Monday, May 24, 2010

Summer... I think!

Hey family!

Oh my, it is finally warm!  :)  I am sooooo happy!  For so many reasons!  One, because the sun is shining, which hardly ever happens in Ithaca.  Two, because it was an exhausting but fruit filled week.  And three, because I get to be a part of the best causes in the world.

I just feel so incredibly grateful to be here.  It's so nice of Heavenly Father to trust us with helping His children!  I am so glad he allows us to get to experience a smidge of the love he has for all human kind.  Because of this trust he's put in me with calling me here to do his work, I'm trying hard not to mess it up.  ha ha.  Every minute I try to keep that perspective, that I'm serving on his and his son's behalf.  Every minute is theirs.  This week we've worked like crazy.  We decided not to come home for any meals so we could testify to more people as we ate our sack lunches and dinners downtown.  We set a goal to talk to 800 new people this transfer.  Not just talking to them but really inviting them to live the gospel.  We found 5 new really interested investigators this week because of it.  We've been testifying like crazy and it makes me so thankful for what I know.  We are sooooo blessed to know that this is the true church.  It's so sad how many are so confused and hardhearted to not even listen.  Some people hate us around here, and other people love us.   

Sister Johnston goes home in a few weeks so I told her she's gonna go home with a bang!  Yesterday she said, "Being in a walking area really makes me appreciate my past areas with a car."  I can't even imagine having a car!  I bet it'd be a hinderance because it seems like you'd have to drive past so many people outside that you could potentially be talking to.  We borrowed the Elder's car a couple weeks ago to drive Sister Hacking to her Dr's appointment and we stopped at a drive-thru on the way home too.  I felt like I was living the most luxurious lifestyle!  Just not being on my feet and eating a Mcdonald's ice cream cone.  Ridiculous, I know, but the Elders and missionaries with cars do not even know how easy they have it.  We spend hours on p-day getting our laundry from our apartment, down the hill to the laundromat, and back up the hill and same with our groceries.  You'd all laugh if you saw us.  I feel stupid wearing my name-tag on Pdays when we carry our laundry all around town because I know it looks so informal.

Anyways, I feel like singing that song, "Where in the world is Carmen San Diego?" and replacing it with Jeff's name!  What the!  He's just in South America traveling for no good reason!  Who does that?  That's so awesome!  It's like he's trying to live his mission all over again, except not preaching the gospel.  Hopefully he brought pass along cards or book of mormons or something!

Such good news as far as investigators go!  You know Sarah Renteria, who has 4 kids, 3 of which have been baptized and now are inactive?  SHE WANTS TO BE BAPTIZED!  We set her with a date last Tuesday for June 19th!  I know it's soooo crucial for her to become a member in order to reactivate her kids.  They only come to church if she does.  It's made me so happy to see them ALL at church just because she's now decided to start coming.

Part-member families are the ultimate best to work with!  The Lord has been preparing Sarah for this step for awhile but not until recently have the doors really opened.  She was smoking a lot but then got re-diagnosed with lung cancer.  The dr.s told her she needed to quit, so she did! :)  Then her husband (who is really against the church) decided he wanted a divorce (which has been hard on her), but it is a blessing in disguise.  She's been trying to look at the positives, and told us she can finally join the church since he moved out on Friday!  God makes miracles happen.

We are also teaching this amazingly spiritual couple named Tina and Larry.  Larry pretty much begged us on Wednesday to set him with a baptism date.  But considering that he's only been taught the restoration and he was drinking a cup of coffee as he begged, we are going to wait.  ha ha.  He still needs to be taught more and gain a testimony.  However, everything is ringing true with him and her.  They know the bible like the back of their hand.  It's really fun to teach them from the book of mormon.  We cross reference and go to town.  They love it and have not found one contradiction yet.  And they won't!  I love the Book of Mormon so much.

Well, I have to go now but I did cut my hair.  It's so short!  I'll attach pictures.

Tell all the Zwick side hello and give Laurie, Dirk, and Jason a hug from me!

I love you all!

p.s. Tricia Carlile!  Good luck entering the MTC this wednesday girl.  I will write you there, you'll love this!!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Lots of changes!

