Thursday, March 17, 2016

March 17, 2016- St. Patrick's Day!

I don't even know how to describe how my day went yesterday... We went on exchanges with the sister training leaders and I went with Sister Bergstrom to Apple Valley. It sucked and was good. We had some terrible experiences and some great experiences. First of all I'll tell about the most terrible experience, probably the worst of my mission so far... We were tracting this street, looking for a girl who lives somewhere there. We knocked on this door, just trying to share the gospel... And this guy opens up, we say “Hi, how are you”, he says “fine”, we tell him that we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he says, “are you kidding me!?” And proceeded to just rip us apart for like 10 minutes straight on his doorstep. Says stuff like “you guys know I only get a day off every 10 days and every freakin day you guys are on the street ringing my doorbell, I'm just having some time for myself with myself, I don't need you guys.” "We don't want to hear from you. Tell your pope in Utah, whoever it is to write down this house and to never send anyone ever again! I especially don't want to hear from you because of your buddy Mitt Romney starting out all his crap that I don't agree with.” Blah blah blah he goes on and on and on being so inhumanely rude. Sister Bergstrom and I both had tears in our eyes, but she just calmly said sorry, etc. Tried to leave-- he continued to be the biggest jerk on the planet, "I'm going to put a freaking gate up so you all will just get the he** away!" So we left and just walk down the road in silence for a few minutes and sat down on the curb side. So yeah. That happened.
But we did have a few good experiences as well. A girl named star who has lots of emotional / mental problems and lots of health problems, we went and helped her, strengthen her and it was so good, her situation makes me cry... So many people have such terrible lives. She was really happy that we had come over. We also saw lots of other people. But when I came back home to Sister Thomason they've gotten four new investigators that day!!! Three of whom I'd met, and one brand new one. So hopefully the work will start getting so good over here in Victorville! Please pray that it will! I love and miss you guys so much you don't even know the struggle I mentally have every day... I want to go home so bad, but I know God needs me to sacrifice for him right now and have a good attitude about it. Ugh, I'm trying, it's so hard. Especially when you sometimes have such hard days. I'm getting used to this though.
I love you!
I miss you!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

March 12, 2016

Family!!!Today was the. Best. Day. Ever. Oh my gosh! So much happiness was had! So I started off my day going to the mission conference with Elder Bednar!!! And I saw Esther!!! Oh yes! I can't believe it! It was so great! I was so happy! We talked a lot after the conference was over, it was so awesome! I missed her so much! She's doing so good! It helped me a lot to see her and talk with her again! I'm doing much better now. She's still as cute as ever! By the time you guys get this I have already told you all about today I'm sure, and I'll have sent you our picture. But, Elder Bednar... Wow, the conference was so good!!! It was good also because it was so small, only 170 have us missionaries. He talked for so long, and was so straight up and real with us. It was so great. And we all got to shake he and his wife's hand!! It was absolutely amazing there's so much he talked about. What Sister Bednar said was amazing too. And then president and sister Hobbs talked a little bit, and our area seventy and his wife that were there. So good. I wish you could have been there all of you, because I'm not a very good explaining other people's words. I'll try to give you some of what I remember from my notes.

