Wednesday, April 30, 2014

April 30th 2014

I don't get why I'm so ridiculously happy, but I've been waking up with a ton of energy and enthusiasm, enjoying Sister Wells, and loving the work more than ever. Much credit can definitely be given to some quality time in the sun with Scott (my trusted bike). We have been biking mucho, and the sun and extra endorphins, and having my normal hue of skin and an awesome watch tan just make me happier.
The work has been going so well. Our ward mission leader assistant ordered 100 copies of the Book of Mormon and we created an index of awesome stand-alone scriptures from it that the ward members could highlight and we could later place. Sister Wells and I went to mutual with the young women this past Wednesday to pump them up about it and they also made bookmarks and wrote their testimonies. It was really sweet to watch them. One of the beehives said there was one scripture she was going to underline in a glitzy pen AND highlight it because she wanted whoever got the book to read it so badly. I promised her that the Lord would help us find someone very special to give her copy to. Another miamaid asked, "Sister Sheffer, is it okay if I give this one to a friend, and then highlight another copy for y'all to give out?" Um...YES!!!!!! It was awesome, and greatly increased my motivation to find elect to give these copies to. We've placed several and had some good experiences. There is such power in testimony. After reading the testimony of a young women leader and the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses, we asked our terminally ill investigator, David, what he was making of the testimonies. He said, "Well, I think I'd better read your book!" Love it. David is a good one. He drives a bright red Nova and on the days he feels well he is a lot of fun.
We're teaching another ill man named William was a referral from his not-yet-member neighbors. During our second teaching visit we started reading from 1 Nephi. He read out loud, and at one point I asked if he could pause so we could discuss what we had read so far, and he said he wanted to keep going. We couldn't stop him from reading the first two chapters. He said he was excited to read more. He's another good one. We potted flowers for him for his porch since he sits out there to read. They make it happier. In that same neighborhood, we saw a bucket of soapy water and some sponges next to Amoz's car. (He's the awesome 15 yr old kid we've had a hard time getting in contact with recently). We got permission from the oldest person at home (10 yr old kid) and washed the car. Amoz came home with a friend while we were washing it. He was surprised by the service, and we got to teach a lesson and watch a rugby video with him and his friend. We set an appointment to meet the dad later today.
A lady we tracted into called and asked if we knew anyone who would loan her tables for a garage sale over the weekend. It was very last minute, but we were able to contact people in the ward and get her 7 fold-up tables to display things she was selling. She is having a hard time finding work due to some health issues and upcoming surgeries and was so grateful for the help in set-up. It also gave less-active members an opportunity to serve. Service is awesome.
On exchanges, I went to Decatur with an hermana to help a program called AHMEN that was created by the United Methodist church. The ward the hermana was serving in got a bunch of people to help prepare and load an 18 wheeler with medical supplies, glasses, crutches, wheelchairs, cleaning supplies, and all kinds of things to go to Honduras. I witnessed a miracles that day. I got the job of checking labels of boxes before they were loaded to make sure it matched with the pre-made manifest so it could go through customs. I watched the truck be filled more than halfway within just a few minutes. I looked at all the pallets they were hoping to load and thought there was absolutely no way it would all fit. The forklift operators said the same thing. I seriously watched after the truck was filled past the halfway point, these volunteers load boxes after boxes after boxes...and truck wasn't filling up. They were able to send ADDITIONAL supplies, and there was still some room. It was truly a miracle as I sitll can't make sense of it. The workers there said every year God would somehow either expand the truck or compact the load, and it would always fit. WE developed a good relationship with the volunteers there, and have set something up with the elderes in Decatur to help them translate documents for Honduras. That was pretty cool.
Stake Conference was this weekend and it was awesome! We attended with some less active members who loved it, and after the Sunday session we went on splits with the RS president and her sister. Sister Wells went with the president to return tables from our investigator back to the members, and I went with her sister to contact since we were behind on our numbers for unplanned invitations. It was raining really hard, so we had to change plans from going to a park downtown to going to stores and the indoor mall. I was so impressed with how brave she was! She said she would watch me to try to understand how to approach people. I don't feel like I'm very good at contacting, but I know that if I just open my mouth, it's good enough for the Lord and he blesses the effort. The first lady I saw had a super cute outfit, so I said something like, "you are dressed so pretty! Did you go to church today? How were services?" She was nice, but not interested. The next person we saw was a man dressed in jean shorts and a t shirt. Sister Green excitedly asked him, "Did you go to church today?" He responded, "no." She said after, " you want to?" He chuckled and said, "no, thanks." It was so cute. Sister Green is adorable, she is super pettite, older, and has the cutest face in the world. It was fun being her companion and we talked to lots of people, and the last couple we talked to with an adorable 3 month old baby accepted a return appointment! I'm SO excited for them, their names are Stephanie and David. David spouted off lots he knew about the mormon church from one of his LDS coworkers, it was pretty cool.
Downtown there was this huge event going on that people set up these booths with food and cool things. It got rained out--a great opportunity for Sister WElls and I to run around in the rain and help people pack up their things and load things in cars and what not. Service is awesome. People were so shocked that we would just help and not expect anything. It was awesome.
I love meeting so many people who are prepared because of the example their member friends. I always wonder when those friends will learn how instrumental they were in preparing them to run into the missionaries and have opportunity to receive the restored gospel. That is y'all. Y'all don't even know the good you are doing and how instrumental you are in God's work.
I've been pondering what it means to truly rely on the Lord. I've concluded that means I have to do the hard things, and push myself beyond the hard, uncomfortable things I can do on my own to the point that I'm doing things that I cannot do without the Lord's help. I've been so much happier being continually outside my comfort zone and doing things I wouldn't normally do. We are part of a work that is so much bigger than ourselves, and that is reason to rejoice!
It is so good to be a missionary.
Love y'all so so much.
Steadfastly loyal in Christ!!
Sister Liz Sheffer

