Monday, June 28, 2010

Pray for China!

Hey everyone!
Sounds like the summer is fun and crazy.  Before I forget, good luck to you this week Sister Stevens!  The MTC is wonderful and the field is even better.  You will literally be the tool Heavenly Father uses to help people there in Boston return home to live happily.  People will thank you for your service and for teaching them these eternal principles that will bring them joy far beyond their imaginations.  Congratulations on being worthy and willing to sacrifice 18 months to serve the Lord and people there.  You will come to love Him and those you serve more than anyone or anything.  I thank God for letting me have this experience every morning and night.  It's so worth it.  You will learn to recognize the spirit and it will bless you for your whole life.  I can't imagine not having learned what I've learned in this short time.  I am so grateful for this opportunity.
 Also, congratulations Elder Wallace on your mission call!  Guadalajara Mexico will be blessed because they're receiving a tremendous missionary!
 Mom, Happy Birthday this week!  I love you and I'll be thinking about you on your birthday!  How old are you turning ;)  I love that you and Dad can never remember.  ha ha.
 Well, things are going well.  I got a new companion and we're moving this P-day and next, to a new apartment :)  The mission office has been asking us to find one for about a year.  No sister cared though because we're usually only in an area for a couple months, I really wanted out of our place though.  It's so bad.  When I got Sister Johnston as a companion and she was going home the next month, I knew I'd be staying in Ithaca and got really motivated to find a place.  The mission office approved it, so it'll take lots of sorting and cleaning out of sister's thing out of this apartment to finally get over there.  Just imagine, an accumulation of stuff missionaries have left for 8 years.  I've been dumping a lot!
 On Wednesday we went to Utica to "Transfer Meeting" where most of the missionaries who are gettting a new companion meet and have lunch and swap companions.  It's always fun to see old friends.  My new companion came straight from the MTC.  Her name is Sister Cox, from Lehi, Utah.
 It was sad to say bye to Sister Johnston, but good to have a change, like always.  President Bulloch took all the trainers in for a meeting and told us, "If you make your companions just like you, I'll be satisfied."  He said before he picks the new a.p., zone leaders, or district leaders, he picks the trainers.  There were 10 new missionaries and he told us the new missionaries and us make up about 20% of the missionaries and that we can have a dramatic impact on the culture of the mission. 
 I've tried to set the bar high because I know how she's trained will impact the type of missionary she is her whole 18 months.  I was trained by a wonderful missionary and got to see her on Wednesday. :)  I am so grateful for President's inspiration.  I know he lives close to the spirit and that we are put with our companions for a reason.  I know I can learn a lot from sister cox.
 Two of our most progressing investigators are from china and will be returning in the coming year.  They are worried that if they get baptized that they won't be able to live their covenant there.  We're putting a lot of emphasis on the eternal significance of the ordinance this week and they're continuing to pray and seek for answers.  I love how diverse it is here.
 Well, I have to go but I love you and love the lord, this work, and the people in Ithaca.
Happy birthday mom!  Have a great week everyone!  Thanks for the emails and prayers