Dear my awesome family,

I have so much to tell you and don't even know where to start, so hopefully my email makes sense because I have a million things on my mind.  I guess it's not any different than the usual.  ha ha

First of all, Bri, I am so so so excited for you and your upcoming mission!  BOSTON!!!  Way cool!  College town, like Ithaca!  You will absolutely love your mission.  I think we lucked out and got the two best stateside missions possible... new york and massachussetts!  God must love us ;)  I started a letter to you today so it'll be coming.  I love you and I'm so excited for you.  When I heard that's where you were called it sounded perfect for you.  I know there are people there waiting for your testimony and personality.  Only you will be able to reach them and help them in their journey back to Heavenly Father.  It's so rewarding and fun.  I've been thinking about you lots.

Thanks for the pictures and package, Mom.  Congrats again to Steph, Jeff and Mike.  It was so funny that Steph had like a hood thing!  What was that?  I can just see Jeff making fun of it.  I also loved the one with G and G in the Marriot center with completely empty seats in the background.  We are always the LAST ones out of any place!  Some things never change.  I just love our family.  I miss you guys.  Steph, I hope you and Mike had a good one year anniversary!  Crazy your wedding was a year ago!  I remember it like yesterday.  I think about that song, "What Heaven Sees in You" a lot.  Remember when Ash and I sang that at your wedding luncheon?  The spirit was so strong.  You and Mike are perfect for each other and I really miss crashing on the mattress in the middle of your living room.  

Well, Friday night we got a voicemail from President Bulloch saying to give him a call and that he had some things to discuss with us.  I knew it was going to be something concerning a transfer change (which had already come and gone) or Sister Hacking's health.  Sister Hacking called him back and he said that Sister Purdy (a Sister missionary in the mission who is actually from Highland and came out a transfer before me) has to go home Saturday morning (so the next morning) for surgery.  Then he said, "Her companion, Sister Johnston needs to go somewhere.  Sister Bulloch and I have been thinking, since you're sick that we should send her to Ithaca and she and Sister Zwick could go out and work and you could stay with a ward member on the days you aren't feeling well.  Discuss it with Sister Zwick and call me back."  I was so excited inside, but didn't want to show it because I knew Sister Hacking was already feeling bad that she was holdind up the work since she'd constantly need to sit down throughout the day etc.  I hated it.  So I was like, "Yeah, I think it would be good, don't you?"  She's like, "Yeah."  So she called him back and he's like, "Alright we'll be in town tomorrow afternoon with her."  Well, Saturday morning we went our like normal and Sister Hacking had only slept 2 hours the night before.  :(  Her numbness and back pain kept her up all night!  She is relentless though.  We went to a few of our appointments and around noon she's like, "Sister Zwick, can we go sit down?"  She hardly ever was the one to tell me she needed to sit down, I always was the one to ask her if she needed to and she'd then say yes, so I knew she wasn't feeling well since she spoke up first.  So we're walking to a bench and all of a sudden we hear a honk!  It was President and Sister Bulloch with Sister Johnston!  They asked if we had had lunch yet and treated us to lunch.  Sister Bulloch said, "Sister Hacking, by the way that you're standing, holding your left arm it looks like it's in pain."  Sister Hacking started crying.  We all sat there at the table in Ithaca bakery and she just cried.  We ate as Sister Bulloch rubbed her back etc.  Then we had an appointment.  So Sister Hacking and I met with Larry (an incredible investigator) who downright loves the BOM and I could tell she was still in pain throughout the lesson.  She could barely teach.  We met the Bullochs back at the restaurant again and they drove us to our apartment.  We all went in and brought Sister Johnston's luggage in.  So we were expecting to be a 3-some.  Then, Sister Bulloch looked at Sister Hacking and said, "Have you ever considered going home?"  She shook her head no.  President Bulloch gave her a talk on digression and valor and how we can't run faster than we have strength, etc.  Sister Bulloch called a doctor and did some tests there in our apartment with a safety pin which disclosed how numb she really was.  She couldn't feel the pricking on her left hand.  The mission doctor advised to send her home because left side numbness signifies, heart failure supposedly.  Idk.  It was so sad.  There in our apartment President Bulloch told her he feels strongly that she needs to go home and get the medical attention.  The spirit was strong as he told her.  I know it's what needed to happen too, but she was not happy.  She flew hom yesterday and now I'm with an amazing missionary, Sister Johnston.  She goes home in 6 weeks.  She's healthy and we hit the pavement hard all weekend.  It felt soooo good.  I love sister Hacking.  We became best friends.  Will you call her mom?  Please.  I know she's probably hating being home.  Maybe you or grandparents or someone can go to her homecoming?  (in utah) 

She flew home yesterday.  President Bulloch and Sister Bulloch came and picked her up at church.  She wouldn't stop crying.  It all happened really fast and unexpectedly, but I know God knows more than us, and the work goes on.  

