good day on the bike. That felt way good. I loved getting some good sun and having a chance to bike hard since Sister Carr is a pretty strong biker. Leeds was her first area and she was there a long time, so it was cool to get to talk about everything that happened in the area. We went to a part member family we are starting to work with. The 16 year old, Tricia, is not baptized and isn't huge on religion, but agreed to hear the discussions. It was a powerful lesson. Tricia isn't used to feeling the spirit, so we had to spend some time talking about that. I think it was most powerful for her dad, who pretended not to be listening, but we would see him looking through the pamphlet, and we asked him to explain the priesthood and what it has done for him to be able to exercise it. He bore a sincere testimony and expressed a desire to exercise it again in his family. I want so badly for this family to be eternal. They want it too, but will progress slowly. That is just fine, as long as they are in an upward trajectory. I love this family.

Thursday we had so many sweet experiences. It hit me hard while I was studying that God cares about what I am thinking, and He knows and cares about what is troubling me. Having received a greater understanding of this led to more sincere prayer and telling God of my desires. It was amazing to watch the rest of the day how God was fulfilling those desires every hour of the day. We were using the gps to find a less active recent convert we had heard about named Chip. Sister Hall is still learning how to work the gps, and told me it was two houses before the actual house. We were on a highway, so I couldn't slow down enough to turn into that one, and turned into next driveway. I figured we may as well knock that house while we were there. We found a young man named Gavin, who knew Chip, and had been asking him about the church. We had a good lesson with him, left him a Book of Mormon, and set up a time to meet with both him and Chip. We were surprised to meet Chip, he is HUGE, super tall white man with a few piercings, dreadlocks, and a multitude of tattoos. He is the absolute nicest, neatest guy. He was excited we had met Gavin and said ever since the missionaries came and started meeting him, Gavin would ask him to tell him about what the missionaries said after every lesson. Gavin is a little socially awkward, and was nervous to meet with people, so Chip was ecstatic that Gavin was excited to meet with us. We're excited to teach them together.

Friday was our district meeting which was AWESOME, and we were blessed to meet people in our apartment complex who were open to us teaching them. We met one part member family that does foster care. We had an appointment set for yesterday, but they flaked. Still a blessing to find them. We have another appointment tonight to help one of our neighbors' sons with his reading and writing and then teach them. We also met this DeAnn who is way neat. She works as a paramedic and has two children. Zoe just turned 12, and Isaiah is 9. They're way fun kids. They invited us to their birthday party, which was Saturday. It was crazy! There were so many kids! I'm glad we went, because DeAnn definitely needed some help. It was really fun. She loved the aspects of the gospel we shared with her and invited us to come share our messages in her home. So excited!

The women's broadcast was so wonderful! I love President Uchtdorf. What truth that God knows something we don't know. He teaches over and over that I don't have to understand his part, I only have to understand mine and submit, and just DO.

I loved Ward Council. The Bishop and other leaders are awesome! They are so willing to help, and missionary-minded. It was a great fast and testimony meeting, we got to teach gospel principles on Charity. This was cool, because Sister Hall pointed out how we were able to live what we taught later that day. We were visiting some less active members, and met one family that was getting ready for their son's 16th birthday party. I was so happy the mom accepted our offer to help. We went to work and transformed the house and finished a cake in 45 minutes. Mom, you won't believe that she handed me 8 pictures and things that needed to be hung on the wall along with some nails and a hammer, and said "put them wherever you want, if I do it, I'll get OCD and take forever." I was a little intimidated, but remembered back from the Young Musicians' Summer Festival before my senior year of high school at BYU, one of the piano teachers saying pianists can measure perfectly with their hands if they pretend to play an interval. I  used this to hang the decorations, and think they turned out pretty good. The family was happy with it. I love that the mission lets us do things we wouldn't normally be comfortable doing. Cleaning their bathroom wasn't even gross to me (even though it totally was gross). Sister Hall and I were just happy.
May I just take a minute to talk about how much I LOVE vacuuming?! It all started about a year ago when we got bed bugs and I had to vacuum the whole apartment along with the mattresses, and UNDER the carpet. It was nice since as an introvert, I need time by myself to recharge. Missionaries NEVER get time to themselves, but I learned that nobody tries to talk to me when I'm vacuuming. Thus I found a polite way to have alone time. It's therapeutic. I love Leeds, but our vacuum didn't work very well, so it was even more stressful to expect to see instant results, and not get them. Now our vacuum is wonderful, and their carpet was nice and dirty, so instant results were sweet. I also just love this family. We got to share a short thought from our study about the Stripling Warriors which ended up being perfect for them. I'm excited to go work with them more, now that we have a good relationship.

