Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"...He doth require that ye should do as he hath commanded you; for which if ye do, he doth immediately bless you."-Mosiah 2:24

Dear family,
Sister Despain and I are cured from the flu! Yay! We were pounding the pavement this past week, and really busy Wednesday on catching up on our investigators, seeing the people we missed and just trying to make up for lost time on Tuesday. We were so blessed too!
Saturday night was transfer calls. Sister Despain and I get to serve another transfer together up here in Ogdensburg! We are so happy about it. We have become best friends and it would've been really sad to part because we finally feel like we're getting something going up here.
President Bulloch called us Tuesday and said, "How are you two doing up there?" Then he said, "I need two Sisters to train this upcoming transfer, and you two are at the top of my list, but I want to know how you feel about your area." We counseled over the phone with him for quite awhile, and he told us how he is pleased with the work we're doing. Then he asked, if he kept us up here, what Sisters we recommended as trainers. We really didn't care to train again. So we kind of let him know. Ha ha. And above that, neither of us feel like we should be transferred. We are working with reactivating a couple people, and with that comes a lot of friend shipping and love. So, we didn't want to throw a wrench in what we have going. He told us he thinks Sister Despain and I make a great pair. But of course it was up to the Lord and we told President, we would be willing to go or do whatever he was inspired to have us.
And...He kept us up here! Woo hoo! We are way happy about it and are going to continue to seek the Lord's guidance in finding families and priesthood holders.
John Spicer is still on for his baptism, November 13th, and he is doing sooooo good! We just love him! We meet with him weekly and he's always out in front of his trailor, sitting on his wooden picnic table reading his Book of Mormon, awaiting our arrival. EVERY TIME. If he wasn't we'd think something was wrong. On Friday we taught him some of the last commandments we had to teach him in preparation for his baptism, the Law of Tithing and Observe the Law of the Fast. He committed to live both of them. We had him read in Malachi 3 where the Lord promises so great of blessings upon those who pay an honest tithing that "...there shall not be room enough to recieve it." and He was like, "I can't imagine being blessed more than I already am. I am so happy right now. I've quit coffee, tea, chewing tobacco. I just feel good!" He went on to tell us that his friends keep asking him why he's so different now. They can see the added happiness living the gospel has brought to him. It reminds me of the scripture in Mosiah, in King Benjamin's sermon that says something like, "consider on the blessed and happy state of those that keep the commandments of God, for they are blessed in all things, both temporal and spiritual." He says the Lord is blessing him. He told us an experience of something he lost and the spirit told him right where it was. We then testified that the God's promises to him as he lives the word of wisdom are being fulfilled--he's now more receptive to the whisperings of the spirit, as we all are when living the commandments more strictly. His countenance has changed too. It's the neatest thing to see people literally change inside and out because of living the principles of the gospel. He was at church again yesterday, just loving it! I am so grateful Heavenly Father has given me the opportunity to grow in my testimony of the gospel by helping others gain theirs.
We were led again by the spirit this past week, to another door with a receptive man on the other side. He is a father of a two year old and is searching for a church. We've been praying for Heavenly Father to lead us to potential priesthood holders, and he's been providing! He always does! There was an amazing spirit there as we taught him. He understood the apostasy so well. When we asked him, "Why would it be necessary for Christ's power to be in a church?" And he's like, "Well, it wouldn't be his church without his authorization." YES! We then taught the Restoration and he thought it was so needed and necessary that God would call a prophet to restore Christ's church with correct doctrine. He was just asking all the right questions to lead into the next principle and really seemed sincere. He prayed for his first time in years too. He felt kind of insecure (we could tell) when we invited him to pray. So we pulled out the "How to Pray" format Sister Despain made for people that don't know how to address God and close and stuff. He was really funny and in the middle of the lesson said, "I'd be in your beginner class." We told him that God wants to hear from all of us and there is no such thing as levels, or classes. He gave the most heartfelt prayer and thanked Heavenly Father for sending us to him so he can learn more about what God wants him to do in his life and for the life of his daughter. He'll be a good one. We left him with a Book of Mormon and he's praying about Joseph Smith and the priesthood.
This email is getting way too long, sorry. Yesterday we taught Primary again. Oh my, I love primary! One of my favorite things about serving in a branch is that we get to teach primary if any kids come. Our investigator, Andrea brought her 6 year old son, Dylan. We taught him about the temple and the song, "I Love To See the Temple." It was sooooo cute to hear him sing it with us. Then we colored a little temple tie. I made mine a dress :) to celebrate my one year mark in going through-- THIS SUNDAY! I loved that day, we all went to Olive Garden afterwards. I miss the temple, but I love preparing others for the day they can enter the temple. And it won't be long until I can go back again with all of you!
The leaves are falling off and it snowed the other day. Eeek! Winter is coming. We're wearing wool socks and thermals again. It's no fun, but the work goes on and it's worth it. Have a great week!
I love you!
Love, Sister Zwick
Pictures: We tracted into a lighthouse on Friday and a man lived there! We shared the gospel with him and he took us on a tour of it. We got to the very top! The picture is in the lighthouse, overlooking the St. Lawrence and Canada.
Dylan in Primary. Isn't he a doll? He'd raise his hand when we asked questions, even though he was the only one in there! Funny huh?
The bright yellow trees are my favorite!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