So sister Bednar started out telling a few stories from when her sons went on missions. It was really good. A few important points she made were: 1) develop a love for these people you spend one and a half to two years with. It's not only a love for them but also love for the Lord. 2) The Lord will bless your work, and every person you talk to or knock on doors, will be hallowed by your night. On your name tag, your name, your family's name, Jesus Christ's name, and the church's name are all on there. That's all who you represent. Glorify those names and all you do. 3)  It's the last dispensation already it's your job to prepare the world. So don't hold back, and just go! I felt the spirit so strongly as she was saying these things, because all of this is what I have been praying and asking about. She shared Doctrine and Covenants 84: 87 - 88 "behold I send you to reprove the world of other and righteousness unrighteous deeds, and it takes them of a judgment which is to come and who stole receive with you, there I will be also for eye will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my spirit shopping in your hearts, and mine angels rent about you, to bear you up". I love that. 
Then Elder Bednar talked for a long time. He told us not to write down everything he said. To take notes on "small plates" the important stuff, not "large plates", like Nephi. Then he taught us some do's and don'ts. He also asked us what we learn from the three talks of his he had told us to read before that meeting. Which talked about faith, conversion and the spirit. He gave us feedback, Taught us more, asked us for questions etc. Here are a few points he said: in the church we tend to play "guess what's in my head." When you do that you turn the person from an agent into an object. And you cannot feel the spirit. All your planning and studying won't cover it anyway. The Holy Ghost will. You have to be the willing instrument. The Holy Ghost reveals truth. Pray to see who you really are. Ask inspired questions. And inspired question is specific to the person, the place, and the time. Pray with the expectation to act. If you are truly doing what you're called to do, you cannot go amiss. There's tasks we have to do (study, be obedient, plan, pray plan, etc).  To allow the Holy Ghost to teach, get out of the way! The Lord gives a pattern in all things: one by one. You want those people your age to have a one on one interaction with heaven. Them and the Holy Ghost. Learn to get out of the way. The Holy Ghost comes more readily and willingly when he is invited. There's not repentance without the Redeemer. Sorrow of the Damned is not repentance, it's embarrassment. We need to feel Godly sorrow. Repentance is to turn from self to Christ. Faith is a spiritual gift, but it is not given unless you take this step. Don't avoid the hard aspects of missionary work. Be you,  and the Holy Ghost will help guide. Spiritual apathy is the church's biggest plague. You expect greatness all at once - line upon line - press forward, this Mission isn't a sacrifice; you were foreordained to do it. Listen to the spirit and honor your covenants and the spirit will work on those of whom you love you don't believe or care when you can't change them. So yeah, I definitely felt the spirit, and felt strengthened. It made me so happy. 
So then after we got home from the meeting we had an appointment with Eddie. He had just walked up to the church on Wednesday night looking for a church service. There were people there for Mutual, so the stake president saw him and started talking to him. He had just moved back and was looking for a church close by. President told him we didn't have a Wednesday service, but we had Sundays, and told him there were some missionaries he could talk to, so he gave us his number and we made an appointment to meet him at the church with an older couple from our Ward. So we got there and he's an hour late... But he comes in and starts talking to us, seems like a very nice guy. First thing he says is "sorry, do you want to have a prayer to start this?" We thought, "well, that was easy." He said yes and had a prayer. After, he said, "okay let me tell you where I'm at, so you can know more about me..." Haha, he was doing our job for us! He went on to say how over the years God has been softening his heart and affecting him, he has a son, his father died recently and that makes him sad a lot. He said he's going to many churches and he just thinks none of them are truly what God teaches. He said in the Bible so much, like well, he's probably in his late thirties, he knows the Bible front to back! We got in teaching the restoration and he seems to accept it pretty well! He was so prepared as possible! We gave him a book of Mormon and he said he'd read and pray about it and come to church tomorrow! The only problem we had during this lesson is the older couple wouldn't shut up the whole time, and they went into things we didn't need to go into at this point. It was very frustrating. But anyways so prepared. I was so confident and ready I knew he was so prepared, and so was I, God told me there's no way you can miss them! So yeah, it was so exciting! It made me so happy! Sorry I always share such long stories with you I hope you like to hear them! I'm doing alright. I miss you all so much. Hopefully I write you enough. Keep asking questions! I love you! I miss you! Love, Court