The mission is absolutely crazy. I think I have had a freak-out session on average every 1.25 days that I conclude in my head there is no way I can continue to live in such confinement, or just keep going, or not be by myself. However, every time I battle this in my head, something in my heart takes over and finds a way to give a little more to someone who needs it. Then I'm fine. Arrows are out again, and I can keep laboring. Every. Day. At the end of each day when Sister Hall and I have come in, we have talked about what a great day it was. Every single day we have been together we have been able to see the hand of God.

I love Sister Hall so much. I am so happy God sent her to me so we can learn together and support each other. She is such a good soul. She shared more about her family life, and I am in awe at the legacy this girl is creating for her family.

I know that God loves us and cares about our thoughts and desires.


Sister Sheffer

Friday, September 26, 2014

September 22nd 2014

Crazy miracle before I left Leeds. JAck is a less active member I love
with lal my heart. His step son is serving in Phoenix, and since then
he has been more open to us coming. He cooks us awesome meals every
Sunday and has a lesson. The past few weeks he has been keeping his
commitments to read from the Book of Mormon. We committed him to go
through a BoM and highlight meaningful verses to him and write his
testimony in it. He texted us Tuesday morning (my last day in Leeds)
and asked if he could take us to lunch before I left. At lunch, we
asked him what kind of person he wanted us to find to give his BoM
too. He said someone like him.
Sometimes last week I dreamt about a place in Leeds--it is going up a
mountain (they call it a mountain here) and very curvy. I dreamt we
biked up there and found someone. We had appointments for the rest of
the day, which thankfully God canceled for us so we could find someone
like Jack. I asked Sister Madsen if she wanted to go to the place I
dreamt of. It was a good bike up there, and I prayed telling God that
He would have to direct us pretty clearly since our time was short,
the area was big, and we didn't know where to go. As I was biking I
hear someone playing electric guitar. I stop and start talking to him,
he's smoking, has got tattoos, piercings--looks just like Jack before
he joined the church! it was beautiful. The spirit was strong as we
testified of the restoration and he told us he wanted to read the BoM.
I told him there was a bible study every Sunday after church at Jack's
house, and that Jack also wanted to quit smoking. His name was Curtis.
He was excited at the prospect of having someone to help him quit
smoking. I'm sure Jack won't mind that I invited him to his house, and
I'm sure Jack will also decide he wants to quit smoking. As we were
walking away from that, feeling fantastic, we saw a styrofoam cup on
the ground that said "JACK'S" (Southern fast-food restaurant). The
whole thing was a great miracle.

Pres. and Sister Hanks called Monday to tell me he was releasing me as
a sister training leader. The three of us had a great conversation in
talking about all the work we had done, the miracles we had seen, and
just thanked each other for all the service.

I was double transferred with a new missionary into Alabaster! Sister
Hall is awesome. Struggling with lots of health things, but I know we
are where God wants us to be, and already seeing awesome miracles.
I'll have to write later, the computer is going to kick me off.

