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.


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

September 8th 2014

Life as a missionary just gets better and better.

This week was fantastic. We started the week off doing exchanges with our Gadsden sisters. We did an fhe with one of our favorite families. The father is a recent convert, he joined the church shortly after his son left for his mission in Australia, and his daughter was just sealed in the temple on Saturday. More details about that later. :) Monday night we had an awesome fhe on temples since extended family came too and don't understand the temple or why they couldn't go inside for the marriage. It was a sweet experience.
Crazy, but as we were talking to people at church about the Nicolas, the grandmother of this same family. Said, "did you say Nicola?" She then explained that as a teenager, the missionaries had the youth proselyting and knocking doors. She happened to knock on the door of a Nicola family. They were Catholic and had 6 kids--all were baptized. We talked to Jim about this, and he said it must have been his family. He is one of 6 kids, and they were Catholic in the same town. Amazing! She knocked on their door YEARS ago, they were baptized, and the spirit led Sister Madsen and me to his door years later, and now Loretta is getting baptized. She is such a rockstar in her personal studies. She is progressing so fast. In one of our appointments with her this past week, I felt prompted to move her baptismal date UP. I asked her how she would feel about being baptized a week sooner. She said that sounded nice. She will be baptized this Saturday. These people are absolutely amazing. They fit right into the ward, and love the gospel.

In an appointment with a part member family--Cassie, a woman in her late 20s and her 8 year old daughter Angel were both baptized late last year, and the woman's father, Bill has been a great encourager, but didn't take the discussions himself. Bill and I  have a good relationship, he teases me in a grandfatherly kind of way everytime we come over to read the Book of Mormon with Cassie and Angel. I almost always ask him, "so when are YOU going to come to church?" (He has said the whole time I have been in this area that he will, but always chickens out). Occasionally, I'll ask him, "so when are YOU going to be baptized?" He usually turns it into a joke, though from how he's sat in on some of the lessons and participated, I always figured he would be, but just wasn't ready. This last week, he finally admitted that he knows it's all true wants to be baptized!!! We'll start to teach him officially, and we are getting them moved into another house with his 92 year old father.

By request, I did an exchange with a sister I love dearly who received some hard news from home. She goes home in October, and really wants to give the work her all for her last leg. It hurts to see missionaries suffering. They have sacrificed so much to be out here on the Lord's errand, and when additional hard things happen, it breaks my heart. However, I know that the mission accelerates the healing process, and the greatest blessings we can bring to our families are from giving our all out here. That exchange strengthened both our testimonies.
One thing I have a testimony of:miracles happen when missionaries have to use the restroom. I've seen this so many times. The sister had to use the restroom, so we went into a gas station, as she was in use of the facilities, I talked with the cashier. After some conversation she told me about her sister who also works with her who is dealing with some of the same hardships as the sister I was on exchanges with. I got her information, and know that God will use this to answer two prayers. It will help both of them for my dear sister missionary to teach this woman suffering with some of the same issues.
While on that same exchange, we taught someone I met with another sister on a previous exchange several months ago. She is progressing very slowly, but to me, the changes she made were more apparent since I hadn't seen her since our initial contact. Her countenance and appearance is completely different! It built my testimony to see the fruit of a simple contact from months ago. The sisters have done a remarkable job. I stand in awe of these sister I get to work with. God never stops working. Alma 36:25

I made the decision that I am keeping my bike after the mission on our next exchange in Oxford. The sister I exchanged with made plans for us to bike 20 miles to another city to follow up with someone I had actually met a few weeks earlier with the other Oxford sister. About two weeks ago, while the other sister and I were biking, we ran into a man with one leg stranded on the side of the road with a broken-down truck. We biked back half a mile to buy him some water from a convenience store, and came back asking how we could help. He told us about his niece who lived a few miles away. He didn't have phone numbers for anyone nearby who could help him, so we followed his directions and biked to meet his niece and tell her of his predicament and see if she could pick him up. She was not at home when we got to her house. We weren't sure what to do, so I suggested talking to the neighbors to see if they knew when she would be home. This is how we met Katelyn. She is about my age, gorgeous, super sweet and has an 8 month old baby. We taught her and she happily agreed to have us come back and bring her a Book of Mormon. Saturday, I got to bring one for her with the other sister and teach her more. That was really neat. She was worth making the bike trip for. In fact, I loved every minute of that bike ride. On our way back, we stopped by a yard sale where the other sister met a less active member! She taught him while another man there started asking questions. He was from Mexico, so we split, and I taught him in Spanish. They were both awesome people and accpeted return appointments. God is so good. Since Oxford has a bike shop and Leeds doesn't, we got our bikes tuned up before we went back to our area. Scott (my bike) rides SO good now. It is so much easier to bike, and I just love biking! I'm definitely shipping that bike home. It's an awesome bike, and biking provides for great pondering. Especially here in AL where it's so green and gorgeous.
 BIking feels great until....you stop. Then you realize that you're a sweaty, sticky, smelly mess. Sister Madsen and I drove back to our area SO happy to be back together since we did exchanges back to back and hadn't really seen each other for a few days. We were on our way to the ring ceremony for the first family I talked about, and tried as best we could to make ourselves look and smell decent enough. What a shindig! It was awesome to see such happy people, and meet so many of their friends. They played a video of the bride's brother who is serving his mission in Australia, so that was precious, and the whole thing was just wonderful. Beautiful, Great Gatsby-themed with great food and so many great people. Marriage is a beautiful thing. I caught the bouquet. Didn't fight for it, all I had to do was lift my hands. :)

