Saturday, December 20, 2014

December 18th 2014

All my dreams are coming true in this transfer. I have always wanted to be an hermana, I've always wanted to train for my last transfer, and I've always wanted to serve in Florence. All 3 wishes granted!

I am training Hermana Sierra West from Holliday, Utah. She's super cute. She graduated from high school this year, and came out to serve. We are having a fun time together. She's outgoing, and people naturally like her. She's going to be a great missionary. :)

This is my third time being double transferred with a new missionary. Every time, God has worked miracles. This week He continues to prove His goodness.

I have managed to get along without a GPS my whole mission, but most of my companions have had one. Hermana West doesn't have one, but a sister serving close by lent us hers to get us into our area about 2 1/2 hours from the Birmingham Stake Center. Her GPS is crazy, and after way too long of it sending us in weird circles in Birmingham on matter what settings we put it on, I just went to the freeway I figured we should be on, and guessed most of my way to the area, calling the elders in Florence when we needed help. Wednesday night was the ward Christmas party, and we were told that all the members were anxiously awaiting our arrival. When we finally got there, late due to the travel delays, one of the elders ran to the microphone and announced the sisters had finally made it. The ward literally applauded when we walked through the cultural hall doors, and we were accosted with hugs and handshakes and grins. It was crazy awesome. We were so tired and so happy. This ward was devastated when sisters were taken out a little less than a year ago, and are ecstatic to have sisters again. The relief society had daily team-ups scheduled with the sisters and had much success with the program, so we will re-establish that.

The next day, we had an awesome miracles. Hermana West was a little nervous about tracting. We were busy during the day, and by the time we had time to tract, it was dark. President told us at transfer meeting to tract in the dark, so we do now. We were actually going to a part  member's house, but oculdn't see the numbers in the dark, so guessed, figuring we would just contact the person if it wasn't the right house. We were greeted warmly by a middle-aged woman. She ushered us in, and we talked for a bit and presented her with cookies. We assumed with the welcome that it was the sister we intended to see. It wasn't. We were surprised. We heard more of her story. She has 4 kids who are all grown, and her husband passed away a few years ago. She has so much faith, and we talked about God's plan for each of us. She walked away for a second and Hermana West asked me, "can we ask to come back?" I said, "of course!" When she came back, she asked us first if we would come back, and gave us her phone number, so we have an appointment with her. She is so neat. Such a wonderful woman. That was the very first door Hermana West knocked on.

Friday we were driving to an area the elders had told us about. After a while we realized we were not on the road we intended to be on, but I figured we'd keep going anyway. Then we see....TRAILER PARK. I immediately pulled off. There are not a whole lot of Spanish speakers in the area, but we normally find them in trailer parks. There are different signs we look for. One is a mop on the porch. We walked around, and it seemed pretty dead, but then we saw a mop on the porch, and I thought for sure, we would meet a hispanic, but an older white woman answered the door. Within a few minutes, she was crying. She had experienced really rough times recently, and hadn't seen any manifestations of God loving her. I know we were sent straight to her. We are seeing her later this week. In that same neighborhood, we found a family that knows a convert to the ward, we had a good lesson with her, and are teaching the whole family this week. We were referred to a neighbor by her and two other people, so we will contact her this week as she wasn't home them.

There was a city parade that night, which was super fun, and we met lots of awesome people who are willing to meet with us. Such blessings.

Yesterday we had a follow-up appointment in the projects. When we were walking to it, I saw this guy on his porch. He was smoking and drinking, so I figured I'd just talk to him for a bit and try to ask for referrals. He asked about our beliefs and such, and Hermana West asked if we could come up on his porch. He said yes, so I'm thinking, "Alright then, we're doing this."  We sat on his porch, and she brought up the Book of Mormon. I asked him some questions and he brought up his beer about 4 times saying that even though he drinks it, he still takes care of people and does God's work. I called him out on the fact that he must be experiencing a little bit of contrition since he kept bringing up his beer. He admitted to it, and I shared the classic Ether 12:27, and we talked about acting in faith. I asked if he would be willing to give up his beer. He said yes. Then I asked if he would be willing to act in faith and dump out his beer right then. He said, "not today." We wrestled with it a little bit, but wouldn't do it. We promised that our message is life-changing and miraculous, and we want him to hear it when he hasn't been drinking. We're teaching him this week also. :) Fun stuff.

Lots more crazy miracle stuff with just being led to people. We have only been here for four days, but we have people to teach. It's awesome. EVERYTHING IS AWESOME!

Oh yeah, we also found lights and ornaments in our apartment. The apartment had been vacated by elders a few weeks ago, (my third time for that also), so we have been cleaning like crazy, but we got ourselves a tree, and our place is so cute. An adorable little home for the rest of my mission.

Love y'all,

Hermana Sheffer

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Don't bother knocking doors around here, everyone's NUTS in this neighborhood except for me.

Don't bother knocking doors around here, everyone's NUTS in this neighborhood except for me."
I love the crazy people we meet tracting. We taught a wonderful woman, who was absolutely nuts, but so much fun and has so much faith, who told us the subject line. It cracked me up.

