Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cali week 2

Hello Family!
Well this week has been a rollercoaster. Many investigators and people we try to see are getting flaky. Also, many many new concerns came up with some of them that will take a lot longer road to baptism than we thought. Also, can I just say I hated dogs before my mission, but now I REALLY REALLY hate dogs. Little ones AND the ones that look part grizzly bear.
Also, if you truly want to help with missionary work, give missionaries referrals!! We are trying new ideas this week to get referrals. I spoke in sacrament meeting about a quote I found from Elder Ballard " The key to successful member missionary work is the exercise of faith. One way to show your faith in the Lord and His promises is to pryerfully set a date to have someone prepared to meet with the missionaries.  I have received hundreds of letters from members who have exercised thier faith in this simple way. Even though families had no one in mind with whom they could share the fospel, they set a date, prayed, and then talked to many more people. The Lord is the Good Sheperd, and He knows His sheep who have been prepared to hear His voice. He will guide us as we seek His divine help in sharing His gospel." So we are inviting the members here to pray about a date instead of a person. Then take BOM's and pass along cards with them everywhere so they will be prepared as they talk to people by that day. Then that day, us missionaries will follow up with them and get their referral. We will see what happens!
However crazy things are, there are of course, even more good things that happen. First of all, Sis Hewett and I got to be involved in dirty, legit service. That bishop who passed away that I talked about in the last email had all these plans to renovate His family's yard, and obviously never got to do it. While his wife was out of town, the ward and community members came and renovated! It was two whole days (we only went a few hours one day) of shoveling dirt, raking leaves, building fences, and Sis Hewett and I even got to help set an irrigation pipe all along the different gardens. Members had sent out emails and invited non member friends, so Sis Hewett and I got to talk to them as well! Mom, it was just like the HGTV shows we always watched, that's what I kept thinking of while I was muddy.
Also, everyone here is so healthy! We got fed by a wonderful sister who is 52 and single, and she has a health blog apparently. She fed us all of the strange soy and organic stuff but it was actually pretty good.
I get to go on my first exchanges with the trainer sisters in the mission this week. I will be going to a spanish area for two days, so Sis Hewett has been helping me with my testimony and prayer in spanish!
We also got to do a public display board with our district. It was the coldest day I have been here, in a really fancy rich outdoor mall area, but it was actually pretty fun! We had a giant sign that said "are mormons christians? YES." then something about Christmas haha. BUT the fact that it said we were christian, attracted one guy who we gave a BOM to and got his information to send missionaries to.  Also Sis Hewett and I (we had the most luck of all our district that day) talked to a lady who had an ex husband who was an ex mormon but still reads the BOM. So we gave her one and got her information after talking a really long time. Also some funny hispanic ladies drove by and rolled down their window and asked for a pamphlet, and we scrambled to grab one to give to them before they drove off, and the one I grabbed was about member missionary work. oops, haha. oh well, it at least had mormon.org on it. Which, by the way, do you all have a mormon.org profile? You should make one if not!
This week was also our ward's GIANT Halloween party. There was a chili cook off, pumpkin dessert contest, root beer, bouncy house, door decorating where the kids trick or treated, a brazilian zumba performance from a lady in our ward who teaches a million zumba classes, and games for the kids. It was crazy! But we had two investigators come, and a lot of non members. Sis Hewett and I had a booth set up with pamphlets about the temple, visitor's center, family history, family proclamtions, copies of the book of mormon, etc. with a display board from mormon.org profiles from people in the walnut creek/oakland area! I have pictures, but i forgot my cord this week, so i will send them next week.
My P-Day is Mondays, so that's when I write and email. I sent a few letters out this week finally.
I need to go, but I LOVE YOU ALL! Share your testimony with someone! Send me pictures! I do get them in email, so you don't have to print them.
Sister Martin

Monday, October 22, 2012

Hello from California!


I am in the Visitor's Center in Oakland on my first P-Day in the field writing you an email! Crazy! Obviously there is a lot to tell you.