Sunday, April 27, 2014

April 21st 2014

THis week, I was way excited to do the referral activity with the EQP and his young family. HIs wife is a convert and she is AMAZING. They are so in tune with the spirit. Every time I talk with them, I feel spiritually nourished. This family knows what's up.

As they prayed over specific names, and waited silently after the prayer. Brother Mazanis confidently circled two names on his paper saying the two he thought the least about were the two who were prepared. Sister Mazanis was a little more hesitant. She said her prayer had undoubtedly been answered and it was her grandfather who she had no idea how to contact due to some family drama/disconnection. We set goals with them and followed up the next day to see if they had been able to contact anyone. Sister MAzanis, miraculously, was able to get a phone number for her grandfather and talk with him!

We also did this activity with another family in the ward. We did with a dinner appointment, which we normally don't for this activity, but our district leader requested that we make an exception since they had visited the family the week previous and set it up for them. I was nervous about it because upon entering the home, it was full of attitude. I honestly wanted to smack some of the kids for the way they were speaking to their mother. They are very spoiled. I knew that it wouldn't work without the spirit, so the first few minutes I asked them about the aspect of the gospel they had the strongest testimony of. The one aspect they fall back on when doubts arise. It was really sweet to hear their testimonies, and they all received revelation for which friends were prepared, some unexpected, and some expected. I had to increase my own courage to stand up at the end and say "let's go" to contact the prepared people. There is power in acting in the moment, but it was very uncomfortable. It didn't work out and I felt pretty foolish. We heard from them later, and it actually made a huge impact in getting them to seriously think about what God wanted them to do. Each family member made contact with someone that night via social media/texting. It's a start.

I had my interview with PResident Hanks on Tuesday. That man is so incredible. As I was open with him, he shared some scriptures that change the way I think about feeling the spirit. He told me that he hand-picked me to be in the position I am in now. He is so inspiring as a mission president and always makes me want to be better.