Thursday, March 10, 2016

March 10, 2016

Today is the one month Mark since I left home! It's been a month! Wow. It feels like forever, but yet it also feels like I just left. I'm doing better. Your prayers and your fasting for me are working! I just got a lot of your mail finally today, it was like Christmas I felt so happy getting letters. 
So I have an amazing experience to share with you from yesterday the whole first half of my day for me was amazing. So first of all that morning we had studies, that was really good. Then we had some time, and I watched a lot of great videos. I spent a lot of time searching and watching lots of different videos on the Mormon Channel. I listened to some great songs to and added some to the USB drive I still have. I was feeling very inspired, I was definitely feeling the spirit. Then later after lunch we went out to go see people. One good experience today was with Hank. I guess the Spanish Elders had tracked it into him and referred him over to us. The first time we had met him he was all for hearing from us, we gave him a book of Mormon and he was excited to read. So yesterday when we went by he had read the introduction and the first four chapters of Nephi! He had some questions about it for us. We talked about baptism because he had been curious about what steps it takes an our church to be baptized. We invited him to church, he didn't know if he could yet, but we had a really good talk with him. He could turn into a really good investigator. Then we visited a very interesting lady, a less active member of the church, sister Hearan. She probably has at least 15 cats living in her home with her and a few teenage kids. Anyways, she's been having a really rough time lately physically, and her family, medical, personally, financially, etc... So it's really difficult for her right now. She started crying because she felt so inadequate. We shared a thought with her and tried to strengthen her. Then we had an appointment with sister Hilquist, they're a less active family. This was a highlight of my day, maybe week. But oh, before I go into that I have to tell about the talk I read on our lunch break. It's called the fourth missionary it was given at a mission conference long ago by the mission president to his missionaries. Wow... It changed my life forever. You have to go read it! I don't know if you guys can find it somewhere, if not, let me know and I'll send you a copy. It's called "The Fourth Missionary" by Lawrence E Corbridge given June 22nd, 2002. It doesn't only apply to missionaries, you can apply it to anyone's life.. Go read it. Wow. So anyways. In it, it explains four different types of missionaries: the first two types are disobedient, the second 2 ( 3rd and 4th) are obedient. It talks about how most missionaries are the third missionary - they go through their whole missions obedient, worthy, hard-working, faithful, and change lives, but withhold in their hearts... As in, wants to follow God's Will, and does, but still in their hearts truly want to be doing what they want to be doing... I realized that is me. Entirely and completely. I am the third missionary exactly. I'm doing what God wants me to do, but I still have the desires of what I actually would rather be doing in my heart. I haven't really given up my wants and desires and giving God my whole self to be a missionary and to truly align my life will with God's. I need my mission to change the lives of many others. But when I get home, I need my mission to have personally benefited me. Not just even learning good skills, but really having changed myself from it. I need to be the missionary that "unconditionally surrenders"  my time, talent, energy, but most importantly, myself. So as I was reading this talk I thought "I know I am definitely the third missionary... That is obedient and trying hard, but my whole heart is not in it. And I don't know how to, God... But I really really want to be, and I need to be the fourth missionary - the missionary that unconditionally surrenders myself. I know it's the only intelligent thing to do. But I don't know how. God, please please please help me." And I knew then, that I had started the hardest quest of a lifetime. Also the night before, I had been praying to find joy in my work and to acquire confidence and to be bold. And the quote from the movie Evan Almighty popped into my head. It said, "when people pray for their family to be closer, does God zap them with warm fuzzy feelings, or does he give them opportunities to love each other?" I knew God reminded me of that. God is giving me many opportunities to be bold, to share the gospel, to help people... I just got to stop being a scaredy-cat and take those opportunities. So as you see from these experiences I'm just struggling with submitting my will truly to God, and understanding had to be the best missionaries that God needs me to be. 
So now, back to Sister Helquist. So they're less active and really want to come to church, but they have four younger kids and her husband crazy days/ hours always on weekends, its just hard for them to make it. We went in talked with her and she gave us snacks, and just for a long time we simply talk with her, got to know her and had a good conversation. Then we asked if we could share a message. So we shared parts of the introduction the Book of Mormon and told and reminded her of its importance and challenge her to read often. Sister Thomason asked her why the Book of Mormon is important. Sister Hilquist is a convert by the way. She has so many things to say about it importance and she said she'd started trying to read again the other day when sister Thomason had her turn to the introduction she said "looks like God is trying to tell me something, because just yesterday I had started reading the introduction to the Bible to start with the Bible and Book of Mormon, what a "coincidence"." My companion continued to tell her how we can get so much out of the Book of Mormon and how we can feel the spirit so much when we read. The whole time while she was talking, some thoughts entered my mind that I needed to say the importance of reading your scriptures and obeying God shows him what you want. To say when you follow God, He blesses you. That's all my thoughts were. So as sister Thomason ended her thoughts mostly, I took over. I told her that not only do the scriptures help us and we can feel the spirit and get answers, but as we read them, since God has commanded us to, it is showing God what we want. By obeying God, showing him we want to do as he says, not just by saying so, God can bless us. And then just as I said that, this scripture popped out of my mouth, and I had no idea that I even thought about saying it: "I the Lord am bound when you do what I say but when you do not what I say, you have no promise." And I kind of paused. I didn't even remember that I had the scripture memorized, and at the time I didn't even know the reference. But it's Doctrine and Covenants 82:10. I continued to explain that as we obey and truly try to follow him, He blesses us and helps us, he has to, and he wants to! But if we don't do what he says, and we just simply claim that we'd like to be doing God's will, he doesn't have to do anything for us, and he can't. I paused, and I could see there were some tears In her eyes. She then said " oh my gosh... That scripture that you just quoted was the scripture that missionaries read to me the moment I committed to be baptized... And no one has ever said that to me since..." I felt the spirit flood me. She said: "wow, that's no coincidence... Seriously that exact scripture." And we all just sat there kind of in awe. I knew that God had "given me in the very hour what I should say." We then testified of the Book of Mormon in our lives and she said she'd try to get to church because her husband won't work weekends starting next month, and then we left. I couldn't believe what just had happened I really had followed the spirit, and had been an instrument in the Lord's hands. I'm so grateful for that experience, and hopefully I can continue to help sister Hilquist, and continue letting the Holy Ghost speak through me. 
So yeah, I'm sorry this letter is so long, I just had to share that with you. I felt really good can't wait for General Conference, then can't wait to talk to you guys on Mother's day, I miss you so much! Keep sending pictures and keeping up with everything that is happening! I love you all so much! Love, Courtney