First, I had to wake up at 3 am- 3! To get on a bus at 5 to go to the Salt Lake City airport. It was dark and cold, and when we got there, I pinched my finger in my luggage so bad it was bleeding everywhere with little blood blisters. Sorry, that's probably gross...but I thought what a terrible start. But I was so wrong! One of our elders in our travel group (13 of us total going to our missionthat day) had a mom who works at Delta. She paid for all our bags, overweight or not. Then she told us they had breakfast waiting for us at the gate. WHAT?! We were basically treated like rockstars. Then her and her coworkers lent us their cell phones to call our families so we didn't have to pay! I called mom and dad. Then they pulled out Halloween candy, cheezits, caramel corn, etc to make ourselves large treat bags to take with us. I have never been so impressed with Delta haha. Also in the airport, we talked to a couple from Arizona who had tons of Mormon friends, but said they didn't really want missionaries. A man came up to Sister Olsen and I and said he shed tears just standing next to us because he thought of his daughter who is 19 and putting in her papers, he said he texted her to let her know he was standing next to sister missionaries :). The elder I rode with on the plane was one of many of the elders going with us who are Tongan. Let's just say he took up his seat, AND half of my seat.

We all came down the runway in Oakland airport to see President Meredith and his wife smiling and waiting for us. They are some of the kindest people I have ever met. Apparently the last president had to clean up the mission and send several missionaries home and he was a lot stricter with rules and obedience. President Meredith is very patient and kind. Someone said he is like a cool grandpa. Their story is so interesting. He never served a mission due to military (air force), and they wanted to serve after seeing their kids go. They were in Richmond, VA for only 4 months when Elder Nelson happened to go to their mission conference, instead of the next state over for his original plans. Elder Nelson knew that the supposed-to-be-new  Oakland/San Francisco mission president's wife was too ill to fill the calling, so he was looking for new one. President Meredith said he wouldn't stop looking at them almost the whole conference. Later they got a call from Elder Holland and were asked to fill the calling. They were given much shorter notice than most mission presidents are, but they accepted. On the first day, we took care of paper work, a quick interview, a buffet (where sister olsen and I tried chicken feet because the Asian sister told us it would give us good skin haha), a temple walk around the Oakland temple, a quick tour throught the visitor's center, a talk standing on top of the temple overlooking San Francsico and the whole mission (I will send a picture), and then HOMEMADE chili/chips/cheese and pie. I was so spoiled allll day. The area is absolutely beautiful though.

That night, I got assigned my first companion/trainer- Hermana Hewett! I say Hermana, because she actually speaks spanish and just served in the spanish areas. Her tag still says Hermana too. I will talk more about Spanish later...but she is so welcoming to me, and we are getting along great. She is actually a convert of only a year and a half, and she left behind a job in China and dumped her boyfriend because she got an answer to go on a mission. She is from North Carolina, and we are both blonde haired blue eyed and serving in the English speaking Walnut Creek area! 

Walnut Creek is in the Oakland zone, and is very warm in the day and very cold at night. We are staying with a family called the Greaves, who are from South Africa, and they joined the church only two years ago in the States, but they knew when they moved in, they wanted to build a place for the sister missionaries to live. So we live with members who are so kind and have cool accents and adorable children! They also have two cats! I couldn't have asked for a better living situation, especially after hearing about the scary apartments the other missionaries live in. Our apartment is actually really cute. We had Mongolian sisters live there before us, so they left a TON of blankets and clothes we had to go through, not to mention random mongolian books that are hilarious. 

We have been talking to a few people who speak mostly spanish, so Hermana is trying to teach me some things, like basic testimony phrases. We also are teaching a mongolian couple, so that language barrier is tricky, and we are giving them mongolian pamphlets and Book of Mormon. Already we have seen such diversity. Why did I only get trained in English?! A language would have been very helpful. Also, they rotate the missionaries here no matter what language, so I have heard that I could very much go into a Spanish area . And just like my trainer, Spanish go English, etc. Also, my companion said she did not get called to the Visitor's Center, but she served there anyways for her first transfer. She said all the sisters must work there during Christmas because it is always full and busy, so I will definitely have to work there sometime, which I am very excited about. I wish I would have gotten better training for it in the MTC though, you get a whole week of Visitor's Center/Tour guide training. Also, currently only spanish and chinese sisters are in san francisco, no english. I really hope to get to work there anyways though.

