Saturday, April 16, 2016

April 16, 2016

Dear Family,

Hello my beautiful family, I miss you all so much.  I think about every single one of you daily.  It’s sad for the missionaries who don’t have any homesickness, because they don’t have good families back home, but they’re kinda lucky too, because they have no homesickness!  L  I miss you guys tons and tons!  Thank you for all the letters, emails and packages you send!  You don’t even know how much they mean to me!  I’m sorry first of all to say this letter is going to be freaking long!  But this week was an eventful week, so don’t give up!  It’s worth the read!

So, starting with Monday.  We had our regular studies (personal study @ 8:00 and comp study @ 9:00) we did laundry, it’s nice because we combine our loads since we both don’t have a whole ton of laundry.  By the way did I ever tell you guys our apartment has 2 bathrooms, so we each have our own bathroom!  Which like never happens, most companionships share a bathroom.  So that’s really nice.  Anyways, back to explaining…so then we went shopping, I got all the supplies I needed, and food.  Then we had lunch, and the sisters from the silverlakes ward who are in our zone came over and had lunch with us, that was good, they’re our good friends. J  Then we emailed, I’m sorry I still really such at emailing L and I wish we had more time.  Then I went to the post office and sent a package home, then we had to go to Walmart, then came home and chilled until dinner.  Which by the way it rained SO MUCH!  I totally used my rain jacket, and they were so right when they say it floods up here.  The roads and everything flood so bad even if it only rains for a half hour.  It was ridiculous!  But it dries really fast.  Then we had dinner at the Maiavas, super cute family.  You guys would be so proud of me.  I will eat ALMOST anything now, I don’t always love it, but I eat it!  Then after dinner we went over to try Marlene W.  Our ward mission leader asked us about her the other day; we’d never med or heard of her, she was a former investigator, so we went to go try her.  We looked at all her past notes from other missionaries.  We went there and she was happy to see us, said she missed missionaries coming over and they haven’t had them in a long time.  She has 6 adopted children like ages 6-10.  We got to know her a little bit and scheduled to come back on Thursday and asked her to read the Book of Mormon.  It was interesting.  Then we tried a few people who didn’t answer.  Then we went and met with Brother Blood, he’s not a member, he and his wife aren’t members, but their daughter and son in law are converts who just moved out of our ward, so we would visit with them when visiting their daughter.  They love us so much and always tell us to stop by if we need anything or want to share a scripture.  They’re Pentecostal, but they love our church and really respect it.  We went, Sister Blood was asleep, but Brother Blood let us in, we visited with him, he showed us his garden, and we shared a scripture.  Then the last visit of the night was to a less active family, the Alfaro’s.  They have like 5 kids, two boys older and moved out I think, and a 12, 8, and 4 year old at home.  We visited and the day before they had just gotten back from a trip up to Utah to visit people, and while they were there visited Temple Square and did all the tours and stuff.  That was good to hear.  This day just throughout the day I just learned over and over D&C 121:7-8, mine adversity, this hardship for me, is but a small moment, I just have to endure it well.

So Tuesday we had studies, and then District Meeting like always.  It was a good meeting like always.  With transfers the day before, we got 3 new Elders in our District.  Then we had lunch.  Then we went out to go see lots of people.  We tried lots of former investigators and some potentials.  A lot of people not home, a few people just we got a different person we were looking for, so told us to come back another time.  We met a guy, in his driveway, he didn’t live there but he was super nice and enthusiastic to us, we gave him a card.  We went to try Marquis and Shantel, husband and wife both former investigators, and Marquis was out on his porch.  He said he remembers missionaries teaching them before, he was very happy to see us, super nice guy!  He said his wife was inside getting ready to leave to pick someone up; she came out as she was leaving and said hi.  But it was good we talked with Marquis for a while, talked about the church and told him a little bit about the Book of Mormon.  We read him some verses, and he really loved it, we gave it to him and he said he’d read and we could come back Friday.  That was really good.  Then we went to go try a less active who doesn’t care for the church anymore but doesn’t mind us coming by, Sister Hunter.  Her neighbors were in their driveway so we decided to go talk to them.  It was an older man and he saw us walking up and he asked “what can I do for you ladies?”  My companion said “well, we’re the missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, are you religious at all?”  The guy just looks at us and says “Girls, I’ve been through 5 wars, seen so many children, women, families and innocent people die terrible deaths, there is no God.”  It was kinda silent for a second and he said “I know there is no God, and you’re not going to convince me.  Are you really wasting your lives away doing this?”  We kind just simply said okay well you have a great day or whatever…it’s so sad; death and illness isn’t the end!  It’s not eh worst thing that can happen to you!  But nothing we could have said would have changed anything for him.  So then we went and saw Sister Hunter.  We talked with her, gave her a scripture thought.  Then we had dinner at the Echegoyens, the Bishop’s house.  They’re from El Salvador, but have lived here a long time, I love them, his wife is super cute, and they have a 21 year old son still living with them.  They’re practically vegan, mostly Sister Echegoyen, but they make great food.  After at their house was a Relief Society recipe exchange.  Lots of ladies came over and brought even more food.  It was nice.

