Monday, November 21, 2016

letter from Alyssa - Nov. 21, 2016

Wow it's been quite an eventful week. :D

Starting with an update on the work -

Peau (less active) is struggling. But she's still responsive and let's us come meet with her all the time. Monday night we were at FHE and felt that, even though we had a couple investigators there, we had somewhere else we needed to be. So we left (they had good friends there so it was alright) and decided to stop by Peau. We did and she was feeling great and actually came to FHE with us, so we went back. She had a good time and talked a lot with members from the ward. We went back to see her later in the week and it wasn't the best day for her but we read the Book of Mormon with her and had a good visit. She ended up not coming to church last minute. Still working with her though.

Tiffany (less active) is doing well! She came to church for the first time since I've been here and we will most likely see her at institute tomorrow. We had a great lesson with her last week. We taught the law of chastity because we've been teaching the missionary lessons with her, but it was a good enough discussion that it led to her opening up about some experiences she's gone through that actually have had nothing to do with the lesson we prepared. We got to know her a little better, she's awesome. And it was cool to have that discussion with her.

We got a text from some missionaries that found this girl, Lilly, who's in her first semester at UCI and wanted to find us and our ward. Turns out she's also somewhat less active, but wants to be involved and make friends. We met with her and she's so cool! She's an awesome friend right from the start and would easily be friends with anyone. She wants to help fellowship some of the people that we work with and we think that she'll be great at it!

Lauren (investigator we met at institute) has been busy but when she saw us Tuesday night she was like "oh man! I forgot to respond to your texts! Can we meet this day/this time?" So we have our first lesson with her tomorrow night. :)

It's like Randallyn has been a member her whole life. Every lesson she just takes it all in like a sponge. And guess what? Yesterday she got her limited use temp,e recommend and we're going to the temple Saturday to do baptisms for the dead with her!

Tara is probably one of my favorites :) we had 2 lessons with her, one of them was on the temple grounds. She's progressing in pretty much every way an investigator can. While we were by the temple doors, a session had ended and a bunch of people were walking out. One came and asked us how we were doing and what we were doing, and when he found out Tara was investigating and preparing for baptism, he said "well why don't you come show her where the bathrooms are?" Giving us a reason to go inside, though we didn't ask for it haha. But yeah Tara got to walk just inside the door and see a little. She walked out and told us she noticed how happy everyone was. At the end of the lesson later we asked if she had any questions, and she said "is it possible to get my temple recommend right after I'm confirmed?"

Yessica is also doing awesome! She got a blessing this last Sunday for a little extra spiritual support since she's going home for thanksgiving and plans to tell her parents that she has a date to be baptized. After the blessing she was saying things like "I kinda want to cry, but I can't stop smiling! I feel so good!" We were able to point out that that was the Spirit and it was a good time.

Sarah (recent convert, super busy with work and master degree) is the sweetest. We had a GREAT lesson, don't remember actually what about though. She had a present for me though and surprised me. She painted a water color picture of a flower design around the words to one of my favorite scriptures, it must've taken her a few hours and it is amazing! I'll show it to you next week. She also asked if the next time we meet she could have me teach her how to play "I Know That My Redeemer Lives" on the piano, her favorite hymn that was sung at her baptism. Can't wait!

Natalie has been less active for a while, and I had never met her but we decided to go see her. She came to church! And will be at institute, she just needed a little motivation to come and wants to meet with us regularly to help her get back into full activity

I may have mentioned the free lunch we do every Thursday at the institute. If not there's a free lunch that we do every Thursday at the institute. The first time I did it this transfer there was a girl who showed up, Charline, who I talked to. And I should've gotten her number! She was so nice! But I didn't. So I prayed that she would come again, but she wasn't there the next week. Then the next 2 weeks we couldn't go because of zone conference, and exchanges, and such but we went again this last week. And she came! So I got her number. And she wants to meet with us after the break.

Lucy (recent convert) is also doing pretty well. She got lunch for us Friday and we had an awesome visit.

Here's a cool thing that describes Sister Ferrel's faith and desire to work. She was looking in the area book and found a former investigator on a record that said she had a baptism date and suddenly canceled it the day before because her family was against it. We stopped by the address and a girl named Esther opened the door. The former we had record of no longer lived there, but we talked to Esther and she was interested in learning more about our message. Sister Edgar said she saw her walk up to the door before opening it, and that at first she hesitated, but saw the Spirit pull her to the door (the best way she could describe it). We got her number.

Brittany (Sabrina's friend that had us over for dinner last week) came to church again. We weren't sure what she had thought of our lesson on the Book of Mormon last week but apparently she told Sabrina that she loved it, she just wants some time to read it a little before meeting with us again.