Our ward is the BEST I could have asked for. We have had members tell us they love missionary work and WANT to come with us. They call US and approach US. They really are so pumped about missionary work! We talked to our bishop, and he told us a small reason why. The last bishop was only 42 and died of a heart attack on a scout hiking trip this summer. His first counselor is our bishop now and he is no older than 30 probably. He said there is a "rawness" about the ward right now, and he said he had felt a stirring inside that something big was about to happen in the ward, and that when us sisters came over to his house, he felt that stirring again! We actually were going to make contact to a referral from the VC (Visitor's Center) when this shiny black Prius pulls up with a young guy who reminds me of a mix between Hugh Dancy and Mark Zuckerburg from the social network, straight skinny pants, stylish sunglasses and he calls out "sisters!". We were just shocked and said "biiiishop?"  We went to his house later for dinner where they fed us pizza and told us about five names of people to see (all in the ward, less actives/focus families, but he has a friend we are seeing as well). The next day in church we had to bear our testimony about 3 times and afterwards, Bishop Oyler announced to the combined Sunday School he had full trust in us and told us to refer their friends to us. MTC told us different ways to build that trust up, but its already so easy actually, because the members are ready and willing to talk to their friends! Everyone is also excited because they can pronounce our names unlike the mongolian sisters before us haha. A very dynamite, put together ward. They have a HUGE Halloween party/chili cook off this Saturday, where they said it is so well organized and attended, that out of 300 people that go, 20% are usually nonmembers from the neighborhood-- perfect for us to set up a welcoming booth with displays, a video playing, pamplets, mormon.org cards, etc We are so excited. Also there is a photo booth where they are going to have to retrieve their picture online with a question asking if they want to hear more from the missionaries. The ward has this thought up already, we just have to come and be the missionaries haha. Once again, spoiled. Also a lady in our ward teaches like 15 Zumba classes a week and in the past told us she hosts some IN the church building so the sisters can have a booth set up in the foyer. Seriously, I have never seen this much natural missionary spirit in one ward. 

However, we still have empty blocks of time where we tract or try to find people (Sister Hewett is new to the area as well so both of us don't know where we are going and the area book is a little messy still). I didn't realize there would be such...awkward times to try and fill. Hopefully that will pick up though as we are getting to know people and get new investigators. Usually, the converts around here are actually found through street contacting though. My first time doing it, we talked to a guy fixing a show car outside in his driveway. He was very open, nice, religious, etc. He is not even doing anything right now, he is taking off of work for a year he said. So since he has time and is looking to do right things with his life/read scriptures or uplifting things, I gave him a Book of Mormon, he said he would read it, and we are going to go back this week. It actually was a Book of Mormon from EFY, so a teenager from Texas had their notes/testimony in it that I had been wanting to give away. So if my EFY kids, or Mary Tony reads this (it was one from your kids)- a guy in California has it! What a cool connection of my life in Texas and now in California. 

Our investigators are great. Annette basically is a member. She is having trouble giving up coffee, but loves church and we see her just serving and being the last person still cleaning up at ward activities. Korina loves her husband and kids and wants them to have good traditions and religion in their life. She is looking for guidance right now, and when her car broke down in front of the sister missionaries before us, she saw it as a sign. I invited her to be baptized (on my third day in the mission!) and she said yes! We are working to get her baptized Nov 11. Norman Su is married to a member, Mandy, from Salt Lake City. We are seeing them tonight, but he talked to us in church on Sunday and he seems very willing and excited to meet with us. Zaya and Peter are our mongolian couple, they heard the sisters say "Jesus Christ" and they wanted to know more. They are so sweet and have two little kids, one of which are the largest cheeks I have ever seen on a baby :). 

Sorry this is so long, there was a lot to tell. But I am well, this area is exciting for missionary work right now, and the church is true!

