Tuesday, July 29, 2014

July 28th 2014

This week...

Fun stuff: madgab with a recent convert after a lesson on no corrupt
communication. :)

Tuesday felt like an entire day worth of filmed district-type
missionary work. It was pretty cool. Some things were going on at
Erika's home, so she asked us to postpone our appointment. Someone
came to my mind who we had met last transfer named Porsha. We had only
talked to her briefly outside and she didn't accept an invitation to
be taught, but both Sister Dodini and I had a feeling that we should
go back to visit her sometime. She didn't live very far away, so we
walked over to her. She didn't seem to be too happy to see us when we
showed up on her doorstep, and she said she wasn't feeling very well,
but we could come in for a minute. She started to explain how devoted
and involved she was in her own church. After listening and talking
with her for a while, she started to ask questions about some of the
principles we brought up. After a few minutes of this, she said,
"Y'all coming by has actually been like a ray of sunshine, I've been
dealing with some emotional things, and I think you're God's way of
answering my prayers." We taught her more about the restoration and
how the messages we share bless individuals and families, and she
invited us to come back and teach her more. She said she loves us and
loves that we don't push anything on her, but simply invite.

We later went back to Erika when things had calmed down and had a
GREAT lesson with her and her husband. I can't remember if I told
y'all we had met Erika on her porch and talked with her for a bit and
invited her to come to church. Our church shares land with a Church of
Christ, so we will always have to be clear in our directions that we
are the Church of Jesus Christ of LAtter-Day Saints BEHIND the Church
of Christ. She forgot and tried to come last week, but ended up going
to the Church of Christ. So funny. During the lesson, the husband, who
grew up Southern Baptist asked where our church was again and
expressed a great desire to come. They said they understood more of a
complete gospel than they had from any other evangelists--of course,
because the church is true and complete!

We had an awesome lesson with Nicole--I'll write more about her later.

More plans fell through later that afternoon and Sister Dodini
actually thought about an awesome Catholic guy I told her about after
meeting him while on exchanges. We went to see him, and he was
outside, and excited that we had come by because he LOVES discussing
religion. It was interesting. He brought up some questions about
apostolic succession and things that I don't really have an answer
for. I admitted to not fully understanding the answer to his concerns,
and just testified of the Book of Mormon and how I know that it is
true and resolves all of those questions and concerns. Sister Dodini
added her second witness, and he said he was so excited to read it! He
said to give him a week or so to get into it and then would love for
us to come back as he's sure he'll have questions. We gave him his own
copy and are going back soon to follow up on his reading. So cool.

Towards the end of the day, we were pretty beat, grungy, and smelly.
We had endured some pretty intense bike riding to get to some of those
appointments, and decided to go to Walmart for our contacting
time...and because Sister Dodini needed to buy Freeze off stuff for a
nasty wart. Sister Dodini has this huge, explosive laugh, and I quite
enjoy setting it off from time to time. She erupted during a sincere
prayer when I prayed that the people we would contact in the store
wouldn't smell us, but just feel of the spirit we carry. There's a
story to follow, but I shan't tell it now. :)

I felt impressed earlier that a set of sisters in our zone needed
another exchange. We texted and asked if we could do one. We got a
call from them with gratitude saying they really needed an exchange.
(The sister who called is now companions with my previous, most
difficult companion). I conducted an exchange with her. She is REALLY
having a rough time with her. I was glad that I could give her a break
and let her vent because I understood exactly what she was going
through. I've been learning with this calling how to be honest and
open about things without criticizing people or gossiping. I know the
Lord is with us in the hard conversations we have to conduct
sometimes. It was a great learning experience for me, and much-needed
time for her. I love how the Lord is able to place where we need to be
to help others.

Another exchange, we got to see a baptism in a creek. Too cool. Sister
have been working with this guy for a very long time. It was a
beautiful experience. A lady giving a talk bore her testimony of
Joseph Smith, and pointed out what a beautiful place we were in with
the sun coming through the trees. It was easy to visualize the light
descending on Joseph Smith in that place. It was very special...not so
pleasant with the sweat bees. Dang monsters, but worth it for the

Awesome district meetings, and all kinds of other happenings.

