Monday, November 24, 2014

Grateful in any circumstance

Hey there family!

     It was such a good week here in Georgia. Yesterday it was pourin like Pahoran. haha but we made it about 2 inches of pretty cold rain. Good thing we had church and appointments so we got to avoid it for the most part. 

     So we met with Jervy again this week she is amazing. She reads and studies so much and this week we asked her if she had any questions and then she just whips out the pamphlet to the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation and there is an additional study in the back and she had answered all the questions and took notes and looked up scriptures. That is the attitude of someone who has real intent and a true desire to know. They thirst after the knowledge. She is still working for baptism on the 20th and we are so excited for her. She is the cutest. Philippino's are so little. :) 

     This week I went on exchange with Sister Neilsen and at first I was fooled and thought she was super shy and quiet. haha. Nope she is hilarious. We laughed a ton. She is shy around others and it is hard for her to talk to people a lot of the time and oh do I remember that. For a long time it was hard for me to get out of my shell and talk to people and I told her that. She asked my how I got over it and honestly I don't think it was one specific moment but a process over time of changing my nature and that is through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is amazing how Heavenly Father puts us in the circumstances he needs us to be in to be instruments in his hands. 

      On Sunday I asked one of the Elders in the ward for a blessing for my knee and the work. The blessing was amazing but it was really different than any blessing I have ever had. It was really specific in a different way. And  it is interesting because the last week I have been studying  a lot about the more specific the question the more specific the answer. That is how revelation is. Never in the blessing did it say it would go away but that I would have the strength, endurance and perseverance to overcome the pain. But I have to put my trust in the Lord. But that I will be able to draw upon the powers of heaven and use the scriptures as a crutch for my strength. The thing that I feel like was emphasized most was Rely on the Lord. Remember his sacrifice and use the Saviors atonement. Let go of my pride. So this morning I was reading a talk from the General Women's meeting called Sharing your light by Niell F. Marriott.  And she has a similar experience about letting go of pride. That is where the vulnerability comes in and that is when I get scared but I love what she said. " I was given a moment of truth. I received a clear impression of my weaknesses, and I was shocked...  I cried out in my heart to Heavenly Father and said, “I don’t want to be that woman, but how do I change?' Through the pure spirit of revelation in the temple, I was taught of my utter need for a Redeemer. I turned immediately to the Savior Jesus Christ in my thoughts and felt my anguish melt away and a great hope spring up in my heart. He was my only hope, and I longed to cling only to Him. It was clear to me that a self-absorbed natural woman “is an enemy to God” and to people in her sphere of influence. In the temple that day I learned it was only through the Atonement of Jesus Christ that my prideful nature could change and that I would be enabled to do good. I felt His love keenly, and I knew He would teach me by the Spirit and change me if I gave my heart to Him, holding back nothing." That is what I am learning.  We can hold back nothing from the Savior if we really want his atonement to envelope us and follow us wherever we go. He is my only hope but I am so grateful that I do have hope. 

     We met with Kate again and it was an amazing experience. We talked a lot about the Atonement as well. She misses church and the spiritual nourishment that she felt but she is so scared to come back. We talked with her about how each and everyone of us has a box. This is where we place all of our hurt, frustrations, trials and things that we feel like we are not strong enough to deal with or confront. But when that happens over a period of years it seems unbearable to open up the box or explore the memories that are locked inside. But we have to find the key and let it be open and use those experiences to learn from and know that we are strong. That key is the Atonement of Jesus Christ. For a long time she has blocked off all of those things and she is still scared but she is getting ready to open the box. Heavenly Father knows exactly what she needs.  It was such an amazing lesson. 

     Happy Thanksgiving! I hope it is a great one filled with lots of gratitude, good memories, and laughter. :) Heavenly Father has given us so many things to be grateful for and our circumstances as well. We have the gift of time to learn and be with our families. That gift extends beyond time and through the eternities and I am grateful for you and all that you have taught me and led me by example.  I appreciate your love, support, and prayers.   I can feel them and the strength that comes from them and it is something I will never forget and that I don't want to take for granted. I am blessed with some pretty amazing people in my life and I wouldn't want to pass up an opportunity to tell you how grateful I am and that you are in my prayers and I love y'all. :) I have told a few of you that but like I said I can't pass up the opportunity to let you know that YOU ARE LOVED and I am grateful for you. 

Have a great week, look for the good, and I love y'all!

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Back to the College Campus. Turtle.

Hey there family!

     Well this week we had some pretty amazing experiences. But a lot of running around as well. We had dinner with Sister Cash who is a member of the ward. She is from Jamaica so she made us some food from her country. Super good. :) Who knew that in Georgia I would get food from all over the world. haha.

