Thursday, February 26, 2015

ccsm: training

When we first got into the mission field, they herded us all to the church building where we all attempted to stay awake while we learned about mission rules and filled out paperwork. (keep in mind, our flight left around 3am. The staying awake part was extremely difficult.)

The next day, after a bit more rest than the night before, we went out to do "new missionary tracting" with some experience missionaries. A fellow red-headed sister asked if I would go tracting with her, and off we went, knocking on doors and giving away copies of the Book of Mormon. Or tried to at least. (if you ask her now, she'll tell you she picked me because my skirt was pretty.) We were only out for an hour, and I tried to be as bold as I could, with my wide-eyed, deer-in-the-headlights, fresh-out-of-the-MTC look, then we went back to bike safety and apartment maintenance. 

As per tradition, all of the new missionaries sat in front of all the missionaries being transferred to a new area, facing them, and we were each introduced one by one. The trainers didn't know who they were training, and the trainees (us newbies) didn't know who was going to be our first companion. So we sit up there, in front of all 100 missionaries, feeling like you're guts are going to be in knots for the rest of your life, and wait until your name is called. I happened to have the last name in the alphabet for the sisters, so with one trainer and one trainee left, you kind of know who's going to be paired up.

Look at those cute bright shiny faces. Day 1!
Yep. Sister Jenny Durtschi, my new-missionary-tracting buddy (and little did I know my very soon to be best friend) was my trainer. And so the adventures began.

Sister Durtschi and I were really close from the beginning. It might have to do something with the fact that we thought someone was trying to break into our apartment at 10:15 at night. Maybe. When you put the combined stories of Sister Durtschi wanting to jump out the window, Elder Scott asking the other set of sisters if they had a knife, Elder Evans threatening to break down the door, and me telling the cops we were "companions" and "together", it's actually quite an entertaining story. Needless to say, we moved out of the sketch and into a member home rather quickly, thanks to our awesome ward mission leader, Dan-The-Man. He told us he'd get us a place by Friday, we moved everything Saturday.
>>Dan's son helped us move the beds. Obviously we just replaced the ties with a human being. There might have been a safer/more legal way to do things...

I learned a lot in those 12 weeks we were working together. I learned that tissues are a necessity and so is a little bit of love. I learned that the council of your parents may not always be exactly what you want to hear, but it's always exactly what you need. I learned that depression is real. I learned that our experiences can help others. I learned that I have a way with children not everyone understands. I learned that you can condition children to ask "missimaries" for mints. I learned what it means to feel the truth of the Gospel in your heart, not just in your head.

My "missimary" mint friend.

We worked with the Lotz family for a few short weeks before they were baptized. The missionaries had been working with this amazing family for a few months before I entered the picture. There had to be around 20 missionaries at the baptism! Friends, family, ward members, all joined in on their special day. One thing that is so special about our church is the power God gives men to bind families together for eternity. That's what this is all about. We saw a glimpse of it that day. The Lotz became our good friends, and we hold them dear in our heart. We stayed over there during a big storm, they always let us come for dinner when we had none. We were blessed to have them as a part of our lives. Their conviction and testimony is an inspiration to all. I sure love and miss them.

Sometimes, we must bond with
 our investigators in mysterious
ways. This is our darling
 Krista, who never ceased to amaze
us with her cooking, eyebrow
 doing, and spiritual side!
If you don't like the Broncos in CO, it's
basically a sin.
Superbowl support!
(obviously bandwagonners when
it comes to football!)
We had this crazy
ability to match without
meaning to. We probably still do.

Sister Durtschi and I saw many miracles together. We did a little part in helping a family member get service in Pennsylvania for a less-active member in Colorado Springs, and he came to church. We taught a man the restoration in his garage, and his kids began to read the children's Book of Mormon. We set a baptismal date with a sister who had been out of the loop for almost a year. The amazing part to me is that people grow and change, no matter what. None of those people became fully active in the church or even continued to meet with the missionaries. But I can tell you that they changed. I can testify that change is possible through Jesus Christ.

The real deal y'all. We took away some cigarettes. Sometimes, you just have to remove the temptation! Christina asked for a Book of Mormon online, and we showed up with it, asking to teach her. A few months later, Christina was baptized. One of the most amazing things she said to us was, "At first I thought the whole thing with Joseph Smith was fake, but then I saw the movie about Emma Smith, I realized that no one would go through what they did if it wasn't true."

