Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 25th 2014

Hi dear family,

I just returned from a lacrimation session in the Library bathroom. I told President Hanks in my letter to him that since the news I received this morning, I would go bolder and testify with more conviction the things that I KNOW to be true. I know that God's plan of happiness for His children is real. "For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty." 2 Peter 1:16. In our zone conference yesterday, the idea of standing boldly and defending the faith, and having confidence in our testimonies was weaved through every meeting. I know that the Plan of Salvation isn't a fable or a fairytale. It's a real thing. As I was reading Abinadi's sermon in my personal study this morning,  I took a big step back to look at those with whom I am working. We are a part of the Lord's work, something so much bigger than ourselves. We are working with innumerable forces on both sides of the veil. Abinadi is still working. I'm excited to meet him someday, because I have some questions for him. They're not untouchable. One day we'll get to have lunch with them, and "sit down with Abraham, and Isaac, and with Jacob, and with all our holy fathers, to go no more out." Helaman 3:30. The more I read the Book of Mormon, the more aware I am of the sense of family. Numerous times, we see success prevail when people remember the deliverance of their fathers. We all work together in this. I feel that I will get to work more closely with Uncle Vince now than when he was in Maryland.

I have told all of my companions about Vince and Val. The most down to earth, classy, gracious, and intelligent people I know. The senders of the one boxed package I have received on my mission. Just good people. I am so happy that God has allowed his sealing power to be on the earth so incredible people like them can feel the power of that bond through life, death, and beyond.

The fruits of the gospel are sweet.
Last Monday, we created a jeopardy game for fhe with Morgan, Scott, Colby, Max (5 yr old) and another family from the ward. It was fun and covered all of the lessons we had taught them. For missionary work, we worded the answer "what Colby wants to do when he turns 18" (Colby frequently expresses his desires to serve). It was the other team's turn, but when we read this, Colby shouted out "GO ON A MISSION!" Then he seemed so touched, and asked, "Is that really what the card says?" We affirmed it, and he asked if he could keep it. He keeps it in his wallet as a reminder of his goal. Such a good kid.
They had their baptismal interviews on Friday night. Our district leader, Elder Price, said, "well Morgan, you can go first, unless Colby is dying to." Colby was in the gym at this point, but as soon as Elder Price said that, he flung open the gym door, and marched across the hall to the room we had designated as the interview room. Smoothly flinging his hat to a chair, he said "let's do this!"

The baptism went so well. Everything was beautiful.  We held the towel for Morgan, and when she came into the bathroom, she was glowing, and said "that was awesome!" She demonstrated to me, Alma's description: "[she] came forth out of the water rejoicing, being filled with the Spirit."
Her father came. His wife passed away in August. A sister from the ward put an early thanksgiving dinner together after the service for Morgan and her family as well as her own family who is close with Morgan, and a large part of her joining. At the dinner I had a good talk with Morgan's father. He said that with time he will take the missionary discussions.
Cool experience for me: Morgan's best friend's name is Becca. She and Becca were attached at the hip growing up and even into their adulthood. This is how Morgan came into contact with the church initially. Becca's brother Scott lives in Madison. I got to know him and his wife Cortnie when I served in Madison a year ago. Cortnie was dating Scott in high school and she was not a member. Cortnie is super cute, and Scott's siblings teased him about having a 'trophy girlfriend' as she didn't dress very modestly. Scott's mom always encouraged him to invite Cortnie to church. He was too chicken, so finally his mom invited him to church. Cortnie happily accepted the invitation, took the missionary lessons, and was baptized. She threw all of her immodest clothes away, as she didn't want anyone else to wear those clothes either. She now has two children, and teaches Sunday school. She and Scott are a powerhouse couple, and we taught a discussion to a nonmember in their home when I was in Madison. Cortnie joined the church here in the Alabaster area. They came down for the baptism, and it was wonderful to catch up with them, and hear how awesome it was for Cortnie having been baptized here 14 years ago, now get to see Morgan be baptized.

We taught the full first discussion to Barbara, and she was blown away. We invited her to be baptized, and she says she wants to continue learning, and believes it is true, but just has a hard time leaving her church she grew up with. She did attend the baptism, and called us later to thank us for inviting her. She wants to visit church, and has meant to, but hasn't been able to get ready in time in the morning. She is the sweetest lady.