      This week it has been really cold. And I don't like cold. Humidity and cold are not good combinations. While I was on exchange Sister Smith wanted to run in the morning. Mind you I haven't really ran since I left Greensboro so about 10 weeks. Well we ran about 3 miles. And I refused to walk or give up. haha. I obviously need to let go of some pride. But I MADE IT! 

      This week on Saturday we had some time and we didn't want to be out in the cold for 3 hours strait so we met with a member who is less active. Her name is Kate. She is super hilarious and really quirky. She is a convert but has been struggling with her faith lately because of some hard things that have happened. We weren't sure what we were going to share but in the middle some things popped into our minds to share some personal experiences and a scripture and she just opened right up. She is afraid and feels lost. The spirit was so strong and then yesterday we got a text message from her that said. "Thanks for the visit yesterday. The stories made a difference. A big one." It was amazing. When we open up to others and show that we are vulnerable we can help them more than we know. Heavenly Father knows where all of his children are and is just waiting to reach out in love to them.

      I went on exchange to KSU (the university where some sisters are) There is just a little branch there. I was super nervous because it is all contacting. So stopping people in the middle of what they are doing and talking to them. Something that is not exactly easy for me. So I was a little, or a lot, intimidated by it at first. But Sister Smith who has been there for several transfers and goes home next transfer is a professional at it. Heavenly Father helped me out a lot on that one. It was a little weird to talk to people my own age. Don't worry I didn't even turtle on her. (As in hide in my shell and never want to come out again and leave her to hold the conversation by herself.) Yep it didn't even happen.  It was a little bit of a deja vu to be at college again, but it wasn't even too awkward. haha. The spirit was definitely there as we were talking to people and we had some pretty great experiences. Missionary work really can be done just about anywhere.

      This week is about something that I was assigned to give a training on in District meeting this week so I have been pondering it a lot. The topic kind of caught me by surprise. Our district leader said the spirit has revealed to me that you are a good journal keeper so that is what my training is on.  A quote in PMG by Elder Scott that says "Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in a time of need." Then I like the next part he says "Spiritually sensitive information should be kept in a sacred place that communicates to the Lord how you treasure it. This practice enhances the likelihood of your receiving further light." So he wanted me to relate to the book of Mormon and them keeping records and a couple things have stuck out to me. If they didn't carefully record it we wouldn't have it. Way to state the obvious right? But in Alma 37:9 they are talking about  if they didn't have the scriptures and the word of God the people would have not been converted. And in Enos he prayed diligently and with fervor that the Lord would preserve the records so his brethren could benefit from them and the things they cared about. They showed the Lord that they treasured the information he gave to them and then they were able to receive more. So as I have been writing in my Journal I have been more pondering the question How have I seen the hand of the Lord today? Because of a quote by President Eyring he said "I wrote down a few lines every day for years. I never missed a day no matter how tired I was or how early I would have to start the next day. Before I would write, I would ponder this question: “Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children or our family today?” As I kept at it, something began to happen. As I would cast my mind over the day, I would see evidence of what God had done for one of us that I had not recognized in the busy moments of the day. As that happened, and it happened often, I realized that trying to remember had allowed God to show me what He had done. More than gratitude began to grow in my heart. Testimony grew. I became ever more certain that our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers. I felt more gratitude for the softening and refining that come because of the Atonement of the Savior Jesus Christ. And I grew more confident that the Holy Ghost can bring all things to our remembrance—even things we did not notice or pay attention to when they happened." So that is really long... sorry. But I can see that when I do that my testimony does grow and I recognize that we are His precious children and I don't want to forget these experiences. Just as we can learn from the Book of Mormon I hope that one day someone can read my thoughts and know what the Gospel means to me and hopefully it can help their testimony and conversion.

       Then this week we are still teaching Jervy. The one from the Philippines whose husband is a member.  She is the cutest and she always want to make food for us. We have seen some pretty big miracles this week with her. Her husband has been less active for a while now but as she has been reading, he has been helping her understand more about it. He even volunteered to participate in class and shared some personal experiences. The spirit gets 'em every time. :)  She understands so much. She came to church again and loved it, just by the look on her face I can tell that she is feeling the spirit.  After we watched the Restoration video with her she accepted to be baptized in December. She is definitely in tune with finding the directions that God wants her to go.  We are so excited for her!!

      Well I think that is all for this week! I hope all is well you are in my prayers!

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)

28 degrees is NOT okay.

Look a door for little people at Chick-fil-A. Too cute. :)

Sister Jones, she is super cute. We are reunited at last. (we have served around each other before. we are trouble) Just kidding.  *ting*

Monday, November 10, 2014

Lovest thou me?

Hey there Family!

