Saturday, June 17, 2017

Week 25: Buckle in, kids. This is a very dramatic email.

Hello, everyone.
This letter is not going to be a chronological one, like the majority of my previous ones. Frankly, this week was very painfully slow as far as missionary work. We went on exchanges with the STLs; R is doing well; R dropped us; and we knocked many doors and went many miles. It was tough, and kind of discouraging. I have no desire to give all the gory details. Instead, in a kind of commemoration of the past six months, I want to share with you my whole, mostly unedited, story and how the past six months have changed me entirely.
Let's rewind a long bit. We're talking my junior year of high school. It was a very hard year for me. I had faith, but my morale was at an all-time low. I was involved and I was taking my difficult classes - my workload was heavy and my stress skyrocketed. I was in a show where they cast me as a dance role - I felt inexperienced and inadequate. All of this started a boiling in my brain. I wasn't angry; I don't think it's in my disposition to be angry often. But I was frustrated. I couldn't get everything done the way I knew it should be done. I didn't feel like I was doing enough, but I was also doing everything I possibly could, which in my head meant that I was just lacking. It was my own fault, and if I could just be better, I could get more done.
That was just the beginning. Around February, a kid that I was acquainted with, but didn't know super well, took his own life. Initially, I was shocked. Many of my friends, who had known him much better than I had, were devastated. I'm kind of the mom friend, so I put pretty much everything on the backburner to try and help out. Instead of sleeping, I listened to them or worried about them. I forgot to eat lunch sometimes because of worry. I wanted so much for everyone to be as okay as they could be, and for them to know that they were important and loved. In the process I completely did not take care of myself at all. It took about a month for me to reach a point that was pretty scary. I was so tired and so overwhelmed -- add to that that I experienced my first of a couple panic attacks and I had no idea what was happening to me, and that there was a lot of drama happening in my personal life at school, and I ended up being pretty hopeless. I drew the conclusion that if things didn't get better soon, it would be better for everyone if I just slipped away too.
Let it first be said that I don't blame this young man at all for what happened to me. He was a sweetheart, and I loved him. I didn't know him very well, but he sat by me in seminary. I was privileged, after he passed away, to be able to read a questionnaire he'd filled out at the beginning of the seminary year. I read the dreams he'd had for his life and I was filled with love for him. I know the Lord has a plan for him, as well as for me. I am blessed to know such a selfless, kind, and service-oriented person.
One night I was in the house alone and I was in a low place. I went upstairs and don't really know what I was planning to do, but my thoughts were dark. I figuratively stood on the edge of a roof -- if any of you have seen the "Like A Broken Vessel" Mormon Message, that is exactly how I was feeling. I was trapped inside my own mind and my own problems. Then, funnily enough, I looked out the window and saw my little brother playing night games with his friends outside. I kind of came to myself, like the prodigal son. I recognized that if I kept feeling like this, I wouldn't be able to keep going. Something had to change - for my little brother, for my parents, for my other siblings, for my future family. And for my mission. I immediately called my mom and told her I needed counseling.
I met with a therapist for 6 months. I cried and felt stupid and said a lot of crazy things in his office. I also began opening up to more people. During the darkest times, I shut off. I didn't tell anyone what was happening, and then got frustrated when no one could just tell how not okay I was without me having to say anything. So instead of assuming that people could just read my mind, I opened it up to them, a little. It was one of the scariest things I've ever done. To the eternal credit of my truly remarkable parents, my siblings, my extended family, and all of the wonderful friends who made and make up my support system, they stuck with me -- through the ridiculous and the sometimes downright insane. They reminded me not to take myself too seriously, and they helped me get outside myself. I found that by turning outward, instead of pounding the paths of my mind, I began to heal. 
Of course, pivotal in my recovery was Jesus Christ. Simply put, He did everything. The only thing I did was choose to let Him in.
Now, I don't want any of you to worry about me. My mission president is 100% aware of all this. I am doing well. I am happier than I have ever been. I'm just human, so I do have tough days. But I can honestly tell you that I am good, now. I am stable and sane. I can reason and I can be reasoned with. I may not be entirely "normal" (LOL who is normal? what is normal?) but I am so, so happy. Like, depths of joy. It's awesome. I knew even at my lowest point that I wanted to serve, and these experiences are all that I worked for and dreamed about. I know I am where I am meant to be.
So, it's been 6 months since I left all y'all. What have I learned, you ask?
Well, firstly, I learned why my mom especially is so excited when her kids go on missions. I have had many companions whose parents miss them terribly. I have heard of mothers who pine for their children on missions and I was a little miffed that my mom wasn't one of them. Now, if you are this kind of mom, please don't be offended by what I say next. My mom is so excited to send her kids on missions because missions, when done "correctly", will make you learn and actually put into practice what mothers try so hard to teach their children. My mom tried to teach me how to study the scriptures, to rely on the Lord and give Him everything, and to bear testimony at every possible opportunity because you have no idea how you might touch someone else. My mom tried to teach me how to serve others and focus on them first. And might I add, she did an excellent job! But I am a dumb kid who still had my agency and I didn't think I needed to take her seriously. But as a missionary, it's either do all the things mom's taught you for all these years or have no success and do nothing. I don't think I really could have "got" what my mom was trying all those years to get me to see without being on a mission, and my mom knew that that would happen. So, huuuuuuuuuge shoutout to my mom because she is actually the best. I pray that all my siblings who read this will take her advice way more seriously and actually "get" the stuff she tells them before they don't have her with them anymore. Thanks, Mom!
Also, for anyone who suffers (so everyone), but particularly those who are struggling right now, currently, I can confidently say that no matter who you are or what you suffer or struggle with or where you've been or the mistakes you've made or the color of your skin or hair or eyes or the gender you're attracted to or the people you've hurt or the opportunities you think you've missed or ANY factor you think might in some way detract from the love Jesus Christ has for you, it doesn't matter. He loves you anyway. On my mission I have come to learn that the defining characteristic of God is His perfect love. That love transcends all things and is the very reason for our existence as a whole. Jesus Christ is always there. Even when we hurt Him. And the price for loving deeply is pain - that is a part of how we come to be like God, who, as Enoch noted, wept for the pains and the sins of His mortal, imperfect, but endlessly precious children. Remember and seek out the things that God put on the earth to make you happy. There are specific things He designed with you in mind. He is so aware of you and exactly what you need.
Also, serve. Focus on others. I promise that right now you might be feeling a lot of pain and it seems actually impossible to get out there and help another person. Of course we need to take care of ourselves, but quite often the solution to helping ourselves is to help others. Don't disregard your emotional or physical health - I'm not telling you to be a martyr - I'm just telling you it helps to not be thinking about yourself all the time.
I still struggle. I've learned that I am severely imperfect. I really cannot do anything without the Lord's help. I have great days. And I have really hard days. I experience the full spectrum of emotion nearly daily. I constantly feel how inadequate I am and how huge the task is that I have undertaken. It's daunting. But I am super not alone -- I am blessed with a great companion, great leaders, and a great ward, lots of friends serving with me or in faraway lands, llots of friends who will serve, plus Jesus Christ, who is my best friend. Plus, it isn't my work, it is God's, and "no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing", including my unhallowed hand. Lucky for me, the Lord chose me for this -- He definitely didn't call the qualified, but I have relentless faith in His ability to qualify the called. Living the simple steps of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is important -- having faith, repenting, renewing those covenants, and keeping it all up until the very end, no matter what.
If I were to sum all this up, humility is key. If you're not a member of the LDS church and you're reading this, bless you for making it this far. There was a lot of emotions going on in my head this week. I want to address you specifically. Please, open your heart. Open your door when the missionaries come knocking. Listen to them. They have the most beautiful thing in the whole world to tell you. It's so important. They are so young, and they are giving up this time just to bring this message to you, specifically. I testify from the bottom of my heart that they were sent from God to you, specifically. This information literally saved my life. It has strengthened my family. It has kept us together. It gives me hope. It gives millions of others hope as well. You may feel content with what you have. You may like your current religion. You may have a great relationship with God. All of that is wonderful! That's wonderful news and wonderful things to be feeling. This message the missionaries bring to you isn't just for those who struggle or who feel distant from Heavenly Father. The message they bring is for everyone. SO JUST LISTEN TO THEM, with your heart and your eyes and your ears. I promise it'll be at least informational, if not divine and redemptive. 
Bless you, all who have helped me at all ever, either in the recovery process, in coming on a mission, in any of it.

