Tuesday, March 30, 2010

April hopefully means Spring!

People are still in big coats, scarves, gloves and hats, but supposedly it is warming up for the weekend. We get updates on weather from our investigators. Ha ha. It's weird because I never thought I'd be so out of the loop as far as weather and sports and music and everything! But last week before reading your emails I didn't even know that Cornell made it into the Sweet 16! I know, weird. We even live a few blocks away from campus. We have heard both Syracuse and Cornell got beat out. That's too bad. I'll have to get some Cornell shirts to send home to Matt and Dad. I think it's so funny that Dad said he and Matt have been "glued to the TV" ha ha. I can definitely picture it.

I got your tapes yesterday! I listened to them this morning. I was laughing, crying, and just loving every minute of it. Sister Hacking kept saying, "Your family is so funny!" Don't worry, she didn't listen to all of it, so she doesn't know how crazy you really are. ;) I just love all of you so much. Thank you for your fun stories. Emily, you are HILARIOUS on the tape! And I love how when Chad got on he's like, "Honey, I can't just talk to a machine thing like you do." Chad, I understand. I felt that way my first tape I made. Thanks for still talking on it though! Ash, you always lose your voice! I was like that Senior year too! Too many games and not enough sleep etc. I hope you're feeling better. And Matty, your choir is unbelievable! I couldn't listen to more than like a few seconds of it because we can't listen to anything besides Motab and hymns. But I was blown away. Todd, I wish I could've been there to see you bless Katey. I'm sure it was a beautiful blessing. I think the priesthood is so amazing. I really didn't see it's importance until now being around so many who don't have it, or who are working to become worthy to have it. And also, bearing testimony of it and studying it has strengthened my testimony in how vital it is to God's plan. Without it, we'd just be another church. Congratulations to the little Fredric family though! I loved the pictures you sent Mom. You all look so good and pretty! Katey is a doll! And geez, it looks like summer there! You are so lucky!

I feel bad because Mom, in your tape you said, "You don't sound like yourself in your emails." It's our only way to communicate beside letters so I really want to sound like myself. It is me, I promise. Ha ha. I don't want you to not recognize me when I get home or something. That's my biggest fear ha ha. You said it's because I'm not complaining. Ha ha. I had Sister Stewart as a companion, and if you knew her, you just can't complain around her. She must have rubbed off on me. Sister Hacking says Sister Stewart reminds her of the princess on Enchanted. I was like, "OH MY IT'S TRUE!" I am so happy no changes with transfers affected me and Sister Hacking this transfer. She is so fun. We have really connected with those we're teaching here and they all seem to be in the same stage, praying about the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. We have committed a few of them to come to conference. I'm sure they will feel the spirit and hopefully there recieve an answer to their prayers. Yes, we get to see conference! I cannot wait. It's going to be so good. I'm sure it will be a whole new dimension of watching conference. I'll be listening for my investigators and myself. I remember a year ago, I drove down to Henderson for the weekend and I was dating Jeff Toone. Remember? I was debating on going on a mission or not and listening for talks to recieve my answer. Elder Oaks gave a really powerful one on missionary work, but it was just the start of recieving my answer to come. I'm really happy I'm here. Mom, I don't complain because it is a joyous thing to help people see that they can repent and make changes and that the Lord's hand is stretched out to them no matter where they are in their life. But it is really hard too. There are a lot of times when I wish I was laying out by the pool in Henderson instead of getting flipped off walking in the snow. ha ha. But something good always seems to happen right after I start feeling discouraged. I know it's Heavenly Father showing me just how important it is that I'm here.

We found 5 new investigators last week. It was a really good week. It's cool because as I've listened to the spirit I've seen immediately a good outcome. We are teaching 3 people right now who I had a distinct impression to talk to, and they've all said in different ways that they've either been looking for a church to go to, or they need to reach out to God, etc. I know that the Lord is leading us to prepared people every day.

Vivian, an investigator we have, met a mormon online and they have a love connection now. Kind of like Janelle from ultimate images. ha ha. So he told Vivian to call us. She's been meeting with us for a few weeks. He's coming in town to meet her on Thursday! He's from Utah. I'd be so nervous if I were her. She's really excited. They've planned to go to Palmyra to see the church history sites and also to come to conference! So we're hoping things keep progressing with her.

