School started on Wednesday for Cornell and Ithaca College. There are so many students around, and they are all "busy and never home." But, we are continuing to pray and the Lord continues to bless us!
Kennedy and Adalena (the couple from Manaus) are so golden. I wish that Jeff was there during the lessons. He'd love them. On Wednesday night we had this member come with us who served his mission in Brazil. His brother in law is actually an Elder in our mission (Elder Lewis) so he's really willing to help with the work here in the Utica mission. They enjoy speaking English but when they can't explain their point well, they say it in Portugese and Brother Lewis reiterates it to us. They told us that there in Manaus, they live 4 blocks away from the chapel! They said they have never gone because no one has invited them. Then they said they see the missionaries every day and they said they're always sweating. ha ha. It's pretty sweet that the church is that close to their house. It's also interesting they had to come to America to be exposed to the gospel. This past weekend they went to visit Washington D.C. and asked if we knew of a church address by the hotel they were staying at. Brother Lewis got on their internet and helped them find the nearest one. We are anxious to hear how it went. I love seeing their dedication to church already. We told them about the D.C. temple and they wanted to go there too. So hopefully it all worked out.
Yesterday at church Amanda was glowing. She LOVED the temple. She went with some members on Saturday. We met with her after church and had a short lesson. I love hearing recent convert's testimonies. They get so excited about the little things. We really take the little things for granted. She talked about the temple being white and feeling pure there. She was baptized for ten people. She was really excited because she was able to be baptized for a few of Brother Lowe's (the ward mission leader's) ancestors. She wants to do her mom's temple work. She said she felt like those she got baptized for were happy with her for helping them. I miss the temple soooo much. But there is so much joy in helping people get there and hearing their testimonies of it!
We found three new investigators this week. It'll be fun to see things progress with each of them. I love being in a threesome because we have been going on splits with ward members and as a result, finding more people, teaching more lessons, building member trust, and having member present lessons. It's been wonderful.
Time is short so I have to go. It is getting cooler weather-wise. I'm not sure how I feel about it. It means winter is just around the corner, and my year mark. Time is just flying. It makes me want to give more and more of myself to the people here. It's going really fast.
Well, I love you! I'll reply to your email in my letter I write today. Have a good week!
The church is true! The Holy Ghost does touch hearts and give answer to prayers. I love this work so much! It was an incredible week. I have a testimony that if we just "keep our line in the water" how preach my gospel puts it, the Lord blesses us with prepared people.
Get this: Friday was so hot. We had walked practically our whole area, from appointment to appointment, and not one was home. We had organized a couple splits too, with women in the Relief Society so we could double the missionary effort and we felt bad because it was just one of those days where we got stood up a lot. However, the Lord always provides! We were at our 4th appointment, and drained. It was an older women in these apartments. We buzzed her apartment number and there was no response. Ugh. We had to fill up our water bottles and go to the bathroom so we went inside to the main lobby area and did that. My companions started walking towards an exit we usually don't use and I didn't feel like saying anything. So I just went with it. As we were walking, I saw this woman in the distance. She was big and black and looked exactly like Sister Short in the ward. I said, "Sisters, that lady in the purple is in the ward, her name is Sister Short." As we got closer, it didn't look so much like Sister Short. But she said, "Hello ladies." And so I was like, "Oh it is Sister Short!" We said, "Hello back." And started out the exit. The thought came again though... "That may not be Sister Short." So I obeyed the prompting and said, "Wait, what's your name?" And she's like, "Susan Byrd. I was hopin' you'd stop and talk to me." We came back inside and I said, "You look just like this woman we know. I'm sorry, I kind of assumed you were her!" She said it's not a problem and asked if we could come visit her sometime. Since our appointment had fallen through we asked her if we could visit right now. She excitedly said, "Of course! Come on up!" On the elevator up she said, "I'm so happy I ran into you. I knew I needed to go down and get my mail right then. The Lord knew I needed you." My companions and I kept looking at each other with wide eyes, just amazed at this receptive woman. Long story short, thirty years ago she fed Elders all the time and had been to church and loved it. She said she remembers feeling so good there. As we taught her about the restoration she said, "I feel so touched inside when you talk. I almost feel like crying." We explained how that is the holy ghost witnessing that this is true. We set her with a baptismal date that day! She LOVED church yesterday and sits with all the old ladies. She was hugging and kissing us after church saying she loved it. It is moments like this that make me want to be a missionary forever. She is GOLDEN, seeds were planted years ago by other missionaries and Heavenly Father placed her in our path that afternoon to help her recieve the blessings of the gospel!
