Monday, February 24, 2014

1st Week in Nampa!

This week has been a roller coaster but that's normal. It's my FIRST area! AH! We met our bishops on Saturday and they're both pretty awesome. Bishop Barclay is over Nampa 5th Ward and he's as real as it gets. He's "solid" as my fellow missionaries in my area would say. Bishop Stratton is over Caldwell 12th Ward and he's really nice. He asked Sister Ketring and I to bare/bear (I still don't know the difference) our testimonies on Sunday during church. When it was my turn, I started with "Hey y'all" so people would pay attention to me. It worked. BOO-YAH. I just have to say, nine hours of church was exhausting. We went to ward council/PEC at 7....IN THE MORNING. So we texted Abby, the Neals daughter, to bring us poptarts and fruit snacks. We snacked during Relief that wrong? I hope not. Since we don't have a car, we weren't able to go back to the house to eat lunch or anything before heading to the other ward. So we were out from 6:50 to 4:20. It was a loooong day, but very good...very spiritual.

So on Thursday, my sweet, sweet companion had an incident. We decided to ride our bikes to the mission office to see how long it would take to get there....well, we made it half way when it started to rain. However, we persevered and pressed the work of the Lord...ha....(my humor has gotten even drier since the first day at the MTC...beware). Anyways, we made it across a major intersection and then Sister Ketring's chain BROKE and to top that off, her skirt caught in her brake so it kind of fell off her hips! WHOOOPS! Luckily she was wearing leggings so no worries, her religion was NOT exposed. In addition, we received a text from some elders in our area who happened to see what happened. Yikes.

The most embarrassing thing that has happened to me since being in Idaho was my freak out moment when I saw a really pretty LLAMA and made Sister Ketring stop so I could take a picture. It was so cute! We were riding down Moss which is like the Rockhill of Nampa and there are horses and llamas and all sorts of animals. I LOVE it minus the smell... On Friday, since it was sunny and Brother Neal/Joe fixed Sister Ketring's chain, we made our way over to the mission home and we got there! So much biking, but so worth it. My legs are getting pretty toned. Perks.

With it being the first week, we haven't done much proselyting since I'm just trying to get accustomed with missionary life in general. So next week we'll dominate. We've had meals with members though. Friday, we ate with the Coons. It was great. Brother Coon is very fascinated with Book of Mormon history and artifacts. We learned SO many interesting things from him. Apparently there are mounds found all over the US that link to the Book of Mormon and other things. We learned that Joseph Smith found the skeleton of a Lamanite named Zelph in New York. So we just learned some intriguing things.

Okay now Saturday is a tender subject. First off, we saw a cow and freaked out. Second, we were riding from Nampa to meet Bishop Stratton in Caldwell...2 miles each way. While we were on our bikes, these friggin' CHIHUAHUAS start chasing us down the street. So now I really feel for mailmen. Later that night, we taught Grandma's son, Kenny. Grandma is Sister Hoke, but she insists on us calling her Grandma. It's so sweet. So Kenny was born in the church and baptized at 8. When he was nine, his parents gave him the choice to go to church or to not go. He chose the alternative. He's in his mid-50s I believe. So it's been a while. He has a sincere desire to hold the priesthood. He's struggled with an alcohol addiction and is working on recovering. During our meeting with Kenny, we talked about the importance of the priesthood and he seemed to understand it better. He's gaining a testimony, but still struggling with addiction. He's going to be a tough one, but he really wants the gospel in his life. He's been reading the Book of Mormon with Grandma and he loves it and he takes notes which is GREAT! He's the only one we're teaching right now. We took over for Elders so we're pinkwashing the area and they didn't leave us with ANYTHING. So we're literally starting over. It'll be a challenge but I'm sure the Lord is preparing people! Last night, we taught youth fireside. Bishop Barclay asked us that morning at ward council/PEC so it was pretty last minute. We talked about sharing the gospel with friends and inviting friends to activities and we really emphasized how everyone needs the gospel in their lives. I used the quote Christopher Robin said to Winnie the Pooh: "You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." It's always scary to open your mouth and share the gospel with people we know and especially people we don't know. Sometimes we think we can't take the rejection, no matter how harsh. Sometimes we feel like we can't open our mouths in fear of the absence of eloquence. But guess what?! It's not about what you say, or how you say it. It's about how the person you're talking to FEELS. Remember, it's all about the spirit! So I would encourage you to share your testimony with someone this week. No one can argue with something you KNOW. I love you all!