On Thursday we were out with a member to see two of our investigator families. Both appointments fell through, so we decided to see a less active member. Didn't work out. Another less-active member. Didn't work out. Finally the member suggested visiting an active sister in the ward. We agreed. We decided to practice teaching the Restoration lesson on her. After a minute, her less active son came home, and told us that it had been a long time since he had seen missionaries. We invited him to join in the lesson. He did, and said that he wants to come back to church. We had no information on this man, but the member we were with had known him since he was a kid, and she was in tears as we left because the spirit was so strong, and it was such a significant meeting for him. We thought that was our miracle, but then the member took us to Chick-Fil-A. I inquired about a man's hat, and a few minutes later, we are talking about religion, and he set up the restoration perfectly, we went to a table outside Chick-Fil-A and taught him the restoration. He told us the Elders had played basketball with him just a few days earlier, and offered to teach him, but he turned them down. He said when he saw us, he knew it couldn't be coincidence to see missionaries in different areas in the same week.
God is in every detail of this work.

Similar experience on Saturday when we were out to see inviestigators in one of our further cities. Didn't work out, but we were able to crash a family get-together with a recent convert and lots of her family who are not members. They allowed us to share an Easter message and it was a sweet experience.

We've been working harder to invite as many people as we can to be taught. We had 47 unplanned invitations (basically invitiations to be taught that are not a result of tracting--people we see outside or in stores, etc). We want to work our way up to 70 unplanned invitations a week. Out of the 47 people we invited, six of them we've been able to teach the restoration and  get a return appointment for the second lesson.
I'm very excited for a freshman girl we met yesterday named Emma. She was outside playing basketball at a friend's house, and we prayed with her, talked a little bit about the church and asked if we could teach her. She said she was 'stunned' because it was so cool, and she was 'very interested.' She did cheerleading with some LDS girls. She readily gave us her information and invited us to come for a lesson next week. She's way cool.

I got some good time in with Scott (my bike) and that always makes me happier. I'm so glad it's warm. We can't use our car except for necessary missionary meetings that are out of town, now that our vehicle coordinator was released and with him our out-of-area miles program which means, we do not have many miles to work with in our area. We are left to biking and relying on members as there is a mountain in the middle of our area of about 8 cities. It's actually provided opportunity for us to get to know the members better, allow them to serve, and enable us to meet more people. Some places in our area are being neglected because they're too far for us to get out there, but I know that God is putting us in areas concentrated with those who are ready.

Our assistant Ward Mission Leader has instituted something new. He ordered 100 copies of the Book of Mormon, and we helped him to create an index of significant scriptures for people who have never read it. The members get to take the copies home, highlight the scriptures from the index, and as desired, write in a testimony, glue in a picture, etc to personalize the Book of Mormon. Then we get to go place them! It's pretty cool. The ward is excited about getting involved.

Last bit of news. I got a text from the sisters in Madison (my last area) and a lady I found outside and taught a few times finally came to church and is getting baptized!!!! I'm so excited. I love this lady. Her name is Catherine and she is awesome. I'm hoping that this will open the door for her daughter who is my age to find the gospel also.

Easter is amazing. Our older brother Jesus Christ is truly amazing for loving us so much, and making such a sacrifice. I know he lives and is pulling with us at every moment.

Steadfastly loyal,

Sister Liz Sheffer

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

April 15th 2014

I don't even know how to start writing about the week, so I want to brag on some of my leaders and fellow missionaries for a spell.

My sister training leaders LOVE TOAST, and love talking to people--everyone! The more awkward the better! It's fun to see them make mistakes and still love each other, love the work, continue working with good humor.

My zone leaders are goofballs, but lose sleep thinking over and praying over the missionaries in the zone and who we're teaching. They carry an incredible amount of love for us and our investigators out of a deep loyalty to the Lord.