OKAY SO THAT WAS A LOT OF REALLY SERIOUS STUFF AND I NEEDED TO TALK ABOUT IT, so here's some jokes to bring things back to normal.

What do you call a gator in a vest?
An in-vest-igator
Why don't you ever see elephants hiding in trees?
Because they're really good at it
What's gray and can't fly?
A parking lot
What's big red and eats rocks?
A big red rock eater
What's green and has wheels?
Grass. I was lying about the wheels

Those are the best ones I have.

Also, we did bike this week, and my bum hurts a lot. The elders were very impressed (about the bikes, not the hurt bum) so they wanted a picture. So that's the picture.

I love y'all! Seriously, I am doing great. Do not worry!
Don't let the muggles get you down!
-Sister Pew

ooooh! Also, a couple funny things:
-I got a warning from a police man for loitering (in our car, on the side of the road, while planning a lesson, and it wasn't even on a private road or anything)
-It was Elder K's last district meeting so we took pictures. They are dorky. Also, I made maple bacon cupcakes.
-It rained a lot, so the elders (on exchanges again) made me take pictures of how wet they were from walking around all day. Funny thing is you can't even tell how wet they are.

At Lake Moultrie, humid 

The elders wanted her to take their picture because they were so wet. But they don't in the pictures so she was cracking up!

They have been riding bikes more.

After riding bikes, they are glowing!