Valentine's Day at the MTC

Today has been great, but stressful yet humorous. Let me explain. We woke up today to find our residence covered in hearts and our district was an explosion of pink because DUH, it's VALENTINE'S DAY! Why not go all out? It's the first time I can enjoy the love without feeling bitter, because let's face it--none of the missionaries are with their significant others except for the seniors, and that's quite alright. This morning, we had breakfast with our classroom instructor, Brother Bishop, and while we were sitting at our table, three Elders came by and gave us a cut out heart with a scripture and "Happy V-Day!" written on them. You can only imagine Brother Bishop's face when he looked up the scripture on his phone. Songs of Solomon 1:2. Look it up, and be prepared to laugh your socks off! His face was SO priceless! After breakfast, we went back to our residence and got our laundry. Just wait. It's boring now, but just wait. We got to the laundry room and I preceded to load my colors in the washer. I felt that I should put my Micky Mouse pajama bottoms, ya know the ones that have red on them, in with the colors, but of course I ignored it because at home, it was completely fine to put them in with my whites. I think you know where I'm going with I put my whites in. Thirty minutes pass, I open the washer and BAM HAPPY VALENTINES DAY. Pink. Everywhere. OH NO! So I currently have pink shirts and pink g's. Sister Gubler and I went to the bookstore and bought bleach and vinegar (apparently vinegar helps cancel out the yellow stains resulting from bleach?) and now I'm rewashing my that load. I took the pajamas out and anything else that wasn't JUST white. I am NEVER doing that again! Ha! Sister Gubler just said, "My sweet, sweet companion...." No worries though, I told Heavenly Father that I was sorry for not following the prompting he gave me. Whoops. That just proves how important obedience is, right?

So this week has definitely been a growing experience. Sister Gubler and I kind of hopped on our high horses and thought we were just incredible missionaries, until Tuesday when we decided to goof off and not prepare a lesson because we just thought, "We got this! Teaching by the spirit! YEAH!" Well, we met with our TRC investigator, Sarah Mae, and were quite quickly pushed off our pedestals. She bombarded us with things we hadn't prepared. We didn't have the spirit with us. We didn't know the answers. She brought up Revelation to disprove the Book of Mormon and said that it can't be the word of God, and so and so forth. It was awful. Later on, we had our progressing investigator lesson with Chad, and it was the same thing. See, Chad was a perfect investigator. He did what we asked him to do, and things we didn't even ask him to do yet, and it's been great. But that day, he didn't read the Book of Mormon, he didn't pray. To make it worse, he didn't understand our lesson on the Plan of Salvation. Ugh. It was awful. Sister Gubler and I were so discouraged. That night, I prayed to my Heavenly Father and told Him that I would do everything I could to be a good missionary. I'd study the lessons in Preach My Gospel and the points made in the pamphlets. I told Him that I would fully focus. The next day, I lived up to that promise. I studied the Plan of Salvation. I prayed. I asked Him to guide me. I was fully focused. That day, we went in to teach Sarah and we were a little scared. But when we got there, Sister Gubler said things that she hadn't even thought of such as: Revelation isn't the last book written. From that point on, after having said that, she opened her heart and mind to the message of the gospel. It had been SO difficult to get her to listen about the First Vision. So, I felt prompted to go ahead and share that story. I recited JSH 1:16-17, which I had made a goal to memorize and I had. The spirit then filled the room. It was so incredible. She committed to read 3 Nephi 11 and pray about it. AH. It was so great! We were so grateful to Heavenly Father.