Michelle Ray, my second companion back in MOntgomery passed through Alabaster with her parents. When we were companions, I was very strict with my diet, and refused to eat donuts, despite her on MANY occasions, trying to tempt me. I promised her that after her mission, I would eat a donut with her. We met up when they were here, and got donuts. It was amazing. She is beautiful. The owner of the donut place, unbeknownst to us, is the sister of a woman in the ward. She is not a member. We were happy to meet her, and hope that in time, she will allow us to send missionaries to her home. She doesn't live in our area.

Morgan and Colby's confirmation blessings were amazing! I scribed as much of it as I could and will type it up for them to keep. They have great blessings coming for them. Colby's spoke of his mission and the impact it will have on the work. Colby has great sway with people around him. His charisma is too large to be contained in a single room. He is going to be a powerful force as a missionary.

This gospel is true, and we are part of a great work.

Sister Sheffer

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17th 2014

Awesome lesson with Morgan and Colby Monday night. The situation is so perfect. Morgan and Scott are totally in love, Scott does a great job helping us to teach her. He is such a good person. These are all truly fantastic people. They are just so ready! I feel so blessed that we get to serve here at this time and just watch it all unfold.

Tuesday we did the family mission plan with an older couple who have moved all over and landed in Alabama just a year ago. It was awesome. The wife's pen was FLYING coming up with people. Then she would stop, and we would give her something to help her think of more people, and the pen would go flying again. I had never seen anyone like that. It was awesome.
In the evening, we helped with the Relief Society activity. It was so good! Sister Hall is good at the craft stuff, so she would demonstrate, and since she didn't have much a voice with her sickness, I would shout out the directions, and just crack jokes. I got some of the sisters laughing who don't particularly care for missionaries. It's amazing to see little changes with little opportunities the Lord gives us.

Wednesday we had an incredibly powerful district meeting. Elder Price, my district leader, was on the plane with me from Phoenix to SLC over a year ago, and in my district in the MTC. It's crazy to see how much he has grown, and what a powerful leader he is. He shared his story--his parents are divorced, mom is not a member, dad is. He switched off every other week going to church. He knew without a doubt that this was the true church, but his mom wouldn't allow him to be baptized until he was 18. That was a major trial for him, not getting to hold the priesthood. He ended up getting baptized earlier than 18 in his teenage years, but it killed him to go against his mother's counsel for something he knew was better. The whole district was in tears. When we have the Lord on our side, he works everything out for us.
After District Meeting, I had a lunch meeting with President and Sister Nolan, who are leading the mission while President Hanks is recovering from his back surgery in Utah. President Nolan advises missionaries who are preparing to return home (in the far-distant future). He gave me some things to think about and research on Mondays, it was very helpful. Sister Nolan is a nurse, and Sister Hall had these weird things in her mouth that were very painful. Sister Nolan looked at them and said she had never seen anything like that before. We had talked to the mission nurse about them before, and she advised taking an antibiotic for that as well as the fever that Sister Hall had last Sunday. Sister Nolan called the mission nurse, and we got a call a few minutes later instructing us to go to a walk-in clinic immediately. We were there for 4 hours. Sister Hall has pneumonia, fever blisters in her mouth, a mild sinus infection, and a very slight ear infection! I don't know why this poor girl gets hit so hard with all of these at the same time. Poor girl was in tears leaving the clinic, and we went to Steak 'N Shake to get a milkshake that wouldn't hurt her mouth. When we walked in, I saw someone I recognized!
Background info real quick: When I was a sister training leader in Leeds, I got to know members in lots of different areas, one of them being Sylacauga. There was a sister who helped the missionaries out a lot. I remember months ago, asking her what we could do for her as she gives so much to the missionaries. She said to pray for her husband. He is not a member and a bit hardened against the church. I did so, but I haven't thought about him in a few months.
Back to Steak N Shake. This member happens to be there with her husband. She sees me, and beckons us over. They invite us to join them, and buy our dinner. We were able to get to know him, he is a super nice guy! We did a mini lesson, and it went over well. It was really simple, and he's not going to be jumping into the baptismal font anytime soon, but I thought it was such a miracle that she randomly ended up in Alabaster from Sylacauga (computer shopping), and that God worked the timing out just right so he could meet with missionaries in an informal setting and be softened, if just a little bit.