Speaking of Sabrina, the coolest experience happened! Sister Edgar was gone on exchanges so it was just Sister Ferrel and I, and Sabrina texted us and asked us if it was ok for us to teach her a lesson about the scriptures because she had a bunch of questions. Sister Ferrel didn't know many answers which is totally fine, I didn't know all of them either, but you should've seen how excited I got as we had this cool discussion about the scriptures, where they came from and how, how they tie together, chronological and geographical make up, using study helps to understand context as well as for finding answers to all sorts of questions. I'm still not as knowledgeable as I'd like to be but it was the BEST thing to see someone with a foundational gospel understanding and testimony who was just hungry for answers and desiring to know and learn all she could. Probably my favorite teaching experience this week.

We went tracting and ran into Moses and Michelle, and their two young kids. They invited us in then and there and told us their testimonies of Jesus Christ and much of their religious background in Catholicism. It was pretty cool, they gave us their number and invited us back so we referred them to the family ward missionaries who have an appointment with them this week. But yeah the hour or so we spent with them was mostly them talking to us, but it was neat that they were so willing to let us in and welcome us back.

Got a phone call. "Hey sisters! I just saw your temple and talked to the missionaries sitting across the street from it. They gave me your number, can I set a time to learn more about your message?" :D

Stopped by another former investigator from the area book, his name is Renee, he also said we could come back and he'd be very interested in learning more about our message again. So we sent the elders over.

Sierra is doing great. Just moving along with the lessons and coming to everything like every other active member :) she also shared a copy of the Book of Mormon with her friend and answering his questions about what he's reading!

Alright now to some of the fun stuff -

I've seen so many people from former wards I've served in. That day at the temple, I even recognized members from my first area. Last weekend we went to a stake service project and I ran into Sister Fusco! She moved back here from Connecticut (she's the one who wanted to serve a mission but has to wait til she's cancer free for 5 years, so she has 4.5 to go) and I didn't know til then so it was a total surprise. We talked as we helped tie fleece blankets and then she bought us lunch. That was so sweet. I love people.

I had my departing interview on Tuesday. I was looking forward to it, it truly is always a privilege to speak with and learn from President Clark, and so that one-on-one was wonderful. I know he and Sister Clark love me and I know they love this work. I want to finish off the last little bit I have left with all I got, while also being excited to return home and continue discipleship.

There's an efy song that says "we'll raise a banner to all nations, hold up an ensign to the world!" And I keep forgetting that Sister Edgar is a convert of less than two years. But she paused the music and said, "ok what is that supposed to mean? The only ensign I know of is the magazine so I'm imagining standing on a mountain or something holding up an ensign." Hahaha it was awesome!!

Had some fun at the departing dinner, there's 3 elders leaving and I think 10 sisters. So it was very much a good time.
On the way home we were protected again. It was dark and we were going 70 on the freeway, suddenly we ran over some car parts that Sister Edgar and I didn't see at all. We pulled off to the side and checked out the car after establishing that no one was hurt,must a little shaken up. We saw the car piece we ran over in the road, there's no way we should've run over that so smoothly without a scratch or swerving into another lane and hitting someone. A couple other cars were pulled over to the side win hazards on as well, probably the ones that the car parts were from. We got back in and were able to merge back safely. Gratitude prayers.
Since nothing happened to us, here's the funny part of the story. We were late for curfew because the departing dinner went long, so our roommates texted to make sure we were ok. We joke a lot so Sister Ferrel said "don't worry we won't die" and they responded "don't make promises you can't keep." Literally the moment after she read that we ran over the car parts on the freeway.

We're famous. There was an email sent out to all the UCI students about this one major intersection being temporarily closed for repairs and a picture of the intersection was included. The moment it was being taken we must've been there because 2 of our investigators showed us crossing the street in the photo and they totally recognized us!

The Hawkins have us over for dinner every Sunday since we don't get many dinners in YSA. Last time the elders shared the lesson and since we're good friends with this family and it was the day before Halloween, they decided to be creative and taught a lesson by turning out the lights and using a flashlight to tell a spooky story that they read randomly out of the Old Testament. It was weird but funny. So this time we did an object lesson by having a cup of clear water represent us, cherry kool-aid mix represent sins, and bleach represent the atonement. It went well, we tried picking out the sugars from the water by ourselves without the atonement, then used the atonement bleach to really fix it. Then Sister Ferrel had the bright idea to do something we hadn't tested out by saying that when we sin again, if we keep using the atonement we can stay clean. So she pored a bunch more Kool-aid mix in, and it turned red and started bubbling. And we had no more bleach. So that back-fired. But we got a lot more laughs than the elders did so it was great.

Love you all, have a fantastic week!

- Sister Shumway

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