Friday, June 9, 2017

Week 24: Paul Revere's Last Ride

Man, folks, what a week it was.
Firstly, I am so glad to hear about all the fun all y'all are having! It doesn't make me homesick, it's just happy happy happy:) I honestly don't want to be anywhere else! M is the promised land. It's an amazing place with amazing people -- and on top of being here and having SO MUCH FUN (!!!!) my family gets blessings for dis here missionary service. So I really am so happy to be here and I am not trunky or homesick at all. Keep me updated!
Fun southern thing: I inherited two Stetson cowboy hats (which are like, the REAL DEAL apparently) from the elders because their heads are just too big. They got them from a different guy whom they helped move.
So Monday was another pretty chill p-day. We just wrote and did our shopping and stuff. That night R cancelled on us (because Memorial Day) and so we had no idea what to do. We had some solid backups but we weren't sure we needed to be in those areas so we decided to just follow the Spirit. We started off with a prayer and felt pretty strongly that we needed to head down a certain street. We headed down that street and I heard a very clear voice tell me, "go see C." Which was totally in the direction we were headed, so I ran it by my companion and she was like, "heck yeah!" so we went. C is a less active recent convert with severe health challenges. When we showed up she said, "I was just about to call the ambulance to have them come get me." So we were able to say a special prayer with her. After that, we got back on the road and the Spirit went, "Turn RIGHT NOW" so we did. We tried a potential investigator on the road who wasn't home. And then we noticed these two kids in the street. So we went up and introduced ourselves and gave them a passalong card with our number. Because #fearless. Then we got back on the road and Sister Kniffen goes, "Do you want to go see V?" and I said, "Yes," so we went to V's and she was JUST BARELY GETTING HOME. We had a nice visit. Then we went to a Bible referral's house and she was home and we taught her the Restoration and set up a return time. So we got a new investigator! It was great. Miracles are great. Missionary work is great.
Tuesday. We had DDM. And I had to give a training. And the zone leaders came. BUT it was very fun because Elder O back from my B district is our new zone leader and he is so freakin funny. I trained on praying in faith. I didn't really say much so I think I probably did okay. Then Elder W taught us about the reason for adversity. It was very good. He is a great missionary. Also, I actually got to roleplay with Elder O. He just cracks me up. Now, after DDM things got exciting. We found out awhile ago that we needed a new Tiwi, which is the little box they attach to our cars that makes sure we don't speed and stuff, and our car also had too many miles on it, which is the perfect equation for a NEW CAR. So last week during weekly planning, we found out from our vehicle specialist Elder S that we could come up to Irmo (1 hour and 45 minutes away) to get our new car on Wednesday morning at 8:30, but that is too far to drive in the morning. So we were allowed to come up after proselyting on Tuesday night. So after DDM we went to the gas station and got gas and cleaned our car and then we went to P's house and taught him 2 lessons in 1 (!!!) and committed him to come to church and then went TO IRMO TO GET OUR NEW CAR. Our old car's name was Paul Revere so thus we have the title of today's email. There's also a video. I will send it later. And.....guess who we got to stay with? The one. The only. My very own corndog. Sister Cordon. She currently serves in Irmo so we got to have a sleepover with her and her 2 companions (lol--they were in a 3some in the MTC) which was such a freakin party. It was so. fun. I enjoyed it far too much. I have missed her dearly. We stayed up late talking (but we were in bed because obedience).
So Wednesday morning we got our new car, Abraham Lincoln, who we called Abe. He is a 2017 Chevy Malibu and I love him. He is easily the nicest car I have ever driven in my whole life. We got a picture. I will send it. We then drove back to C and went to lunch and then we went to Brother H's house with the elders (all 4) and helped him. It was good hard work. The elders are so dumb but so funny. It's almost exactly like being back at home when they're all around. Highlights include: making 2 beds, washing off LOTS of glassware, sweeping up dog poop, installing a smoke detector, watching Elder K slowly be absorbed by a couch, vacuuming too many spider webs, and generally laughing my head off because it was just funny. Then we went home, changed, ate dinner and taught the Ss with Brother F. The Ss are so special. I love them. Please pray for J to get baptized.
Thursday was Mepkin and U LOOOVES our new car. She took us out for ice cream and then we saw M before he left for a couple days. He should be back in town now so hopefully we can meet with him again soon. Then we did the family history booth again, which was a fun time. That night R brought a new friend to Book of Mormon class, whose name is N. She had sooo many good questions! We taught her the Restoration after class and all these converts were there to help her and answer her questions. She's hopefully going to start coming to Rosa's lessons. We'll see. 
Friday we weekly planned, and then we went out and tried to find some people with no success. It was rather frustrating and boring.
Saturday we cleaned the church! It was hard work. We then had a very health-conscious lunch at Wendys and then went out finding with Sister R for literally so many hours. We did not find anyone but it was not for lack of trying. We also got Arby's so my intestines felt like cement basically all day. It was terrible. Don't eat out twice in one day.
Yesterday both P and R came to church! Please pray for our investigators! This week has been rough on the lot of them! They need your prayers. So do we! We can totally feel them and it's the coolest thing. I love being a missionary.
I love y'all! Don't let the muggles get you down!
-Sister Pew
Abe, the new car

Silly first

Old comps reunited

Week 23- Gagging Noise (this from May 28th)

Note from Sister Pew's mom: Emily's older brother Timo was married in the Portland Temple on May 27th so this why she is talking about wedding photos and why this post is so late. Sorry!