Sister Martin

p.s. enjoy my pictures finally! pic 1) mom and dad and i at the slc temple, thought they would like it 2) my mtc comp, sister olsen 3) the sisters in our district 4) sister coulsen (gwen) and i. she is going to russia, this is also a good picture of my tag, which is rare because my hair covers it up a lot. i will put more pics in a separate email.

 that last email, i forgot to say that the last pic was my district, going to oakland/ san fran, san fernando cali, and salt lake city. these pics are me and our favorite teacher, sister winters! we seriously loved out mtc teachers. sister loie benson and i were able to be at the mtc for a week together! the last pic is the sisters in my zone (going to texas and arizona), we are not really ready for the picture...

also one at the temple, you can see sister dyreng's personality a little.

1)at the airport, with the table of breakfast and treats! how fun
2) mom, you can give this pic to sister williams for the ward board, this is me on top of the oakland temple which overlooks san francisco and oakland mission.
3)President and Sister Meridith, me, and Sister Hewett

1)a mongolian language book we found that says "let's make our country up!"
2) a bearded dragon lizard (like the ones todd mom and i saw at petco!) that belongs to a family in the ward and the son really wanted us to hold it. i was smiling right until sister hewett took the picture he scared me cause he started to crawl up my arm.
3)it was cold and rainy today, so we both wore scarves. a close up of sister hewett and i in our apartment.
4)mom you would be so proud. i have made my bed every day. also the greaves already had cute matching bed sets for us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bye MTC!

*Please read Laurel's previous week entries as well, I just posted them up today! She's doing great!*

Bye MTC!
Hello Family!

I leave for Oakland airport in the morning! My companion got a calling card that we will share because we are allowed to call at the airport. I will call mom and dad for just a few minutes, sorry I don't have more details, but really I saw you all 3 weeks ago and I will call in 3 months. I STILL LOVE YOU!

This week Sister Olsen and I had a powerful experience in the TRC (Teaching Resource Center) with a real referral. We even got a real member to sit in with us. The girl we taught was Hung (she was vietnamse, so I don't know how it is spelled, but that is how it is pronounced). She was very open to everything because she goes to BYU and has member roommates who referred her. With no real religious background, we ended up having her pray to know if God was there and if there were answers to this being the true church and that her family would be ok with her joining. She got up from the prayer and had tears streaming down her face, and we asked her how she felt. She replied she knew He was listening. After teaching the first lesson, where more tears were shed on her part, she ACCEPTED TO BE BAPTIZED! Sister Olsen and I are so sad we won't see her again because we are leaving, but we told her to tell her roommates what happened that night are praying that other missionaries will pick her up. It's amazing what the Holy Ghost teaches people. I have learned my role as a missionary is simply to be the obedient vessel where the Spirit can dwell and be the real teacher.

I also bore testimony this week about family and Ally to Sarah, our other TRC investigator. It was last minute inspiration and I related it to how the gospel of Jesus Christ got me through as a teenager, because Sarah was concerned for her teenage daughter. It hit home with her and she was crying and asked us after if we knew that her sister was dying from lymphoma. We had no idea.

The four of us sisters had a scary experience this week, where we had to receive blessings from the branch presidency. The night we were scared, I had the thought come to me that Ally was with me. In my blessing the next day, I was told (out of the four of us) that I had special gaurdian angels watching me. I started sobbing because there was no way that Brother Lauritzen knew anything of my family, and none of the other sisters were told that in their blessings. I knew my thought was real. Also, we are being taught that the adversary will be working harder when he knows we will do great things for the Lord. So in a way, we felt honored to have that experience, because that means we are a threat!

I wish I could write more, but I'm out of time. I will be in California next time I write! My blog has my missiona home address you can send things to for now. I REALLY LOVE YOU ALL! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!

Sister Martin

MTC Week 2!

October 10th

Hello my Family!!

I was so excited to get letters and emails this week! Thankyou! I really do appreciate it. I am almost done with the MTC already! Pete, it actually is three weeks, not two that I am here. I leave officially next Wednesday morning for the Oakland airport! We got our itinerary this week. I have heard rumors you call your family at the airport, but I am not sure if that is true....if it is, I'll probably call the home phone or dads cell around maybe 5 or 6 am in texas time...i think...im not sure... haha...