We may have discovered the reason Sister Hall has not bee feeling well. We passed a gluten free section in Walmart, and I remembered two sisters I know who have discovered allergies to gluten on their missions. Sister Hall got permission to take a quiz on line, that said she could very well be gluten-sensitive. She has been eating gluten-free for the past few days and is already feeling better. Poor thing. that's a rough thing as a missionary in the South.

 I was going to wait to tell y'all until this week so I could send a picture to announce the news, but my props didn't come in time, plus these computers won't let me send pics, so I reckon I'll use my sticks instead. Have y'all read Luke 1 recently when the angel Gabriel announced John the Baptist's birth? The past week's events went more like this:

' There was in the days of Richard D. Hanks, the president of the Alabama Birmingham Mission, a certain assistant, of the zone of Eastwood Bessemer (BEAST ZONE), and his sister was of the daughters of Ephraim, and her name was Elizabeth.

And the servants of the BEAST zone were all righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord [nearly] blameless.

And they had no children, because that Elizabeth...was well stricken in years.

And there appeared unto her, an assistant of the mission President, standing outside of the temple...
And the assistant said unto her, Fear not, thou shalt bear a daughter, and call her name Hermana,
And thou shalt have joy and gladness, and many shall rejoice at her birth. '

Ok, enough blasphemy. Basically, what's happening is that 9 Hermanas are coming in this transfer, and there are only 8 hermanas left in the mission, so I'm being switched over to Spanish for my last transfer so I can train one of the incoming Spanish sisters. That means a double transfer while training a new missionary in a new language. If that isn't the trunkiest transfer call I've ever heard of. I will receive my new area and new daughter on Wednesday. I'm sad to leave, naturally, but super excited for the adventure to come.

Lots happened this week....
We went to the temple, and that was awesome.
Had some tracting success and taught a few lessons in Spanish.
We had our Ward Christmas Party. It was awesome. There was a talent show, and it was precious. All four of us missionaries gave the spiritual program, and we introduced the He is the Gift initiative. Pretty exciting stuff. I love Christmas, and love using this. I especially love the scripture they chose to put on the pass along cards. It helps us to establish unity with all other Christian denominations. Even when people we talk to try to put down our religion, the atmosphere changes 100% of the time, when we each just start testifying of the Savior. He is so good.

I was impressed as we were fortunate enough to stop by a less active 15 year old's while her best friend was there. We had heard about this friend, and it sounded like she wasn't the best influence. After hearing her story, and background, she is simply confused and has had a rough go with religion. The impressing thing to me, was her quoting John 3:17 rather than 16, and hear her explain her hope of the nature of God. We discussed the role of God, as a loving Heavenly Father, He loves us so much, that He gives us commandments and high expectations for our own gain. She is a good girl, and agreed to take the discussions. I would be super excited to teach her were I not leaving.
So many people here I would be so excited to begin/continue working with. This is a great area, but I have honestly felt that this area needs Sister Hall, and was happy to hear that she will be here to take care of it.

I normally try to avoid all the goodbyes, because I hate it. It's too hard. The ward, especially those involved in music were anxious to hear my transfer instructions since I have been accompanying the choir and playing the organ, subbing in Primary where I can, and so on. The choir director tried to assure me that they love me for me and not just for my piano abilities. Yeah, whatever. :) I'm kidding, I love this ward to death. The Bishop was teary-eyed thanking me for my work here. We talked about some of the happenings in the past few months, and it was inspiring. When we talked about Colby and Morgan getting baptized, I couldn't control my emotions anymore. There was nothing I did for that, it was just flat out a blessing from the Lord to be here at the time that they were prepared. Scott bore his testimony about the Plan of Salvation, and talked about the experience he had with the missionary discussions being taught in his home to Morgan and Colby. He testified of God's hand in having Sister Hall and I here, that we were the missionaries who needed to teach them. I don't know how we got so blessed. It is absolutely just a sheer blessing. Every time I get to this point in an area when I'm about to leave, I always reflect on how worth it the time spent here was. The most rewarding moment: I partook of the sacrament yesterday--Colby was passing it. That kid makes me cry. He has had the priesthood for a week now, and already fulfills his priesthood duties with such dignity, and recognizes the sacredness of the ordinances. I can't wait to see what God makes out of this kid.

One of the most important lessons I've been learning: grace. It is not in me to change. It is within Christ in me to change. I used to think I could make deals with God. For example: I'll open my mouth to everyone, and I'll expect God to come through on His promise to fill my mouth with what I need to say. that's not a bad thing, but it still gives me too much credit. The glory is to God. I can't do a thing. I can't even open my mouth without Him. It's not my nature. I do have to give EVERYTHING, my whole heart to the Lord, and plead for Him to change me.

I love being a missionary. Love y'all.

Hermana Sheffer

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

December 2nd 2014

"Careful. The missionaries can send you to hell. They're the servants of the Lord."