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

March 8, 2016

So guess what…so you know I’ve been having a REALLY hard time.  Homesickness hurt me so bad, I haven’t been feeling the best about this whole mission thing…I didn’t really like it at all, I missed you all, I dreaded going into every appointment, I just didn’t want to do this.  It was hurting me and I wasn’t comfortable with any of it, you guys, know this all…so last night I received my strength.  I think it’s been in the workings for the past two days.  Sunday we had lunch with this sweet mid/older couple and they were just super fun.  We later had dinner at the Waters families’ house.  They have two daughters, one is married, and her and her husband were there as well.  They are such a cool family and brother Waters is so strengthening.  We had a great time there telling stories and having good talks.  I got some strength from them, we were talking about how to truly have faith, and to rely on God, and how you aren’t usually shown or rewarded until after the trial of your faith.  Then their married daughter and son in law told us about the funny stories of how they met, and some other cool stories, it finally made me feel at home.  Then Monday, yesterday was P-day, we shopped and did whatever we wanted, then we did zone sports, which was fun.  Finally just getting together as missionaries and having fun.  I needed it.  Then we had dinner with the Garcias, a young family, our new Stake President.  They are such a sweet family, we taught the Restoration, challenged them to pray for missionary opportunities and we just had a really good talk.  They’re so cool.  They made me feel at home too.  So on our way to our appointments for the night after dinner, I noticed I finally wasn’t dreading getting out of the car.  And suddenly I noticed that the weight on my shoulders had been lifted a little.  I noticed my trial was still there, I still miss you, and I’m still scared of mission life, but suddenly my burdens were made light.  I couldn’t believe it.  It didn’t hurt as bad.  I know it is because you guys had a family fast for me. 
So I just wanted to let you know that.  I received some of the strength I’ve been praying so hard for.  Not fully, because I still miss you like crazy and still have to learn how to be bold and confident, but my burdens were made a little lighter.  So I’m doing much better than I was.  Thank you for fasting and for all you prayers.  God heard and answered them.  It means so much to me.
I still hurt, I’m still a scaredy cat, I still miss you guys, but God lifted my burdens so they are easier to bear.
I just had to tell you guys that.  Don’t worry about me too much, I’ll be okay.  But keep praying and keep trusting God; you guys are the best family ever.
Keep looking for ways to help others increase their faith in Christ, and helping people is happy because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Trust him, that he’s commanded you to share the gospel, and if you have the desire he will help you do it.  Try to read scriptures with real intent every day and to the things he’s asked.  That’s how he blessed you, if you’re obeying him.
I hope you all have a great week!
I love you guys so much!


