Monday, April 26, 2010

New York is rainy and green! :)

Hey guys!


Well first off congratulations to everyone!  Man, BYU graduations, YW medallions, and 1st place in the choir competition!  You'd think I'd be really sad to miss all of that, but sorry, I'm not.  ha ha.  I do miss you guys, but it's not too bad.  Only two more Sundays until Matty's birthday and the Mother's Day call, Mom!  Wahoo!  I have a lot of funny stories to tell you.  It will be great to talk.  Tell Ash I loved the Prom pictures.  You looked gorgeous Hashla!  I hope Boston was fun!  You can email me about it.


Saturday little Jimmy got baptized.  Oh my gosh, you would all just love him.  He walked into the church and ran up to us and gave us big hugs.  He was so excited!  He was dancing all around with Sister Hacking.  We let him pick between the pant suit and white sweat pants.  I was so mad he picked the sweat pants.  ha ha.  They looked cute though.  He kept saying, "Do you think God is smiling for me?"  Isn't that so cute?  We got pictures so I'll hurry and type this and then send some.  The spirit was so strong at the baptism.  I've never felt Heavenly Father's love for his children like I have here on my mission.  It has no bounds.  I've been so blessed to be able to feel that.  One wonderful thing that happened at the baptism was Joey (Jimmy's 12 year old older brother) leaned over to Sister Hacking and I and said, "Can I get baptized next Saturday?"  ha ha.  He's not quite ready yet but might be in a couple of weeks.  We're going to set him with a date tonight when we go over and do family home evening.  We're playing bula bula (that game is sooo sweet) and teaching about the Holy Ghost.  It was so cute to see Joey want to help Jimmy with everything.  He literally walked him down into the water.  He was so excited for his brother.  I felt bad because I know Joey wants to be baptized too.  He just hasn't been around the past few lessons.  Yesterday was the confirmation and Joey walked Jimmy up to the front of the church and got to hold the microphone during the blessing.  In the pictures I'm attaching, Joey is in the muscle tank.  ha ha.  Their mom has brought them to church for months and he goes to scouts.  Joey's really close to being ready.  We're going to set him with a date tonght and hopefully in a few Saturdays he'll be able to be baptized too.  It's been wonderful to see this family do a complete 180.  The spirit is now in their home, and their mother (baptized in February) has helped her boys strengthen their testimonies of gospel truths.  Sister missionaries have worked with the boys for over a year, and they've been dropped and picked back up over and over again.  Sister Hacking and I have finally seen them grasp things.  They are so much sweeter to each other and their mother.  They pray as a family.  We do family home evening with them Monday nights and they can hardly wait until Monday nights.  They used to swear and be so rough with each other.  It was hard to ever get a lesson in, but now they live for the lessons.  They have anger management but it seems like it's subsided.  It's amazing what the Lord can do with people.  Well, I have to go but I love this quote in PMG... the one by Elder Packer that says, "True Doctrine, understood changes attitudes and behavior.  The study of the doctrines of the gospel will improve behavior quicker than a study of behavior will improve behavior."  I've seen that with this family.  I just love seeing the change wrought in people's hearts.  They're actions then are affected by their inward desire to do good.  They're such great little boys and it's been so fun working with them.   


We're also setting Eric (age 22) with a date this week.  I'll write home and tell you more about him.  


Great things are happening.  I don't want to leave this area because all these people we've found and have been working with are going to enter the waters of baptism this spring and summer.  The Lord is blessing us.  I know that with his help we can do all things.   


I sure do miss and love you!  Thanks for everything!

Have a great week!  xoxo


Sister Zwick


P.s. Us and the Elders are doing a "Dan Jones" (wales missionary on the soap box) thing on thursday on cornell campus.  I'll take pictures.  It'll be sweet. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

Thank you

Mom and Dad and Family,

Thank you! I feel so blessed to be born into a family who is so supportive of everything I do. I can't imagine not getting emails and supportive words through your letters and emails. You are just the best. I don't know what I did in the Pre-earth life to be able to be sent to you but man, I lucked out. Thank you for your prayers. I wake up energized and so excited to go out to work and I know it's not coming from my own prayers and strength, but from your prayers on my behalf. I know Heavenly Father hears our prayers, every single one. And he answers too. I love prayers.