Then Wednesday we had studies, and then we had to go to Pep boys Auto to get our windshield wiper replaced.  That took a while.  We had to wait inside until they finished.  Lots of pop music was playing the whole time, and it made me think of all the music I loved to listen to back home, it drove me crazy, it made me really sad, I had a hard time.  Satan was really making me miss home.  Then we had lunch, and 4 people we tried to make appointments with weren’t available, 3 investigators.  That sucked.  So we went and had time.  I always love time.  I organized all the talks on my USB, watched videos, did stuff on my missionary portal, etc.  Then the Lents took us to dinner out at Chili’s!  So good!  They are so awesome!  Then we went by the church to see if there was a bible study class, there wasn’t.  Then we tried lots of people, weren’t home, so we went home and updated our area book.  I learned a lot of patience this day…

Thursday we had service as always at the Homeless shelter, and then we had lunch.  Then we went to this guy Charles’ house, he is a member, he’s 29, he goes to the YSA ward, but his Mom is a member of our ward, he’s active and she’s not.  We go over there occasionally to give him a lesson; we went over to help him with service.  We re-painted their house number on their curb.  Was easy.  He has some disabilities.  Then after we went home and changed, we went to go try lots of people.  This day was pretty full of seeing people.  So it started out we tried a few people who weren’t home, or had moved and didn’t live there anymore.  One house who the family didn’t live there and the new family wasn’t interested there were some guys out in the driveway next door.  As we started to walk up to them one of the guys came to meet us halfway, he was super nice, asked who we were.  He said he lived right next to a “super Mormon guys” in Hesperia.  He said they were good friends and talked about our religion a lot.  He said how he wondered which churches were true and there were so many but said ours was good and he thought it was interesting, and we asked him if he’s ever prayed to God to know that and he said “Haha, well actually…I don’t believe in God so…Haha.”  We were like ohhh well then there’s the problem.  Haha.  We told him to keep talking to his friend and gave him a card.   Then we tried a lady on our potentials list, but she didn’t live there anymore, but the lady there was super nice, accepted a pamphlet, said she’d read it and told us we could come back.  Then we tried some more houses, people weren’t home.  This one house of a potential the door opened a crack and we saw a lady’s face and she said “yes?”  We asked for the name, she said “that person doesn’t live her” so we proceeded to tell her we were missionaries, and before we were even done saying it she just shut the door.  Okay, cool, thanks.  But her neighbor in his garage was getting ready to leave, we told him who we were, that we had a message, explained it a little bit, and asked if that would be something he’d like to learn about.  He said “yeah I don’t see why not.”  Then said “but I’m getting ready to leave, do you have something to leave with me that I can read and you can come back whenever?  But I’m not home much.”  So we gave him a pamphlet.  Then we went to a house of a potential lady, her probably 17-21 year old son answered the door, said she was sleeping but asked if we had something to give her and we could come back.  Then he told us he thinks he’s been to one of our churches before and he’s seen missionaries, thought it was cool.  Told us to come back.  Then we went to try another potential—a woman named Nikki.  We were walking up to the address and there were like 5 thug looking boys in the garage.  I was thinking to myself, oh no.  We went up and said hi, the boy who lived there said hi, we asked if Nikki lived there still, and he was like, “Oh Haha, that’s my great Aunt, and she’s actually in jail right now…” hah, awkward.  He was like “she gets out next month if you wanna see her. “  So then we asked them if they were religious, the one said yes, another guy said “well not really religious, but we’re believers,” and then we just started talking to them.  They were asking us questions about our missions and one was like, “Yeah we’ve seen the guy missionaries a lot, but they never come up to us probably because of our appearance” Then the one guy was like “I wanna ask you guys your opinion on the rule your prophet set of children of gay parents not being able to be a member of your church.”  Oh boy, that was super fun.  He was lie “How can he do that, that’s judging the kid because of the parents.” And kept going on about it, no matter what we said he still just kept going.  And then one of the boys was like “I just have one thing to say, you guys are really awesome for what you’re doing, especially because you’re just doing it because you love God and I’m sure people turn you down all the time, but you still keep going, so don’t give up!”  It was nice to hear.  So we asked the one that lived there if there was a time we could come back and teach them all a little more.  He said yeah we could come back on Monday, they’d all be there.  Haha, so that was interesting!  Then we went to Sister Wolfe's for dinner she’s so awesome, she always feeds us every other Thursday.  She’s so sweet.  Then we went to have our lesson with the former investigator, Marlene, now she’s an investigator again.  We went and taught the whole Restoration lesson, probably her 3rd or 4th Resto lesson.  But she seemed to really like it and she seemed sincere about listening and reading and praying about it.  She was happy to hear about church being at 1:00 pm, so hopefully she’ll come.  After our lesson with her we wanted to go try some people but it was late and their lights were off.  So we went home.