Awesome lessons from Church headquarters referrals. Super neat people
we get to start working with.

Now Nicole. :D On Tuesday she said "I feel like a boss" as she
explained how she was feeling more sensitive to the spirit and has
been better able to recognize temptation and overcome it and know
where she needs to be. She's been happy with the transformation of her
room, and her baptismal calendar.  We see her every day, so I'm just
going to highlight and summarize some of the cool things. Last Monday
we were headed out to lunch with her, and Nicole grabbed a pack of
cigarettes on the way out. I asked her what she needed those for. She
stammered a little bit, and Sister Dodini asked if she could hold on
to them. Nicole surrendered them to her. When we parted, Nicole asked
if we were going to hold them hostage, we replied in the affirmative.
When we got home, we weren't sure what to do with them. It seemed
weird to just thrown them away, but we didn't want to give them to
anyone. We decided to bring them to another lesson and have Nicole
break them. I had some funny experiences carrying them--I had to keep
them in my purse all day since we bike in our area, and my purse if
STUFFED, so they had to rest on top. I had to carefully pull out
pamphlets and my planner throughout the day when we met people, it was
kind of funny and awkward to carry them, but it was WORTH IT. When we
get to Nicole's we had an awesome lesson, and in a powerful moment
when she felt really empowered, we pulled out the cigarettes and asked
her to break them. I was expecting one by one, but she pulled the
entire pack out and snapped them in half all at one, and then broke
them some more. She also ran into her kitchen, and dumped out all the
coffee she had and poured out all her sweet tea (big deal in the
South). I wish I could have filmed those two minutes she purged her
house of all things against the word of wisdom. So proud of her. The
one thing that seems to hold her back is her boyfriend--he's a bit of
a scrub, and not making the same changes. He tends to hide from us,
and has been spending too much time at her house. Of course, whether
or not she stays with him is a decision she has to make on her own.
She said he has been asking questions about the church, and even read
the pamphlets and some of the Book of Mormon and prayed out loud with
her. He says he's not ready to meet with us yet, but we hope that he
will be soon.

Miracle at church! There's a walmart cart kid we met twice at Walmart
named Brandon. He was interested, and he had his number, but he hadn't
returned our texts or phone calls. He was invited by a member who
works with him at Walmart and came! We taught him the first lesson
after church with his member friend, and it was AMAZING. My testimony
grew during that meeting, and I couldn't help testify with absolute
joy about how perfect the gospel is. He prayed to confirm the truth of
it, and is so excited to read the Book of Mormon and learn more. He's
19, he just kept saying, "wow...wow....WOW..." It was awesome.

This gospel is so perfect! I love the chance we all have to be the Lord's hands.


Sister Liz Sheffer

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 21st 2014

When things get crazy, I'm so grateful for the power of laughter.
We laugh a lot, but here are a few things I wrote down that were
much-needed comic relief.
Right before gospel principles a primary worker brought her baby to
her husband so she could do sharing time or something. He commenced
feeding the baby the snacks his wife had in the diaper bag. "1 for
you, 3 for me...mmmm...there's nothing better than semi-stale

Charles Barkley's mother lives in Leeds. We saw her sitting outside
with some other people yesterday afternoon. We were driving with a
member, or I would've tried to contact them.
That same neighborhood, there was a man still in his police officer
garb, driving home in a normal car and blasting good ol' ghetto tunes.
Made me smile.