Church was AMAZING!! I woke up yesterday morning thinking about a less active we met once at the beginning of this transfer. She hadn't been to church since April. I texted her something about how we were excited to see her at church and wanted to introduce her to Loretta. She didn't respond, but she showed up with her mom! She told me that we woke her up with the text, but she was glad for it. Another Less active recent convert we've been working with showed up with her kids for the first time in several months. We were so proud of her! Cassie and Angel also made it, which surprised us since they were so busy, and normally don't make it wiehn their schedules are busy. Loretta and Jim came and got to stay for the w hole block. The ward was reaching out to the investigators and the less actives and recent converts. MerryAnn is doing a fantastic job at that. It was beautiful!!! It makes me so happy!!! Sister Madsen and I are just ecstatic for our lives right now.

The gospel is so REAL. It REALly works. It really changes us, and makes us happier, and get to share happiness with others. The stories from the scriptures are real, I love reading them and then seeing the same thing happen here today.

I love y'all so much and aprpeciate the way you build God's kingdom in Arizona.

Sister Liz Sheffer

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September 1st 2014

It's been an awesome week! I love the work.
The Nicolas are doing great. Loretta is still excited about her baptism and doing her additional study faithfully from the pamphlets. She is such a sweetheart. They went shopping and she got herself four church-appropriate outfits, and James bought two suits. They are so excited. They made it to church and got to hear Sister Madsen speak. President and Sister Hanks showed up to our ward which was a pleasant surprise. The Gospel principles teacher did NOT show up, so the Sunday School president asked all 5 of the missionaries to teach. (We have a trio of elders). It actually went really well. WE were surprisingly able to teach in great unity. Though Sister Hanks whispered to me (you two smoked the elders, you and Sister Madsen are such a strong team). There is no competition, but it made me laugh a little.

I conducted an exchange with a former, difficult companion. I'll admit to being a little nervous for it, but we actually had a lot of fun together. I am amazed at how humbly she acknowledged things she wanted to change. She taught with the spirit and contacted with love. IT was an awesome experience.

Jin made it to church with his dad for a little bit. We had a good talk with Dad, and he agreed to do the lessons with Jin twice a week! Yay!

WE had zone conference and that was awesome. Right after, I did an exchange with a sister getting ready to go home. I have heard great things about her my whole mission, but never had a chance to work with her. She is stellar. When she heard I speak some Spanish, she excitedly shifted plans to follow up with Spanish-speakers they met. We ended up running into a less active member from Honduras whose records weren't transferred in. God is so good.

God has definitely been guiding us in our finding. We have been able to find such neat, humble, prepared people. I love it. Some I  have been teaching in Spanish. I wish I had time to study Spanish, but the words and phrases do come, and I have been able to understand well. I know it's because Sister Madsen prays for me while I teach. She is full of faith and makes good things happen.

WE have had many up-in-your-face anti people we have run into in the past week. It's amazing that while people are yelling to us that we are deceived and trying to brainwash people, going to hell....whatever else, that I can actually feel the spirit strengthening my testimony, and I just feel an increase of love for these people. God is amazing. When we are loyal to Christ, we start to feel as He feels. "Fear not, though the enemy deride. Courage, for the Lord is on our side." Music strengthens my testimony so much! I really want to be a part of good music for the rest of my life. It makes the truth real to me. I'm excited to have the opportunity to practice as Sister Hanks has asked me to provide the musical number for when Elder Zwick visits our mission for four days next week. I am SO excited for his coming. It is going to be a wonderful thing for our mission and the members here.

This work is real. The Book of Mormon is so true. People are of infinite worth.


August 25th 2014

Sister Madsen is a boss and made homemade hummus this week. Gluten
free and such. Too cool.

I LOVE missionaries! I'm developing more and more love for them. These
kids are awesome. I can't believe how much they all sacrifice. Getting
to know them all personally I am in awe. Some of them have no support
from home, and they just keep a great attitude and serve with all
their hearts anyway.
We had a zone activity today which is the reason there's no time to
write much. We played capture the flag with nylons filled with flour.
It was great fun. I took one to the face from my former district
leader and had some nice flour-filled eyes. At least you know they
weren't taking it easy on the sisters. Afterward we hiked down to
Noccalula falls. It was interesting. There was a pretty steep way down
some were advocating for, and a further, safer way. I'm normally
totally down for a good mountain climb-deal type thing, that would be
my kind of adventure, but now, as a missionary leader, the spirit
wouldn't even let me get close to the edge to scope it out. I'm not
messing with any of these missionaries' safety. We can go crazy when
we get home, but not now. It was interesting, I hadn't experienced
that kind of feeling before (kinda party-pooper, but for a good

I LOVE these sweet, Southern people. It's crazy. I can't write about
it too much, because it gets me all teary-eyed and that's

The gospel is just so true, and I love my mission, my mission
president, my companion, my zone, my district, my sisters, my
investigators, the new ones we found to teach this week, I just love
where I am at, and what I'm doing.

Love y'all!