The rest of the week, we stayed in. We had been taking it easy and taking time to rest for Sister Hall to recover. She was prescribed a super powerful medication. She hates taking medication, and this is crazy stuff. It makes her feel weird (and act a little crazy :p), and it also knocks her out pretty quickly. Her body needs that as she has a hard time sleeping which makes it difficult for her body to recuperate from illness. She is supposed to take it 4 times a day, but it puts her to sleep so fast and for so long, that, were she to take it 4 times a day, she would literally be sleeping all the time, and she doesn't want to do that. I don't mind staying in, I've gotten lots and lots of studying done. Hermana Torres, the native Spanish speaker, went out with me while her companion, Hermana Torgerson stayed with Sister Hall. It was cool, I took the opportunity to introduce her to some Spanish contacts we had made. I had never been with a missionary who spoke native Spanish, it was super cool! We went out on the bikes, and it was freezing cold, but honestly, it felt SO GOOD. I was so happy to just get out, and I love being outside, and the leaves were falling in the breeze, and I just couldn't contain how happy I was to be in it. Y'all know I don't particularly care for the cold, so it was odd how happy I was. We interrupted a game of hackey-sack among 7 teenage boys and taught a little lesson. It was cool. They thought it was pretty cool, and actually gave us some referrals. I have moments that I am blown away at the youth of this generation. Both member and non-member, they just seem to 'get it.' The gospel rings true to them, and they want to help their friends. It was cool.
The rest of the week, I cooked, cleaned, memorized, read a lot. The Elders gave me a stock of amazing talks that were an answer to prayers. I memorized D&C 4 in Spanish, and honestly, it was really good for me.

Yesterday I played the organ again, and got to accompany the choir. We also got to teach Relief Society. Sister Hall felt well enough to help, and she has developed so much as a teacher! The thing I love most about being on that end of a classroom, and seeing the faces of all the sisters. These are incredible people with strong testimonies, and so much love for other people! A theme throughout the lesson was how prayer is most effective when it is selfless. I can feel the prayers of y'all as well as those in this area, and it is amazing to see what transpires int he lives of those we pray for. I know that because God is real, prayer is powerful. It works.

The district leader calls every Sunday night to get our numbers and hear about our week.  This week, obviously, our numbers were lower than usual, and when I told Elder Price it was a sick week, he said, "well based, on what I'm hearing, it was  SIIICK week." :)

Sister Sheffer

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

November 11th 2014

We do meet the most interesting of people. Among the multitude of people this week were a under cover detective, a ski-lift accident survivor, a German emigrant, and a Hawaiian Southern Baptist minister.

Tuesday we helped a woman named Barbara with her house. That is a big project. She asked if she could keep us for a week or two to finish it. We explained that we're not exactly service missionaries, but could help a few hours a week. She's a neat lady and has some incredible stories. She said she will visit with us at church, but wasn't able to make it this weekend.
Barbara lives in the same neighborhood as Justice, so we went to see him afterward. He hadn't kept his commitments again, and kept changing the subject as we tried to teach and testify. It was clear to me, we needed to drop him, so we had a discussion with him, and he finally admitted that his mom wasn't a fan of mormons, and he wasn't likely to read what we told him to. We told him we would be available if he ever did decide to investigate it more and left. Throughout my mission, I have been pretty heartbroken when people with so much potential don't go anywhere. Countless times I have met and taught people who seem so golden, and then they avoid us, don't return calls, drop off the face of the earth. I remember back in Montgomery, standing in front of PJ's door and just praying that she would open to us. After a good bit of time standing and knocking and waiting, and knocking again, Sister Ray would encourage me, but tell me, "Sister Sheffer, she's not going to open the door," and we would have to move on. In a training we received from the church mission department, we were told that the only way we would get the Lord to lead more of the elect to us, is to prove to Him that we can tell the difference. We discern between who is elect and who is not ready by inviting. We are trained on the importance of dropping people so we use the Lord's time perfectly to find and teach the elect. While I've gotten more used to letting people go, it has never been easy for me. This time I got to encourage Sister Hall. She was pretty discouraged. I told her not to worry, that when one door closes, God opens another door, and we would find someone prepared.

We biked to...we didn't even know where, we just biked. I made some Spanish contacts that were pretty promising and sent the info to the hermanas. Then we had a good conversation with a woman on her porch. We asked where she would recommend going to get the least amount of doors slammed in our face (I can't remember how I phrased it, but it honestly was something along those lines). She offered a large neighborhood nearby. We walked our bikes down, looking down streets. I had a super subtle feeling about one particular house. I've learned to trust those subtle feelings and we knocked it. It was the only house we knocked that evening because we were there for an hour. The man who answered said elders were meeting with him regularly, and unexpectedly stopped. He had a notebook of questions and research he had done about our church. He is honest and sincere, and very skeptical. He is a logical person, and researched Christianity with serious scrutiny before developing a testimony of the Savior and deciding to call himself a Christian. He is now doing the same thing with the mormon church. He had good questions, and it really made me come alive to be prepare to answer his questions, which thankfully, all have answers. He said he wants us to teach his children, so they can decide for themselves as well. I feel so good about this family. The father has got to be one of the kindest people I have ever met. It was dark by the time we left his house, and he was very concerned that we were on our bikes. He told us to text him when we got home safely because he was going to worry about us. I know if he studies with faith as he did with Christianity, that he will recognize the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon and our faith.