I wish I had more time. I'll handwrite a letter today. I hope you have a good Spring Break and Easter. Thank you for the package! I love you all so much!
Love, Sister Zwick

P.s. Jeff thanks for your letter! And Wallace family, I loved your package! Thank you! You are too sweet!

p.p.s. this is cool from my mission pres:
This week is also the commemoration of the most significant events in all history—the last week of the Savior’s mortal ministry, culminating with His victory over death on Easter morning. Each day of this week I invite you to consider what the Savior would have been doing during this last week of his mortal life. I hope it will be of special interest to consider the events of Thursday. It would have been on that day that the Savior instituted the Sacrament, taught several magnificent lessons, and went to Gethsemane. What an appropriate day to “declare repentance” (DC 15:6). A fitting day to “Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God; For, behold, the Lord your Redeemer suffered death in the flesh; wherefore he suffered the pain of all men, that all men might repent and come unto him… And how great is his [the Savior’s] joy in the soul that repenteth!” (DC 18:10-13) It would be appropriate to spend some time in your morning study to consider the events listed on page 694-695 of the Bible Dictionary. As you begin your companionship study on Friday morning, reflect on the fact that it was approximately 9:00 a.m. that the Savior was nailed to the cross (Mark 15:25). If the days seem long to you sometimes, take into consideration that it was not until 3:00 p.m. that the Savior cried out, “My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34) It would have been some time after that, that He died. And what was He doing on Saturday? As you know, He went to the Spirit World where He “organized his forces and appointed messengers, clothed with power and authority, and commissioned them to go forth and carry the light of the gospel to them that were in darkness, even to all the spirits of men; and thus was the gospel preached to the dead” (DC 138:30). He was continuing His missionary labors! Then, on that beautiful spring morning, His resurrection broke the bands of death. I invite you to look around as spring bears witness of the newness of life made possible by the Savior’s victory over death. What a great time of year! What a great week this is! May it be a week of reflection, of contemplation, and of dedication for each of you.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In addition to yesterday's email...

Hello! I know, weird, it's Tuesday and I'm emailing you! Well, Sister Hacking didn't take the mandatory urvey yesterday and so she called our District Leaders and they found out from President Bulloch that she has to take it by today. I thought I'd write a little more since I was short on time yesterday, as well as print off your emails because the computer shut off before I got to that.
We just finished meeting with Chad here in the library. He's so weird. He really isn't looking for answers. He likes the mysteriousness of why we are here and life after death, but doesn't want to know. We may have to drop him soon...
We have some awesome progressing investigators though!
I want to tell you about an investigator named Lisa we're working with. A couple weeks ago we had a lesson with her and for some reason spent so much time on Prophets, helping her understand their role, modern day revelation, and that they are God's mouthpiece. We didn't quite know why we spent so much time on that and why she had so many questions, but the spirit was really strong and we felt it. We walked away feeling good about the lesson. She said something that kept ringing in my mind, "If I accept these things to be true, I will have to change my life." She has never wanted us to meet her at her home, but only in the library. About an hour after the appointment ended, I had this distinct impression that she might be living a homosexual lifestyle. Sister Hacking had the same impression! We studied homosexuality and came to the conclusion that if she was, or if we meet any more people who are (which we've met SEVERAL), we want them to gain a testimony of the simple truths and that's the only way they'll be able to change their life to live the gospel. We went to our next appointment with her the following week, last Thursday, and believe it or not after the closing prayer she said, "Well ladies, I just need to tell you that I'm Lesbian. When I refer to living with my partner, etc. It's a woman." We calmly said, "That's alright." I know that the Lord prepared me for that. If I hadn't been expecting that, my reaction would not have been good. I thought it was amazing how the Spirit prepared Sister Hacking and I for that.
Tyesha is okay. I haven't seen her yet because we keep dropping by and she's not there. I went on exchanges on Friday night to Saturday, where I switched places with another missionary for the day, so I served in Syracuse with Sister Stewart, and her companion came to Ithaca. It was fun, like old times. When I was gone though, Sister Hacking and the other Sister stopped by Tyesha's. She was home and they said Tyesha told them all these things signifying that she had been fed anti-mormon stuff and that she has decided to go to her Dad's church from here on out. Sister Hacking said, "It's probably good you weren't there Sister Zwick, it would've made you sad." I was bothered inside when I found out they went without me though because I wish I would've seen it. I feel like I could've asked Tyesha questions or cleared things up. I just have to trust that with or without me being there, the same thing would've happened. We'll be by her house tonight. I can't wait to see her. I love and miss her. Her phone STILL isn't working.
Well, I g2g Love you!!!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

I love these people!