When we went in to our lesson with Chad that night, it was the same thing. We were prepared. We were exactly obedient and we were blessed for it. We decided to reteach The Plan of Salvation. He was still a little fuzzy about the Atonement and how it'll help us at judgment. So, I used the analogy of the "personal file". I said, "Every time we sin, serious or minor, Heavenly Father keeps a record of it. Through Jesus Christ and His infinite Atonement, those things can be discarded from our file. Shredded. Forgotten about. Vanished. The only way we can do that, though, is through repentance. First, we recognize our faults, then we ask for forgiveness from Heavenly Father, then we make a change. If we will do that every time we sin, there will be nothing on our record that will keep us from entering into the presence of our Heavenly Father. We will stand spotless before God." That really hit Chad. He understood the importance of the Atonement. Another question he had was, "Why is it so great to live with God? I mean, I moved out of my parent's house and I don't see them all the time, and I'm fine." I asked him what he felt is the happiest place on Earth. He said it was the mountain. So, I said, "Chad, picture living on the mountain for eternity. Picture your family there. Imagine you have an infinite peace of mind." He smiled and said that it was an awesome feeling, and I said, "Chad. Multiply that by infinity and THAT is the Celestial Kingdom." From that point, he recognized the desire he has to return to our Heavenly Father. Heavenly Father blesses us when we are exactly obedient to His commandments. He blesses me when I'm exactly obedient to the mission rules, and when I use my time wisely. His blessings have been so evident during my time here, and it's so much easier to recognize them when there are no distractions and when I've lost myself in the work of the Lord.

I love being a missionary. I've come to understand why it's so important to follow the promptings of the spirit and to say the things that we feel we should say because those things, doctrinal or personal, are things that someone might need to hear in order to move forward in the gospel. I know this is the gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Joseph Smith saw God and Jesus Christ. I know that he was given the power and authority to translate The Book of Mormon. There is no greater cause for Joseph Smith and many others to have died than for this gospel. I would die for this gospel. I didn't realize how serious I was about that feeling until Sister Gubler expressed that in our lesson with Sarah. But it's true. This is the Lord's church. I've sacrificed so much to be here, and I regret nothing! I hope you all have a great week, and you're all in my thoughts and prayers! Happy Valentine's Day! Remember, if you don't feel loved today, you're wrong. Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have an infinite love for YOU!

Sister Tyler

Monday, February 3, 2014

My days as an avid tweeter and Facebook-er are coming to an end--or at least an eighteen month hiatus. One day more. One more day until I enter the mission field as a representative of Jesus Christ. My heart has been so full of gratitude and love for the gospel more so than in years passed. My love for my Savior and His church has grown significantly throughout the process of mission preparation. I've been so blessed to have grown up with the truthfulness of the gospel in my life. I honestly do not know where I'd be, or more importantly, who I'd be, if I didn't have the knowledge that I have and the tools that I've been given to return to live with my Heavenly Father someday. I know this is the Lord's church. He speaks to us through His servants, the prophet and His apostles. He speaks to us through personal revelation and through His Spirit. God is not absent in our lives. He is there for us. He answers prayers. One prayer He answered, in particular, was Joseph Smith's; a young boy who was searching for truth. He was answered by God and His Son in a vision. Joseph was given the tools to translate The Book of Mormon, another testament of Jesus Christ. I know it's true. It isn't just a collaboration of really intriguing stories. The stories told in The Book of Mormon are real. When we are lost, confused, troubled, or filled with despair, we can turn to that book. We can turn to the Lord for guidance. We can turn to the prophet and His apostles for counsel. God will not leave us alone. He sends His servants and His Spirit to lead and guide us. Our journey here on Earth wasn't meant to be easy. In fact, it's meant to be challenging to determine who we're willing to live for. I choose the Lord. Who will you choose?