Thursday night we were biking home after a member appointment, that a non-member happened to show up to. We were planning on sharing something different with the family who had just lost a loved one, but when the friend showed up, I had a feeling to share something different, but wasn't as well prepared. I FUMBLED with the scriptures. I NEVER FUMBLE...but I did. In the end, I don't even know what I shared, but I testified and Sister Hall testified, and the spirit was very strong. I was still mildly embarrassed leaving there. On our bikes, I was reflecting on what happened when I see a guy about our age get out of his car. I brake quickly and say what's up, then use an approach President had trained us on, using religious questions. He played along for a little bit, and then said, "Okay, I'm going to spoil this for y'all...we're mormons." I wanted to buckle my bike helmet on my face. He is less active, and his mom came out, and we had a good, brief little lesson since we had to make curfew. God's timing. I still can't figure out how we ended up there, because I thought we were going out of the neighborhood the same way we came in, but we didn't.

AWESOME restoration lesson with this man and his 4 granddaughters, two of them were 5. It was awesome to see the cute little girls answering questions and bringing the spirit. he said he knows it's true, but he admitted it would be hard because he's so old and has only known the baptist religion his whole life. We have a follow up appt.

Remember Byra? We packed up her house and cleaned it out, since she finally got her new house in Columbiana. This is a great step to prepare her to accept the gospel. She was so appreciative, and that's my favorite kind of work sometimes. Cleaning is therapeutic. Afterward we got to meet some awesome people at a birthday party for a 1 yr old in the ward. The mom went ALL OUT. It was way fun, and neat to put a good light on mormon missionaries. One of their neighbors wants to get together with us and the member family to learn more.

I can't believe how many visitors came to the trunk or treat party. It was awesome!

Yesterday we taught a lesson with a member family and one of the YW's friends who is investigating the church. She is 17, an absolute sweetheart, awful family situation. The YW had already given her a Book of Mormon, and she had already started reading it. She was excited to learn more, and is so open. She doesn't live in our ward boundaries, but we will work with the missionaries over there to help give her a foundation, and prepare her to go to church on her own in her respective ward.

Afterward we got pretty busy with appointments, and finally started heading back to eat dinner after 8. When we got back to our apartment, our neighbor was out with his dog. We had met him briefly before, but hadn't got to know him very well. We talked with him for a bit, then he said, "okay, I have a question. What do y'all do?" He then launched into how he had been living next to missionaries for 5 years, but it was always elders, and he felt embarrassing asking them what the heck they were doing going off on bikes every day in suits. He told us about how he had asked his stepmom and his friends if they knew anything about mormons, but had never asked missionaries directly because for whatever reason he was embarrassed. We had a really good talk with him, and will be teaching him Tuesday night. Too cool.

Transfer calls came Saturday. Sister Hall and I will be staying together in Alabaster, but we will be moving in with the hermanas in the same complex, different apartment, and elders will be moving back into our apartment. It will be very good for the ward to have elders again. We're so sad that the set of sisters we have been working with, and have gotten so close to are going home this week. They are absolute champions and have become close friends.

The gospel is true. The Book of Mormon provides comfort and truth.


Sister Shefffer

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

November 3rd 2014

Long week. So good.

We organized Ms. Barbara's junk room. She doesn't like to get rid of things, but sometimes we can convince her to throw things out. I love her and she loves us too. She called us to thank us and tell her that she considers us family. She said we make her want to be more zealous in sharing Christ, and in praying more meaningfully for people. We were really touched. I think she's the sweetest woman I have ever met.