SO OH MY GOODNESS, CONFERENCE. WAS. AMAZING. It was the BEST conference to be a missionary, and really special that I was sitting in a room full of black tags waiting to go out and preach the gospel to the world, hearing the revelation from the Lord given to President Monson that Elders can go at age 18 and sisters AT AGE 19!!! That was a huge shock and the whole room (we watch conference on several big screens in a large gym/auditorium building on mtc campus, with every missionary in that one room) was almost all whooping and cheering. I know I personally have friends who have known they wanted to go on a mission, but have had to wait a whole year or two. I just pictured their faces full of joyous tears! What a blessing, we know the MTC knew nothing about it, only the 12 and first presidency. so apparently, the mtc has been in meetings with byu and all kinds of stuff ready to make changes. im sure this will affect freshman ages, space in the mtc, etc. i heard that the health center here was already booked by the weekend for sisters physical appointments because they had already talked to their bishops and are immediately starting their papers! what a blessing to have such valiant and ready missionaries! im getting the chills just thinking about it. THEN Elder Nelson gives that talk about "ask the missionaries!" and i had to keep telling myself, oh yeah that's me now haha. i better make sure im ready to answer questions. 

so the new sisters we got last week are super sweet and are actually headed to dallas texas and tuscon arizona. it was a good opportunity sister olsen and i had to demonstrate companionship inventory in front of the whole new district and the branch presidency, but they said we did a fantastic job. i can tell our companionship is getting more united, and we are good leaders for our district and our zone. another way i know we are being unified is because our investigator dan, is GETTING BAPTIZED!!! ok, so it's our teacher role playing, but he said that the last lesson we gave him was significantly different than the last couple of ones, and he had said no before to us. but he said that honestly, this time he wanted to say yes. we got him to understand that his burdens of his army buddies death's could be lifted with the atonement and if he prayed for it. he prayed with us, and i was actually really nervous about what would happen. but oh man, don't even worry when the holy ghost is your companion. dan got up from the prayer, and said he felt a different kind of calm in his chest. i wanted to scream "that's the holy spirit!!!", but chose to say it in a calm voice instead haha.that led him to say yes to baptism! we have been learning more about trusting the holy ghost more and teaching with that power instead of our own knowledge. 

elder bednar came to give the devotional on tuesday!! how lucky we were to get him right after conference! i was actually taking some pictures outside the cafeteria when we saw him walk through the front lobby!! i was so close! anyways, we heard from his wife, and she talked about serving. she said while we may not be relief society taking casseroles to the sick, we are taking a spiritual casserole to the world! then elder bednar immediately addressed the new missionary announcement. he said it is "apostalic humor" of hearing others not in the 12 or first presidentcy pontificate why there was the change in the age, when he said really everyone only knows about as much as they do haha. he simply said "the Lord can hasten his own work in His own time, and He is. WE are here to help move the work along" wow! basically, the Lord said it, so we're doing it!
I really liked how Elder bednar then talked about the importance of conference. i have had a strong testimony of conference for the past couple of years, but he said that even in Pres MOnson's closing remarks, and in every talk, there is a pattern. listedn for 1)the doctrine being taught 2)the invitation extended and 3)the promised blessings from acting on the invitation. that's the pattern of sharing the gospel as a missionary as well. a pattern of ask, seek, knock. i also liked where he talked about sometimes we pray for the power to open our mouth, but we should be ACTING FIRST, so open your mouth first, THEN it will be filled. action and then power. 

Awesome quote from our teacher " when you are feeling fear, it's a good indicator that you're on the right path, and satan is trying to stop you from the miracle you are about to perform." elder richard g. scott.

silly story- the hunger games whistle is popular here. our district (haha get it) likes to whistle it a lot in particular. especially in the cafeteria. then missionaries either get really annoyed, or they answer back, haha.

also, please please please consider 
dearelder.com if you want to write me until next wedensday, otherwise, i don't know when i will get to email in california next. I REALLY LOVE YOU ALL! THE CHURCH IS TRUE!

Sister Martin

Hello from the MTC!

** Sorry for the delay folks. I needed some clarification on what exactly to post here for my sister. I will be consistent with it from now on. She has written three times since she left and I will post all three. Thanks for the patience! Without further ado here is my sister!**

October 3

I am so excited I finally get to email you! We had to wait for p-day which for my zone is on Wednesday, so it has officially been a week I can report about. It's weird now there is new missionaries with orange dots walking around today, and that was just me with mom and dad last week! Which, how was the rest of your stay in Utah MOm and Dad?