     It was another crazy week here in Woodstock. We keep thinking that things are going to slow down and we will get a handle on it, but it hasn't happened yet and I don't foresee that in the near future. We are just rolling with it and trying to work our hardest. 

     Sister Chapman strikes again and is still telling stories about her leg. I really have a hard time keeping a straight face. haha. Because it is not like anyone would actually question her on such stories because they don't want to be insensitive. We definitely have fun with it. Of course only in Christlike ways... :)

     This week I got to go on exchange with Sister Summerhays. We came out at the same time. She is a great missionary. I love being able to learn from other sisters and the things that they have leaned.  It is weird that there are so many sisters in our zone that came out with us. We have a party. 

     We visited a less active named Kate. She went on a mission many years ago but has been struggling with knowing when God is talking to her. It was amazing how we just asked a few questions and then she just taught herself. The spirit helped her go where she needed to go to have a personal experience this the spirit. I love that I am just an instrument, but really everything is Heavenly Father and his work.   I don't know how he does it, but he sure can change and soften hearts.

     This week we started teaching the woman I mentioned several weeks ago from the Philippines name Jervy. It was such a good lesson. We happen to have a couple members from the Philippines in our ward and they came to the lesson with us. Sister Asay just had her mother move in with her from the Philippines and she shared her conversion story.  The spirit was so strong! Jervy at the end shared a little about her journey - first Catholic, then Born again Christian and she said all this time there was still something missing. She still has questions. Before she came here she was meeting with missionaries there and then she found out that her husband is a member and through  all that, she knows that God is directing her path to help her learn about the truth that she needs in her life. I love seeing the spirit touch hearts. 

     We went to a meeting this week with President Bennion.  It was amazing! I love being able to just be taught by so many amazing missionaries.  President Bennion is so spiritual and the small setting makes it even better. There were so many things in the meeting that stuck out to me, but I am just going to stick with a few. There was a training given on John 21. In this specific chapter is the exchange between Christ after he is resurrected and Peter. He asks him the questions 3 times "Lovest thou me?" and in response tells him to then "Feed my sheep/lambs." This exchange makes much more sense to me now after watching Elder Hollands talk and learning a little bit more about the background. There are 2 different words in Greek for the word love. The greatest for the Christlike or sacrificial love is called 'agape'.   The second form or brotherly love is philos. So then inserting those words into the story it becomes different. Replacing the word lovest to agape in the first two instances. Then finally in the last one Christ uses philos knowing that at that time, that Peter is not yet capable of that kind of love, but through the rest of his life and his ministry will have to demonstrate that kind of love to all. Christs knows Peters potential in feeding his sheep and Peter feels that and accomplishes many great things. Which brings me to one more scripture in John that another missionary showed me earlier this week. To be able to obtain this kind of Christlike and sacrificial love we must use our heart, might, mind, and strength and in John 3:30 it says:  He must increase, but must decrease. 
This states it perfectly to me. To do it all we must decrease while letting him increase and miracles can happen. It just makes me think. How much do I love the Lord? What am I willing to do for him? Give up the things I love most? I hope so. I am trying. 

     Then yesterday after church we were doing a little bit of tracting. We were deciding where we should go and felt that we should just turn and go to a certain street. The first 10 doors no one answered but we kept going. As we did we talked to 2 amazing people who are seeking. They want a better relationship with Jesus Christ. As we were standing there and sharing the message we just bore testimony that we know we were sent there for a reason. Jay is a single father who is seeking guidance. He has lost some of his relationship with Christ but really wants it back.   Lacretia is a single mother who had just moved there. She has not been able to find the full truth that she is seeking for, but as we were leaving she said I can't wait to read this book (the book of Mormon).  As we were talking she said she had the chills. That is the spirit. The spirit will testify of truth.  It comes unto the hearts of everyone and when he choose it will enter and give us feelings that are unforgettable and undeniable. (2 Nephi 33:1) It was a tender mercy to be there and talk to them yesterday. I needed it just as much as they did. 

     Well I love you all! I hope you have a great week. Be happy and look for the Lords tender mercies. 

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)
Sister Chapman and Sister Weeks (Rachel)

All the Sisters that are in mission leadership that came out with us that we could find. There may be a few missing...

Monday, November 3, 2014

Insanity I tell ya!

Hey there family!

     I hope everyone is well and happy!  Well it has been a crazy week because we have had a lot of things to do. The other sisters that were in the ward moved out of their apartment Tuesday night so we took trips trying to get everything out after we had gone to a wedding of some people we are going to start teaching. One of them is a member and Jervy, the wife, is from the Philippines.  She is super cute and we are excited to meet with her.   She took part of the lessons in the Philippines, but just moved here with her husband who is a member of the ward. So after that everything hit the fan.