Sister Hall is from Castedale, Utah. She's 19 and did rodeos,
swimming, and stuff. She has an incredible background. She was trained
for 6 weeks in Scottsboro by someone who lived in the same apartment
as I did when I was double transferred to train Sister Warren in
Madison. Poor thing only got to work for 3 weeks as she has been sick.
I was miserably sick for a few days starting Tuesday night, so we were
sick together. We were still able to work hard. She is SUPER excited
for this transfer, because in our first full day working together, she
said she taught more lessons than she had her whole mission. God is
blessing us. I'm so grateful I get to be here with her.
The ward is awesome. The ward mission leader is super cool and wants
to work closely with us, and everything is focused on how we as
members and missionaries can work as a greater team. I love it. There
are over 30 youth. HUGE! It's so fun, I'm so excited! We met some of
the part member families, and committed the not-yet-members to take
the discussions with us. We've also been doing lots of finding on our
own. After Wednesday when we went shopping together and I went hard
talking to everyone I could and inviting them to have us in their home
for a message, she said "Oh my gosh, I didn't even know contacting
could be like that! It's not even awkward!"  We've had plenty of
awkward since then, haha, but we are going hard when we go, and
letting her recoop since she is still getting over the doctors don't
know what. We aren't to ride bicycles, so we have to walk, drive our
limited miles, and work with the members. It's going to be so great.
She is a champion and she makes me happy. As we were going to bed we
were talking about how she is already coming out of her shell. She
made a store contact all by herself while I was getting someone's
information. We were so proud of her! While we were talking about it,
she told me again how excited she was for this transfer and encouraged
me to give her feedback. "Sister Sheffer, seriously, if you tell me do
so something I will DO IT. I've only been out for 6 weeks and you have
no idea how much I have heard about you, you're a mission legend!"
Tears. It's humbling to see how God can use us as His instruments. I
don't know what she has heard, but President has taught us recently
that we make a much bigger impact than we think we do for either good
or for bad. I know each of y'all have made an unforgettable difference
in so many people's lives and you aren't even aware of it. I know that
we are not the source for people, but merely the resource to draw
people to the Savior. I love Him. I love how greatly we can rely on
Him through everything! He is working shoulder to shoulder with us and
the work is so rewarding. And so fun! I remember how scared I used to
be to be bold, to invite people to be baptized, to talk to people, and
I'm still scared sometimes, but God has taken away so much fear. I am
so thankful to be exactly where I am at.
We get to work closely with some other sisters, and it is awesome. I'm
so grateful for them. They go him at the end of this transfer and are
true champions for the Lord. They are so sweet and considerate and
kind as we try to find the balance in working and getting adequate
rest. This mission has the greatest people serving in it! I just love
this so much!
God blessed us to find 7 new investigators since Thursday including
three teenagers, three older black men that gather every afternoon to
talk about Jesus and are searching for more truth.--we had a GREAT
lesson with them. I was surprised at how sincere and receptive they
God also blessed us to have an investigator at Sacrament meeting. We
walked in late as she takes care of her two grandbabies, and we went
to her house early yesterday morning to help her get everything ready,
and she followed us over.

continuing, sorry, today is crazy.
So, the investigator is following us to the church and had to stop and get gas. I would've been mildly concerned about losing trust walking into our first Sunday in the ward late, but we were walking in carrying diaper bags and stuff, and the ward is awesome. We were trying to entertain the little ones during Sacrament meeting as best we could without holding them, but it was a struggle. I was thankful for an answered prayer when the Relief Society President came and offered help so happily. The investigator's name is Byra. We helped her move on Saturday and are going to teach her tomorrow. She is  super nice lady.

It's been kinda funny being sick with Sister Hall. I woke up Saturday feeling loads better than I had the three previous days, and I was oh so happy! My voice, however, was absolutely shot. I sounded awful! Sister Hall is still hesitant to teach, so it's me talking for the majority of it unless I explicitly say something like, "Sister Hall will share..." It's ironic that I feel great and sound like poop, while she looks like a model and feels like poop. My voice is a little better today, and I just have a lingering cough. She is doing a bit better, but still struggling with feeling queasy. We tried biking on Friday and she tossed her cookies half a mile into the ride. She is SUCH a champion! This is the very beginning of her mission and she really wants to just serve.

Okay, I'm going for real this time. The church is true. We've been focusing on the Book of Mormon as a mission, and are reading it together all the way through by December. It is so true! Can't wait to watch it change more people's lives!

