Wednesday, September 17, 2014

God answers our prayers

Greetings loved ones!!

The city of Washington is treating Sister Archambault and I very well. Transfer calls are coming up next Saturday so I'm a little nervous! I would love to stay in Washington and continuing working with the beautiful people here. I really feel like this is home! It's so bizarre working in 6 week increments - time flies WAY too fast. My 9 month mark is coming up in a few weeks. WEIRD! It's so strange looking back to what I was like in the MTC and then to now... it has indeed been the refiners fire that's for sure. I never expected how much I would change out here just in 9 months. It will be exciting to see what the next 9 months will bring!

Yesterday I was on exchanges with a Sister in St. George in an area called Morningside. They are full proselyting so we had some time to tract out some different apartment complexes  - and get this - that was my first time tracting! While serving half the time in the VC it's easy to have the remaining time in your area just be all referral work. But I was so excited to tract! We ran in to the most interesting people in some of the most interesting situations! It's fun because at each door you never know what you're going to expect - but you know one thing is constant - you know that at every single door you will testify of the restoration and of Jesus Christ and commit the person to doing something. I'm so glad that that stays constant because testifying of these truths has the power to change any awkward, negative, and unexpected door contact into one filled with the spirit and hope and love.

One home we knocked on was this extremely elderly woman who looked liked she was just about on her last straw... she was very shaky and nervous she wouldn't make it through the day. She told us she was really miserable right then. We tried to start a conversation about things that she is grateful for in the great life she's lived - she talked a lot of about her husband who was a patriarch and her children. She was having a hard time hearing us so we both had to kneel by her feet and talk with her. We shared some scripture with her and bore testimony of the love that Heavenly Father has for her. It was so hard to hold my tears back the whole time. It's incredible how we on earth can feel just a slight portion of the love that our Heavenly Father has for His children. She thanked us repeatedly for coming over and then started to cry and said with a slight smile, "I guess God does answer our prayers, doesn't he?"

I know that God truly does work through His children here on the earth to answer the prayers of all those around us. I have seen it in my own life repeatedly and the life of others.

We also had some time to go to a rest home and talk with a lot of the people there. I even played the piano and we sung some hymns! I feel like I haven't had an experience like this since I was back at home with the family at Christmas time - brought back so many good memories! I can see how all those visits with the youth in the ward and with my family helped me be prepared to brighten maybe some ones day at the rest home yesterday. Again, it's amazing to feel just a very small portion of the love that Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father has for each one of those beautiful people we visited with there.

I know that at one point in our pre-earth life we talked with and walked with and loved our Father in Heaven. We promised Him to take good care of His children on the earth. We promised to show others love, that they might feel of His love.

And I sure do love each one of you!!! :)

Love, Sister Martin

Friday, September 12, 2014

"It is more important to love than to be loved."

Dear loved ones, 

This week has been a turning point for me in my mission. Well, really, a turning point for me in my life. 

Sister Archambault and I received a text from our mission president on Saturday night that asked us if we would be able to attend a meeting at the Institute building at Dixie State at 8am. We had no idea what this meeting was for seeing as how it's not in our stake. And needless to say I was kind of hyperventilating because we never receive messages like that from him. 

So naturally we showed up like 20 minutes early to insure that we were not late... heh :) Well then walks in some of our past stake presidents of previous areas. We were really confused at first but asked them if they knew what was going on. They told us that Elder Wade of the Seventy had called a meeting for the east side of St. George leadership. When we walked in the room Elder Wade greeted us as well as our mission president and the stake presidents that were there. There were 12 of them around the table. I felt slightly out of place. We were the only missionaries there along with our high councilman over missionary work and one of our ward mission leaders and bishops. Elder Wade began the meeting by talking about the "why" of missionary work. Then we discussed how ward councils and missionary coordination meetings are to work effectively and efficiently together accomplishing the same purpose. Sister Archambault and I talked a lot about the importance of the ward auxiliaries knowing each one of the individuals whom we are working with. We discussed the importance of caring for each one of these children of God and recognizing the duty that comes with our specific callings. 

We walked out of that meeting on cloud nine! It was so inspiring and uplifting to be among so many spiritual giants discussing the work of salvation! We realized a lot of what we need to be doing more as missionaries in the area and how we can care even more for members and those we are teaching in the stake. 

On Tuesday we had a zone conference (where half of the missionaries in the mission gather for a 6 hour training) with another member of the Seventy, Elder Clarke. It was an extremely invigorating and eye opening meeting! Something I loved about it was that when I was conducting the music for all the hymns we sung, I got to look out on this massive army of missionaries that I just LOVE serving with! The spirit was incredibly strong there. 

While in the conference I was pondering about how I began this transfer just extremely happy - which is great - but I didn't quite understand why I was all the sudden so happy. But at this meeting I finally figured out why. 