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Labor of Love

Dear Family,
I miss all of you!  How is everything going?  Mom, your email was the best yet, so long and detailed and I loved it.  Also, Andrea and Jeff, thanks for your emails.  I'm printing them out and handwriting you replies.  Liz, thank you so much for sending my mom those pictures of our friend's wedding festivities.  Tis the season!  Geez louise, will any of you be single to room with me when I go back to the Y?  I guess I can count on Liz and Tricia, my missionaries.  I got a letter from Tricia.  She's loving the MTC.  She has visitor center training now and goes to temple square in one week.  She said never in her life has she felt God being so pleased with a decision she's made.  She knows it's right where he needs her to be.  She dated Collin for two years, and left him for her mission!  And Liz, you go into the MTC Wednesday!  I am so proud of you.  You already love the Lord so much, in showing him you are willing to sacrifice to help others come to know and follow him.  Your love for him and his gospel will only grow, and just like Tricia and I feel, you will feel and know he is pleased with your decision and that you are doing exactly what He has planned for you and His children you will touch.  I will send you a letter to the MTC this week!  :)  Go gettem' girl!
Happy Anniversary Andrea and Todd!  Get a babysitter and go out for dinner or something.  You deserve it.  You are a great couple and wonderful parents, I love you lots.  Dad, I'm glad you got my card.  On Sunday I randomly said, "Happy Father's Day Dad" hoping you heard ;)  The gift I've been working on is almost ready to send.
Well, NEWS from Ithaca:
1. It's my companion's last day today.  I can't even imagine how hard it must be.  She's so funny and says all the time, "I don't think I'll have too hard of an adjustment when I get home."  So that's good.  Ha ha.
2. I'm training a new missionary!  Saturday night were transfer calls.  The Zone Leaders called us and I was really surprised.  I've only been out 6 months.  Since my companion and I came out there has only been one other sister come out.  There are a total of 12 sisters in the mission right now.  Two are leaving tomorrow, and two new ones are coming in.  One of which will be my new companion.  Training will be a good experience.  A few weeks ago President Bulloch came down and interviewed the Ithaca Elders and Sisters and during my interview he listed off all these compliments to me.  It was really nice.  Then he said, "You've got it all Sister Zwick, and the Lord is telling me you need to train..."  I didn't want to expect it because I knew things could always change, but I guess he really felt like I need to train.  I was working in Syracuse with Sister Stewart and told her about my interview.  I said, "I don't even know how to train.  I'm just going to do everything you did and then I'll know I'm doing it right."  She was a great trainer.  Obedience with exactness, hard work, following the promptings from the Spirit, and loving the Lord and the people here is what I'm going to try to pass down to my companion.  
The Lord is blessing us tremendously.  Two of our investigators are praying about a baptismal date.  The chinese literature proffessor, Xun Dai, and Zach a 25 year old who has met with sisters for years.  He said he's finally ready! 
I will handwrite home a couple of neat stories from this week.  I'm attaching some pictures from this week as well.
I love you and hope you have a wonderful week.  We're off to meet the Elders to play TENNIS!
Love, Sister Zwick
picture details:
1: last Monday with District at five guys
2: On campus after meeting with Xun Dai
I don't have time to explain the rest.  The black guy plays on Harlom Globe Trotters (I think that's the name)!  He's less active.  We meet with him once a week.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

I miss you!