While we were walking through that same neighborhood, Sister Dodini
tried to contact a lady walking into her house.
Sister Dodini (brightly): Hiiiii, can I ask you a question?
Ivy: No! Are y'all Jehovah's witnesses
Us in unison: No ma'am
Ivy: Oh....what?
Sister Dodini: we're missionaries, and we're not from this area and
like to ask people who are if they know of people who could use
service or a unique message about Jesus Christ
Ivy: *pointing at her neighbor's door* go see her...I'm finna go
sleep...but y'all come back
We went to her neighbor's who just called from inside for us to come
in. She is an adorable, plump, white lady who does bible study from
her home. "We have to study the bible behind closed doors before we
can expect to share the word with people in the highways and the
byways!" We shared a little, and she is non-denominational and
fulfilling her calling from Jesus by doing bible studies in her home.
After some time with her, I asked if I could say a prayer with her.
She let me pray and as soon as I was finished started praying her self
and finished off with a "oooh. mmm. halleLUjah, halleLUJAH!
speak in tongues. I looked over at Sister Dodini and her face was
absolutely priceless. I love that lady. I want to come back for a
bible study to see who comes, if they listen to her, I'm sure they'd
be open to hearing our message also.

Mondays we alternate doing fhe with a few families in the ward, always
trying to cater to investigators. Kaylee has come a few times, and
after sharing a lesson on the plan of salvation, we asked what she has
been making of the lessons. She is active in another church, but says
this makes much more sense to her, and seems to fit her personal needs
more than what she gets at the church she goes to. We will start
regularly taking the discussions with another set of sisters since she
lives outside our boundaries. It was a sweet, spiritual experience.

Tuesday we went up to Gadsden for exchanges. We switched who we had
planned to go with since one of the sisters broke down, and clearly
needed to get out of the area. I stayed in Gadsden to work with Sister
Allred. She's a go-getter, always focused and driven by her goals.
After some great lessons with less actives and others, we went to
Walmart to get her numbers for contacting. We passed the make-up aisle
with a young woman and her baby, and I felt immediately we needed to
go back and talk to her. We walked to her and I explained who we were.
She started to cry and said that her father had passed away that
morning and she knew God sent us to her to answer her prayers. She's a
sweet lady.

Of course lots of other things...bible study was awesome...we were
following up with someone we met previously, but didn't have the
address in our current planners. Sister Dodini though it was a certain
door and knocked on it. Wanda answered and we explained we were
looking for Quedarious. She said he lived in another apartment, but we
asked if we could share our message with her. She let us in, and
during the restoration disputed the idea of prophets existing again,
she said she couldn't believe any human telling her they had a message
for her from God. I followed a prompting in telling her I feel that
she has a gift in being an independent spirit and being able to
recognize the false prophets the bible tells us of, and explained we
were simply inviting her to listen to this message and pray to use
that same gift of discernment she has to see if God could call a
prophet again as He had before...or something like that. She softened
and by the time we got to Joseph Smith, we bore our testimonies, and
she said this message made sense to her, and she felt clarity and
peace. She also said it was very out of her character to answer the
door to people she's not expecting, and something made her let us in
and let us share. She knows we were sent by God. I'm so excited to
teach her again.

Another cool experience on an exchange...
We were driving down Charles Barkeley avenue in the rain after being
rejected in following up with Ivy. There was a lady standing outside
of her car, and mid-sentence in talking with Hermana Johnson, I pulled
over and rolled down the window to talk to this lady. She told us to
go see her adopted daughter. We did, and she is awesome. She is my age
with two little kids and is totally prepared for the gospel. Neat

Sad news. Our hearts are broken! Mark came to Sacrament meeting last
week, and sneaked out afterward--he has had to leave after sacrament
meeting a few times before to work, so we weren't super concerned and
texted him to ask if any of his questions were answered. (we always
invite him to bring questions to church and this week, he wouldn't
tell us what they were, but said he had serious questions that needed
answering). He didn't respond. In our attempts to call and text him
for the next few days he didn't respond. This wasn't like Mark, so we
contacted some people who knew people he worked with. We finally
learned through his boss that Mark had gotten really depressed to a
suicidal point, and quit work and moved to North Carolina where his
dad lives. We were very upset by this since there was such a
noticeable difference in him lately--and he was clearly so much
happier! The last lesson we had with him, we were both marveling at
how much he had smiled and laughed and joked, and just seemed lighter,
as he normally seems heavy-spirited and dark. He had come so far!
Comic relief--we learned of this during our weekly planning. I'm
always playing with pens, and have been using the cheap, blue
papermate pens since they don't have things on them that I can break.
I just remember having my face in my hands, and when I came up looking
at my pen in my hand--apparently I was so upset that I had mindlessly
managed to fold it in half. Sister Dodini cracked up, and we were able
to pray for him and continue planning for everyone else.