I have been thinking lately about how much I not only love the members we're working with in Washington, but how I absolutely love the people we're teaching. I feel that I have gone from having the perspective of "alright let's go teach these 5 lessons tonight and hope something changes" to "I am so excited to visit these families! I am so excited for the things we are going to learn together and for the spirit that we'll feel and the miracles that will happen!" I find myself constantly thinking about those we are teaching and the members who we're working with. It's a good feeling. No, it's an exceptional feeling. I love them and would do anything for them.

So when Elder Clarke said at zone conference that "the day they love the people more than themselves is the happiest day of a missionary's life," it finally dawned on me why I was so happy. I realized that I had finally quit thinking about myself so much and finally started focusing on others. Caring about others. As President Monson has put it so simply yet powerfully, "It is more important to love than to be loved." I have seen probably the most touching experience on my mission this week that I will keep near and dear to my heart forever from following the counsel of our dear prophet and Elder Wade and Elder Clarke. I have seen a whole family change their lives around simply because of the love that was demonstrated to them - they were obviously able to feel the love of Heavenly Father through those that showed they cared.

I have been having this inner battle with myself trying to find out answers to questions like "Am I doing enough? Am I being exactly obedient? Am I having any success? What should I be doing more?" etc. I reflect again and again on the scripture in Matthew that so simply states "He that loseth his life for my sake shall find it." I know and I have seen evidence because of the events of this past week that when we lose ourselves in the service of others, when we love unconditionally, we will find ourselves fulfilling our purpose that we were sent here to accomplish. 

That was what the majority of the conference was about - well both meetings actually - all about loving and caring for everyone: Those we are teaching, members we are working with, leaders who are serving us, missionaries we serve with. 

I think the times I will be able to remember most about this mission are the times when we hear the sweet and simple prayers of those we are teaching, when we are able to witness hearts softening and families changing, when we share tears with one another and know that we will always be here for each other. I have grown to really love the people in Washington and I hope with all my heart that when I leave this area (hopefully not for a long time) the next missionaries that come in will take good care of each person here. 

I know that when we apply the teachings of Jesus Christ, the prophets, and other leaders in the church that we will see the fruit of our efforts. We will see God's hand in our lives. I love being a member of this church because of what it does for me. I have found that when I learn something, and I do it and apply it, I am happy :) 

I strive to live worthy of your prayers each and every day; thank you for all the support and love and care I feel from each one of you :)

Love, Sister Martin

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Logistics + Pictures

So I am over the whole Washington stake - 7 wards. It's a little overwhelming at times. We get to about 3 sacrament meetings per morning and sometimes we go to like 4 ward councils right in a row. It makes it difficult moving to new areas constantly because you have to memorize wards, meeting houses, boundaries, which investigator/less active is in which ward, bishops, ward mission leaders, and tons and tons and tons of paper work. But It also gives us the opportunity to have tons of great leadership examples to learn from and various missionary techniques and efforts. And we get to work closely with the stake president. Its also nice being here in Utah because you work with so many returned missionary presidents! which sometimes makes things really nerve racking but it's really great working with all of them.

In the VC (Visitor's Center) we have VCT's (two sister designated at Visitor Center Trainers) and they compile the mass schedule for the transfer. They have to take into account car shares, meeting times, language sister (there always has to be a few sisters of each language on) P-days, and a lot more. It takes them 10 hours to make the schedule!  So we get a schedule and it tells us when we are on the morning shift or afternoon shift (either 9am-3pm or 3pm-9pm) And then we have a schedule for where we are supposed to be while we're in there. Like the front, the art room, the back, the savior room, the teaching center (where we make calls and such)

Every Thursday morning in the VC we have this thing called story time where 70 children come (okay - that's an exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that many come) and we teach a principle like honesty or sharing with fun books and videos and songs! This is me with the Dr. Seuss hat on because I'm reading (we're forced to wear it...:D ) and playing some of the songs for them.

One of our ward mission leaders and his wife took Sister Pearson and I up to Zion National Park before the transfer ended. It was the most BEAUTIFUL day!!! Rainy!!

Brother and Sister Carter. We rode the tram through the park.

We hiked up to "Weeping Rock." It always has drops of water falling off but it was more like sobbing rock that day since it was raining.

View of weeping rock. 
Finally got sunny at the end :)

This is Sister Clarke (from South Africa) Sister Groeneveld (Germany) and me at Jacob Hamblin's home!!  

The baptism of one of the most inspiring boys I have ever taught - Colby Covington. His grandparents adopted him because he was orphaned - grew up in an environment that was extremely harsh. I absolutely love teaching him and hearing his thoughtful answers and insights. This baptism was a miracle and an answer to a lot of prayers in the stake! 

Sister Hee, Sister Lomiga and me at our transfer meeting - Sister Lomiga got transferred to the YSA ward in Price!

This is a sweet, sweet girl who was baptized on Sunday! When we found her and her family she had been wanting to take the missionary discussions for a LONG time. She even had a goal set for herself that she would get baptized before she turned 16, and she is 15 :) She has some great goals for herself as well. She always tells me how she wants to serve a mission and get married in the SLC temple! Now we are just working with the rest of her family :)