Hi Zwick family,
How are you?  Mom thank you so much for your letter this week.  I loved reading about the crazy summer schedule!  It sounds like the transition from Nevada to Utah is not hard at all.  It's so fun you get to spend time with all the cousins and grandparents again.  I bet they just love that.  On that note, have you talked to Uncle Craig lately?  I really want him to come out and visit my mission if he can.  President Bulloch would just love it.  And I know us missionaries would be uplifted and edified by him.  Elder Marlin K. Jensen of the seventy came last October and the mission held an "All mission conference."  The missionaries are always referencing to something he said and applying it to the work.  Hopefully Uncle Craig and Aunt Jan can send in a word of reccommendation to the first presidency and set something up.
Matt, BYU tennis camp was the best.  That and EFY were the highlights of my summer.  I hope you have fun this week!  And Ash, you leave tomorrow for your trip!  Don't forget to journal at every church history site you visit.  On heritage tours I had some of the most testimony building experiences, with the exception of my mission.  I refer to them often and share them with people here.  It's a great opportunity to feel the spirit and get answers to your prayers.  I am so excited for you!  You'll have to write me on it, if you can.  I'll be thinking about you out here.  We'll be in such close proximity for a few weeks:)
Well, my companion and the departing missionaries go to the Palmyra temple and some church history sites tomorrow.  I don't know if I've told you, but President and Sister Bulloch take the missionaries who are leaving to the temple to do an endowment session a few days before they leave.  It's the only time in our mission we are able to leave the mission boundaries, to go to the temple.  She's really looking forward to it.  Tonight we're traveling to Syracuse to spend the night with Sister Stewart and Sister Batchi.  Then in the morning Sister Batchi and Sister Johnston will leave to meet the other departing missionaries and President and Sister Bulloch in Utica.  From there that group goes to Palmyra for the day.  I will be spending the day on "exchange" serving in Syracuse with my former companion, Sister Stewart.  It'll be fun.  I wish she could come to Ithaca because I hate leaving my area for a day or more.  It puts a damper on the week, but syracuse is on the way to Utica so it works best that way.
I'm not sure I like seeing missionaries have to go home!  It's so sad!  I hated seeing Sister Hacking leave and it will be sad to see Sister Johnston go too.  The mission becomes your life and it just seems sad to leave it all behind.  It makes me really grateful that I still have a year left, and it has made me appreciate each day and each opportunity to bear testimony to the people here.
We have had a wonderful week!  Yesterday Xun Dai (who I wrote home to you about) came to church.  He is the literature professor from China, who loves the Bible and believes in God.  Hard to find Chinese immigrants with that testimony.  His wife and son are coming in a few weeks and he asked if they can learn too.  He loves it.  I love watching it click with him as he repeats back to us in his own words what we teach him.  He loved church and has a chinese fellowshipper, who comes teaching with us.  They've become really good friends.  Xun's english is pretty good but if he ever needs more clarification, Brother Shum explains it in Chinese.
We've taught people from Burma and China.  Two countries that have not been open to missionaries yet.  It's been amazing to see how prepared people are in these countries.  Just wanting to learn more.  June See (a recent convert from Burma) has expressed to us quite a few times how she knows God led her family to America so that she could learn about the church.  As I've met and taught these foreigners, it's been a testimony to me that God does lead and guide our lives if we let him.  I feel like we've taught people from every country.  It's so neat.  I know God has led them to us to teach them the gospel.  We are teaching a woman named Amanda (a visiting scholar from China, too) who wants to meet with us EVERY DAY.  She has been to temple square and met missionaries there.  She loves us and every time we meet she says, "I AM SO LUCKY TO MEET WITH YOU."  It's really cool that God still finds ways for his children to find the gospel, even if it's not being taught to them in their home country.
Well, I have to go.  I miss and love you all.  It sounds like Rach's wedding was fun.  I thought about you all there Saturday evening.  Congratulations Rachael and Jon!  Also, thanks so much for attending Sister Hacking's homecoming.  It's so weird you got to meet and hug a girl I spent months with and was just with a few weeks ago!  I love her and miss her.  I'm doing well and I'll be emailing you on Tuesday next week instead of Monday.  It's transfer week :)  President said I get to stay in Ithaca!!  I'm so happy!
Well, have a good week!  Travel safe to and from Nevada and Utah!
Love, Sister Zwick

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Ithaca is Gorges"

Summer is beautiful here!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Tyesha is back!!!