"...we will go speedily against those dissenters in the strength of our God according to the faith which is in us." -Alma 61:17

Dear Family,

Thanks for the emails.  Andrea, I am so happy you are out of the hospital FINALLY.  I've been praying for you.  It sounds like you got out just in time, for your birthday!  I bet it was so fun to have Mom and Dad in town to celebrate with your cute little family.  Em sent me pictures and your kids are getting so big!  I didn't even recognize Katey until I turned the picture around and read that it was her!  She looks like Andrea to a T though!  Her facial expressions really are identical to yours, Annie.  It was so fun to see pictures of my nieces and nephews, so thanks for sending those Em!  You have the most beautiful kids.

Well, we've been a pitiful pair here these past couple days, just throwing up non stop.  It was not fun.  Sister Despain was throwing up Monday and that night I was up all night with it.  Luckily Monday was Pday so we didn't miss a day of work, besides in the evening.  I felt so bad canceling our appointments.  I've never had to do that before and I felt like such a bad missionary.  But what can you do when you're sick?  We've been praying to regain our strength.  Yesterday I was still sick but by the evening I was feeling better.  We were able to plan for today, disinfect the apartment, and we got up and studied and are ready to work again!  We're not feeling 100% strengthened but we're going to do our best to work today and get to the appointments we have scheduled.  

We were really blessed this past week.  John Spicer was at church again.  He's progressing so well.  He had slipped up living the word of wisdom though, and so we have to push his baptismal date to a week later, November 13th.  We encouraged him this past week to live it again and he got all pumped up and gave us his chew and coffee and said he would do it for God (that was Wednesday).  We followed up with him the next couple days over the phone and he was still living it!  Then on Sunday at church he said he went to the convenient store and at the register the lady said, "Three packages of chewing tobacco?"  and he said, "No, breath mints" and slapped some tic tacs on the counter.  Ha ha.  He quit smoking a few years ago and said he'd just do what he did to stop smoking, stop buying it.  He's praying for resistance to the temptations and Heavenly Father is really helping him.

Sunday, President Bulloch's counselor came to our branch to ordain the new branch president :)  So the new branch president is President Champaigne.  Funny name huh?  Especially when we're teaching all our investigators to live the word of wisdom.  He's great.  He's actually a transplant from the Potsdam Branch.  He and his wife are on assignment to attend our branch to help it right now until it grows.  He's a convert of 26 years.  His wife was a member and when they met she introduced him to the missionaries and he felt the spirit and gained a testimony of the book of mormon, and is now the branch president!  We love him and are excited to work with him.  