I'll handwrite more about the work.  It will be an amazing transfer.  We're setting two mothers with baptismal dates this week and next.

I have to go but I love you all so much!

Have a good week!

p.s. liz cosper: congrats on your call! tennessee baby!  they are so lucky!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Ithaca: 10 square miles surrounded by reality

There are bumper stickers that say that, 10 square miles surrounded by reality.  Ithaca is such a cute little city and I've fallen in love with it.  I am really happy I get to stay here to continue to work with the people we are teaching.  They have big barriers, which every person seems to have when it comes to living the gospel, but Sister Hacking and I have helped them rely on the Savior and prayer to slowly illiminate the problems in their life.  I think it comes with serving in a downtown area.  It's just ghetto, so drugs, poverty, unhappiness, single parenting, is all more prevalent.  But the transformation of someone who has been living in such a lifestyle and then begins to change by living the principles we teach is even that much cooler.  It's hard to get them to keep commitments and even get them to church because no one has cars, but that's where the member support comes in.  It takes a lot of assertiveness (which I've never been good at) but I've really how people are willing to help and serve.  I loved Elder Uchtdorfs talk this past conference on committing to be the Lord's hands.  I absolutely love these people, no matter how bad their house smells like cat, or how smokey their breath is.  I love them and I love trying to help them in any way I can.  The part in his talk about a ward seeing people as, "canned food members" I could totally relate to.  We bring people to church who don't look like they'd fit in AT ALL, but the ward has loved them regardless and our investigators and recent converts DO feel at home when they come to church.  It's so peaceful for them.  

Anyways, I just loved talking to you all.  Sorry it was so short.  Steph, I wish I could have talked to you too.  And Mike, I am so sorry I left your name out of the last email.  You're the newest to the family, but that should not justify it.  I'm so sorry.  I get typing and get kind of spacey.  ha ha 

This past week was wonderful.  Saturday was Joey's baptism.  So a quick story about him... when he was born he wasn't going to live.  His mom had prayed and told God, "If you save my son, I'll raise him in the church."  He lived and is now a member.  :)  At the time of his birth, she wasn't going to church and up until the other Sister's found her she hadn't been going.  They worked with her and then I got here and continued to work with her and her family.  She (Tracey) had to give up smoking and drinking to be baptized.  She did though and it was so cool to see how devoted she became.  So she's the one we baptized in February and this month both of her boys we've worked with entered the waters of baptism.  She has evolved into a "normal" (if there is such a thing) member!  Instead of sitting in the back, she gets there early (with help from Sister Koltko) in the ward, and gets a bench seat.  She doesn't yell at her boys in the home anymore.  She is a completely different person!  The gospel when lived, changes lives.  She even wanted to speak at the baptism.  It was so sweet to see her tear up and look at her son and say, "I never thought this day would come."  Her simple testimony invited the spirit and those in the ward who were in attendance gained a greater love for her.  I know it is crucial to get the parents to gain a testimony before the children.  Then at church on Sunday in Gospel Principles the teacher had everyone go around and say why it is a special day for them.  She said, "Today is a special day for me because my son recieved the gift of the holy ghost." 

I know that the parent's influence is essential to lasting conversion.  Mom and Dad, because of your examples I came to gain my own testimony.  So thank you.  I failed to tell my grandmas all happy mothers day!  and Em and Annie!  You're all idols to me.  I look up to you and hope to someday be the kind of mother you are and have been to your kids.  You're the best. 

I have to go but here is my email to president bulloch because it says stuff I didn't have time to write you about.  I'll handwrite home today more about my companion's sickness.  ugh it's dumb. 

Love you Mom and Dad and family! 

p.s. congrats daniel!  thanks for the announcement!  That's way awesome!