First of all, my companion's name is Sister Olsen. She is from South Jordan Utah, left handed, a twin, adopted, and she is not sure what her nationality is, except half white. She is a LOT tanner than me, but that's not hard haha. WE bonded right away, expecially because we are the only missionaries in our district going to Cali Oakland/San FRancisco. Our roommates are Sister Dyreng and Sister Rodgers, they are the only other sisters in our district and our zone (but that will change today). They are absolutely hilarious and we love each other so much already. Sister Rodgers is a convert of 3 years, 95 pounds, actually from OAkland, so she tells us all about it, and she is excited to go serve in the Salt LAke CIty mission. Sis Dyreng is going to San Fernando CAli, so our whole district is going to one of those three places. Our Elders are really precious, they have been trained to stand for us anytime a sister enters the room. Our other district in our zone doesn't have any sisters, and they are really bad about flirting with us, especially because Sis Dyreng is really tall and pretty haha. BUT our district is awesome, we have good class everytime. 

Our teachers are great. SIster WInters blows my mind everytime with her attitude towards not being afraid of missionary work. The new thing is to actually invite people to baptism in the FIRST visit now. SHe explained to us some reasons, but then SIs OLsen and I taught her twice (as a pretend investigator) and chickened out both times. But when we taught our other teacher Brother Warner, I finally said it! HE said he didn't understand why, so it wasn't exactly the best transition, but it opened his mind to thinking about it! Also, With Sis Winters, we had planned on Sis Olsen sharing the first vision (which we have been practicing memorizing this week) because she knew it a little bette rthan me. It came time to do it, and she froze after "I saw a pillar of light..." hahaha and looked at me all awkward and then I just finished it, but it was botched horribly. So testimony, that that is way more powerful when prepared and memorized correctly and exactly in JOseph SMith's words.

Some silly stories--Sis Olsen one day thought it would be funny to pull our Dyreng's chair just a little enough to scare her. BUt the charis roll, so it came out farther than expected, and Dyreng fell on her bum and her skirt flew way up, and she landed in an akward birth-giving position-thankfully the ELders were on a break to the bathroom, but I turned around and yelled "don't look!" thinking they had come back, but it turned out to be just our two teachers. Luckily, they just laughed with us. ALso the elders put a cookie in our district leader, ELder Vickery, sandwhich. When we were waiting in the TRC for the first time as a district, ELder Serrao, our funny HAwaiin elder, accidently rested his head on the button on the wall, and the intercom came on and they asked us if we needed help haha. It scared us all so bad because we were on edge and nervous. But I am getting so much better at getting through The Restoration quicker with still hitting all the points.

We got to hear from ELder Elis, Jon Ellis' dad at our devotional, they showed a picture where they showed LAura and JOn. It was a great talk about choosing exact obedience now. There is a quote we like around here that is "obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles".

I had to get my tetanus and flu shot, so I will be sending my immunization records home.

My companion got called as coordinating zone sister, which is almost equivalent to zone leader, since the elders can't interview us. SHe has been busy going to extra leadership meetings, but I finally got to go with her last night, because we are the companionship that is supposed to welcome and support the new sisters we are getting in our zone this week. So that has been a good leadership opportunity.

We got to go to the temple today and it was soooooo good. I loved it! Even though it was weird not going as a BYU student.

Sorry if this is bad typing, I am trying to hurry, I want to tell you everything, but that is hard to condense in one email.THankyou JEn for the letter, and thanks to my friends Kiley, Kiley, Loie, and TRia for the letters and package! I loved them :). I REALLY LOVE YOU ALL!!

Sister Martin

p.s. share this with ben and heather if they want, they never gave me their emails. give kisses to the babies and cats too. and i want to attach pictures, but there is no slot for my card, i need my cord, mom i think it is in the green drawers in my closet, its white and it has usb connections with a tiny one on the other end. i will just print pictures and send them this week. i need the mailing address of anyone not at mom and dads house. especially lindsey so you can scan them and put them on my blog.