Wednesday morning was quite emotional. We said goodbye to Sister Wong and Sister Farnsworth. We couldn't even talk because we were all crying so hard. I've never sent a companion home, but that's what it felt like. It was so weird to think we wouldn't see them at the next missionary event, but that they were leaving for home. They are such stellar people.
That morning we cleaned out our apartment to prepare for the elders to move in, and then moved our things into the apartment with the Spanish sisters. We had to clean that apartment too. As Sister Jones says, "You can't preach the gospel like an angel and live like a pig." We got it clean and cute and feel settled in. The elders that got transferred in are awesome. They are both brilliant and learn quickly. The ward already loves them, so we are very grateful they're here. I knew one of them, he had to go home 4 months ago after tearing his ACL playing basketball. He recovered remarkably fast and fought to come back out. The other one is newer and HILARIOUS, upon meeting him, he says, "Sister Sheffer! You're my Grandma!" He started his mission in Clanton when my daughter Sister Warren and a former roommate from Madison were serving there. He says Sister Warren helped to train him. Man, I'm getting old.

We did not stay in for Halloween. We were expected to continue working in safe areas. We went to one of the counselor's in the bishopric's homes. We love his family. His daughter and wife have both teamed up with us before and are wonderful. In fact this is the family whose home we taught Natalie in last Sunday. She came to church yesterday. :) They got a fire going on their driveway, and we hung out there and passed out candy with pass along cards. I met a Spanish family that had been taught by missionaries before. It was cool. The kids actually really liked the Jesus pictures, and we got some teenagers to commit to going on I'd say it was pretty successful.

We did service at a place that missionaries rave about. It's called Delicious bakery and the Spanish branch president who is a convert of a little over a year owns it a works it with his family. They were excited that I spoke Spanish, and we got to fold boxes, and sample pastries. pretty good deal. they showed us their missionary board of missionaries who have come and served. Many of them I recognized, and then he pointed to a picture of Iris Mendoza and said she was the one who taught him when he was baptized! I was excited to tell them she went to seminary with me! So crazy. They love her.

Saturday there was an 8 year old baptism in the ward. It was quite an experience. The family of the child getting baptized has 9 kids--blended family with adopted children, it gets really confused. He is very hyperactive, but has such a strong spirit. He wouldn't sit still during the service, and the whole program was unconventional, but I felt the spirit so strong! This child wanted to be baptized because he knows how important he is. He was confirmed, and again, it was SO STRONG.

We did the Family Mission Plan lesson with two families yesterday. One was the Relief Society President's family. Love them. Lesson was awesome, and then another adorable little (in stature) family. They're so cute. I love watching the spirit work with these families. This generation of youth has no fear with missionary work. I am amazed at the youth, they have desires to share and they do! Afterward, plans fell through so in the last hour, we ended up at Walmart. We don't typically do store contacting on Sunday (or at all if I can find people another way), but we did last night. It was amazing. I taught a man in Spanish, and his demeanor definitely changed by the end of the lesson. His wife is expecting their second baby soon. It was neat that we could even feel the spirit teaching in the back of Walmart. We were talking to a couple younger people, and a young worker approaches us and asks who we are. When we tell her, she said she had some questions about the mormon faith. She has been attending lots of different churches trying to find truth. She is so open, and said the lesson we had with her there really opened her eyes. We're stoked to meet with her again. She works in our area, but lives out of our area, so other missionaries will do the primary teaching, but we will continue to fellowship and answer questions at work. Both of those lessons were miracles. We find lots of  prepared people who don't live in our area. We give lots of referrals to missionaries in surrounding areas, which we love, but also have wished that we could find prepared people who live in our area. I honestly am just happy to be doing this work. I love to teach and it renews my spirit every time I get to teach a solid sit down lesson, but we have to work hard to find people prepared.

I feel that Heavenly Father shows us how much He loves us, by placing people in our path who are ready to be taught right then. Yesterday was a wonderful fast Sunday. We had fasted as a mission on Friday, and were happy to fast again. God inadvertently answered prayers by allowing me to play the organ for sacrament and teach Gospel Doctrine--Isaiah 40-49 :). There was no notice for either of those, but I loved it. I love that the mission has changed me, but I also love feeling like myself. Whenever I get to edit someone's essay, teach a class, play the piano, or speak dance or hockey with someone, it makes me happy. At district meeting this week, I trained on virtue from chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, and discussed how we feel the power and authority of our calling more when we keep our minds focused on our purpose in all hours of the day.  I love when God allows us to use our unique traits and personality to fulfill HIs purposes. I have seen in some other service we did this week, how meant to be the timing was, because my companion and I happen to connect so well with certain people where other missionaries wouldn't, and vice versa. Speaking of connecting with people, Mally is here!!! We're going to lunch after this and it makes me so happy to see her.

Love y'all.

Sister Liz Sheffer