Hey Family!
Well before I forget, HAPPY GRADUATION DAY "HASH"!  I just got your graduation announcement today.  Perfect timing :)  Zwick timing.  Ha ha.  I saw that it's at noon, so it's going on right now!  Usually Mom's on to email back and forth but I figure you're all there in the Thomas and Mack Center.  Is that where the UNLV basketball games are?  Your graduation picture was really pretty Ash.  You're so cute!  My companion thinks so too.  I'm sorry I'm not there.  I love you and I'm so stinkin proud of you!  What an exciting day!  It really is one of the best days.  And then you get to go on your church history trip like Heritage Tours.  Aw, I think about h.t. almost every day, especially being out here in the east.  You have to send me a copy of your itinerary.  I want to see if you ever enter my mission.  Also, is there a way I can write you on your tour?  Let me know.  Have such a fun day today!  Congrats!
And Steph, Happy Birthday on Saturday!  Something is coming in the mail.  What are you doing for it?  Anything fun?  I bet Mike will do something good.  I remember when he got you golf clubs last year!  Geez, that guy knows how to do birthdays.  No pressure now Mike.  ha ha.  I love you "dess" and hope you have a really good birthday.  I'll be thinking about you.
And Rachael stinkin Martin, you are not getting married this Saturday.  We are supposed to be roomies again when I get back.  jk.  Girl, I am soooooo sad I'm not going to be in the sealing room.  I know it will be such a beautiful day.  You will look gorgeous I'm sure.  You'll be in my thoughts.  I miss and love you!  Tell Jon I love him too.  What a perfect couple you are.  Good luck this week and I miss you!
K now onto my life out here.  I didn't email early this morning because we were on a hike.  Sister Johnston and I decided to hike to this waterfall called Lucifer Falls.  Don't worry, we didn't get in the water.  With a name like that, it wasn't too tempting.  It was 5 miles of winding trails and craggy gorges.  Everyone has shirts around here that says, "Ithaca is gorges" and it's true.  There were four waterfalls on the hike.  It was soooooo pretty!  I was thinking, "hmmm maybe I could live in New York" and then I remembered the winter time.  I'll send some pictures.
Well, it was an amazing week.  God does inspire President Bulloch.  I know being here in Ithaca is exactly where I need to be.  I love meeting people and hearing our investigators share struggles that someone in our family or I have dealt with.  It's a testimony to me that through other people the Lord meets our needs.  People have done it to me in my life and it feels good to be that tool he uses to help people here.
You will not believe who showed up to church with her entire family.  TYESHA!  We met with her on Thursday and brought a woman in the ward along with us, Sister Stone.  Who Tyesha just loves.  There was an incredible spirit present.  Tyesha is like an open book, and always has been.  She pours out her heart openly and honestly to those she trusts.  It was neat to see the conversation start with her talking about being in the choir at her Dad's church, and then slowly hear her express the difference in feeling between the two churches: the baptist church her dad is a pastor at and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.  She explained that she hasn't gone one day without thinking about her baptism and the woman at the church.  She said she looks at the CTR magnet on her fridge every day and wonders, "Did I really choose the right?"  She then explained experiences like walking into her bedroom and seeing her picture album flipped open to her baptism picture!  Out of all the pictures, the pages were turned to that one.  Sister Johnston, Sister Stone and I used it as an opportunity to bear testimony to Tyesha about the Holy Ghost and his continuous promptings.  I shared with her the experiences before coming on my mission, where it was like every where I looked or any one I talked to mentioned missionary work, and until I finally decided to start my papers, the promptings would not stop.  We explained that when God wants us to do something he's subtle, but doesn't give up on us, and won't until we listen.  Before we knew it she said, "I'm going to tell my dad to not come and pick us up this weekend.  I'm going to the Mormon church."  We told her it was fast Sunday and she said, "I will fast on Sunday and see if I get a clearer answer as to where God wants me to be."  Saturday her kids came to the Primary activity and on Sunday we got her a ride to church.  The Bishop was grinning ear to ear.  Every woman in the relief society loves her because she was such a strength to the ward when she was there.  It felt sooooo good to see her whole family there in the congregation again.  I was able to sit by her kids and they drew me pictures just like the old days!  She was brought to tears in Relief Society and is coming the the Relief Society craft night this week.  Slowly she is coming back!  She knows the church is true.  With time she will eventually be able to come every week.
I can't imagine the pressure she must feel from her Dad.  I don't know how I was so blessed to be born into a family in the gospel.  But I will never take it for granted.  She said, "Every time I sit at my Dad's church I wonder what you are doing at your church.  I think about the bread and water and relief society."  I do know that she felt the spirit yesterday.  She was even taking notes in classes.  She said she wishes she could just bring all these ideas to her Dad's church.  It doesn't really work that way.  ha ha.  She did say she's always supported her family in what they do and eventually when her dad builds up his congregation, she won't feel as pressured to be there and she can come weekly to our church.  After Relief Society she said, "I wish I could be here every week, but I can't."  I love her so much. 
During Elder Eyring's talk in the past General Conference on "Helping them on their way home" I could not stop thinking about her, and knew it was the spirit telling me not to let her slip under the radar.  We had exchanges and the missionaries here went to Tyesha's and when I got back into Ithaca they said, "She didn't want anyone coming by from our church, because she's made her decision to go to her Dad's."  I couldn't believe it, and I'm glad I didn't stop reaching out to her.  I don't know what would've happened if I got transfered!  Anyways, Elder Eyring was speaking about helping children strengthen their faith and if they're off the path, rescue them when they're young.  My mind was only on Tyesha and I kept thinking, "We need to help rescue her NOW, not later."  Her memory of her baptism and the feelings are still so recent, that it will be easiest right now.  I feel like God kept me here in Ithaca for that reason, to help her and her family come back.  I have not given up on her and I never will.  Her Dad will always be pulling at her, her whole life.  So she needs the love and support on this end.  I am so happy she came on Sunday.  She said she is making it a goal to come every fast Sunday.  I love her so much.  I am so proud of her.  The whole ward was so happy to see her.  During Sacrament meeting her girls would whisper, "There is my teacher" and point to their primary teacher.  They love church.  Tyesha is such a strong woman.  She's great.
Well, I have to go but I love you all so much.  I've been getting really happy about the Alpine move decision.  Can I have my same room back please?  And I keep seeing little dogs.  How is Howie doing?  I never thought I'd say this, I miss Mr. H! 
Thanks for all your support and prayers.  I love missionary work.  There is nothing that brings greater joy and satisfaction than helping people on their path back to eternal life.  Nothing.  I just love it and I hope I can do this forever. 
I love you!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Sorry, Late!