Friday was weekly planning.  So we had studies, planned for a few hours, ate lunch, and then planned for a few more hours.  Then we went out and tried the new investigator lady again, no answer, sad, she seemed kinda sincere.  Then we tried a few people who didn’t answer, one former investigator told us no thanks, one former investigator told us to come back earlier in the day.  Then we went over to our investigators, Clay & Brittany’s.  Brittany wasn’t home, but her sister and Clay were, so we didn’t want to do a full lesson without Brittany, so we just talked with them and shared a scripture.  We asked him if they’d be at church and he said he always wants to but Brittany won’t always.  So it seems like he wants to progress and she doesn’t care as much.  Then we went over to Marquis and Shantel’s, the former investigators, who are now investigators again.  Shantel was out on their porch when we got there, she said Marquis never told her we were coming but yeah we could totally stay and talk, she said he was taking a nap.  We talked a lot with her, she’s super cute and awesome, asked us lots of questions, told us lots of things, she was so fun to talk to.  She asked us a lot about our missions and our church.  Then halfway through Marquis came out, he was happy to see us and he said so sorry he totally forgot we were coming.  So we talked a lot with them, shared a little bit of the Restoration, and gave them a Book of Mormon, gave them a chapter to read, and explained how we wanted them to pray to know that it’s true.  They both were super enthusiastic about it and told us they would and we planned to come back Wednesday to teach the real first full lesson, so that was really good.  Then we had dinner at the Millers, super cute family, love them.  Then we tried a few people who were busy, and just came home and updated the area book.

Saturday we had all our studies.  Then we were supposed to go see Sister Hearan, but she called and wasn’t going to be home.  So we tried a lot of houses and no one was home, or the person we were looking for wasn’t there.  Then we went home for lunch.  On our way home we saw this lady on the side of the road with a big tent selling food or something, we see those things all the time, we decided to stop.  So she spoke Spanish, we couldn’t really communicate, but we gave her a thumbs up.  I guess she just had fresh fruit in her thing; she cut up lots of pieces of different fruit and put it in a big plastic container for us.  Super random.  There are also these guys who walk around with shopping carts selling what I think is corn on a stick with some weird condiments on it.  They walk around and honk a horn to get people to come buy, so many people do.  It’s weird.  Anyways, after lunch we tried a lot of less actives we have never met, none of them were home.  Tried a few potentials that weren’t there.  These two old ladies just moved into the ward, they are sisters, both widows, so they came to live down by one of their daughters.  They came from Barstow.  We stopped by to see them because we wanted to get to know them; they were super sweet and talked a lot with us!  Then we had dinner with the Lewis family, super cute, love them.  Then we went by to see one last less active family who always texts us that they’re busy.  They have 4 kids over 8, only two are baptized, so we’ve been trying to get them baptized, but we want them active.  All the kids were in their rooms mostly, in and out, the Dad was around, we mostly talked to the Mom, super nice family, and they just don’t come to church.  We talked a lot with her and shared a scripture we asked if they were coming, they asked at what time, cleverly dodging the question.  Then we went home.  Oh another funny thing on Saturday, we were about to leave our apartment and our doorbell rang.  It was 2 little black girls and one said “can we take your trash out for a dollar?”  Haha, uh sure.  So we gave em our trash and 4 quarters.  Alrighty then.