The mission is amazing. It's amazing how much strength it provides. So many blessings! Whenever I am struggling internally, someone presents themselves, and I get to focus on how much the Savior loves them and invite them to "come unto Christ and be perfected in Him." It's amazing that we can just keep going out here.

Wednesday was blessed. We saw a part member family. Only the wife was home. She is hilarious! She was working on a pumpkin roll, and was frustrated that it didn't seem to be the same recipe she had used the previous year. We had a good visit with her, and she invited us to come to have a Thanksgiving meal with them at 1 the next day. She told us she wouldn't tell her family that we were coming, because her husband would be thrilled as he loves missionaries, but her kids would chew her out. We were a little apprehensive, but she was insistent, so we accepted her offer.

Another part member family came into my head as we were leaving, so we decided to stop by. We were also a little apprehensive because we had been snubbed by the member in a store previously, and she would never respond to our phone calls. We dropped by regardless. They were bagging leaves. Perfect! We prayed really hard that they would let us help them. They were really nice to us, but wouldn't let us help at first. Finally, they let us. God answers prayers! We had a good time with them, and I discovered the most marvelous invention. They look like giant frisbees with claws on one end, but you stick your hands in them, and they bag leaves like nobody's business. I don't know where these have been my whole life. The non-member husband managed to disappear when he thought we were going to get spiritual, but his wife said it was a big step for him to get to know us and enjoy us.

We were tracting a neighborhood, and Sister Hall has the idea to use the approach that we were coming to share a Thanksgiving scripture. It worked really well. We met some awesome people who don't think they want the gospel just yet, but invited us to eat with them, and gave us referrals.

Team-up with mission-famous YSA, re-baptized, missionary-without-a-nametag April. I love her. We saw a less active family and shared an endurance/Thanksgiving message with them and it was awesome. It was nice to have April with us, especially since she is able to watch the news and converse back with people when they bring things up that we don't know a whole lot about. The world sounds crazy right now.

Thanksgiving day I was having a hard time in the morning. After my personal study, I wandered a little bit around the apartment cleaning--how I get in my zone and process things. I had never wanted to be home so badly. One of the sisters caught me throw my foot up to squash the kitchen trash down. She said, "Tell that trash how you really feel Sister Sheffer." The sisters cheered for me as I let it all out and punched the trash from nearly overflowing down to the bottom third of the trash can, bagged it, and gave it a strong kick across the apartment. That felt good. #missionoutlets We got our things together, and went out to save the world. We had pretty effective contacting int he morning, visited a shut-in in the nursing home, and watched the Thanksgiving mormon message with her (did y'all see the little kid say he was grateful that he gets to play hockey?). It was sweet. Then we went to our appointment with part member family that had invited us the day before. It was good. The kids warmed up to us after a while.
Afterward, we went to open the church for a party. A member of the SPanish branch received permission to have his nephew's birthday party there. The member is a convert, and nearly all the family and friends were not members. We helped set up and decorate, and were naturally roped into staying and practically force-fed a big meal. We had another Thanksgiving appointment at 7 with a super cute active young family in the ward, so we didn't want to go crazy, but didn't have much choice in the matter. :) I heard the convert's conversion story, and it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my mission. She told me about how many missionaries had contacted her, and tracted into her, and she turned them away. Finally, she was left a card from a missionary saying that she was prepared and that the gospel would bless her life with miracles. It impacted her, and she ended up taking the discussions and becoming one of the strongest members this church has. She is so consecrated, her husband joined two years later and is likewise an incredibly consecrated member. They own the bakery where we give service at. Such great people. As we were sitting and eating with them, who happens to walk into the church building, but the husband in the family we had the 7 o'clock Thanksgiving appointment with. He saw us, and just grinned. He was getting chairs for us for dinner later. You can't make this stuff up.

The active family was understanding about the party situation, and still wanted us to engorge ourselves. They made a good meal. We gorged. It was a good Thanksgiving.

We worked hard all week, and Sunday, found ourselves promising new investigators. We were tracting, and a woman opened the door who didn't seem terribly open. She agreed to let us say a quick prayer with her. After the prayer she seemd to soften, and we talked about the Savior for a good while, and shared some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. She loved it, and told us that she and her husband had driven through our church parking lot one time, but were disappointed to find that we didn't hold evening services like many of the churches here. She revealed to us that her husband is determined to go to our church. I told her pretty boldly they needed to meet with us. She agreed to read the Restoration pamphlet before we return this week. She looked on the back, and she told us seeing the word "mormon" puts most people off, but not her, because right above the on the back of the pamphlet is JESUS CHRIST and that is what matters to her. She said it seems obvious as we wear him on our nametags, and speak primarily about him that we are a Christ-centered church and there is nothing wrong with us as is so commonly spread here. They are prepared. I'm so excited to work with them. She loves her Savior.

The quote in the subject line comes from a brother in the ward. He said that to his 6 year old daughter when we were at their house doing a missionary lesson. So funny.

The gospel's so true!


Sister Sheffer