      Our apartment is pretty small because it is just a little basement so all 4 of us were staying in it for Tuesday night. Sister Chapman yelled,  "I call Sister Weeks bed".... not cool. They slept on the couch and on the floor.  Then in the morning we took my companion and Sister Chapman's comp to the mission office in Lilburn to drop them off and then we headed back.  I got to see the office couples which was super fun.  They are just the best - we're pretty much like best buds. And... I got to see Sister Andrus she is training and going to finish her mission in Greensboro.  It was so exciting -  we may or may not have been screaming. It was fun no regrets. She told me that Neal is getting baptized next month and has changed so much. It is amazing what the Atonement of Jesus Christ can really do. It changes lives completely.  Since then we have been trying to combine our efforts and both of our planners and appointments into one and then make it all work out. It has been pretty crazy, but we have been having a party. :)

      Sister Chapman has a prosthetic leg that is fondly called either Peggy or Squeaks whatever floats her boat at the time and she love to mess with people about it. She has told well over 100 stories and counting. Sorry Mom... :)(Yeah it is true she punked me with a doozy of a story!)  She is from Mesa/Gilbert Arizona. She is 28 years old and totally had a house before the mission and she has her degree in PE teaching.  She is super cool and hilarious.   She doesn't act like she's 28 (What do 28 year olds act like I wonder?) So don't worry she thinks I'm funny too. Partyin partyin yeah. Work hard, play hard! That's our motto. But she is an awesome missionary and we are super excited!

     This week we had to ride our bikes because the Elders had a doctors appointment that was too far away so we let them borrow our car. We were riding our bikes in our neighborhood to a couple appointments and it was a terrible idea. I totally did not realize how many hills there were -- like steep ones that I had to get off the bike and push it up and even that was difficult. No comments about how out of shape I am. Round is a shape too... We only rode 4 miles but it felt like 10. Down hill is the best part. When the Elders came back they were getting their stuff out of the trunk and noticed our helmets in there and our District leader said "Sisters did you ride your bikes and Sister Chapman butted in right there and said "We sure did!" and while she was saying that he finished his statement with "without your helmets" Sister Chapman stopped for a second and then we looked at each other and said at the same time "We sure did!" He never uses his helmet and we weren't about to waste time and walk there so we had to make a choice. We were protected. We didn't even have too many skirt incidents. It was fun though.  We are totally doing it again, as long as it doesn't get too cold. But note to self: laughing and riding at the same time is really hard.  It leads to crashing and loss of muscle control.

     We are meeting with Corina, a lady from Argentina, she told us she is making us alfajores this week. Real ones from her country. :) But that is beside the point. haha. She has cousins in Argentina that are members and has seen a huge change in their lives since they joined the church. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and it is amazing.  I can tell that she is feeling the spirit and she wants to learn more.
     As I was reading this week in my studies, I have come across a couple scriptures that I just absolutely love about being happy and having pure joy. I love the concept of that because this truly is the Gospel of Happiness and I want to live it fully.  In Mosiah 2:41 King Benjamin tells exactly how you can have that kind of joy. It says: "And moreover, I would desire that ye should consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God. For behold, they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual; and if they hold out faithful to the end they are received into heaven, that thereby they may dwell with God in a state of never-ending happiness. O remember, remember that these things are true; for the Lord God hath spoken it."   When we keep the commandments and focus on the very basics that is when we have the most joy no matter what is going on around us. I think I have seen that over the past little while.  Being on a mission isn't that easy sometimes there are trials, set backs, and surprises that always come up, but no matter what happens because of the Gospel and Atonement of Jesus Christ I am always happy and I always have an undeniable peace. It is a very real and amazing feeling. Then I love in Alma  27:17-18 : "17. Now the joy of Ammon was so great even that he was full; yea, he was swallowed up in the joy of his God, even to the exhausting of his strength; and he fell again to the earth. 18. Now was not this exceeding joy? Behold, this is joy which none receiveth save it be the truly penitent and humble seeker of happiness." It is describing Ammon's joy in seeing Alma again. The kind of joy here, that is my goal, that is what I want to feel and so many other people too. Everyone deserves to have the kind of joy that is so full and all encompassing that they pass out. That feeling is close to heaven. 

     This fast Sunday the whole mission had a special fast for investigators that are struggling. It was amazing as Sister Chapman and I were specifically praying and seeking inspiration for them. And there were several things that came to our minds about helping them progress and finding the real kind of happiness.

     Well that is all for this week. Hope that all is well. Love you lots! Be happy! 

Love Sister Weeks (Rachel)
Elder Eames see ya later so the elders attacked him with silly string.

Sister Haderlie's and my angel faces. *ting* we are totally innocent. :)

Our farewell Woodstock District picture.  Her new companion  is Sister Chapman in red sweater.