Monday, May 3, 2010


Hey Mom,
Thanks for the email and updates.  Okay so about the Mother's Day call.  Ah, it'll be so much fun!  We only have 40 minutes to talk.  I will be calling at 8:15 my time, which will be 5:15 (I think?) your time.  We can't do skype, because we'll be calling from our apartment and obviously don't have internet there.  If you want, we can do a conference call, but I'm not sure how to do that.  I don't want to waste all our time trying to figure it out though because like I said, we only have 40 minutes :(  It's a rule, that we can't talk longer than that.  I actually like the rules.  It would be too hard to talk longer.  Our mission president gave us this quote that I think is by Elder Packer that I have above my desk.  It says something like, "When obedience ceases to become an irritant and becomes our quest, it is in that moment the powers of heaven are revealed."  I think I butchered it.  Before my mission I thought the missionaries who kept all the rules were goody goody but I've seen that the most successful missionaries, those who have the spirit with them, which is essential to the work, are the ones who keep all the rules.  So just think, even though it's 40 minutes, I'll be able to have the powers of heaven (the spirit of the Lord) with me that whole next week to help the people here.  It's worth it.  I can't wait to hear your voices!  Sister Hacking said she didn't even recognize her little brother because his voice was so low compared to when she left home.  I wonder if Matty will sound different to me.  I got him a little birthday gift that I'm sending home today.  I love you buddy!  I can't wait to talk to you, and everyone else!  Now that I think about it, a 3 way conference call would be fun.  Just figure it all out beforehand if you can... so then maybe Em and Chad and Steph and Mike could all be in on the conversation.  I really want to talk to them too, especially Em and Chad since I didn't have time in the airport to call them in January.  Mom, I'll call your phone k?  Oh and if you are busy eating Sunday dinner, don't worry about answering, we can talk on Christmas ;)
It's been a wonderful week of missionary work.  We found three new investigators, and they're all really interested.  I have this pit in my stomach that I'll have to leave Ithaca next transfer and I get sick thinking about it.  It'll be worse than leaving home.  I keep praying that I'll be able to have more trust that this is not my work but His and that he'll help me feel okay about possibly leaving.  But, I just can't feel good about it.  So, maybe that means I'm staying and it isn't time for me to leave Ithaca?  We find out on Saturday, so the night before I call you.  If I am getting transfered be prepared, I'll probably be a wreck.  Dad, Andrew, Jeff, Chad, how did you feel okay leaving an area when there is so much more to be done there?  I know it's all about trust, trusting the Lord, trusting that my mission president is inspired, trusting that future Sisters here will follow the spirit as they help these people.  But I worry because our investigators have big barriers, or sins that they need to get over, and I can just see a Sister coming in and giving up on all of them, and searching out 'the elect'.  The thing is, sin is everywhere... there aren't too many people who are just ready to get baptized.  They take work, and helping them rely on the Savior's mercy is what it's all about.  When they sacrifice their sins and change to start living the gospel, that is where their testimony grows.  I've enjoyed so much working with people who have big struggles.  No one is exempt from the message.  Anyways, the thought of leaving Ithaca is like leaving an unfinished scrapbook page at Kristen Shelley's for her to finish.  ha ha.  jk.  I guess I need to strengthen my testimony in letting God's will be done, and let him be in control no matter how I feel about it.
Joey is going to be baptized on Saturday.  The whole family has blossomed.  I just love what the gospel can do.  It seriously can change someone both physically and spiritually.  I know that is the kind of healing I've had throughout my life from the gospel, both physical and spiritual healing.  In the Book of Mormon I was reading about Nephi prophesying of Christ's ressurrection and it says, "He'll rise with healing in his wings."  I have such a firm testimony of that.  He is the ultimate healer of any heartache, unhappiness, weakness, everything.  I've seen here that the more I've relied on him through rough patches, he has strengthened me.  I am truly happy even after something goes wrong because I know he feels it too.  I just know without a doubt that he can help anyone.  His atonement is for everyone.  Finding him and living his teachings is the way to happiness independent of circumstance.  I will forever be thankful for this time I have to rely on him and strengthen my relationship with him.  When we magnify our callings and serve as he would, we get to know him in a more personal way than anything else.  I feel his love daily and love to help others come to know of that love.  His arm is always stretched out for us.  We have to help people realize that.  It's our responsibility as members.
Anyways, I've rambled and time is up!  I love you! 
Happy Birthday Andrew, I love you!  Check the mail.  A gift will come in a day or two!
Love, Sister Zwick