We did get back in contact with Nicole! We reset her baptism for
August 16th, and made a fun calendar with a point system. She can get
points daily for praying, reading her scriptures, journaling, watching
mormon messages, doing service, exercising, and all kinds of other
things to keep her busy and away from things and people that drag her
down. When she gets so many points, we have different rewards such as
pedicure nights, thrift store shopping with us, etc. She's excited and
feels like a little kid again. She is in essence having to replace
everything in her life--all of her friends, habits, thoughts, etc. She
said that although she has relapsed in many of her commitments, she
knows this gospel is true and won't give up the fight for anything. It
is a fight. She fights a lot. I love this girl so much! We are keeping
her close and seeing her every single day because she needs. it.

MerryAnn spoke in church yesterday. It was awesome. I consider it an
emmaus experience seeing her bear her testimony from the pulpit and
seeing how she has changed. We will be good friends forever.

Love y'all!

Sister Sheffer

Thursday, July 17, 2014

July 14th 2014

I don't even know where to start this week, there's no way to really convey the experiences from this past week.

The week flew. We blitzed with our sister in Gadsden on Tuesday and definitely saw miracles in finding them people to teach, and being led to less active members who needed us then.
We had personal interviews with President Hanks on Wednesday. Crazy, unexpected experience. I know that I was called and assigned to serve under President Hanks for a reason. So grateful that he is my misison president.
I was reading Abinadi's story in Mosiah during personal study, and it struck me how easy it is to pass off direction from God, because it comes through a man. We can easily recognize flaws in our leaders, and allow that to cloud the instruction we are meant to receive from them. The Lord doesn't always speak to us directly, He sets representatives, imperfect people, to carry his message to us. As we overlook their imperfections and misunderstandings, we recognize that denying or rejecting their message, is denying and rejecting the Savior. This idea has both given me confidence to declare the things the spirit puts in my mind and heart as being from the Savior, and given me increased confidence in my leaders, in sacrament speakers, sunday school teachers, etc., they are standing as witnesses of the Savior, and it behooves us to give attention and adherence to their words as we allow the spirit to confirm them.

Thursday marked my mission turning a year old. I woke up, and went into the living room where I do insanity to see a big poster reading "Happy Uno Ano!" (bless their hearts) with sweet notes and memories from all the sisters in my zone. So sweet!
In the morning, Sister Dodini and I got to provide the music for a funeral. Crazy circumstances behind it. Thursdays we teach our bible study class, awesome experience. We had the kids in two groups, Sister Dodini worked with the smaller group, and I worked with the larger group. Over the class, all of the kids in her group ended up leaving to go home early except one. I first thought that I should send some kids from my group to her, but the spirit said no. She ended up being able to teach the teenage girl left the restoration. This girl doesn't feel loved by her family as they abondoned her, and is dealing with some crazy things. Amazing how God was able to minister to her through Sister Dodini and make the circumstances perfect for it.

We continued the celebration of my year mark with Happy hour Sonic slushes for our weekly planning. After planning, we had plans to go to a recent converts' home for his birthday. We had put together a photo album for him of pictures of missionaries who worked with him and their testimonies, leaving space for future ones. We were so excited, had invited Mark, and were looking forward to good dinner, cake and celebrations. They texted us saying they had broke down and would have to postpone the party. We were soooo bummed. We discussed different people/places we could go to instead, and nothing really felt right. Sister Dodini asked to take me to dinner and we discussed different options. We decided on a place, but then, a less active came to my mind who lived in the opposite direction, so we picked a different place that would be on the way to the less active's. We went to a cute little place called "Rusty's BBQ." We got food, and got to see a former investigator working there, Jonathan, who we hadn't been able to contact in quite a while. It was slow, so we got to discuss his previous lessons, and had a very, very deep, meaningful discussion with him. He is investigating again with greater purpose this time. We taught him again yesterday, and he is in it. Again, God lead us to the perfect circumstances to find the right person who needed us at the time.