Hey there. 
Firstly and foremostly, keep sending me them wedding photos. Y'all are just gorgeous. I demand that when I get home, I get to also take a road trip to Oregon. Because it looks beautiful. Obviously South Carolina is far better, so I'm happy to stay here for now. 
We had a great #skruggle of a week, my friends. 
Monday we just chilled and gave Sister Kniffen some time to adjust to life in the Corner. It was pretty basic. We just chilled around the house. I honed in my baking skillz by making cupcakes for DDM. It was very relaxed. That night was less relaxed. We taught R, and partway through that guy D showed up and said he'd found some "discrepancies" in our religion.  We started asking him questions and found out that his real issue is with the Word of Wisdom. He doesn't believe that taking care of your body will help your spirit. Overall it was super frustrating. But when he left, R was like, "Man, he don't know what he talking about!" And we were just like "yes! Good!" She's so great.  Pray that she will be able to make it to church.
Tuesday we had DDM. It was a pretty fun time.  We got to have a training from the new elder in our district, Elder K. (Elder C from my MTC district got transferred out of our district this past transfer as well, and Elder K took his place.) Elder K goes home in 3 weeks, and he is hilarious. He taught us about the importance of keeping commitments and it was great. Then Elder W taught us about using the scriptures to teach. It was also great. Then, we ate our cupcakes that I made. They were some good cupcakes, y'all. Our district is really funny. We then went out to Cane Bay. It started raining SUPER HARD on our way there. Video is coming--check her blog. But seriously. Monsoon. It slowed down enough for us to teach M and picked up again. We read the Book of Mormon with him, and we bribed him with a milky way to read it without us. But little does he know thst we actually are also giving him salvation, which is much better than a milky way. Then, it was pouring rain again, but it was so fun. I love the rain you guys. We visited Sister C, and then we hid out in the church and made some calls and planned some stuff from like 8-9 pm.
Wednesday it was still raining. But we went to the ghetto and walked around anyway. Because missionary work. Super good, super fun and my hair got super curly. We did not have much outward success, but it wasn't for lack of trying. It finally stopped raining around 8 pm. We were at the church, but the elders were there so we couldn't go inside. We were hanging out by this bunch of trees and I saw a flash of light. I looked over to the trees and was much puzzled to see a couple more. And then I gasped and said, "SISTER KNIFFEN I HAVE JUST SEEN A FIREFLY FOR THE FIRST TIME IN MY WHOLE LIFE" and we were so excited. So we called the elders (who were on exchanges so instead of Elder D it was Elder K and that was a lil confusing #usedtoelderdowell) and we were like "ELDERS THERE ARE ACTUAL FIREFLIES IN THE FOREST COME SEE" and the elders had both seen fireflies before this even but were good-natured and humored us and came out and saw the fireflies and it was just magical. 
Thursday we went to Mepkin, except all 4 of the elders from our district were there, because they were wrapping up their exchange. Elder K was christened (Ivan) and Gloria got to drive the Gator, and U was very excited to see Anthony (Elder W and it was all very nice. Then we did the family history booth and I had NO CHILL. I literally talked to everyone and tried to get them interested. It is becoming easier and easier to talk to people! Keep praying that I can forget my fears and love them enough to share what I have with them! That night R came to Book of Mormon class with K. She told us that D's church is the worst and she doesn't want to listen to him so she'll be coming with R to our church as often as she can. #blessed
Friday is where the subject of today's email comes from. I woke up Friday morning and literally coughed and gagged for ten minutes before accepting that my throat was going to feel like a bunch of turkey vultures were scratching at it all night. It was terrible. I got a priesthood blessing from Elder D-- in which he very clearly told me that I needed to stop and not do too much and take care of myself so that I could get back to work. I did not listen as hard as I should have, probably. I felt terrible still. But we weren't going to let that stop us. Oh no. The rain and the sickness are merely obstacles from SATAN and Satan is way not as cool as me so instead of not doing things all day we went finding in V which is at least 30 miles away from where we live. We went with Sister P. V is the countriest of the country. It's so cute. I took a lot of videos. After that we did some weekly planning. It was good to take it easy for the rest of the day. Elder W then called us for call-ins and when I answered the phone he said, "Sister Pew, you sound like you've been gargling sand." And I said, "oh, whatever, man. I'm good." And he lectured me for 20 minutes on how I should take it easy and not work too hard and I planned on totally disregarding everything he said and working very hard the next day because missionary. But the Lord had other plans.
Because the next day I got up and it was even worse. I was basically dying. We went over to V's to help her pack because she's moving, and she took one look at me and said, "Clara (because V calls us by our first names, which is weird), take Em home and make her take a nap!" Which Sister Kniffen did, because I did look like I was dying. I was all wilty and pale and had really bad sick person eyes and I just was not myself. So we went home, and I called the doctor, and Sister Kniffen put me to bed. After my very long and much needed nap, I broke my fever, and we started working over the phone setting up appointments and trying to contact our five billion Free Bible referrals. I started feeling much better (because dayquil and vitamins and naps) and so that night we went out to E to try and contact some former investigators. It was quite fun. But, the moral of the story is: sometimes, we want to do ALL the good things, but the physical body needs time to recuperate. "It is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength." If I had listened to the priesthood blessing, and to Elder W, I probably wouldn't have been out of commission for a lot of Saturday. And would have been able to do more in the long run. So. Don't be stupid. Work as hard as you can. Sometimes that means you can't work SUPER hard because the flesh is week. Don't kill yourselves. Chill.
Yesterday was very fun. We went to the Bs' house and it was super good. We taught them a special lesson I learned from Abi Rice. The lesson is: there are lots of good examples in the Book of Mormon of missionary work. 2 of them are Samuel the Lamanite and Ammon. Samuel the Lamanite was called to stand up (literally) for the truth and call people to repentance. It was his job to withstand the arrows and the stones and the persecution. But Ammon was called to be a servant. He was called to be a good example to his peers and coworkers and friends. He was called to be "a normal guy" and then use heaven-sent opportunities to perform miracles, to teach and testify. While full-time missionary service involves both scenarios, more often it is us who are the Samuels. It is the members' job to be Ammons. To be friends. To be people whom investigators can relate to, people who can bless lives in ways that Samuel the Lamanite just cannot. So, I invite all y'all to study Alma 17-18 to see how Ammon does his missionary work. And then do yours. <3
I love y'all!
Don't let the muggles (or the skruggles) get you down!
-Sister Pew
#GodblessAmerica #happymemorialday 
(I have a lot of fun as a missionary)
A family that had them over for dinner.