Hey everyone!

I can't believe I've already been here 3 months. It's going really too fast, and I hate it. I want to do this forever! I am learning so much about myself, the Lord, listening to the spirit and recognizing how it speaks, understanding the doctrine in the scriptures, and the list goes on. There is no where else I'd be able to learn these things. I am so grateful for this experience.

Thanks for all the emails. I didn't have time to read them thoroughly because we had to take a really long survey, and I want to have time to send you a short email. I'm printing them out though and I'll handwrite a reply today.

President Bulloch is a great guy. He is just like Dad, the BEST listener, and so sensitive, but he does know how to put missionaries in their place. He's bold when he needs to be. The whole last Zone Conference was on "Being effective instruments in the Lord's hands" I learned a lot about being an effective teacher. He touched a lot on how big of a responsibility we have as missionaries and that the Lord is trusting us with his work. He said, "If you're not going to sacrifice everything for this work, you may consider going home." I've felt so worn out, just trying to do all I can to reach my goals and keep the work progressing here but I wanted to do like a heart test to really see if my heart was here. Then the whole Tyesha thing happened. President called me on Monday just because he felt like he needed to and I told him what was going on with Tyesha and her Dad. I also told him how much I want to give to this work and that after Zone conference I wanted to see where my heart was. He said, "Be careful what you wish for." HE said, "The only way to prevent heartache is to take the love out of the work, and we can't do that."

Ah, two minutes left! Jimmy and Joey are not getting baptized this Saturday. It just doesn't feel right. But I know the Lord will prepare them for baptism in the coming weeks if it's part of his plan for them. Have a great week!

Monday, March 15, 2010

“There are ups and downs of missionary work. But the ups outweigh the downs.”


All the snow has melted and we saw buds on a tree the other day! It’s been raining and NOT snowing! I am very very happy about that. Spring is coming!

I’m doing okay. I’ve realized just in the past couple days how true Grandpa Gary’s statement was to me the night before I entered the MTC, “There are ups and downs of missionary work. But the ups outweigh the downs.” Grandpa Gary never lies. We all know that. Ha ha. I remember being a little worried after he said that because he is the most honest of all honest people. But I came out anyways, and I am happy I did because the ups do outweigh the downs. But you can’t have one without the other. I wouldn’t know the pure joy of this work without feeling the discouragement it often brings too.