Love y'all lots!

Sister Sheffer

P.S. Pray for Sister Hall that we can find out what is causing her health issues.

I have the utmost respect for this crazy kid. He was my first zone leader, and then served as my zone leader again when I was in Huntsville. He is stellar and has inspired me greatly as a missionary.

What Sister Hall and I look like tracting a trailer park in Alabaster. Alabama has so many trees, it's crazy.
I was able to extend the time for a few more minutes.

Pray for Sister Hall that we can find out what is causing her health issues.
I have the utmost respect for this crazy kid. He was my first zone leader, and then served as my zone leader again when I was in Huntsville. He is stellar and has inspired me greatly as a missionary.

Last PDay in Leeds. This kid's name is Brandon, he works at Walmart. I talked to him one day and told him he looks like the main character off of Hair. He updates us everytime we seem him about his pursuit of the girl of his dreams. He is working at Walmart to save up money to buy a car so he can take her out. He is seriously in love. It's just like a movie. He finally showed us a picture of her right before we took this. She is a gorgeous barbie doll, but look super nice. Hilarious kid.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

September 18th 2014

We have been seeing an abundance of miracles! This week was no exception.

We started the week off with an exchange with our Anniston sisters. Sister Wells is one--my former comp who goes home on Thursday. We ate barbecue to celebrate her mission before the exchange. I brought her comp to Leeds. I lived with her in Madison for a transfer after Christmas. She is an awesome missionary. It's neat that several months later, I can see a different spirit about her and see how she has grown and matured. She desperately wants for her family at home to embrace the gospel, and works diligently for other people. She's inspiring. We taught the Nicolas, and then had an AMAZING experience.
We had received a referral for a man named Clay from an investigator. Sister Madsen and I had tried previously and met a kid our age named Alan. We taught Alan who is unsure about his belief in God, and said we would come back Monday evening to meet Clay. When we asked about his relationship to Clay, he said that he grew up with Clay and Clay had always taken care of him. Given this, I was picturing a middle-aged man.
I brought the sister from Anniston to meet Clay Monday evening. I was surprised after knocking on the door when a 21-yr-old kid full of light answered and said, "Hi, I'm Clayton, I've been waiting for y'all all day!" We were a bit taken aback, but went inside. Kamesha, a 14 year old girl who gave us the referral was also there, and another kid I hadn't met was lying on the couch watching TV. Clay invited us to sit down around a table, was eager for us to share our message. I asked if Alan was there, and he went to the back of the house and retrieved him. I walked over to the couch and shook the hand of the guy watching TV and asked if he would like to cut the TV off and join us. He did accordingly. The feeling was amazing sitting around the table with a wonderful sister, and these four young people. They were fully engaged in the lesson and shared great insights as we taught the restoration. The spirit was so powerful. We knelt together and Kamesha offered a prayer. After she finished she said. "I haven't even read the Book of Mormon yet, and I already know it's true! This is true!" Clay just kept saying, "this is so neat....this is so cool."
A few days later, Clay committed to baptism for October 4th. He feels so good. God is so good for leading us to him.

Other highlights:
Sister Madsen and I had been painting up a storm in Cassie and Bill's new house, getting ready for them to move in. We were still in grungy clothes when she dropped us off at the church to meet the district leader who was bringing us a baptismal suit for Loretta. It started POURING rain, and Sister Madsen and I set off to walk home to change and do weekly planning. As we are literally soaked head to toe walking home, and honestly, thoroughly enjoying every second of it, a woman rolled down the window of her car and said "here!" as she threw us an umbrella, and then drove off. Sister Madsen and I just looked at each other--that was the sweetest thing! I seriously love the people of the South so much! I love them more and more every day. I love the South more and more every day as well. Everything. I LOVE biking (which we've done A LOT of recently) on the one lane roads surrounded by thousands and thousands of trees. I think the humidity is even growing on me. I love this so much. These people are the salt of the earth.

