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.
"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." -Joseph Smith
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Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission PO Box 149 Whitesboro, NY 13492-0149
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"We have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work" Alma 26:3
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Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.
"Young men and women who serve missions are never the same. They return home with qualities and strengths that seem to come from no other experience. They know, as they never knew before, that this work is true and that it is the most important work on the face of the earth. They return home with a desire to continue to serve. They have established a foundation on which to grow in future responsibilities."--President Gordon B. Hinckley, Dec. 1986
“The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, ‘The work is done.”
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We thank thee oh God for a prophet
Thomas S. Monson- 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." Margaret D. Nadauld (General Conference Address ~ October 7, 2000)