Our new district leader was transferred here for his last 6 weeks before he goes home to Park City, Utah. I had never heard of him before, as he's shy and unassuming and flies under the radar, but he has served as a zone leader and every single zone he's lead has reached their baptismal goals. He's changed the way I think about and set goals. The Lord allows us to set goals, and will help us achieve them as we put forth all of our effort. He promised that we would reach our goal if we all continually prayed and worked our hardest, and that we may not all see baptisms, but as a zone, the goal would be met. We got on our knees in zone training and collectively came up with 6 baptisms for the month of May--we had already set 5 for April. President has raised the bar for what we can count as unplanned contacts--every contact we make has to include an invitation for us to teach them in their home. It takes some quick and deep testifying in just a few minutes to talk to random people and ask them if we can go into their home to share a message, but I love it. As I've given my all to find new investigators this past week, I've become happier. It is infinitely easier to be bold and courageous in contacting when I'm happy. It's invigorating, and even when I'm getting rejected and having to do it on my own when my companion won't talk to anyone, I get a spiritual high from testifying to people, and to find more and more people everywhere we're at.
Then we find people like Morgan--and feel an overwhelming love for her as she tells us of her hopes and how her life has fallen apart from some poor decisions on her part and on others' parts. I love her so much from just a few minutes of talking with her. She accepted the invitation, but doesn't live in our area, so other sisters will visit her.
Then we also run into random people who swear the know us--some guy remembered my face from when we went to Cracker Barrel for my birthday with Mally! Taught him the restoration, and he accepted the invitation to be taught more. He lives in Guntersville, but works here, so we will still see him some.
We meet other people who will allow us into their home to pray and tell stories of Latter-Day Saints they know and how they are the best people, but they are not interested in learning more or changing.
We help people wash their car in their driveways, and they tell us of how they love Latter Day Saints and how other missionaries have helped them move. We taught them the restoration, and they have invited us back, but wouldn't set a specific appointment with us. (?)
We meet all kinds of awesome people, but in the end, our number of new investigators for the week: 0. We get texts from the zone leaders, and 5 people in other areas of the zone have baptismal dates!!! I know that as I give my all in my own area, somehow it blesses the other missionaries in my zone in their area. It is certainly a team effort. I still hope and pray for success in this area, as I KNOW there are prepared people. I may never see a baptism on my mission, but I can surely contribute to them. I feel strongly about Anthony and his family. We had a really good lesson with him on the Plan of Salvation and got pretty serious. He wants to go to the Celestial Kingdom and bring his whole family with him. He says he knows it's true. He said he would come to church. He didn't, but we are exerting all our efforts to make sure this family comes to church for Easter Sunday. Please pray for Anthony and his family: Chey, Jacian, Trevian, and Jayvian. I sure love this family.

Steafastly loyal in Christ,

Sister Liz Sheffer

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

April 9th 2014

Neat experience. Sister Wells and I were trying to visit some people in a wealthy area and everything was falling through. Sister Wells suggested we knock a door with an open garage and a red van. I didn't even remember seeing that house and looked around for it, it was back around a corner we passed heading into the area. We offer the Savior's peace and blessings on people's homes--Us Sisters don't hold the priesthood, but since we're serving under a calling from the prophet who sent us with the priesthood, we have the authority to leave bless homes "in virtue of our calling as missionaries and representatives of Jesus Christ." It's a cool thing. We knocked and a beautiful woman opened, not seeming overly happy that we were on her doorstep. She agreed to let us leave a blessing, but wanted it done quickly and on the porch, so she could keep her dogs inside. As I offered the blessing, I felt overwhelmed by God's love for her. When we finished, she was crying, and through a choked-up voice, thanked us and said that it meant a lot--then ran back inside. We will definitely try to contact her again.

It is springtime, and despite the random cold waves and lots of rain, it is service time! I mowed my first lawn of the season. Still got it. I love to mow. One of my favorite things to do as a missionary. We went on team-ups with a sister from the ward, and after we were through with the appoinments, she introduced us to her neighbors who don't 'get the church,' but seemed to like us. The members from our ward who live next to them are going out of town for a few months, and leaving us with the charge of checking in on their neighbors. Member missionary work is the best! Service is going to soften their hearts, and open the way for them to receive the restored gospel.