Tyesha’s father, the Baptist pastor will not leave her alone. In hopes that he’d be proud of her (bad idea) she decided she’d show him the pictures of her baptism that we printed off for her along with the her journal entry she wrote after receiving the Holy Ghost. She was really disappointed because his reaction was not what she wanted. (We could’ve told her that but we didn’t know she was going to do this). Everyone wants parent’s approval and support. It’s natural. We found out about this over the phone on Thursday. We met with her as we do weekly (Friday afternoon). We came prepared with a conference talk “Hold On” and read Nephi 8 with her. She loved it and was all happy about how she knows she’s on the path back to the sweetest of all fruit. We compared the fruit to the sweet taste of the gospel, and of eternal life and she has to keep holding on to the iron rod. All her children were there too with their children’s books of mormon open and faught over who got to say the closing prayer. Then Tyesha told us her Dad is making her tell him if she’s going to betray the family (Baptists) and commit to come to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, or if she’s going to go to her Father’s church. I was like, “Tyesha, do you even have to tell him? You’re 26.” And she’s like, “Yeah, he’s waiting for my answer.” She is awesome though and said, “I keep praying for the spirit to soften his heart and for the Lord to speak through me when I tell him I’ve found the true church.” Friday we fasted for her to have the strength to do it and for her Dad to respect it, but the turnout wasn’t what we planned. On Saturday he was coming to pick her and the children up to take them to his Baptist church and she was going to tell him then... I guess it didn't work. On Sunday we were waiting at church for her and the woman who picks her and her children up said, "Tyesha told me not to come and that in order to please her Father she has to go to his church from here on out." She wants to be here, active in church, but her father is shaking her testimony. I feel so bad for her. I know she wants to please him, but she wants to please God too. I know she's torn and doesn't know what to do. We've tried calling her and she's out of minutes. We're going to try to make it over to her home tonight. I know the ward members are showing their love and concern too which is important. This morning we got a referral saying, "Tyesha Warren requests a Bible." She told us her Dad doesn't believe that we believe in the Bible and that we're trying to "create our own bible" by the Book of Mormon. The spirit is telling me she went on the website with her Dad to show him we do believe in the Bible, and then requested a free copy, in hopes that we'd come by and visit. We need to go and see her and let her know we love and care about her and to get down on her knees and pray for strength. I don't want her to feel like we're competing with her Dad. Elder Wood showed me a scripture in Matthew about not putting mortal parents before God. I don't have the courage to show her that. I know she's in the Lord's hands, but it hurts a lot to see someone we've worked so hard with, who is so strong, be swayed by her Dad. If he wasn't tugging her away she would have been at church.
I'm going to continue this email in a letter. But I know Tyesha's story isn't over. Out of any one of the recent converts to have this happening to, Tyesha is the strongest. She has an incredibly strong testimony that this is where God wants her to be. I just hope she will have the ability to stand up to her Dad. I love her so much. I've really been able to feel God's love for his children through this work. I feel it, and it's heartwrenching at times, but I know that's where I'm growing. I imagine it being like motherhood, just caring so much for your kids and hoping that nothing happens to them. That's how I feel about the people here. I just want them to be strong in their faith and testimony of this gospel. I love 3 Nephi 28:9. I read it this morning and I feel that way. I have to go. I love you!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Thanks for the support!

Hey Family,
Can I just tell you how lucky I feel to be here? I don't know why I got so blessed to have a mission be in Heavenly Father's plan for me, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Some nights when I lay in bed I get to ponder about the unique nature I have to be serving a mission; especially here in this area in the cradle where the history of the restoration took place, walking streets Joseph Smith walked, and even just serving at a time where the world is so dark so there is so much receptivity. People are really looking for something to bring them happiness. And it just so happens that the message I get to share can! Yes. Ha ha. I love telling people about how it’s made me happier. It’s a deeper happiness than eating a cafĂ© rio salad or the rattley white roller coaster at lagoon. I didn’t even understand it until I got out here. But seeing the happiness develop in people who start living the gospel principles proves that this is really the way to gain happiness in this life and the life to come: To live the principles of the gospel. People complicate them way more than they are. Faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. The more and more I grow in my testimony of the Savior and this gospel, the happier I have been. I’m happier right now than ever. So I know it’s because of that. It’s been a great lesson to learn, that there really is no other way to gain happiness than getting to know Jesus Christ and living His gospel. I love this quote in PMG. It says, “These are not just steps to experience once in our lives; rather when repeated throughout life these principles become an increasingly rewarding pattern of living that will bring peace of conscience and enable [us] Heavenly Father’s children to return to His presence.” I just love that so much. It is a pattern of living. I’m just like our investigators, on this journey, trying to live it the best I can.

Yesterday was wonderful because Sister Hacking and my fast and prayers were being answered by Branch members. We fasted for Chad, that investigator I wrote about last week. He is having the hardest time accepting Jesus Christ as his “Savior” and not just a man who performed miracles. He explained that he can’t pray about the BOM yet because in the promise in Moroni 10:5 says to “ask with real intent, having faith in Christ”… he explained he has to first develop faith in Christ. He’s going to read the BOM with the challenge President Bulloch gave us missionaries because it has strengthened both mine and Sister Hacking’s testimonies of Christ and the Atonement being real and a necessary part of the plan. So, hopefully it will do the same for him. But what was really neat was that we fasted for him to start to gain a testimony of that. And you know how there is usually a theme during fast and testimony meetings? Well it seemed like it was on the Atonement. EVERY branch member bore testimony of how they have this relationship with Jesus Christ and how they came to have that. Sister Hacking and I were just in aw. Heavenly Father really does hear our prayers and recognizes our efforts. I hope it helped Chad.

I have more to say, but time is up!

