Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Practice what you preach

I cannot believe it is already week 5 of the transfer... One more week and then transfers will be coming up again!! I will find out Saturday June 5th if I will be transferred to a different area or with a new companion. These past weeks have just flown by! We've have the most lessons I've ever taught in one week before. And the most miracles. I hardly see my companion some nights because we are on splits the whole night! But the busier we are, the happier we are.

I've concluded after this week that missionary work is really fun!! Like, I really enjoy doing it! And it's also really exhausting... spiritually exhausting. But I wouldn't rather be any place else than here in St. George!

I don't have a whole lot of time right now - we've had some computer problems - but my favorite quote from this week would have to be from a man we've been teaching for a few months now. After much doubt, trial, and not keeping commitments he randomly said, "You guys practice what my pastor preaches!" And then from there on he's been progressing like crazy!

I love seeing the power of conversion and the change in those we teach - probably one of my favorite parts of missionary work. And filling in our area book - with all the teaching records of everyone and so forth. Sister Shoemaker and I made a deal - If she does the dishes, I'll do the area book!

I love you all so very much!!

~Sister Martin

Pics: Sister Shoemaker and I at one of our baptisms this week! It was a beautiful baptism! His wife is less-active but now the whole family goes to church regularly and they will be sealed in the temple next year :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Pixie Cut = Hot Weather Problem Solved

Well, I got my hot weather problem solved!! Chopped it all off! When I would chop it off in the past I would always regret it a tiny bit and feel sad (I know... pathetic), but this time I didn't shed a single tear and I don't regret it one bit!! I am going to grow it back out...I think. We'll see :) 

Yesterday was just a wonderful day. It started out in the Visitors' Center. While us and the other sisters on shift met before it started, I just had a feeling that something good was going to happen. I was all excited inside. It was weird! But I had been praying that whole morning for Heavenly Father to send in someone in the VC whom I could share my testimony with, someone whom I could help feel and connect with the spirit. 

At first this Beligium couple came in and I gave them a tour of our temple pictures, told them what it was all about, and helped them with their family history on the computer and finished it off with the movie God's Plan for His Family and then introduced them to the Book of Mormon. Normally a tour with that many resources would take like 30 minutes. It took us 15 because they basically sped walked through everything and just wanted to hop from one thing to the next! It was slightly exhausting. I don't think I've ever explained the temple in such short and concise sentences before. But it was good practice! At the end when I explained the Book of Mormon, I handed them one in Dutch and told them that it was our gift to them (in the mean time thinking that this is the moment I've been praying for). But they acted like I just pulled the black plague out of my pocket and practically ran out the door saying something that sounded like a heavy accented "No thank you, not interested!" They ran away faster than I could "Goodbye, have a nice day!"  Haha it was a bit funny to watch.

But THEN this 19 yr old girl came in and I started talking to her a bit. She opened up and told me that she had been off and on with the church for a while and told me how her family was sealed in the temple in 2010 but now her parents were getting divorced. She had put her mission papers in at one point and was struggling now to stay committed to the gospel. We ended up talking for about an hour and a half about the decisions she has made in her life, her goals in the future for herself and her future family, and lots more. I really felt like God had been preparing not only her but also me for this experience.

All I've been studying recently in my personal study is 1 Nephi - and I've been praying for an opportunity to use the material I've studied for a few weeks now. And guess what, I was able to not only share with her my testimony of the Book of Mormon but also share many passages and experiences of Nephi that related to what she was going through. She was so sweet and had such a strong desire to do good. She attends Dixie State so I gave  the missionaries her address and number that she told me to give them, and I will call her every now and then to encourage her. I just love the Visitors' Center and those whom the Lord prepares to walk in :) 

After our shift there, we went to the home of a less-active woman who is in her 80's. She has been coming to church a lot more recently (yay!). I remember one lesson we had with her awhile ago - we were teaching her all about Jesus Christ. She seemed to not really care about His sacrifice or anything else. Ever since we've been reading the Book of Mormon with her and helping her develop a testimony of that. Yesterday when we had her lesson she said she was having trouble understanding chapter 21 of Nephi. And she says every time we open up the scriptures "Sorry gals, I didn't read very much this week." We've been in 1 Nephi for centuries. But thanks to her large print Book of Mormon I saw that she was actually on 3 NEPHI! Like she was almost done with the whole book! I kind of shouted her name out of shock and I told her that she was doing great in her reading! She said "Well, I'm trying! I try to read a little every day!" And then she talked to us about her goals to go to the temple and actually started crying while talking about her health problems and her gratitude for the Plan of Salvation. It was a MIRACLE! Her heart has been softened and all because of the Book of Mormon she is beginning to actually gain a testimony of all these things. I just love that book. And I also just really love Nephi. And then we watched the restoration movie with her and I accidentally fell asleep... oops!! 

I have run short on time, but I have more to say next week about my day full of miracles. I hope all of you have a fantastic week!!!! I love you!!!! 

Much Love, Sister Martin

Sister Hepburn

We always knew our cute Madeline was obsessed with Audrey Hepburn, and now she is sporting Hepburn's signature do. No letter, but check out this crazy transformation where Madeline's long locks turn once again into locks of love. 

And so it begins ... 

It took me forever to find someone - but this sweet girl cut it for free!! It took 1 1/2 hours!! 

Her ponytail alone was 16 inches!

And the cutest sister missionary ever award goes to this fashion-forward beaut! 