Yep. It's true y'all. Joseph Smith really did see God the Father, and Jesus Christ. He restored the perfect form of Christ's church back on the earth. It is the church I belong to and defend this day.

And that crazy bunch of kiddos were some of my favorites. Eli (below his momma in the right hand side) was my little buddy. I could always count on a BIG hug from him. Sister Clement was a wonderful help to us, always with open arms and open doors. We are truly blessed as missionaries to have such great friends.

I am the luckiest sister alive, blessed with a wonderful first companion who is one of the greatest friends I could have asked for. She is beautiful, inside and out, through and through. Love you Jenny!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

the reasons for

In October of 2012, our dear beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, announced to the world that Sister Missionaries could begin their service to the Lord at age 19 instead of 21. I have wanted to serve a mission since I was 15 years old. Suddenly, my nearly 18-year-old self had a serious decision to make. I knew this decision could not be made on my own, so I took it to the Lord. In April of 2013, I made my decision to serve the Lord.

July 13, 2013

The day that every future missionary impatiently waits for: the mission call. After hours of watching young men and women open their call on YouTube (yes, most of them I didn't know) mine was here. Just sitting there in the mailbox. Carried around with me. Sitting there on my bed, begging to be opened. I was nervous and excited. Anna's "don't know if I'm elated or gassy, but I'm somewhere in that zone" yep. Like that.

As you know, I was called to serve as a missionary in the Colorado Colorado Springs Mission, speaking the English language. I was asked to report December 18, 2013 (which was a huge surprise) but I was ready to get going!

December 18, 2013
I officially entered the MTC, and began the wonderful journey that was the greatest experience in my life (so far). It was not without it's challenges. Kyle's cancer diagnosis, different companions, seeing people walk away. But somehow, the changes that happened to me made everything worth it.

November 15, 2014
After a long period of persistence, and of course not without a fight, it was time to come home. I struggle with depression and I began having constant and increasingly painful achy-ness through out my body. I hurt. A lot. Not just physically, but spiritually too. I wanted to serve. I wanted to do the Lord's work. However, I also wanted to do His will. And His will was that I come home.

In an attempt to continue moving forward, progressing as we all should, I chose to go to college. I began the semester with fear and apprehension. I was still struggling a bit physically, and now a LOT emotionally. I made it through the first week, and then the next, and slowly things got better.

I still questioned though. I love Colorado. I love it with all of my heart. I love the people. I loved the changes I had seen in others, and in myself. I missed it. I asked the Lord again and again if I should go back out. Many trips to the temple, days of fasting, and LOTS of prayers later, I received my answer.

I went out on a mission, because that is what the Lord asked me to do. I knew that was right. I felt it so much in my heart, it became my will too. Together, my family and I overcame many challenges. I became more self aware, more spiritual. I saw the beauty of the Gospel change lives.

I went out for Him, and I stayed out for Him. For my family. For me.

I slowly learned that just as the Lord wanted me in Colorado Springs, He wanted me home for a specific purpose. He has a beautiful mastered plan and my teeny tiny, 5'3", red-headed self is a part of that plan to again bless the lives of others-just in a different way this time. It isn't my calling or duty to preach the Gospel any more. I did because I wanted to. I live it now. It once again has become my will.

I will forever be grateful for the things I did, felt, saw, heard, and loved as I served my Father in Heaven for 11 months in Colorado Springs. Now, it is time for me to be here. I will not be going back out to serve a mission. The Lord wants me here, so I want to be here. I'm learning to take the moments as the go, with God by my side. The struggles are real. The depression, anxiety, school work, temptations, heartache. It's there. But so is God.

Right now, in this moment, I am at peace. I have amazingly supportive parents whose wisdom and council I can never say enough thanks to repay. I have a wonderful boyfriend who makes me happier than I have ever known was possible. He treats me right. We have fun together. I live 5 minutes away from the temple. I'm moving down to Utah in April to pursue my dream as a cosmetologist. Kyle has made it another year, and so has the rest of my family. Nate was accepted to BYUI.  Dylan grows faster than a weed and is a worthy priesthood holder who passes the sacrament each Sunday. Logan is as cute as he always is and never ceases to brighten my day when I speak with him. I am proud of my family, blessed to call them mine.

Life is good and I can honestly say, I am happy.