We have such great investigators—Lisa, Vatsav, Praveen, Joey, Jimmy, Dah, and the list goes on! Joey and Jimmy are still on for their baptism (march 27th). I wish I could tell you about each of them because there are so many good spiritual experiences with all of them. I love this. I’ll write home.

I love each and every one of you!

Love, Sister Zwick

P.s.I just found out Brigham Young's family lived in Lansing (in the Elder's area) and his Mom's grave stone is ten minutes away. His home ward would've been the Ithaca ward! So cool!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Snow much Snow!

Oh my word, I have never seen this much snow in my life! I think I said it was getting warmer in my last email, and I spoke too soon! On Tuesday evening it started snowing and didn't stop until yesterday afternoon! Schools closed, buses closed, and us missionaries went out to work :) It was so fun though. It sounds cold but we just layered and layered. We looked ridiculous, slapped on our nametags and went out. I'm going to send a picture or two. It's so awesome, the snow was past my knees on Friday! I wore snow pants under my skirt. Everyone is saying Ithaca hasn't seen this much snow since 1996. I guess it's an every 10 year snow fall (the big one) and it came a little late. Sister Hacking and I totally thought we'd be getting a call to stay inside. We didn't, and at first we were like, "What!? Are we seriously supposed to find people to talk to in this weather?" But we braved it, and were obedient and got out the door right on time every day and surprisingly found so many new people to talk to because they were outside shoveling out their car. We found it as a good tactic to talk to people as they shovel out their car and walks because they can't really run away. ha ha. We also had a few good service opportunities. The snow isn't bad, it's the wind. When the wind blows and there is freshly fallen snow, it all comes in your face. Friday night was so windy. We were just laughing and hiding our faces in our scarves. I asked Sister Hacking if we're allowed to wear snow goggles. She said, "Sister Bulloch had a missionary ask if he could wear a ski mask and she said, 'Are you kidding me? People are scared enough when two strangers knock at their door." So I guess the answer is no. ha ha.

Tracy's boys (Joey, Jimmy and David) have been in and out of the hospital with a really bad flu, even on IV's. They finally were home this weekend and well enough for a lesson. Their baptism (Joey and Jimmy's) date is set for March 20th. They are really cute and soaking things up. We've had to be awfully creative with our lessons to help them stay interested. It's been fun to teach with hands on activities. But they have a cat named fluffy and it means EVERYTHING to that family. On Saturday during the lesson it just jumped on my back as I was sitting on the floor and it attacked me!!! It was so scary! I was screaming and stood up and ran. The dumb cat! The boys and Tracy and Sister Hacking were laughing really hard. Ha ha.

Dah is a progressing investigator as well. She is 17 years old. At first we were teaching her family, but they don't want us to teach them anymore. We heard through the grapevine. However, Dah loves church and comes weekly with her friend June See who is a really strong member. We teach Dah at June See's home. It's neat to see June See bear testimony to Dah. I love how June See isn't ashamed to share her testimony with her friends. They're cute girls and can't wait until Sister Hacking and I are able to come visit Ithaca and have sleepovers with them. Ha ha. They bring it up every lesson. We haven't set Dah with a date yet, but we will soon.

Another progressing investigator is Chad Walsh. We met Chad downtown (it's like a mini NYC--downtown Ithaca, with shops and eateries--such a cute and fun area) one evening in January. He said, "I am interested in mormonism as a movement and Joseph smith as a historical figure, but I'm not going to be an easy convert." Those who say that usually end up having the best convert stories. In early January he said he believes that everything is beyond knowing and that our minds are not even capable of understanding the mysteries. But as he's been reading the Book of Mormon he's seeing that there are answers to deep questions. He never prayed before we met him. He's now praying multiple times a day. We meet with him twice a week. He's not quite ready to pray about this being the true church but he will eventually. He's moving slow but he's one we love teaching. He keeps all his commitments and the spirit is really strong when we teach him.

Ahhh I always have more to say but time is up. I love you all so so much! I miss you but there is nothing better than helping people get to know Jesus Christ and feel God's love through the spirit. The spirit is amazing. I'd be such a bad teacher without it. I gained a strong testimony of that this week. Well, g2g

I hope you're all doing well! Thanks for your prayers and support. Don't worry, I pray for you too. :) Have a wonderful week!

Happy Birthday Em!!! I LOVE YOU!