One of our investigators was a referral from members who moved away. She is not progressing a whole lot, but has met lots of members from the church, and is getting involved in family history. She loves it! On Wednesday, we were asked to help pitch a Book of Mormon sharing idea at mutual. The activity after was volleyball. When I learned it was volleyball, I remembered these crazy less-active girls who were big into volleyball, and their mom was a coach. I texted them and told them to get down to the church to show the rest of the youth what was up. They did. :) That was cool. I digress, while at mutual I was talking to a brother from the ward, and he said his daughter brought a friend to activity day. I asked about her family, and he told me the last name--Funderburg--the same last name as the family history-loving investigator! Turns out it's her granddaughter who came to activity day, we made it a point to meet her and are working with the member family in getting to know and teach the rest of the family. Member-missionary work is the best!

Remember Amoz? 16 yr old kid. Pretty mature. We taught him again this week. He's the man! We still haven't gotten to meet his parents, but he says he wants his dad to get in on this. He was excited to hear the prophet speak this weekend.

Conference was awesome. So awesome. I can't say that there was one tlak that was my favorite. I loved President Eyring's--he in essence went through the first three missionary lessons, so that was pretty cool. I loved the threads of obedience, and just the focus on the reality of the Savior. He's real and he lives.

We watched the Saturday sessions in the trailer of my favorite sister in the ward. She's awesome! Her name is Elizabeth Schnitger. Special connection. Between sessions, we tracted the neighborhood. I got to leave a blessing in Spanish. I'm rather rusty, but it was cool. We're referring the family to the Hermanas.

Our neighbor/eternalgator Harold came to conference with us. He continues to read the Book of Mormon all the way through, the ensigns, he's still clean from his addiction, and for the first time since meeting missionaries 40 years ago he says he's seriously considering being baptized! He would say that all the time, but as a joke, now he is finally serious. He's come to mean a lot to me just as a neighbor. If he's going to be baptized we are going to have to officially give him to other missionaries since we live outside of our ward boundaries, but I'm glad we're neighbors and will never forget this man or the kindness he's shown to me when I was having a rough time as a missionary. God's plan is so perfect.

The gospel is true.