Sunday—today, we had studies of course.  Then we had to run to Brother Lent’s to get him a paper for ward council.  Then we called Sandra, because we haven’t seen her, she’s been gone.  We convinced her to move her baptism date to May 7th because she would be confirmed on Mother’s Day and that would be very special.  So she’s still so excited!  That makes me so happy.  Then she told us she was going to set aside Sundays so she wouldn’t miss church, so no matter what, she’s going to be coming!  So happy!  And she and Jen came today!  Then we went to see David Love, less active.  And he was in pain and tired and just didn’t want us there…then we had lunch, then went to church.  There were tons of people there for a baby blessing, and we had 3 investigators there! Sandra, Jen and Marlene!  We had no idea Marlene was there but bishop told us she came in late and sat in the back.  Then we had class, taught Gospel Principles, and then Sandra asked for a blessing.  She’s been having trouble sleeping and she doesn’t want to rely on sleeping pills.  So Brother Waters and Brother Cammack gave her a blessing.  That was good, and she stayed for Relief Society.  Oh I love her!  Then we tried a potential Jennifer, she invited us in, but they were making dinner.  We met her two daughters and her husband Able.  They knew some Mormon people, they asked us a few questions, said they haven’t found a church since they moved that they liked, they might try ours, and said we could come back!  Then we had dinner at the Waters after trying a few more potentials that weren’t home.  I love the Waters!  They just got back from trek—youth conference last night, they were dead but still fed us.  They told us all about trek stories.  Reminded me of our trek and how bad I didn’t want to go, but how glad I was that I did.  They are so awesome I love them!  And now their married daughter and son in law live with them, even better!  Then we came home.  And now I’m here.

Sorry it’s so long!  I’m still doing okay.  I miss and love you guys!

Love, CourtneyJ

Sunday, April 10, 2016

April 10th, 2016

General conference was so good, obviously you guys know that!  I learned a lot from all the talks and was definitely strengthened by Elder Holland.  I thought of you guys all conference.  One of the biggest themes was families, I was so happy to have such an amazing family.  I can’t wait to get home and have so much fun with you again!  I learned from Conference that it truly will get easier.  I am having such a hard time because it’s not what I’m used to and it’ really hard, stressful, draining, restricting.  But I will come out “refined” from this experience.  So I gotta put in my time and work hard and God will help me.  Hopefully it will start working sometime soon…so as I said we watched Saturday conference at eh church both sessions, it was basically only the missionaries from our zone there, a few other people.  Then we wanted to watch the first session of Sunday at the church with our investigator Eddie, but he wasn’t able to make it.  So we still watched it there, more people besides missionaries this time.  Then we went over to the Waters for the second session, and we had them signed up for dinner that night as well.  So they fed us all after conference and we played the game Curses. 

Sandra and Toby and Jen didn’t get to the Waters for Conference until the end of Elder Oaks talk I think it was, whoever the first speaker was.  They didn’t seem totally into it, obviously.  Toby asked about “quorum” and “seventy” to brother Waters.  Sandra asked us if any young people ever got up there.  Haha, she asked “anyone without white hair?”  Funny cause brother Waters is late 40’s and has white spiky hair, we all laughed at him.  Sandra liked Elder Holland’s.  We really wanted to crash Priesthood session and go watch at the church, we wished .  But we did have a member for dinner, her husband went to watch it at the church, but she had it playing for us as we ate dinner.  We downloaded all those talks though and listened to them, SO GOOD!

Monday we did regular ole P-day stuff.  We emailed a little earlier, we will keep trying to do that now, just so you know.  But I am having such a hard time with emailing!  Like my time was up before I got to emailing President (which we’re supposed to do every p-day) and so I didn’t get to email President.  And I don’t feel like my mass emails are any good.  Ugh.  But after that we had a pretty good zone activity.  The zone leaders had texted us all the night before and told us we were going to do “glow in the dark sports”.  We tried doing capture the flag with glow sticks, it was fun but ended up not really working, we tried other things with the glow sticks.  They set up the volleyball net and we hung them from it, and they broke a few glow sticks and poured in on the volleyball.  We tried that, kind failed, but it was funny.  Then we just played normal volleyball the rest of the day.  It was fun.

We then ate at the Stake Presidents house!  Love them!  And then we had our lesson with Sandra that I told you a little bit about, Brother Lent, our ward mission leader, who we brought to the lesson, was just so excited and just wanted to testify every chance he could get, they were baptized 2 years ago and were sealed a few months ago. 

Tuesday we had an awesome zone meeting.  We also got a new senior couple up in Barstow in our zone now!  They seem sweet, I’m not sure if they will serve there their whole mission or not.  We then tried lots of people who didn’t answer, and we had dinner at home and then went over to Sandra’s.  She was being interviewed by President Pratt, our mission President’s first counselor for her baptism, so we went over there and met him there.  He’s pretty cool.  Interview went well and then we just stayed and talked to her and Jen for a little while.  It was interesting. 

Right now, almost every single one of our investigators aren’t progressing or we’ve only met once and can’t seem to make or keep a return appointment for a first real lesson because they all reschedule a lot.  Sheesh. 