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Melting, boiling, and loving it!

It is getting quite toasty down here in St. George!! It's been in the 100's almost every day. In the Visitors' Center, however, it's about -20 degrees. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But I'm always shivering while giving tours! And then we walk out into the fiery depths of... St. George. My long brown hair (I think it's the longest it's ever been) is not exactly helping me cool off any. But that's okay :) We leave our area book (our ginormous binder filled with information about each of the 6 wards we cover and and the teaching records for everyone, and even more stuff) in the car when we go in and teach people. And one day we walked out and it was practically melted!! All the pages were stuck together and the ink was coming off and the little pocket holders were flimsy and soft and flaming hot. And my water bottle was boiling!! Just kidding, but I couldn't drink it because it was too hot. I kid you not. And call me crazy, but I actually really like all this dry heat!! Melting, boiling, and all :) 

This week we had our Zone Conference. That is when missionaries from half of St. George and Cedar City gather together and have 6 hours of training from our mission president and his assistants. We have Zone Conference every other 6 weeks. It's a TON of learning. Learning from President and Sister Center (our mission president and his wife) and the other missionaries there. The spirit is so strong there. I remember sitting there and just thinking about how much I loved each one of these missionaries I'm serving with! You feel so united in purpose with one another. A lot of the training we received was an answer to many prayers I have offered, trying to search for how I can improve as a missionary. And boy, do I have a ton to improve on! 

I have grown to really love each person we are teaching and serving with. Earlier this week I was sitting in our teaching center in the Visitors' Center (where we make calls and emails to referrals we have received of those who need this message in their lives). At that time I was teaching a woman who recently got out of rehab and a teenage boy who has a very serious stuttering problem. Both are very humble people, and I had the privileged of getting to teach each one on the phone once. I was able to coordinate with their bishops and soon to be fellowshippers as to their situation and their needs. I had the lessons planned for the next calls I was going to make to them, scriptures I was going to share, questions I was going to ask, etc. I was SO excited to call them and follow up with the commitments I had left a few days before. But no one answered. I tried again for the next few days, and still no answer. I just sat in front of the computer with tears pouring down my cheeks, confused as to why God wouldn't let these people just pick up the phone and hear the message of hope and peace that they voiced they were in need of. But I have come to find out that I really needed this experience to know what love is. To know how to love others. To know what God's love is. And most importantly, to know how to love Him. I think God has felt the same way many times when I haven't knelt down and simply talked to him. When I have blindly failed to recognize His hand constantly in my life. I've come to realize that prayer = work. And prayer = miracles. If we except God to do his part, we're going to have to work and make Him weary until He blesses us! I think one of the critical things of a mission is if you believe the words of D&C 4:7, "Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you."

Much Love, Sister Martin

One of my favorite senior Elders!! He is possibly the funniest man I have ever met. We have too much fun sometimes. And he did PR for BYU! 

A cute girl named Brandi that comes in about every day! We love talking :) 

 A Hindu family from the Netherlands that I was able to give a tour to! 

Sister Hee and I being goofy!! I just love her - she's from Hawaii

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Roasting in St. George


This week has been a great one. The weather is warming up really fast...almost too fast. And we will be made a walking area again pretty soon so hopefully I adjust! Every time we get into the car Sister Shoemaker and I feel like we are roasting to death. So maybe walking will be a bit more breezy since our car rides are not too long.

We've been doing a lot of splits recently (where we have too many appointments to cover so we each go with an active member to a lesson) The other night I didn't see Sister Shoemaker for about 2 1/2 hours because we had so many splits! But the busier we are, the happier we are. 

The other night we had dinner with a wonderful family and they brought a recent convert to eat with us. Her name is Bernadette.  She used to be Jewish. She had quite an interesting story. But boy, did she have a strong testimony!! After we ate we shared the scripture that in 2 Nephi 31:20 that talks about enduring to the end and such and we asked her a few questions. I can't remember all of her answers, but I remember her saying that our Heavenly Father has a plan for us, a plan for us to serve others. And I'd never thought of it that way before. But it's true! All of our gifts, talents, time and means are there for us to use to serve others. 

The next Sunday in church she was singing all the hymns at the top of her lungs and shouting "Praise the Lord! Hallelujah! Amen brotha! Amen sista!" after everyone who spoke. That added a little excitement into our meeting!! Sister Shoemaker just loved every minute of it - we had to contain ourselves a few times from busting up laughing just because you don't see that every Sunday in a St. George chapel. 

And her testimony was just beautiful. The whole time she was just bearing testimony of Christ and his sacrifice for us. At one point she exclaimed with her hands in the air, "The more we love Jesus, the more we'll love each other!!" And then a few people in the audience said "Amen!" 

It was just great. 

Something lately that I've realized is a challenge for some that we are teaching is the consistency of family prayer and scripture reading. There is a great quote from Elder Christofferson that addressed this issue. He said, "It's not always as we go about reading the scriptures together or praying or having family home evening that a marvelous miraculous spiritual experience occurs. It seems kind of mundane. But over time, those actions, those practices, yield a wonderful and spiritual harvest in our lives." 

I know without a doubt that I have already witnessed a little of that spiritual harvest in my own life. And I know that there is more to come.

I love this gospel and I love seeing the change it can bring to a persons whole countenance when they apply these principles and teachings in their life. I've seen it so many times, and it happens simply because they love our Savior more, just as beautiful Bernnedette put it. 
Much love, Sister Martin