Thursday, March 3, 2016

March 3, 2016

Dear Family,
I forgot to tell you on e-mail, but on the 12th, next weekend, ELDER BEDNAR is coming to speak in our mission!!!  I’m so excited, that is a once in a lifetime opportunity.  Should be so cool!  And yah that’s Bray’s b-day too.
So finally last night we got to actually go shopping!  I didn’t get to shop for everything due to time, but I finally got some stuff. By the way if you, Mom, have a good buttermilk pancake powder, I just don’t know what to add to make it.  Got it a t Winco, grocery store kinda similar to Costco, they carry bulk foods.
Anyways, thanks for having Joshua send me his talk, I really needed to hear it.  Definitely made me cry.  It was so good. He’ll be such a good missionary!
Thank you for fasting and praying for me.  I’ve really needed it.  You guys are the best family I could have ever asked for.  It’s still very hard to be out here in a place I don’t like too much, with people I don’t really know, having to try and share something with people who usually don’t care what we have to say and missing you guys so much.  But like Joshua said, if Christ went through  much worse, can’t I suffer a little for him and let it strengthen me?  Sheesh, I’m tryin' Fam.  I love you!
Dad, thank you and Mom thank you for all the very highly inspiring emails you wrote.  They made me cry of course and miss you guys even more.  You’re the best parents.
Every Thursday morning from 10am-12pm we help out at the homeless shelter here in Victorville.  Lots of missionaries from our zone go.  It’s not a big facility and it’s not the best well run but we help whatever we can, sorting and crushing bags of trash, clothes, shoes, etc.  (Don’t worry I definitely wear gloves).  The temple was so good.  So pretty.

