"Look unto me in every thought; doubt not, fear not." -D&C 6:36
This area is going to be the test of my mission, I know it. It's been a trying week. I keep crying and apologizing to Sister Despain about it. She tells me she cried almost every day her first few Sundays especially in Ogdensburg, and to just let it out. ha ha. She got transferred here from Syracuse (her first area) in May.
If this work was was all about the scenery, I'd be super happy. It is BEAUTIFUL. We live on the waterfront of the St. Lawrence river. I'm going to attach some pictures. Barges and canoes are always passing through. And Canada is not 100 miles away, it's two miles away. We have a great view from the bridge to Canada from our kitchen.
Our area consists of Ogdensburg itself, and several of the surrounding towns and villages, Lisbon, Rensselaer Falls, Heuvelton, Hammond, Morristown, Hermon, Gouverneur, Canton; most of which are filled with Amish Farms. Oh my gosh, I LOVE AMISH CHILDREN! They are adorable in their little hats and bonnets. There are stands all through the country with food, aprons, and furniture for sale. There are as many buggies as there are cars in the country areas, and little signs that usually warn for deer crossing, but instead have a picture of an amish buggy and horse.
We are moving up the street in a few days, and are supposed to be packing today, but one of our investigators is getting a colonoscopy and asked us to sit with her for 6 hours today. Fun huh? We don't know when we'll have time to pack, so we may just be throwing things in our car each night after planning and taking it over little by little. I feel like I just did a move of apartments, in Ithaca! Oh well.
Leaving Ithaca was one of the saddest things I've ever had to do, but I know I'll be back. It's just sad leaving those from other countries we were teaching, because in a year they won't be in Ithaca, and it may be harder to visit them, but I had to keep promising myself I'd see them again and so the goodbye wasn't as hard.
Tuesday night packing I felt like I was loosing footing! I wanted to know the people in Ogdensburg and plan for them while the Ithaca sisters were planning for Wednesday in Ithaca. They are so cute, I miss those two. They kept saying things like, "Sister Zwick, you're the glue that holds us together." And "We're losing our personal tour guide and map." I know they're doing great things there. Probably even better without me, because I know I'm supposed to be here.
Wednesday morning I left Ithaca and drove to Utica with the Woods. They are the Senior couple in Ithaca and I call them my Ithaca parents. Elder Wood was crying and hugged me (against the white hand book :/ ) ha ha. They are from Bountiful and are the sweetest! I kept saying, "I can't imagine my mission without you guys!"
President Bulloch pulled Sister Despain and I into his office and told us about Ogdensburg. He presides over the District up here in the North Country. He said, "Realistically we should be closing the area and branch, but I attended church there on Sunday and sat in a counsel with the District President, and the feeling was mutual, we feel it needs to stay open. If things don't get better then at least we can look the Lord in the eye and say, 'we tried our best' " He was just crying. I have never seen him so passionate about an area before. He told Sister Despain and I that we are the best he has. I'm definitely not! He called a former institute teacher from Cedar City who is in his home stake. He knew he and his wife were looking to serve a mission Summer 2011. He told them he needs them sooner, and asked if they'd come serve in Ogensburg. So we'll be getting a Senior couple up here by January to help with the work, hopefully. He reminded us of the scripture in D&C 6 that says, "...where two or three are gathered together in my name,..there I will be in the midst of them." There were only ten people in the chapel on Sunday, including our investigators. We do have a couple solid investigators, but I don't want to baptize anyone unless they are so converted. The branch has 100+ members who are almost all less active. It has made me sooo sad to see so many luke warm members. President Bulloch advised us to spend the majority of our time strengthening the less actives. He promised us that we will find new investigators through them. We've already seen that promise being fulfilled this week. There are many part member families. We're going to work on reactivating the members by teaching them the lessons and at the same time, teaching it to those in the family who are not yet members.
It's a whole different world up here. It breaks my heart to see how lightly people treat covenants, but we love them anyways. I know I'm supposed to be here. Sister Despain has done tremendous work up here so far. We keep saying, "We need revelation!" We don't know what more to do to build up the branch. We basically have to save the branch right now. Ahhh. So we have a lot of work to do, but I have to keep trusting the Lord. If we do all we can, he'll bless this area and strengthen the people here. We just have to work smart and invite the spirit into these homes. Well, I love you so much. Pray for this area with us please. We are praying for priesthood holders, and families right now. I know the Lord hears our prayers. I'm excited to see what happens in the coming weeks. Thanks for all your support.
"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)