Well, I think I told you in my last email that we are teaching mainly adults, but i lied. Ha ha. No, I just wasn't too exact. We have Tracey's (the woman who got baptized in February) boys in our teaching pool. Good ol' Joey and Jimmy. Jimmy is doing soooooo good. We have family home evening with Tracey because she's a single mom and has her hands full with three active little boys. We try to help her invite the spirit, and it's so cute to see her teach them. It warms my heart to watch someone I taught teach her boys. They love Monday nights. We talk to Tracey during the week and plan out the lesson, and then us missionaries and Tracey with help from the boys have a little FHE lesson. Dad, too bad they don't have you to do the classic, "I'd like to welcome everyone to family night tonight." Or to turn the time over to Mom for family business who would then pull out the calendar and take an hour talking us about upcoming events. ha ha. I do miss that! Seriously. Family nights were the best. The boys are doing so good and Jimmy loves Primary. Yesterday at the church he came running down the hall, "Sisters!!!" And showed us this picture he drew in primary. All the kids call us "The Sisters" I love it. Good news though! Jimmy asked us last Monday night if he can get baptized. He didn't want to for so long and now he does! I think kids in his primary class have helped him want to. So, he's getting baptized this weekend. Aw, he's so cute. I can't wait. I'll send pictures next Monday.

Jeff, Mike, and Steph, I got the graduation announcements. Sad, I thought they were letters. ha ha. No worries. Congrats guys! I can't believe 3 people in our family are graduating from the Y. Sorry Dad, not too much red going on any more. It was kind of sad to see the graduation announcements though because I used to see Jeff and Steph on campus and now I'll be there alone. Wait, Jeff you're doing your masters there... so you'll still be there in like 14 months right? Also, Happy Birthday to you! A little something something is on it's way in the mail.

Our investigators are doing soooooo good. I am so happy with them. I'm gonna tell you a quick story. We do weekly service and one day we served food at this Catholic Church. It was like 2 months ago. We were wiping tables after everyone finished eating and this guy looked familiar. I didn't know if we had talked to him before or what, but the spirit wouldn't stop nagging me. The problem is, we can't preach to people in or around a Catholic or any other type of church. I just went up to him and said, "Do I know you?" He's like, "I don't think so." So I apologized, introduced myself and then he asked about my nametag. YES! We love when people do that. I told him what we do and then he told me he lived across from Palmyra temple but didn't ever find out too much about the church. So I bore testimony to him, and he wanted to meet and learn more. We've now been teaching him since then and we'll be setting him with a date soon. I know that the Spirit leads and guides us to good things when we listen to it.

Sorry my emails are all over the place. I love you fam. I miss you and think about you often, but have no doubt this is where the Lord wants me to be. Keep magnifying your callings. The church needs, God needs us, and our willingness to serve is a reflection of our dedication to the Lord. I know it's true.

p.s.Welcome home Josh Burnham! Congrats on a wonderful and successful mission!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Sweet is the work!

Mom, Dad, and Family,

Oh myyyy goodness, Heavenly Father is truly blessing us. He loves missionary work. He really does. I cannot even count how many times I've had impressions to do things here that are from him, and have brought forth good outcomes. Yesterday we had six investigators at church, SIX!!!! Oh my, I was so happy. I'm still feeling the effects from it, just grinning from ear to ear. This work brings the greatest happiness, helping people find joy, not just joy today, but everlasting, eternal happiness. This gospel is the answer to gaining happiness. Sharing it brings so much happiness. I just never thought my mission would make me feel like this. I LOVE these people so so much. SO MUCH. It's so crazy. I just want them to have everything I have, know everything I know, and feel everything I feel. I know that as we help them by prayerfully extending commitments, they will be able to have, know, and feel all that I do. They have so much potential and the Lord has gifts in store for them. I love telling them that. I love telling them that they have a Father in heaven who loves them and is aware of them. They look at me like they've never heard it before, and sometimes I just want to cry because they probably haven't... It's then I realize I am an instrument in His hands. What I do and say with the people here does matter.

Our teaching pool is amazing! I am so happy about it because every one is 20 or older. We are working with parents and young adults who can get sealed in the temple and have a positive affect their families forever! Every Thursday we do our weekly planning and pray for each person we're teaching so that we can help them move towards baptism and the temple. We then listen to the spirit as we talk about each person and their needs. I love extending commitments and seeing people grow from them. They are all gaining their own testimonies by simply our invitation! We have prayed for loose tongues and the spirit so hard and it has worked. The spirit has led us to people truly prepared and searching!!! As our weekly planning session came to a close we just marveled and talked about our teaching pool. I have never had a teaching pool filled of such solid people. I can honestly see each of them making their way towards baptism this transfer or next.

It feels so good to prayerfully plan for them because we have been inspired. And I didn't think it was inspiration until I began to see the effects. They are all understanding, questioning, and trusting us. The commitments we have extended to them have built their faith and trust in Heavenly Father to hear and answer their prayers. It's been cool because as we have gained their trust and respect they have given us their friends as refferals. They have began sharing the message too, because they love it so much!

Dan went and did baptisms at the Palmyra temple Saturday with people in the branch. He loved it. It makes me so happy to know he liked it. He comes teaching with us occassionally and is all pumped about going on a mission! He's going to go in about a year.