After that, on our way home we met a Brazilian man and wife. They speak pretty good English and are looking for a church to go to. They have three kids too. We taught them with a member on Saturday who speaks portugese and they came to church too! They are from Manaus, Brazil. Their names are Kennedy, Neto, Alice, Aline, and Adalena. Well, I have to get going but I'll attach some recent pictures. I love you so much!
p.s. Amanda had a temple reccomend interview yesterday and is going to do baptisms on August 28th with the Ithaca Ward! Neat huh?
It has been an INCREDIBLE week! I'm not just saying that either. How I wish that you could hear Amanda's testimony. On Tuesday evening she was interviewed by President Bush, a member in the mission presidency. We all met at the church. She is so happy (always) and gave us giant hugs when we walked in. We sat in a room and visited with President Bush before she was interviewed. He asked her to tell him a little bit about herself. She started off with why she is here and then just led into her answers to prayer, the feeling she gets at church, and the peace she feels reading the book of mormon. Then she talked about when she first met Sisters at temple square. She said she and her husband were talking about getting a divorce because he didn't like the idea of her being at Cornell for a year. Well, they planned to go one last vacation before the divorce, and one of the places they visited was Salt Lake City and temple square. She went on to say that she met a Sister from Taiwan who bore testimony to her that the family is central to God's plan for us to be happy. Then she said the Sister missionary gave her a Chinese Book of Mormon and they filled out a referral card with her Ithaca address on it :) I still remember receiving the text message from Salt Lake with Amanda's address on it. We planned her into our day and I met her sweet husband, daughter, and herself. We taught a short lesson and her husband just loved it. He can't speak english but she can and so she translated. He went back to China two days later with their daughter and has since finished the Chinese Book of Mormon that was given to them at Temple Square and wants to be baptized too. Amanda told President Bush, "Now that I know the family is so important to God, I know my husband and I can be happy and live together with our daughter forever. We do not want to divorce now." It was amazing, Mom! Heavenly Father led them to Salt Lake to save their marriage and be able to come to know that they can live together forever as a cute little family. Anyways, long story short we exited, she was interviewed, and of course was found worthy. We then moved forward with the baptismal plans for the weekend.
Saturday morning at 11:00 was the baptism. It was beautiful. The spirit was just overwhelming. She wanted to take pictures of everything to send her husband. She said she skyped with him that morning and they prayed together before she came to the church. A woman she loves in the R.S. sang "I Heard Him Come" which was really good. The baptism was performed by the member in the ward that studies a few doors down from her office. He also confirmed her yesterday. Everything was just perfect. Perfect. She glows! She stood and bore her testimony after she changed her clothes. She went on for ten minutes and blew every one away. She began and said, "I am so happy inside. I cannot explain what I feel because it is so good." But of course she couldn't contain herself and started bearing her sweet testimony with so much conviction, "Before I came here I signed a paper that I would not join any church organization, but I am not afraid. I will tell them I believe in God. I will tell them I believe in Joseph Smith." I was thinking, "uh oh." ha ha. Because she is so strong, she will share the gospel when she returns in December. She is going to be influential to the growth of the church there. I swear she's going to be in the General R.S. Presidency one day. It was just a fabulous day and I am so happy. She loves the principles of the gospel and the book of mormon so much.
I feel so blessed to be a part of this life changing and eternal work. I constantly think to myself how loving Heavenly Father is to allow us to be a part of it. If he could, he wouldn't use us, but I am so so so grateful he does. Living the gospel can bring us from depths of sadness to the greatest happiness. I know that the Savior wants us to be happy and that is why he provided us with a way to gain that happiness.