Hey Mom!
You're probably freaking because I didn't write you on Monday.  It was Memorial Day and as you figured, the libraries were closed.  Then yesterday we were just busy busy and couldn't find a slot to fit in email time.  However, I am alive and happy, so have no fear.  Haha.
We just got back into town from a Zone Conference.  I love Zone Conferences because of the strength it is to be around other missionaries.  There is such power in a group like that bearing testimony and sharing experiences.  And then to top it off we have President Bulloch, who is a former religious professor at SUU.  It made for a very inspiring and uplifting day.  I always get back from those just so rejuvinated, like nothing can bring me down.  ha ha.  The theme was: Understanding and Teaching the Doctrine of Christ, (which is essentially our purpose, stated in PMG, to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them recieve the restored gospel...) by using the scriptures and the spirit.  It was really good and I'll write home more about it.
Well, it sounds like the Jergensen farewell and homecoming were great!  I wish I was there for that hour to hear them all speak and then I'd come back to New York.  Too bad we don't get little vacays like that.  ha ha.  Welcome home Jase!  I love you and this work is wonderful!  I'm really sorry you're home.  ha ha.  That must stink.  I have just fallen in love with this calling and there is nothing that makes me more happier.  I can't even imagine ever having to take off my name tag.  Luckily I don't have to for awhile.  But I am proud of you and know you touched many people's lives there in England.  Now go help your parents out in Iowa!  They will be just so awesome!
A couple things I need: Em and Chad's new address, and steph's address.  Em, I just sent you a letter but mailed it to Mom, so mom, forward it to her asap.
I'll tell you a couple things that have made this past week a week of miracles:
We had planned to see a former investigator because we were in the area, but he wasn't home.  But as we were walking away from his house, we heard something in some trees.  We are like dogs I swear, our ears perk up at any noise.  Any opportunity to talk to someone new is what we look for.  So we get around the trees and see 3 hispanics sitting in their front yard, watching tv.  ha ha (I know, weird!)  They started speaking spanish and my senora schwarz spanish class vocab didn't get us very far.  Right then a woman walked past and said hello to them.  She was American, and her name is Claire.  She went on to tell us she speaks both english and spanish.  We told her we wanted to watch this DVD (the restoration DVD- in spanish, that I luckily had in my bag).  The Lord truly put her in our path to help us translate to them.  Claire sat there with us and we all enjoyed the restoration DVD.  They LOVED IT!  They all came to church on Sunday, and Saturday we called all the RM's in the ward who served spanish speaking missions.  The whole ward was stoked and spanish was being spoke all through the chapel.  We had another lesson with them yesterday and brought Sister Halcomb (a native guatemalan).  Since they're from Guatemala it was a miracle!  They were kissing her cheeks and just thanking us from the bottom of their hearts for all we've brought to them.  I know God led us to that street for them and that Sister Halcomb's fellowship was also inspired by him.  Sister Halcomb loves them and keeps calling us to see what more she can do! 
I'm almost out of time but one more thing is that we met a guy this week who already has a testimony of Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon!  WHAT!?!?!  Seriously!!!  He met with missionaries in Lions (supposedly near palmyra) years ago but was never baptized.  It was a blessing that the Lord put him in our path too.
I just know that this is the most important work.  I know God loves all of his children.  They chose his plan before they came here and it is up to us, who have testimonies to help them feel of His love and the great plan He has for them.  I love the Savior and know he is with us, even when we don't feel like he is.
I love you and miss you, but know this is exactly where God needs me.  Keep fulfilling your callings.  He needs us!
Have a great week!
Love, Sister Zwick