Wednesday literally everyone we had an appointment with canceled that morning.  Sheesh.  2 investigators, 2 less actives, and even our dinner appointment at Sandra’s house.  We didn’t see many people.  Lots of people not home and/or not answering.  We did talk to these people though for a while outside their house, who we’d briefly talked to before, a guy and his fiancé, Zach and Sierra, pretty young.  But the first time we’d talked to them we walked by, it was a warm day, and they were out in their driveway.  He had a hose and was spraying her and they were laughing, he was super drunk, beer in his other hand.  We said hi, told 'em who we were, they said they went to HDC but cool that we were out and they had a church.  He pointed the hose at us and asked us if we “wanted to cool off”, he was totally joking, it was funny, his fiancé told him to stop hassling us, but he was drunk, they were nice enough to us though.  Anyways, so we went back to that same street on Wednesday to visit a potential who lives right next to Zach and Sierra.  We got there and Zach was sitting outside in a chair in his driveway.  He looked nice and sober this time.  We walked up and said hi and asked if he was the one that tried to spray us a few weeks ago.  He had no idea what we were talking about, we then questioned if this was the same guy.  He was like “oh no that must have been our crazy neighbor or something, I would never do that to you guys!”  We were pretty sure it was him, but he had no recollection, he must have been so drunk that first time that he really didn’t remember.  Because then his fiancé came out and he asked her “hey did I try to spray these girls ever?”  And she was like “yeah remember and we told them we had a church.”  Haha, he was like “oh well, gosh I am so sorry.”  Haha, it was funny.  And then we told him we were going to see their neighbor and he said “okay, good luck, if you can make that happen I’ll buy you guys dinner!”  We went over and knocked on the door, we could hear the TV on and I could see inside the house.  We waited there for quite a while and then left.  As we walked back from their door Zach and Sierra had this guy sitting with them.  Zach said “hey he’s over here, he was already outside on his way over here when you knocked and his wife is asleep.”  So we walked up to say hello, though his wife had been the one we were looking for.  We got talking to the three of them for a while.  They asked us lots of questions about our missions and a little of our beliefs and our “restrictions”.  They let us hold their new puppies that were born 2 weeks ago.  They were so nice.  They weren’t interested exactly though, but hey we made a friendship kinda so that was good.  The guy told us to come back the next day in the morning to catch his wife.  We finally talked to someone that day.

We had time on Wednesday, I downloaded all of the conference talks, yay!  I also put lots of pics on the USB, I should be sending a box home.  Monday, actually, I’ll just put this letter in it!  Considering it would send the same day anyway.

Thursday we went by that ladies house like her husband said and no answer.  Then we did lots of service at the Homeless shelter, sorted clothes with the Elders.  Was the last time we would see Elder Hurley because he goes home Monday.  Sad, he was super cool.  And we didn’t know it but that was the last time we would see Elder Haueter for now because we heard yesterday he’s getting transferred, he’s one of our zone leaders.  Then we went to go try potentials and lots of people weren’t home.  We went to the top of our area (which is pure desert) and we had 2 potentials on this road called Seneca, so we just tracted that street.  Mostly nobody home, our potentials didn’t answer, people told us no, and then at this one random house we picked up a new investigator!  We knocked on the door and this lady opened up a crack and asked “can I help you” (we get that a lot) we told her who we are and told we have a message and all that and we asked her if we could share that with her and she said sure.  She stepped outside with us because she said she had crazy dogs.  So we told her about how families can be together forever and we have a prophet guiding us from God and told her the brief message of the restoration.  She took it well, we gave her a restoration pamphlet and a Book of Mormon and asked her to read and pray about it and she said she would, we asked if we could come back and she said yes.  She was super cute and sweet.  Hopefully that works out.

Friday we had weekly planning all morning.  We do that for 3-5 hours.  We did a lot, and it rained tons on this day as well.  Then we went out and only saw one person.  A less active man David Love.  He’s 62 and his family lives with him, they’re active/ less active members.  He has lots of dogs.  He works as a car mechanic up in Barstow at some big company, they overwork them and don’t treat them well.  We wanted to tell him of the importance of church, because he doesn’t go.  He’s a convert, he knows the Bible so well.  But we got there and my companion asked why he wasn’t coming and told him the importance and he said he’d go if that wasn’t his only time to sleep.  She told him a relationship with God is like any other, you gotta put in effort to get much in return.  He said, “I can have a relationship with God right here without having to go to church, I read scriptures, I pray.”  Then my companion asked “okay, then why did God command us to go to church?”  Then we talked and she read him Isaiah 58:11, 13-14 where it talks about the Sabbath day.  He was caught up on the fact that he wakes up every day at 3 am, works 6 days a week, never gets peace at home with his family there, etc.  Finally he was like Okay I’ll try and see if God refreshes me just from going to church.  He says he doesn’t learn anything at church.  We’ll see how it goes.