Sister Pew sent us a bunch of short videos of her in the mission. I posted them on YouTube under my YouTube. Here is the link:

Monday, May 22, 2017

Week 22 - Can you not see this woman is a nun

Hey y'all! I survived another transfer:)
Last week was pretty slow. But this week was pretty exciting!
So Monday we found out the transfer news. Obviously we were desperately sad, and we moped and packed with Sister Goettsche all day. *Side note: I am so relieved that I don't have to train. I have no desire to do that. Ever. But anyways. It was a depressing p-day if there ever was one. Except, Sister Goettsche painted me a painting and it was #tender. It's really pretty. I don't have a picture but remind me to send one next week. It's one of those paintings that you can be like, "What do you think it means?" and the person will say, "This" and you're like, "Exactly." I love it. That night we went to teach R, and man I love that woman. She doesn't have any teeth. It's the best. And she also brought her friend K who does have teeth to the lesson. K actually came to Relief Society Activity a few weeks ago and asked a lot of questions about the Plan of Salvation which were fun to explain. And then we got to teach her the Restoration. About halfway through the lesson this guy named D showed up. He started out kind of wanting to Bible-bash with us, but thank heavens Sister L (a member of their ward) was there! Sister L used to be Catholic and is a masterful teacher. She can make connections with people. So she did; and once D saw that we have more similarities to his current religion (Southern Baptist...of course) he began to respect us as teachers of religion. He was actually asking us questions in order to learn more instead of to prove that our religion is not correct  Anyways, after D left we actually ended up teaching K and R a lot of other things. Sister Goettsche and I brought up baptism and Sister Goettsche said, "you're going to have to make a lot of changes if you want to get baptized." And K kinda tilts her head and goes, "What kind of changes?" So we briefly went over the Word of Wisdom (which she wants to do) and the Law of Chastity (which she also wants to do) and committed her to be baptized! Such a great lesson. And all y'all missionaries reading this email, it is well worth the effort to get members involved in missionary work. I would hazard to say that even if the majority of what you do in a specific area revolves around helping members to be more invested in this great final cause of Christ, you have baptized more than you would have without their help. Because members make ALL the difference. Missionary work is pointless without the help of members who are not full-time missionaries.
Tuesday! We had a wild time saying goodbye to everyone. We went over and taught a VERY sick R about stuff (mostly reading the Book of Mormon) and kinda laid into S because he was smoking when we pulled up and he was supposed to have quit two weeks ago. He kept saying, "I'll quit on Sunday when I go out of town" and we kept saying "S, you can't procrastinate the day of your repentance!" and he just wouldn't do it. It was very discouraging, especially because S literally experiences no physical symptoms of addiction. He just plain likes smoking. So he won't stop because he enjoys it. Which is actually the worst. Ugh. Then we went over to U's and Sister Goettsche (Margaret) sang while Elder D (Felix) played the cello. They did "Come Thou Fount" and twas muy bueno. Tuesday night we went out to eat to celebrate Sister Goettsche's life here and then we had some leftover dinnertime and Petco was right next door so we went to Petco and looked at all the animals to relieve stress. We also made some phone calls and packed some more stuff.
New companion! Sister Kniffen
Wednesday morning was transfers! Sister Goettsche left and it was literally the saddest thing that has ever happened so we're done talking about that now. But my new companion, Sister Kniffen, is the greatest! She is from Idaho, has been out one more transfer than me, and has her cosmetology license so I don't have to pay anyone to cut my hair (not that I was going to anyway, but now even more)! She is super funny. She is this really excellent blend of cute and awkward. It took us 5ever to get home, mostly because President C (of the mission presidency) and his wife broke all the rules and took us out to eat even though that is NOT allowed and they know it. *sigh* But they were driving us so we couldn't exactly refuse point blank without causing a terrible scene. Pray for our souls. That night we went to the S Family. E is a prospective elder and J is an unbaptized youth. She wants E to baptize her. The problem with this is, E thinks that God isn't real. He thinks that God's plan should have been for everyone to have the same life and for no bad things to ever happen. To which thought we responded, "E, that is literally Satan's plan. What the heck." Also, U dropped in to meet Gloria (which is Sister Kniffen). I love her so much.
Thursday we went to Mepkin! I got to drive Sister Kniffen around and show her cool stuff while we cleaned up some debris. We saw the Cooper River, a gator, the Laurens graves and lots of other pretty things. We also picked up some trees. Not branches. Trees. And broke them. With our bare hands. They were smallish trees. But they were still trees. When we got home we changed and shot right off to S and A's house so we could say goodbye to them before they move. Oh, PS, I am the designated driver now, so pray for us. It was my first time driving out to Cane Bay where a lot of church people and investigators live, and we got very lost. We made it just in time and had a nice chat with S and A. (S is a former investigator and A is her less active husband. He still believes in the doctrines of the church and pays his tithing but feels guilty about being a retired Navy seal and killing people and stuff.) But it was a great visit. They even lent us their canopy for the family history booth at the farmer's market. Our EZ Up that we had blew into the baseball fence a few weeks ago before we could secure it, so the past few weeks we've been out in the sun for 4 HOURS. Bless them. Anyways, the family history booth went really well. We met this guy who sells REALLY GOOD SAUSAGE and offers free samples which is the freakin greatest, and he was super interested in the gospel and family history but lives in Sumter, so we sent Elder D over there to give him the Sumter missionaries' information because he served in Sumter before he served here. Hopefully he gets baptized because he is really nice and seriously his sausage guys. I don't even like sausage that much. But I daydream about that stuff. The Church needs his unique talents and abilities. That night was Sister Kniffen's first Book of Mormon class. We literally talked about politics the whole time. Sister Kniffen said, "I felt like I was in a secret government meeting instead of a class on the Book of Mormon." It does feel like that sometimes.
Friday we had weekly planning to do. We thought it would take 2 hours, tops, and we had all this great finding planned for the day, and it was great. AND THEN. We're about an hour into weekly planning. This dude calls us. His name was JR. He is a Judeo-Christian. He believes in temples. And he's reading the Book of Mormon. And he lives in our area. And he totally accepts the Book of Mormon as an ancient record translated by the power of God. He called us and he said, "I need someone who's been a member for at least a decade!" and I said, "I am qualified!" and he said, "Someone who has taken classes on the Book of Mormon!" and I said, "I am still qualified!" and he said, "I don't want you to come to our house though." And I said, "Oh." And I thought, what the heck. Why not? He sounds like he really wants the Book of Mormon to be true, and he's looking for something that refutes what he "knows" the Book of Mormon means by the condescension of God, (literally Jesus Christ. That is what the Book of Mormon means.) but he currently can't find any, and he wanted basically for us to prove that the Book of Mormon is in fact correct. Long story short, this phone call was 5ever long and exceedingly confusing and unproductive. And by the end of it, JR was like, "Okay I'm going to call you 2 to 3 times a week because that's what the Salt Lake people said I could do" and we had to explain that no, we teach lessons to people who want to get baptized 2 to 3 times a week and if he just wanted stuff in the Book of Mormon explained to him we could maybe direct him to a member who could help him. He was vaguely upset and confused and we just said, "Look man. Call us in a week. We'll explain better." Our brains hurt so bad. It was one of the hardest conversations to follow. Next time we'll go over missionary expectations and keeping commitments and also just tell him to pray about it. Whew, it was a trip. Then later that day we visited Sister C and did time, during which I started practicing my Spanish. I have this sneaking suspicion that one day I will be an hermana. We'll see. Then we went finding with Sister C. We found a couple potentials and met a less-active named K who has low immunity so she can't come to church with all the sicky kids. BUT she has this MASSIVE BEAUTIFUL DOG called a malimut. He is beautiful. His name is Kai. He looks like if you mixed a bear with a husky. And I love him. And I need one.
At the ward activity
Saturday we were on our way to V's when we were stopped at a light and saw this couple making out. I then proceeded to say the subject of today's email. I thought it was a pretty well-timed movie quote if I'm being honest. V was sweet as ever. Her garments should arrive in a couple days. This is very exciting. After we went to see V we went to the ward activity, which is where, my dear parents, you received that photo of me. Sister E the Relief Society president sent it. The activity was field day at her house and OH MY GOSH THEIR HOUSE IS SO PRETTY. They low key still live on a plantation, but without the slaves. They have 600 acres. It is beautiful. Also, at the ward activity, Sister Kniffen and I ended up just playing games with the kids the whole time. I'm pretty sure we've passed Babysitting Level 5, which is the highest level you can pass before you enter the Parenthood level. Also, something that made my heart kinda happy: Brother S, who is awesome, told his daughter K while I was getting her a drink that when she goes on a mission, he hopes she is exactly like me. :') I really needed to hear that! As a missionary, I feel like I am good, but I always have a hard time seeing the difference I make. It was good to know that I at least had an effect on someone in the ward. Later that night we went to visit the Ws, this old cute couple with health issues. It was fun.