People do not even realize how amazing a mission is. I wouldn't have stayed home for all the money in the world having now seen and felt the happiness serving brings. And it's a win win situation because Heavenly Father will always bless his missionaries when they get back and also the happiness we feel comes from seeing others gain their happiness. Sister Goettsche and I were up until 3:30 last night lying in our beds talking about how we cannot even believe every girl isn't serving a mission. She has had incredible spiritual experiences leading up to this point and a lot are similar to mine, just knowing NY is exactly where we needed to be. It was literally like God was pulling me here with a big fat heavy rope, and I could not deny the spiritual witness knowing I was needed here. It is confirmed to me every day through others showing their gratitude for the message. It is all the spirit working through us though. We do nothing. We just open our mouth and stay worthy and study and love the people and Heavenly Father blesses us to see miracles.
One more thing that has just been confirmed to me, the fulfilling of God's promises in patriarchal blessings. There is this phrase in my blessing that talks about those I teach on my mission and it says, "Great joy will be yours as they extend to you their gratitude for your willingness to teach them those eternal principles which will bring them happiness far beyond their realization." That is so real too. Those I've come to love and teach have expressed so much gratitude to me and I know it's all because of Heavenly Father allowing me to be an instrument. I love God and know he's aware of us and all the details in our lives.
Well, we have to go. I'll write home today. I love you! Have a good week!
Just two days ago in the white handbook it says something like, "Two by two has always been a pattern of the church..." I've found many scriptures talking about in the mouth of two or THREE witnesses every word is established, and other scriptures regarding THREE.
I am in a three-some, and it's a freaking party. I'm nervous to tell President Bulloch truly how fun it is because he could always do an "emergency transfer." Sister Goettsche is the third Sister who joined Sister Cox and I here in Ithaca on Wednesday. She is from Denver area (Colorado) and we are pretty much the same person, it's almost scary. Our lives before our missions are so similar. She was at BYU lived in Helaman Halls, Liberty Square, from a big family, loves to talk and laugh, huge people person, never thought she'd come on a mission but had a few really spiritual confirmations helping her get here. She dated a lot before too, and isn't writing the last boy she dated either. Just everything is mirrored. I didn't think there were cool sister missionaries. It's a relief to finally have one as a companion. Not saying I'm cool. ha ha. I didn't mean it like that. We see eye to eye on everything though, which is NICE. I guess it's only been a week, but we've hit it off. We recognize how it would be hard to be in a three-some if two sisters were really similar, and be the one who isn't, so we've made a conscious effort to not talk about life back home. We don't want Sister Cox to feel left out, because this work isn't about us, it's about working in unity to help the Ithacans. As weird as this sounds, Sister Goettsche and I are trying to not be alike, and not agree. We want it to end up being a positive experience for all of us, and never have it be 2 vs. 1. Sister Goettsche's last name is German too. I don't think I've told you about this Croation (I think it was Croatian) we met who let us in because of my last name being German and said, "Germans were the first to support us in our independence. Come on in!" ha ha. Gotta love any conversation starter.
I'm kind of sad because I left my camera cord at home and have some pictures from this past week I'd like to email you. I'll have to just send them next time.
This past week was wonderful. Every week is just great out here. The Lord just pours out blessings on his missionaries. I am nervous to ever leave this calling because the blessings and spirit is just not the same. I love it.
Saturday was our last lesson with Lu and Xun Dai, the family going back to China. They depart this week. We taught them the Gospel of Jesus Christ as the final lesson. We planned it out where I was covering "baptism" and the spirit was really strong. I just started crying. I feel so strongly that they both are going to be baptized some day. There was just not enough time to help them progress here. We only had a month with them. Then yesterday they came to church for their last Sunday. He brought us gifts, and we got a another picture. I think we're going to come back to the library later today with my camera cord so we can send pictures home. He wanted our email address, so Mom, I gave him yours. ha ha. If Xun (the father) emails you, just forward it to me please. He wants to keep in touch so he can, "continue learning about the gospel." We hooked him up with a lot of church materials and hope he doesn't get in trouble there in China with it all. They were the cutest to teach. I love them so much. I told them I'm going to come visit China one day. Then in his closing prayer (Saturday) he's like, "We hope the Sisters come to China". SAD! I feel like I really have to now! He always says, "I shink if you be in China you be populaaa." He means people there would like the message we share. I can imitate his voice, so when we read the white handbook every morning I read it in our investigator's voices. ha ha. Sister Goettsche calls him, "Chinese Elvis" because when we shook his hand for the last time he wouldn't let go. He kept saying, "Shank you. Shank you very much." I was all teary. Someday that family will be sealed.
