Monday, October 20, 2014

October 20th 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sister Sheffer

Thursday, October 16, 2014

October 16th 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love y'all,

Sister Liz Sheffer

Thursday, October 9, 2014

October 9th 2014

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

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

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

Steadfast and facing with the Savior,Sister Liz Sheffer