Yesterday was one of the most spiritual Sabbath days I have ever had. The sacrament was so meaningful for me. I was fasting for a lot of personal things and I ended up having just such a great experience. Also Sister Kniffen and I got to teach gospel principles. R came and actually ended up getting offended (not by us) and telling us not to come over, even though we had planned to do so. Sister Kniffen and I prayed about it. We sat there after we prayed for a minute, and then the clearest thought entered my head: "R needs you." So we showed up anyways. I don't know that I have ever been so afraid in my
life than when I saw R come outside with his hands in his pockets. He asked, "So, your phone doesn't work?" And we said, "No, it does." And he said, "Then why are you here?" And we said, "Because God told us that you needed us." And he just started to cry. I have never felt like I have saved a life before. But I think we may have with R last night.
My beloved friends and family, I hope you know that when you turn your lives over to God, He can use you to touch other people. And that is honestly the greatest experience of all of mortality. If you can bring light to another person, you will be changed forever. I promise you. If you're a member, do what you're supposed to do. Read the Book of Mormon. Pray for missionaries and for missionary experiences. Go out with the full-time missionaries. Attend all your church meetings and participate. Have joy. If you aren't a member, please, what I am about to tell you WILL change your life if you let it. Open your heart. Find yourself a copy of the Book of Mormon (or Book of Mormon); missionaries and church members give them away for free. Read a little bit every day. And pray about it. If you really want to know that it's true, God will tell you. I promise you that I have seen this knowledge take the most broken and imperfect and terrified individuals and turn them into someone confident and sure in Christ. I have seen it do that for my investigators, but more importantly, I have seen it do that for me.
I love y'all!
Don't let the muggles get you down!
-Sister Pew

A list that you can share with missionary moms, especially missionary moms for sister missionaries serving stateside!