Friday we got to see Samantha! It's been a minute. She picked up a second job leaving her little time. She went to a Lindsey Sterling concert and was excited to tell us about it and show us pictures. Sister Dodini and I grinned at each other before we shared her "I'm a Mormon" video and that Sister Dodini knows her from her home ward. Too cool. Samantha loves the Book of Mormon, and is still in it, we still hope that everything will fall into place as she reads it prayerfully. After that appointment we had our district meeting in Sylacauga and did exchanges with the sisters there. Awesome. I got to bring Sister Salmond to my area, and see her shine and add value to any situation we came across. Miracles! We found prepared people.

Saturday we switched back and met some more amazing people. Attended a farewell party for John who leaves Wednesday for the Mexico MTC in preparation for his mission in Phoenix. He brought several of his non member friends and family--including the Bowmans. We were invited to share a message at the end, such a neat experience to share about the mission, what John would be doing, and what it means.

Sunday was John's farewell, and the Bowmans came to church to hear him speak, and see him sing in a quartet, "The Army of Helaman." Special Sunday.

So many things this week, but what I have written suffices me. :)

Elizabeth Sheffer

Monday, July 14, 2014

July 7th 2014

Didn't just survive the crazy past week, but thrived the crazy past week.

Monday, we taught our recent convert and his new wife how to hold FHE. Fun stuff. They fed us cheesecake. It wasn't the best, but you know, it was cheesecake, so I was happy.
We got back in contact with Nicole--met her boyfriend who we're also going to start teaching. They have been difficult to reach sometimes, so it will be a process, but they are super prepared and excited to embrace the gospel. Nicole is cutting back on her smoking, but hasn't completely quit yet.

Tuesday we had our Missionary Leadership Council (MLC) in Birmingham with President Hanks and the assistants. We were trained on recent changes, that we teach lesson 5 before baptism as well as after, and we are now in charge of all the new member lessons after baptism. I like this, because the way we were trained shifted my focus into seeing eternity when we look at our investigators and seeing the end goal as the temple, rather, than having the focused goal be baptism. I think the church will have much more success with retention with this new instruction.
That night we taught Mark--we've had several awesome lessons with him. Tuesday's was super powerful. I caught a glimpse of Mark's relationship with the Savior before this life, and it was an incredibly strong experience. He is starting to get it. That night, he finally admitted that maybe he had been getting answers to his prayers, they just weren't coming as directly or quickly as he would have liked. So proud of him for finally recognizing that! He is changing so much. He hasn't touched a cigarette since the night we committed him to quit. Amazing. The next lesson we had with him, he seemed even happier, and had a folded-up fortune with him. We taught, and finally asked him what it was. He grinned, and showed us, it was something like, "God will help you overcome your challenges." He said he had never seen a fortune talk about God. So cool that AFTER Mark finally recognized the more indirect answers to his prayers, God sent him a more direct one in a way that spoke to him.
God is everywhere. He sent another investigator a text message. No lie. The zone leaders we work with had been teaching a teenage kid, and he was attending the Catholic church. During mass, he had been praying, asking God which church was right, as he knew it had to be one of them, Mormons, or Catholics. His phone lit up, and he had a text message that didn't show a sender, that said "MORMONS." God doesn't work this way most of the time, but it's interesting to see how he does give answers to those who diligently seek them.