It’s warm during the days here, but after the sun starts to set we need jackets.  Today was a bit colder all day though.  My companion is the designated driver that means I can’t ever drive until I’m names designated driver.  You’re usually only that once you’re a senior companion. S o yeah I have to be the backer-outer…so much fun.  Tell Rand this also: you’d be proud of me what I ate at a member’s for dinner, cooked broccoli, cooked asparagus and just a chicken breast, (no not breaded) and I ate it, all of it, just fine.  Had Del Taco for the first time on Tuesday.  It’s supposed to be better than Taco Bell, but their quesadillas didn’t have the good jalapeƱo sauce like Taco Bell.  Haha.  I’m sure everything else is better though.
Oh I never got to tell you, our investigator at the MTC who we really did think was an investigator committed to be baptized so we told the Resource Center and I think she really is!  We swapped emails!  That was way cool cuz we had so many so spiritual lessons with her.
There’s this guy Hank though, lives out on a desert road and he really want to hear about the gospel, we’ve been by twice and he started in on the BOM hopefully he’ll continue, he seemed really excited.  We extended the baptismal invitation; he said next week we can teach him about that and what all that means so he’ll have to see.  He’s younger, pretty cool.
Another guy, Jose we found the other day trying to find his brother who was in our area book. HE and his girlfriend are looking for a new church, we gave him the Restoration pamphlet, and he was working on his car, so we’ll follow up this week.  He seemed very open and curious.  So cool. 
We visit so many less actives, most basically inactive and there’s so many that just have these wacked ideas and believe what they believe and I can tell don’t want to change or come back, or even try.  I really don’t know how to help those ones at all!
The bishop seems super cool.  He’s probably in his 60’s, Hispanic, super nice.  He’s super sweet and funny and cares about us.  There’s some cool members, just hard to get to know people.  So yeah this weekend is their, our, stake conference.  They’re getting a new presidency!
Next weekend Elder Bednar is coming to speak to us!  Awesome!  Maybe I’ll see Esther there, that will probably be the only time.
We get 2 hours of time a week.  Just to get familiar with it, if we want.
District meetings are Tuesdays, that’s when I’ll get any mail from the mission office from that week, cuz our zone leaders get all our mail on Mondays.
Oh yeah, this girl Cassie is really interested too they’d met with her “she loves Jesus” we gave her a BOM and she was so excited to read she just wants to “follow Jesus what he wants for her.”
I’m doing alright.  Trying to understand how I can grow from this trial.  It hurts; I miss you guys so much.  But I need it.  Hopefully I can figure out how to be the missionary God need me to be. 
I hope you like the pictures, I love you all!

Love, Sister Day

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Wow guys, so it's been a while since I've gotten to email. I got to California the 22nd as you may have seen. It's been a crazy two weeks, physically, spiritually and emotionally. I don't even have time for all of it! So I won't give you a play by play but I'll inform you on some stuff.
So Monday was a long day we missed a train we were supposed to catch in Provo to Trax then the airport, had to wait an hour for the next one, and it was snowing hard in Provo, just lovely. We had 17 missionaries and thousands of luggage, craziness transporting from train to Trax to airport. I got to talk to my family! That was so amazing. The flight was fine, I kinda sat by an annoying Elder though... Sorry but true. We got to Chino airport and it was so warm! President picked us up and took us to the Mission office. So when we got here last Monday we spend the night at the mission presidents house, Rancho Cucamonga is beautiful! We got up the next morning and had some new missionary training. We then ate dinner with all the incoming trainers and I got my trainer. Her name is Sister Thomason, she's from Riverton, Utah and has been out 7 months. She's so sweet! I'm really lucky to have her because she doesn't annoy me, she's not forceful, she's not crazy, she's not too shy, and she really respects me. I am located in Victorville, California! The desert.... They call this area the high desert. I'm in the Mesa Linda ward. It's an interesting place. We've had some great experiences and some pretty crazy and weird experiences even in my first week. Everyone calls me a greenie, it's whatever, since I am one (new missionary). Everyone marvels that I'm not from Utah. The ward is pretty good, but not gonna lie, our little branch back home is hard to top. I still haven't seen Sister Boswell, which if she's in Hesperia, she's not too far from me! This week we've been trying to teach and meet lots of people, we've had some miracles and some weird experiences. I will explain some later. We got to go to the Redlands temple today, it was so great! By the way here its like 70-90 degrees all week. It's flippin awesome. The temple was beautiful and we got to go "over the hill" as they call it. If you live "over the hill" like in Rancho it's beautiful and stuff, and "up the hill" in the desert its... desert. We got to drive through El Cajon pass and it's so gorgeous! Like wow! I hope I can send some pictures. I don't have much time to e-mail today so I'll try to share some interesting missionary stories later if I can.. I want to talk to you all! I am still having a bit of a hard time, but I'm trying to rely on the Lord and find my purpose here. Stay strong you guys, I pray for all of you, always.