Yesterday, Saturday we did tons of service…from 8 am to 10:30 am we went and helped with “clean the desert” day.  Our ward signed up for a stretch of desert through town and we picked up trash, we had little grabber things.  It was so windy.  Then after lunch and studies we helped this lady from the ward right next to us weed her entire lawn from about 1:30 to 4:00.  The Elders and a member invited us to come help and a few other missionaries.  We actually live in their ward.  Our apartment isn’t even isn’t even in our area.  That was some hard work, dirty, it was cold. Then we went and had ward correlation with Brother Lent.  Then we had dinner.  Then we met with Dina Rifner.  She’s the only one we saw all day, it was very interesting.  She’s a less active lady we always knock on her door but she rarely answers.  But this night she opened and let us in.  She was very heated and angry because I guess about 10 minutes earlier she had just gotten in a big ole fight (not physically) with her neighbor.  Oh she told us all about it.  Then she started to calm down and says she’s sorry and then she was like “Wow, God sent you guys right at the perfect time I just realized.”  And it was really the perfect time.  We calmed her a little bit, she cried, she knew she had said bad words.  Somehow we got into the Plan of Salvation and she was very interested, she didn’t remember it at all.  We read her some scriptures and talked with her for a long time.  God really did send us there. 

And now today is Sunday!  It’s the 10th!  Now I’ve officially been out for 2 months!  16 ½ now to go…still really struggling.  Anyways, today after studies we went to go see a potential Mosi.  We saw her in the area book a few weeks earlier and had went by once, but she was on her way out (she’s probably mid-20s) she’s super nice and cute.  She said she grew up with tons of Mormon friends, grew up going to Young Women’s every Sunday and Wednesday, she’s trying to help her friends from other churches see how great our church teaches.  She loves us so much.  We went back this morning, and I’m so glad we did.  She was there, totally welcomed us in, and for about 10-15 minutes sat there and told us how amazing we were.  And that even when someone slams a door in our face God is so happy with the work we are doing, and he needs us to help those who listen.  I honestly got teary eyed.  She sat there forever telling us how amazing we were and inspiring our hearts.  I know God sent us to her house for her, but mostly for me.  She told us to come by whenever, especially if we have a bad day.  Sweetest thing, I really felt the Spirit.  Last night I had been praying to feel God’s love because I was having a hard time truly feeling it, and then God sent us to Mosi.  Wow, I just realized that.  That was a quick answer to my prayers. 

Then, since it was fast Sunday and we came home for an hour for “lunch” but didn’t eat, I just wrote this letter, parts of it.  Then we had church.  Wow church was so amazing.  Testimony meeting was great.  We taught the youth Sunday school the Restoration and Apostasy.  Then in third hour Relief Society we talked about prophets and talks that have changed our lives.  One sister, Sister Thorup, probably late 50’s got up and told her experience of going on a mission.  She wasn’t going, her Stake President made her fill out her papers, she still said she wasn’t going, and she went to General Conference in 1985 and heard this talk by Elder Hartman Rector  (Oct. 1985).  I don’t know what it’s called.  I need to print it out.  Anyways I can’t remember exactly what he said but he said something like even if you don’t want to do what God has for you, that’s okay, do it anyway.  And then we heard about Elder Holland’s talk from this conference that said you get points for just trying.  I felt the Spirit so strongly, comfort me, and give me peace.  It’s okay I don’t want to do this, do it anyway though, I’ll grow and learn to love it, just try.  I cried.  I knew that was exactly just for me.  Then we tried to see our investigators Clay and Brittany, no luck, Brittany wasn’t home, how do we get ‘em progressing! 

I love you guys so much!

Love, Courtney

Friday, April 1, 2016

April 1, 2016

Family, wow... Hi guys! I love you all so much! Sorry it's been so long since I've written a letter about some of my experiences. It's been a crazy 2 weeks. But for the record, the last time I got a letter from anyone was over a week ago :-( That's okay, I know you guys are busy!

So, I'm doing good. I'm learning a lot. Obviously. I'm growing, learning, failing, trying again. This work is hard, and draining. But I'm learning that it's all worth those 300 people a day (dramatic number obviously) telling us to go away, for that one person who needs to hear what we have to say-- it does suck though because there's not humble people in this area... Very few. So rarely anyone wants to hear from us. It does suck. Anyways, Lots has happened lately that I share with you! Sorry this letter will be so long!