Sister Madsen and I MET THE SOUTHERN VERSIONS OF KATIE AND BROOKE!!! Their names are KRISTA and BROOKLYN!!!! Cute little blonde things. We taught their family, and Brooklyn wrote a question down on a piece of paper and handed it to us. It said, "can I help bless people?" We tried to answer her question, but she interrupted and said, "no, I mean on the streets." We realized she wanted to come door to door with us. We were all about that. She and Krista introduced us to all their neighbors, and we loved every second of it. We didn't meet anyone receptive, but it was absolutely precious to see these girls interact with each other as sisters (JUST like my sisters) and with their neighbors. How sweet they just want to bless people. Their parents are okay with us teaching the family, but aren't as enthused about it yet as Krista and Brooke are.

We were teaching a less-active 10-yr-old boy on his porch and he told us he has a testimony of prayer because God helps him win at volleyball, football, and video games. "Of course I'm going to win if I'm praying and they're not! LOGIC!!" He hasn't been to church for about two years, so we were surprised when he said, "I don't care what anyone says, the Book of Mormon is TRUE!" He told us of how he read from it, prayed, and felt happy. We asked if he had told his mom about it. He said no. We challenged him to tell his mom, and ask how she knows it's true. He accepted. Also referred us to his precious little friend (who he literally outweighs by 100 pounds) he plays football with.

Crazy times! We had 4 sisters stay the night with us at Sister Fowler's house. I was put in charge of getting a musical number together for our multi-zone conference with Elder Zwick. I asked one of the Gadsden sisters to sing--she has the voice of an angel. The Gadsden sister were supposed to pick up another set of sisters for the conference, so all 4 came and spent the night with us so we could practice the musical number, and only drive 20 minutes in the morning to the conference. So much fun! Sister Madsen and I meant to be in at 9 rather than 9:30 to be ready for the sisters to come, but I saw a camaro stopped at a gas station and HAD to talk to the owner. It's a theme for the mission. We learned he actually played football for BYU! Crazy, so then Sister  Madsen and I ran a mile in our proselyting clothes just after 9 to get home at exactly the same time the sisters arrived. So much fun! I'm going to miss Sister Madsen, life is always a party with her.

Having the Zwicks was absolutely amazing! I learned so much! I got to play piano while they shook everyone's hand. The thought only briefly passed that I wouldn't get to shake their hand. I glanced back to see everyone had almost gotten through, so I chose a short song to finish things up. I was surprised right as I was finishing to feel Sister Zwick hugging me from behind. I stood and Elder Zwick was standing and smiling next to her. He shook my hand and thanked me for the beautiful music. This is just who the Zwicks are. With the notice of a day, they have packed up and left everything to fill long assignments in other countries, and they just exemplify love. When they tell us they love us, I really believe it.
It was an amazing experience to have a Missionary Leadership Council with the Zone Leaders and other Sister Training Leaders led by him. He offered to perform any of our sealings in a specific room in the Salt Lake Temple--the same room he was sealed in, and his favorite to perform sealing in. They said great things that inspired me to be a better missionary, but I'm more inspired by the people they are than what they said.

President and Sister Hanks-- visited our ward last week and were invited to lunch by MerryAnn. They accepted and had lunch with her, the Elders and some of her family she had invited. They shared that story when called upon to share a principle. They chose a principle of charity of love. Needless to say I may have cried a teensy bit. MerryAnn's testimony grows deeper and deeper and she never stops giving.

Loretta was baptized on Saturday!!!!!! God helped us remember the details, and everything went smoothly. We asked a convert of two years from the ward to perform the baptism--his first one! We asked another convert from January--I think I've written about the Hammonds--to perform the confirmation. It was wonderful to see them exercise their priesthood, and they enjoyed the opportunity. We were able to get lots of the ward involved in the talks, set-up, witnessing, praying, leading, and all that, and it warmed my heart to see how wonderful this ward is when they come together. Loretta is fitting in beautifully. Earlier this week we had several different members come to teach her, and when the RS President came to talk about callings and visiting teaching, Loretta expressed interest in serving in nursery! The Nicolas will be such a blessing to the ward!