I love Asians. I always thought I'd be called to Asia. Don't ask me why. I just could picture myself there. But my mission is everything I've ever imagined. It's the perfect combination of different people and cultures.
Amanda didn't set her baptismal date until August 14th because she's trying to finish the Book of Mormon beforehand. Isn't that cool? She loves the Book of Mormon. President Bulloch enforces teaching from the scriptures. He tells us to testify of the scriptures, not to let the scriptures testify of us. If that makes sense? My love and understanding for the Book of Mormon has grown in these past 8 months teaching from the scriptures and studying them more than it could any other way. That's just one of the many little benefits of serving a mission. Having a mission President who loves the scriptures and teaches from them at Zone Conferences has made me want to do the same. There is an added spirit when the investigators are answering questions we ask about something in the verse they read. It just feels so good to watch them search the scriptures right before our eyes. I was kind of disappointed when Amanda set her date so late, because I was assuming I'd be transferred and not see it. But then I had to catch myself being selfish and I became so grateful that the reason she was putting it off was "to finish the book of mormon". There is no better response coming from an investigator than that! I know it's because of President Bulloch teaching us to get our investigators into the scriptures. She saw our love for them and how we use them to find answers to questions and wants the same. We're really excited for her baptism this Saturday. She went to a Stake party with some members a couple days ago and we didn't even know she went! I love when that happens. She's just like a part of the ward now! They've taken her under their wing.
Well, I have to go now. I miss and love you. You're in my prayers. Have a good week.
Sister Zwick p.s. Ash, Mom, and Jeff, I got all your letters. You are all doing so much better at writing me. Thank you so much!
Saying good-bye to Xun and Lu. This is with their fellowshipper, Brother Shum, us Sisters, and AMANDA! That is her! Isn't she so cute?
I'm here to stay for another 6 weeks!!!! I am soooooooooo HAPPY! Seriously! Every so often I think, I wonder if President Bulloch will leave me here for my whole mission. I wouldn't be opposed to it. I love the people here. It feels so right to stay.
There is going to be an odd number of Sisters this transfer. A few weeks ago at interviews President Bulloch asked if there was enough work going on in the area to put another Sister here. I told him there was. We have great investigators and so many potentials to follow up with, as well as recent converts that still need strengthening. So guess what? We are getting another Sister in the area! She comes tomorrow. This morning we set up the three beds in the little room! Sunday at church we sent around a list asking when members could come out with us. We are going to organize splits. One of us will go with the member and then the other two will go to other appointments. We'll be able to get double the amount of work done in the area this transfer. I'm really looking forward to it!
Xun and his family leave in ten days. It's sad because they are struggling with drinking tea. They will not be able to be baptized before they return to China, but I know that someday they will be. We've taught them all the lessons and they know its true. Satan uses addictions to distract people from achieving what Heavenly Father knows they need. Tea drinking is huge in the Chinese culture. No effort is wasted though. They'll return to China with Books of Mormons and testimonies of living the gospel. It'll only be a matter of time until missionaries are there and Xun decides he can give up tea.
This week we were in Syracuse on Monday night and Tuesday while Sister Stewart and the departing missionaries went to Palmyra with President and Sister Bulloch. We worked with Sister Livermore and went around as a three-some. It was fun. She let me extend a baptismal date to Karison (one of their investigators) who Sister Stewart and I met and taught one day I was on exchange there. They have worked with him ever since and so it was neat to see his growth and he accepted the invitation to be baptized. Great things are happening all across New York! Then Wednesday the Syracuse Sisters came here and we blitzed the area. We got so many lessons taught, and Sister Stewart was able to say good-bye to those she knew here. She goes home tomorrow!
I am out of time. I love the Lord and know this work is true, and run by revelation. That becomes more true to me every day when I see that Heavenly Father really needs me right here in Ithaca. We are his hands here with a mandate to serve. Keep being diligent in your callings.
"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
Packages can be sent to: Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission 8539 Clark Mills Rd Whitesboro, NY 13492
"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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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)