First thing, as you already know from my previous letters, we had been sick, and Monday morning we got a blessing from the elders. We called our Zone leaders Elder Haueter and Elder Shumway to do it for us, and they brought a set of other Elders with them from nearby Elder Golden and Elder Faussett. So Elder Golden anointed me with the oil, and Elder Haueter gave me the sealing and blessing. It was really good, because he gave me a blessing that I would overcome my sickness and get better, etc. And then in the blessing he said “at this time I'd like to bless you and tell you that your family is doing well. They are doing okay, and your service is truly blessing their lives, and they are very proud of you. They will be ok, and God need you to know that they love you.” I felt the spirit very strongly when he said it-- he doesn't know me all that well, he doesn't know the struggle I've been having, he was told to bless me so that I could get better and do well. It was a true blessing from God, I knew he had spoken by the spirit. It gave me some peace. Anyways the rest of that P-day was like the most boring. Ever. First of all I apologize for not having much time to email, that sucks. And then there was no Zone activity, and my companion doesn't really care for just going out and doing much, so we came home from emailing and just sat around for 3 hours... Did nothing! So I transferred all my notes for my old scriptures during that time.
Wednesday was pretty crazy. I told you guys about Raelynn, our investigator and told Dad in some of his letters more about a few of the experiences. So we went to go see her first thing that morning. I was so nervous for this lesson, I didn't know how it would go, wondered if I'd studied well enough, I was wondering if they'd read any of the Book of Mormon and was nervous for everything. We get there, knock on the door, she let us in. We ask if she has time to meet with us today. She hands us The Book of Mormons we gave them and said “well just no. Sorry I just don't believe what you believe.”
  So that was big, she totally dropped us. So we said alrighty have a good day, and left. Never to return... But you know, I wasn't too worried about it... Tried my best, we tried our best. But after her, we went to see our investigator Wendy. We hadn’t planned too much of a lesson for her, except just to follow up. We got there, she let us in, we talked with her, she hadn't read any, had been too busy. So we read over the introduction to the Book of Mormon with her. She didn't have too much commentary. She's kind of shy. She just said how regardless if her husband wants to or not (which he doesn't really care about religion) she wants to raise her son with something religious. She goes to First Assembly of God, here it’s a Pentecostal Church. She said it's weird and it's not really comfortable, “people talk in tongues”randomly and she hasn't gone in a while. She wants to come to one of ours. She went before when she was younger with her cousins to our church. We asked her to really pray to know what the truth is and what God wants her to do. She said she would. That went pretty well. Then, that day we tried a whole lot of people who weren't home or didn't want to talk to us. We then had a lesson with Sister Witter, a less active member, whose husband is not a member and believes in the Great Indian chief is God. I think I told you before about him. He has bone cancer. Anyway, we got there and he was there with us, and her daughter and we talked with them for a while just about stuff, try to be friendly. Then we started with our thoughts, asking them how they knew God loves them, they gave so many good reasons. We told them “how does God know you love him?” And we talked about that. And then Sister Thomason had a genius prompting to read Alma 18: 24 - 32. It totally related to her husband Bob, it was so good! Then we had dinner with the Greens at Olive Garden for a late happy birthday from them to Sister Thomason. The Greens are awesome, young couple, three boys, her father is our Bishop. I had her send the picture of us to Mom, and saw mom that you replied :-) :-) :-) hope you guys like that!
Then, that day we got a text from Sandra our investigator. She had come to church on Easter and her husband came, with her, which really surprised us! So she text us and said “ hey when can we meet next? And I think my hubby wants to sit in.” what! So cool! We were thrilled, we set up an appointment for the next day. So so so cool.

Then Thursday we did service at the homeless shelter with a few companionships in our Zone. We then went and met with this artistic 28 year old guy Charles, he's a member, recent convert a few years. He lives in our boundaries, but goes to the young single adult ward, in Apple Valley. His mom is a less active member who he lives with. They initially would go over, because he would ask to be taught, but they wanted to meet the mom. So we go over almost every week and just give him a nice thought. We can never get in to meet the mom. Anyways, then went and walked, tried lots of people, a few who had met missionaries before, said we could come back, lots of people turned us down. Then we met this guy Dan on the street. He was painting the house numbers on the curbs at people's houses. We were walking, he stopped and talked to us. Thought it was cool “girls our age were out spreading the word” and he said “I hope to find a nice girl like you girls one day, from Utah” it was funny. We gave him an Easter card. Then we had dinner at the Cuevas’s house. It was interesting. The Cuevas family mainly speak Spanish, but sister Cuevas switched to our Ward to learn English. She is our Relief Society president. She speaks good English but doesn't understand as well. And I guess because of her culture when she feeds us, we go in, she has two plates of food, drink, and dessert set up... Just for us. She serves us, and either sits there and just talked with us, or goes and does something if she's busy. So yeah, she doesn't actually eat with us. The rest of the family doesn't either. It was kind of weird. And she gave us so much food and little Easter presents,  it was really good. And she's sweet.