We got transfer calls Saturday night. I thought I would get to stay here one more transfer, but I am leaving. I have had some of the greatest learning and growing experiences here and seen some of the greatest miracles. I'm eternally grateful for the relationships I've formed here, and how I've come to love the stress of the mission. I really do. I love the stress. I love the chastenings of the spirit constantly inviting me to step it up and be better.

There is still so much work to do in this area, and I always ask myself if I did enough. As I was reflecting on this on a bike ride to an appointment, I saw a couple loading things into their car, and jumped off to help. There was a group of little boys walking past, and one of them said, "Hey, I know them, those are the same two ladies who helped MY mom." I remembered about two months ago in that same exact spot helping a woman moving in. I think that was an answer to an unspoken prayer. When we are on the Lord's errand, we don't even realize the good we do or the impressions we leave.
I know that you are changing lives just by being who you are.

This gospel is so true, I love working shoulder to shoulder with the Savior. I am sad to leave this area, but no matter where we serve, we serve with the Lord.

Love y'all,

Sister Sheffer

NOTE: The following is an explanation (we requested) of a program that Lake and his companion came up with to involve members in missionary work and increase their pool of investigators. It sounds like it is working well.

Yes so its a three visit program.
Visit one:
-Explain that preach my gospel is for everyone and ask the members to pull out there own copy of preach my gospel. Ask the members what there idea of a missionary is, ask them who the missionaries are, and explain that as members we are all missionaries. State the missionary purpose.
Read one of the quotes of your choice found in the beginning preach my gospel about members working with the missionaries.
Read in chapter 13 of preach my gospel under "the ward mission plan" there is a qoute that says "it will be a great day when members are not only praying for all missionaries, but for the missionaries in there ward" (it says something to that affect) Then write down the names of the missionaries in the ward on a piece of paper and give it to the member inviting them to #1 pray for the missionaries in there ward by name.

-#2 Invite the members to pray for a missionary opportunity every day.

-#3 invite the members to read the section found in PMG chapter 9 "The importance of Members"
Then set up a date (usually in one week) To come by and follow up on the invitations. Also ask the members if there is anything you can do to help support them in there calling, the idea during the whole visit is that instead of being focused on what the members can do for the missionaries, the focus should be what can the missionaries do to make the members life/calling easier. If the member doesn't feel that you sincerely want to make there life easier it will be hard to have there trust. All invitations should be written down clearly.

Visit two:
Follow up on the three invitations and do role plays with the members, teaching them how to ask (for example) a co worker at work if they "would be willing to listen to a breif presentation about their faith." Practice with them and make it fun and short. Invite them to continue doing the first two invitations. Depending on their situations and the people they know, invite them to invite spicific people to hear the gospel from the missionaries. If they haven't read the section in preach my gospel, read it with them.

Visit three:
Try to set up a family home evening them them for this visit, and do what is called "The Magic Box"
The Magic box is a little dificult to explain, basically you bring a box and put it in the center of the room with the family telling them that the box is magic. Then you ask your companion to step into the box, when you steps in the box you give him compliments and tell him about his strong points, and then have him step out of the box. Explain that you want everyone in the room to have a turn in the magic box, and starting with one of the children, have then step in and give them compliments, then your companion will give them compliments, then it goes in a circle until every member of the family has told the person in the box what they like about him or her. Continue until every family member has gone. Someone always cries in this activity, usually multiple people do. Explain that as missionaries we want everyone in the world to feel the love that the family is feeling and ask for referrals. There are three rules to the magic box, one :no sarcastic comments, two, the person in the box cannot talk, and three, you must look the person in the eyes as you compliment them. When people step in and out of the Box I like to make funny noises for each step, it makes it more fun.

By the end of the three visits, the family has your trust, the family knows how to do missionary work and understands that it is there responsibility, and they feel that the Elders have brought love into there home. Like I said, we got 16 referrals from this in just a month, and we are continuing to get more.

I hope everything was clear, this program isn't anything official. My companion and I came up with this. We usually do the first visit at dinner appointments. Some things we adjust depending on the situations of the families.