Things that are helpful to send in packages:
-Toiletries (perfume, makeup, shampoo & conditioner, deodorant)
-Clothing (dresses & skirts especially)
-Accessories (jewelry, hair bows, etc. just be sure they're vaguely conservative and not huge and bulky or anything)
-CDs, and for musically inclined people sheet music as well
-office supplies (staples, pens, stationery, paper)
-art & craft supplies (finger paints, coloring books, craft scissors, etc)
-healthy snacks (granola bars, chex mix, nuts & dried fruits, triscuits, etc)
-apartment decorations
-gift cards to places like Walmart and Target
-anything that can be used to help another person :)
-funny pictures/memes
-positive/uplifting quotes
-things to decorate with

Friday, May 19, 2017

Week 21 that's way too many weeks

Hello again, I just talked to you yesterday but here we are. It's Monday. And for my adopted fam, I didn't talk to you yesterday so here's what's up.
Sister Goettsche is leaving meee.... and I hate everything. Not really, but I love her so much and I'm so sad! No more singing duets for investigators...maybe. but I get to stay in Mtown!!!! So that's good. I'm glad I get at least another 6 weeks :') 
So this week was pretty slow. Not much happened. We went bowling for pday. It was so fun. I beat all the elders (they actually went the week before but I topped the winner's high score, easy.) We also went to Goodwill and got Hawaiian shirts and I tried Taco Bell for the first time. I think I'm probably going to send a video of me talking about our week because I super don't want to type it all up.

Note from Sister Pew's mom: I am not sure how to show the video so here are my notes on it:

She liked Taco Bell (this surprised me since she is picky about Mexican food)

Tuesday they helped a sister in the ward make mats for homeless people. She is French and she fed them lots of yummy food. They had Book of Mormon class and nothing shocking this week there.

Wednesday they visited people that live out in the rural area of their area.

Thursday they worked at the Abbey and is was a little sad because they felt like it might be her companion's last time going there--which is was. She got to drive the "gator" the razor/ATV type truck for gardening. There is a picture of her sitting in one on her blog a few weeks back. They worked at the Family History Booth. That night they went to the Relief Society Activity: "Speed Friendshipping"
like speed dating only friends. R came and brought a friend who is ready for the Gospel and R is on date for baptism.

Friday they weekly planned. Visited a family who is thinking of discontinuing missionary lessons. She's sad but has perspective that it will all  work out some day down the road.

Saturday they visited V who they are helping prepare to return to the temple and R who is doing better this week than last time they visited. He sounds like a tough cookie!

Sunday after church they visited and dropped off letters to ladies who take care of them😊 before skyping home.

Highlights from the skype:

Her accent isn't too strong she does say y'all. 

Her favorite new food is fried Okra. 

Most surprising thing about the mission: how fun it is and how nice people are even if they aren't interested

Hardest thing about the mission: feeling like she's good enough

Other things: she feels like her mission is going too fast (out 5 months now) it makes her sad to think that it is going to end some day

She bore testimony of Jesus Christ and that he loves us and that he will help us become the people we are supposed to be. She bore testimony that she knows that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's church restored. 

She and her companion sang A Child's Prayer for us. We sang Lead Kindly Light together and we had a family prayer at the end. 

Other family members were there and asked questions, I just remember what they were nor the answers. The skype kept freezing so the after restarting 4 times we just talked by phone. 

She looks great and is so happy! It was awesome to communicate with her!

Thanks for your support!
One of her investigators gave this red nose to her! Terrifying!

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Week 20-too soon...