Then we went to have our lesson was Sandra!!! We asked brother Waters to come with us, for her husband, and he brought his son-in-law Donovan. Brother Waters is a good friendshipper of Sandra, and can relate perfectly to Toby.   When they had come on Sunday they'd stayed for gospel principles class. Luckily we didn't have to teach it. Sandra's been before, they both seem to like it. Toby (her husband) seemed interested and has asked questions. We gave them all gospel principles book to keep. They apparently through the week had been reading the book, super cool! And Sandra finally started reading in the Book of Mormon! She was so excited when we got there! Sad thing is, that week when she’d been reading, she had gotten so excited and had tried to call us but we had been busy and then she forgot all what she thought was so cool. Anyways so the lesson went so well, we started answer her questions from some of the concepts in the Gospel Principles book.  Asked Toby what questions he had.  He said he had questions about the restoration, but he’d save them for us for another time so we can get to Sandra's lesson. He also said he really liked it there. He liked that the bishop came and introduced himself, and the other people came up to meet him too. He said he never met the pastor at HTC (High desert church) and there so many people, nobody acknowledges his existence, he liked how ours did, and we had one on one classes, and we would openly answer his questions. It made me so happy to hear him say that!! He really felt the love. The spirit has totally been working in that house. (By the way they have two kids of their own living at home, 2 married kids, and 3 foster kids that live with them). So we taught the word of wisdom and tithing, and then just talked with them, answered their questions, testified. It was really good. And other kids were lingering in the area nearby, the whole time, intrigued :-) Sandra even said it herself; we're going to be stuck in that house forever! Haha! Started with her daughter Jen, then Sandra, now Toby, and now two of her foster kids said they “want to sit in next time”! So cool! One of them asked for a Book of Mormon of their own! Then we called Sandra this morning and she said both her and Toby had been reading!!!! You don't even know how happy that makes me! I can see their whole family getting closer and happier because of the gospel and turn their life! Then when we left Toby even said “see you Sunday!” which sucks because we had to explain there's no church, but we told him about General Conference and Brother Waters invited them to his house to watch with his family and have lunch, and today Sandra asked us for his number because they wanted to watch conference with them!! Yay so happy! Sandra is excited for her baptism, she wants all her family there to see her and then she said “feel inspired”. Sandra is so awesome and so funny! I love her! Jen has been out of town at her sister’s but really hopefully this week will see her and set up her new baptismal date.

 So anyways... Yeah Thursday we were out walking, trying people and I was like man, this really sucks, nobody wants to hear from us, why do I even try. So I prayed in my head and just asked God to please help us help change someone's life today, directly after we went down, and then later we had our lesson with Sandra and Toby . That's why I said earlier in this letter that I guess the millions of people that tell us no are worth those few who we can help. I don't know why I can't get that through my head. Okay I swear this letters ending soon, I'm sorry! But today's been probably in the top ten hardest days for me mentally... I don't understand why this is so hard for me. I'm better now. I realized we have to try to give everyone the chance to accept the gospel. God is not just going to throw us the ones who will accept us, we've got to go through the people that don't care. We have to give everyone a chance and we have to show God we are willing to “feed his sheep”. Man this is a really hard lesson that is going to take me awhile to truly learn. Because even though I know these things, I still am not accepting them. Man, pray that I will get over this I just keep dreaming about the day I return home, and I truly can't wait to get off the plane and hug you all, but this is the worst battle going on in my head right now, I know I need to find joy in my work here now. I have to not just suck it up, but truly embrace it. It's hard when I feel that I personally I'm not changing anyone's life. God's teaching me this lesson and I'm squirming.  But don’t worry about me. This will all be for my good and I'll come out stronger. God keep showing me the scriptures: D&C 122: 7-9 and Alma 26: 27 and Alma 31: 30 - 33, 35, 38. Why can't I learn this already? It will come... I know.
I hope you all know how ridiculously much I love you guys. I thank God everyday for such an amazing family, I don't deserve to be so blessed! By the time you get this General Conference will be over, but I'm so excited for that, it's going to be so good! I truly love and miss you. I pray for all of you all the time.

I love you!

Love, Courtney