Steadfast in Christ,

Sister Sheffer

Friday, April 4, 2014

March 31 2014

So there's this kid who just returned from the Mexico Tampico mission. Fireball. His family is less active, but started coming off and on before his return. They invited us over for dinner and he invited a friend to hear the first discussion. During dinner, as we got to know the family and friend better, we learned that Sarah (the friend) and I share the same birthday, which was the day previous. When they learned that I didn't blow out candles for my birthday, the mother got excited, and stuck a candle in a Klondike bar for me and sang and what not. It's crazy how much that meant to me. She said it meant a lot to her to be able to do that for a missionary because birthdays were so hard for her when her son was serving. The discussion went well. Sarah is awesome. She is very active in her church, but feel the spirit, and wants to learn more. It helps to have a ward member encouraging the rest of the ward to get people in their homes for the discussions, and then to be an example. Member work is still the most effective, but with most members, we're trying to encourage them to give the last 2% needed to invite others to increase their faith. It's going to happen. The gospel essentials lesson was on missionary work yesterday, and the ward mission leader shared that when women find a recipe they love they immediately share it with all their friends, or make it for their friends, but they're hesitant to do that with the gospel. He asked "why don't we do that?" One of my favorite recently reactivated sisters in the ward exclaimed, "Yeah!!! Why don't we do that??? I don't get us!!!"
For our second time doing service at the senior living center, Sister Wells and I sang a hymn for them and then were asked to help do the ladies' nails. Sounds like fun, right? I never ever ever ever ever ever ever want to do that again. Haha. I'm no good at nails, but thankfully Sister Wells is, so I could remove polish and file some, do base coats, etc, and ask her to help make it look pretty. Ugh, the toe jam smell makes me shudder now just thinking about it. NEVER again. But I do love serving those people, they are so sweet, and I love hearing their stories and discussing perspectives on God and life.
We got a text from our district leader during our study hour asking if it was possible for us to make two cakes for district meeting which was to start two hours later. He concluded the text with, I have FAITH and assured us it was for a mind-blowing object lesson. We responded, "it shall be done, according to your faith." Sister Wells had one cake mix, and I came up with another one from scratch. It was pretty good. It was a memorable lesson on presentation to be used in our teaching as we contact people. I love having such faithful missionaries in my district to learn from.
It was incredible to me to watch a 6 yr old girl receive revelation this week. This family is AWESOME. The Youngs. They are very missionary-minded and set goals as families before we started working with them. We used the referral tool lesson which ALWAYS brings revelation. I helped 6 yr old Cora--who is pretty much my best friend, I LOVE this little girl--write her list of everyone she knew who she would like to see have the gospel. When we went back through the list, I explained what the spirit feels like, and asked her to listen to the spirit as I read the names again to see who she thought was ready. I would read some names, and she would say, "'s very nice, but not ready right now..." then I got to two names, and her eyes lit up, and she said, "YES!" because I was talking to him and he asked me if I could come over and play, and I said "no, I can't play right now because the missionaries are coming over, and he said, 'what are missionaries??!!'" She was SO excited, and I was SO excited, and when we gathered back as a whole group with the family to share the results of our list, every family member had written the name of someone from that same family Cora was talking about. Inspired? Absolutely. Time to INVITE.
Our neighbor/eternalgator Harold overcame a serious addiction! This has been years coming. A cause for much rejoicing! Another investigator, Brent, accepted an invitation to be baptized and is starting to read from the Book of Mormon daily.
The rest of our teaching pool is working like revolving doors. Anthony and Chey haven't returned our texts or phone calls this week, the British woman, June, dropped us. Sharon is awesome, we have an appointment with her and the family history specialist this week for which she's very excited. She wanted to attend the women's conference, but wasn't able to. Her husband doesn't like LDS faith, but lets her investigate.
We were able to team-up with members to get to the far parts of our area to teach some unbaptized members. It's hard that church is almost an hour drive for them, but they need the gospel and were very receptive. We also found less active members who still have such great testimonies and I feel could so easily be reactivated and feel the blessings in their life again. I'm excited to work with them, some even got excited at the prospect of coming out with us--as they invite others to come to church, they will come themselves.
 We had another exchange this week. This time I got to stay in my area. At the start of the exchange, Sister Christensen asked what I wanted to find that day for new investigators. I said I wanted three--a family with three baptismal candidates. We kept this as our motivation for the day as EVERY appointment/plan fell through. In the last hour, Sister Christensen suggested we knock a door. I don't knock after dark without an appointment as I've learned people do not appreciate it and are never receptive. If plans fall through for the evening, I normally try to call up a member--active or less-active to teach a lesson or find a public place to contact. She continued to say that she may have a feeling about a particular door--she wasn't sure if it was the spirit or not, but we would never know if we didn't try. We tried--the lady was not appreciative of us knocking on her door so late. We left, and she said, "just one more." I hesitantly agreed, and chose a door I felt good about. A man let us in, and called his wife--who was laying down in a room with their two kids--to come to the living room for a minute. We were surprised at how well they received us. WE shared the first lesson. The kids LOVED it. The wife did too. When we asked if we could come back the wife and kids simultaneously said, "YES". Family of four. Three baptismal candidates (the youngest is under 8). Three new investigators. God helped us reach our goal in the last hour.
The gospel is true, y'all, and I'm fixin to find more the Lord has prepared to receive it.
Be blessed.
Steadfast in Christ,
Sister Sheffer