Hello everyone! This week's headline is because I have been on a mission for 5 Months this Sunday when I get to talk to you, and I am FREAKING OUT.
SO, as far as Skyping on Mother's day, I will be Skyping at around 5 your time, my Utah family. (So it'll be like 7 pm here.) I will have about an hour. If you have any questions about any context behind our brilliant quotes we've said, that would be a good time to ask.
I have realized how lame my emails are becoming. The  ward has thoroughly chastised me, especially those with missionary children, AKA 2 of the 3 members of the bishopric. I have repented. So here's a great email coming up!
First thing I want to do is tell you about some of the ways I have changed on my mission, so you're not shocked or anything:
I am so fat. So, so fat. Because the South. And although the members aren't allowed to feed us, they definitely just drop food off at our house. So I need to stop eating it because it's making me fat.
I am way more social. I realized that most of my antisocialness was me being lazy because I am pretty darn lazy. But the mission is making me not be lazy so I have overcome that. I am still introverted and require alone time but it's manageable.
I have changed from wanting to be a good missionary to wanting to be a lifetime disciple of Christ.
I have realized that I actually can help people, and lots of times it's the missionaries I serve around.
I haven't grown at all, but I have muscles in my arms now!!!
That's not all but it's all I'm gonna write about.
Monday! We went to Charleston. It was the greatest. We went to a Thai restaurant and had some killer sushi. It was so freakin good, and I almost died. Then we walked to the old slave market because Charleston used to be a freaking huge trading port and they changed the old slave market to just a market with no slaves but lots of other things. I bought nothing. But it was still cool. Then, we found the Atlantic Ocean! It was awesome. We walked along the waterfront for awhile and hit up Rainbow Row (a famous bunch of houses painted fun pastel colors), and then we went to Battery Park which has lots of really cool history things. Then we walked down Meeting Street, which is where a ton of really old historic houses are. They were so cool. Holy. Cow. Charleston is the best city. We came back, and then turned around and went to Cross to see R who we thought was off our records for awhile. But we brought Sister H, and Sister H helped a lot. And now...R's getting baptized. In June. And we are pumped. She even told us she feels like this is where she's supposed to be.
Tuesday, we taught R and it was great. She's so awesome.  We taught her the Word of Wisdom and she took to it like a fish to water. She was already quitting coffee when we started teaching her. It was quite the day. We then went to the Ds and talked to them about missionary work. Except, they're the Ds, affectionately referred to as Saint D and his wife Saint D by all the missionaries, so they basically taught us how to do missionary work because they're better missionaries than us. They seriously were talking to us about all the people they're already teaching. We love them so freakin' much.
Wednesday morning Elder W was here on exchanges with Elder G, and so we went to U's to give her her BIRTHDAY PRESENT because it was her BIRTHDAY last Friday and then to practice Sister Goettsche's upcoming district meeting musical number because Elder W is playing the guitar for it. Then we went over to the S' house and taught their 20 year old M, who calls us "Team Jesus", not sure why. He's kind of a stinker but we love him anyway. We committed him to read the Book of Mormon and come to church which he did NOT do for some lame reasons but it's okay because we got him a really solid fellowshipper in Brother F because they are both obsessed with cars. Izak, you gotta meet this guy. That night we went over to the Ts, featuring nonmember C and severely less-active D.  Also they fed us burgers so it was a pretty good time. D's not really antagonistic, he just doesn't wanna be all in. Which is silly. But we're workin' on him.
Thursday was a great day. We went to Mepkin, got ice cream, and then learned via the elders that it was 50 cent corn dog day at Sonic so we ran to Sonic and bought 10 corn dogs for $5.50. We then took said corn dogs to the family history booth and shared them with the elders. Elder W accidentally left his guitar in our church building so to attract the farmer's market people to our booth we jammed on the guitar (appropriately). We started this new thing where we do it with the elders and one companionship goes and talks to people and one sits at the booth and we switch off periodically. It was a great time. That night we had Book of Mormon class and it was less wild than the last few times but still pretty wild.
Friday we had interviews with President Turner, which was boss. I love that guy. We executively decided not to give Elder W his guitar back and so we've had it for the past few days, which has been great. Then we went to M's house and she talked about her problems. She has many. The poor thing. Then we went out finding and met this guy named M. It was kinda funny because he came to the door and peeked through the window and said, "I need to put some clothes on. Let me get dressed." So we waited for five minutes while he became less naked. He was pretty closed off at the beginning, and then we asked him where he was from, and he said he was from SAN ANTONIO and I told him "Hey, that's where my brother served his mission!" And after that he was way cool. Funny how the Lord prepares you in the weirdest ways. M became a new investigator that day.
Saturday we cleaned the whole church by ourselves because we freaking love the ward. We also went to V's and she fed us because she is less active so she can.. We raced home so we could make it to our apartment before Sister R, who took us out in the boonies to find people. It was pretty productive - we found out a less active named G has an unbaptized daughter we don't have on record because she came to the door and answered it. She was ten (in January of this year). And she was taller than me. I was upset. That night we went to R's. He came to church so that was good.
Yesterday was great! Probably the most spiritual fast and testimony meeting I've ever attended. Everything everyone said was so good. I just love this ward - it's like home to me. These people are so loving and kind. After church we went out finding in the boonies again, which was a great time, and then dropped in on a former investigator called J whom we had lost contact with. She was having a really hard day so we showed her the Prince of Peace video. She is really cute and just needs to get baptized but she got a job and works Sundays all day.
Today we're going BOWLING! (Monday is p-day)
Also, last night and this morning I found out literally EVERYTHING IS HAPPENING AT HOME WITHOUT ME. STOP TELLING ME THINGS! Hahahahah jk, keep sharing what is going on with y'all. I am very excited to see the blessings in your lives! Also, all y'all ladies who just graduated with me, would you stop getting engaged? You're freakin me out. Thanks.

I love y'all! Don't let the muggles get you down!
-Sister Pew

Here is a link to Em and her companion singing "I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go"

Photos from Charleston

Sunday, May 7, 2017

Week 19 - "Sweet Gherkins!"

Well, family, it's another day in paradise.
This week has been the greatest! The subject comes from on Saturday when we were moving Brother H's old office to the new one we've been painting (see note she sent later below). I'm really at a loss for what to say because there's a lot that happened and I don't have a lot of time. 

R, S's wife, is ON DATE and she is so determined!!! We are so excited for her.
V came to church! For the first time in 16 years!
C's son M is a new investigator and I AM SO EXCITED.
President Turner came to our ward and literally said our ward is the best ward ever because our ward mission leader presented a 3rd Sunday discussion about MISSIONARY WORK and I AM SO HAPPY
Also I had a hard day but it turned into a really good day because I prayed really hard that I would feel peace and it totally worked.

We don't have any quotes but I'll be sending you a couple videos! :) (We are trying to get it on YouTube to share--she sent 2 of the same videos)

-Sister Pew

Oh sorry I forgot to explain the whole sweet gherkins story. Elder D is so goofy and he was there helping us move stuff and was telling us he needed a new fake expletive. Then we went to the fridge to move it and Brother H told us to clean it out first. I opened it up to see a single jar of pickles labeled "Sweet Gherkins" and I said, "Elder D, I have found the answer to your prayers." And he said, "you're right." And that's the new exclamation of choice. 
Also I forgot another highlight: We had a ward activity Saturday night and it was so fun. The best part was, we were all playing games in the gym and the kids were being noisy and so the adults were getting annoyed. So while my companion and the elders helped our investigator who was there, they sent me to handle the children. We played a game called Taco Cat, which is Marco Polo but quieter and with no water and you say Taco Cat instead of Marco Polo. And now the whole ward loves me because I took care of their kids and helped them be quieter. It was the best time of my life.