Wednesday we got to see Anthony! It was the first time we got to sit down with him and both of his parents. Awkward moment when I was testifying of how they could be an eternal family through temple ordinances, and Gina says, "we're not married. Haven't been since '07"...they were divorced in 2007 and have just lived together and raised Anthony since then...We ended up having a good lesson, and they committed to church. Unfortunately they didn't show up. We both have a really good feeling about Anthony, and a really soft spot for the parents also, I know we will see miracles with them.
After our lesson with them, we drove up to Gadsden to meet a stake leader who took us to Girl's Camp. We split with some of the Stake leaders, and I stayed at an archery station, and had a good time working with the Stake leader whose daughter is serving in the Phoenix mission! During a time when no girls were around, and it was just us having a very deep gospel discussion, this thing called a nutria (like a beaver) charged us! We both got our feet up, and she screamed, her scream sent it running off in the other direction, but it was hilarious to me. The rest of the day, when girls came to do archery she would recount our near death experience. So funny. We ate dinner with them, participated in our ward's skit, and then did a devotional for the stake. It went really well, at the end Sister Dodini sang a song called ""Beautiful" I wish you could hear this girl sing. I played on a keyboard to accompany her.

Thursday we planned for zone training with the zone leaders, and did an exchange witht the Oxford sisters. I exchanged with my first STL--I have to admit several transfers ago, while I always admired her and the way she does missionary work, I didn't always particularly like her. This exchange we became very close. I am so impressed by her. She is going home in a month, and is more focused than she ever has been. Super diligent, consistent missionary. She was the one who had a breakdown with the new companion she was getting, but they have actually been working really well together.Miracles!

Friday we had zone training. It was great. One of the zone leaders we work with is going home, so we had a 4th of July Celebration--we did a cook out, all the missionaries contributed, and then we had a special sisters meeting, it was great.

After zone training, we exchanged with Anniston--Sister Denning and Sister Wells! I stayed in Anniston with Sister Denning and we did store contacting, a grill out with members, and then wandered around the projects (the Anniston projects are super nice), and talked to people, eventually meeting some people who let us watch them shoot off fireworks, and are letting the Anniston sisters come back to teach them and to help one of them quit smoking. Sister Denning loves Sister Wells, and is probably more prepared than anyone to be her companion, they are doing really well together, and it's neat to see some of the goals I had and things I pushed for really hard when I was her companion in huntsville, become some of her goals with her area in Anniston. Miracles. It's amazing to see people change. We learn so much out here.

Sister Dodini and I both got an impression to see a less active family while we were driving back to our area on Saturday. We had never met them. We pulled up next to a big moving truck, they were in the process of loading everything up. They are moving to Birmingham, but we got to contact the movers, and a kid who was visiting from Columbiana, and has met with some sisters there. We get to help them clean out their house next week. It was perfect timing, because chances are slim we would have caught them another time. Miracles.
That night we met with the Bowmans with the Elders. Sister Bowman, as we call her now, is seriously investigating the Book of Mormon and seeking answers to her struggles. They didn't make it to church, but they have come a long way. It was a powerful lesson. The Elders will be teaching the main lessons now, and we'll still stay involved with them, especially Sister Bowman.

Sunday we had an awesome testimony meeting. Mark was the only investigator to come, and I think he benefitted greatly from it. I was so impressed during Sacrament meeting at the goodness of the members. Especially for people like Mark who grew up with having a support group like that. The church is really amazing, that we have a congregation full of people who have promised to have each other's backs--and anyone's back who comes through the doors. What we have is amazing, and it's all because the church is true. I've gained a better appreciation of what service, and our covenants to help other does for us.

After church, we were both sick of sitting and being in a car with all the driving we did the past week, so we walked and walked and walked. (Sister Dodini's bike is still out of commission). We met all kinds of awesome people walking. I still pretty much never want to use the car again, unless we're driving to another city. Since we were still fasting, I think we had better success seeing less actives and recent converts we hadn't seen in a long time, and having members come with us to two appointments was perfect. Sister Fowler, who we live with, came with us to follow up with a contact we made last week. The mom immediately recognized her as being her kids' hero--the only dental assistant her kids will let work on them. It made them much more receptive.

Blessings and Miracles. BAM!

I'm pretty happy. Very, very happy. We get to do fhe with that same couple, and they invited Mark. So many good things. I love my mission.

Love y'all.

Sister Sheffer