Tim loved conference Saturday but couldn't make it to the Sunday session. He called us Tuesday and asked how he could watch the Sunday's sessions. He's a single dad of two. We'll hopefully set him with a baptismal date in the next couple weeks.

Lisa is lesbian and we haven't talked about the law of chastity yet. She knows this is all true and wants to be baptized. :/ Pray for her and for us please to have the spirit with us this week as we teach her.

There are big barriers with those we're teaching, but we know Heavenly Father will help them. Things such as homosexuality, drugs, crimes, lots that has to be sorted out before baptism, but it's EXCITING! I love it.

Well, I love you so much guys. I do miss you but I love helping these people and showing them God's love. Mom, I loved the temple memory. I think about the temple every day. I can't wait to go back with you.

I love you all so much! I'll write you today!

Monday, April 5, 2010

We have modern revelation!

My dear eternal family,

Thank you for the emails and Easter treats! Mom, I'm wearing the navy blue, DownEast Outfitters jacket right now as I type this with the red flower headband in my hair. I was so excited to get some new clothes and I've only been out a few months. I can't imagine how sick of my stuff I'll be by the end of my mission! ha ha. Thanks Em for your package. You always send me holiday packages like you're my mom! It's so funny cause ironically whenever I get a package from mom, the same day I get one from you! They are sitting side by side on our porch. It's like I have two Mom's! I feel blessed! I didn't think anyone still called me "Maria" and I was way happy since I hadn't heard it in awhile. Then I got the mints. ha ha. Em, I'm really writing you today. Sorry it's taken a few weeks. Mom, Trader Joes rocks. Dried fruit and nuts are my favorite in the world and so expensive at the store. Perfect choice.

It sounds like BYU-I was awesome Ash! I love feeling the spirit somewhere and just knowing it's right where the Lord wants you to be. It's how I felt when I was nannying and I drove up to the Adirondack Mountain range to get that boy from his scout camp. The spirit was so strong. I wondered why. I thought maybe it's because I was going to live up there sometime with my future family or something. But little did I know it was my future mission area. It's experiences like these that help us recognize the Holy Ghost and how it feels when we're living in harmony with God's plan for us. I know BYU-I is just where He wants you. From what Mom's email said it sounds like you both felt and knew it.

Last week we were doing our nightly planning and a knock came on our window! It scared us half to death. We froze and didn't even say a word. Well I did... because I always have something to say. I whispered, "Oh my, I'm scared." Then our phone rang. It was 2 of the cute Cornell Branch members. They go teaching with us throughout the week so we've gotten to be good friends with them. They were holding two Easter baskets, one for Sister Hacking and one for me! Sweet huh? So don't worry Mee, I got an Easter basket. E. Bunny remembers missionaries. :)

I had my best Easter I ever had. I didn't know anything could beat being at home with the family around the TV watching conference, going on the family hunt for our baskets and cutting into my peanut butter peppermint place egg, but sorry (no offense!) it did! Sister Hacking and I went to our older investigator (John Saltsman)'s home and picked him up and walked with him to the bus while rounding up 3 more people by convincing them to "come hear the prophet speak to the world". It was so funny because we rode the bus to the church, sister hacking sitting my some teaching a speed version of the restoration, and me doing the same with the others. I couldn't bear the thought that people were just out about when the prophet and his apostles were speaking. They all really liked conference. So yeah, we rode the bus to the church and then it's a little bit of a walk from the bus stop to the church. We were walking with our clan from downtown Ithaca. I'm sure it was a funny sight. Vivian, Lisa, and Tim (three progressing investigators) were there at the church and so we had a good turn out. I can't wait to meet with them all this week and see what talks stood out to them.

Mom, Elder Ballard's talk was one of my favorite. It made me think of you. I love when he said, "Don't look to contemporary culture, look towards your mothers." I have done that and couldn't have asked for a better, righteous, loving, faithful mother to look towards and try to emulate. I echo Elder Nelson who said, "Teaching moments by my parents have made me who I am today." Dad and Mom, I want all my investigators to just come live at our house! The family home evenings, nightly family dinners, morning prayers, blessings, would all strengthen their testimonies of this being the way to happiness, living the gospel of Jesus Christ in our homes.

It was made so clear to me this conference that I have to teach these people here on my mission like I will teach my own children. They don't have mothers and fathers living the true gospel. Tyesha's dad is not a good role model, Sister Renteria's kids are inactive because she isn't active, etc. I've just seen time and time again out here that the families need righteous mothers and fathers to lead and guide them. That is how the children will follow. This transfer I am focusing on the parents out here. We will get these families strong so they can then affect their generations to come.

I love you so much!