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.


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