The spirit truly led us this week to a woman named Diane.  On Wednesday morning we studied in the Finding section of PMG and read over a section called "Finding through Former Investigators".  It talked about the multiple reasons investigators stop investigating and that sometimes it's just because they go on vacation, not necessarily that they're uninterested in the message.  So we felt like we should look through the former investigator records in the area book and choose a few to see.  During lunch we fanned through them and picked out a couple.  Well, that afternoon we went to one of them, Warren.  As we knocked on his door a woman answered.  We asked for Warren.  She said, "No one by that name lives here."  So of course we asked her about her beliefs and she said, "I'm a member of your church."  We were taken by surprise!  We then asked her when she joined and she told us it was 17 years ago in Georgia, but then she moved to North Carolina and some things happened and she swore to never walk into the church again.  We didn't ask too many more questions besides asking her if she has time where we can come in and visit right then or come back.  She said we could come in right then.  We started with the usual, "I am a Child of God" and then Sister Despain said the prayer.  We just started teaching the Message of the Restoration, and when we got to the Savior's Earthly ministry and Atonement, we testified that his hand is stretched out to all of us, no matter what we've done, he loves us still.  She just started bawling.  The spirit was touching her and we knew we were led to look through the Formers, to follow up with Warren, to find her!  She needs the gospel back in her life so much.  She said she left her scriptures in North Carolina.  We gave her a new set and we are seeing her this afternoon again, hoping she read!  She said the closing prayer that day we were there and in the prayer she said she new He had led us to her.  

I was reading in Helaman 5 this morning about Nephi and Lehi's mission and it talked about them teaching with great power and authority in every few verses.  In verse 17 it said that they did preach with great power and authority insomuch that they did confound many of those dissenters who had gone over from the Nephites, and it brought them to repentance.  So Sister Despain and I looked up the word dissenter and it means one who disagrees or rejects doctrines of an established church.  It reminded me of the less actives we are working with and that we need to teach them by the spirit so that they can repent and come back, just as many of the Nephites did.  The great thing is they already have the gift of the holy ghost, so they are sensitive to the spirit.  I love how much the book of mormon scriptures relate to our callings.  

Well, I better get going.  I love you so much!  Have a great week!  I will attach a couple pictures.  People always ask Sister Despain and I if we're really "Sisters".  We kind of look alike huh?  It's fun to serve with her.  We're becoming way good friends.  

Love, Sister Zwick

We took this picture a couple of weeks ago on hump day... Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

"An anchor to the souls of men..."-Ether 12:4

Hey guys!

It's getting colder up here! I had to break out my thermals and
winter coat, but the trees are beautiful and the work is going well,
so I'm good.

It sounds like you've had fun with the grandkids all there. They are
all talking and walking now!? So cute!

I found out Zwick's Island is two hours away, and across the bridge
(towards Canada), and out of our assigned area, so I will not be able
to get there. Think of the receptivity I could have with a name like
"Sister Zwick" there though! Ha ha. I will be going there one day.
Supposedly there are parks on the island named after us too. How come
I didn't ever know about this until now? It's so sweet. We have to
take a family trip there.

Something sad happened Thursday night. You know Dora, one of our most
progressing investigators? We went to teach her and right as we sat
down she said, "I'm going to have to ask you to leave." We didn't
even know what to say. She's like, "I've been talking to my friends
and doctor and they tell me to not get involved with the mormons."
Tears swelled up in her eyes, and in ours. Sister Despain said, "Can
I ask you why they think that?" And she said, "It's just how it is."
We started to bear our testimonies and she said, "I know you're door
is always open to me, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave." We
gave her hugs and then walked out. It's sad to see someone feel the
spirit and come so far, and then walk away from all of it. She didn't
use her agency very well, but we are continuing to pray for her to
come back. She had been to church three times, loved conference, had
been living the word of wisdom. We walked out and just stood there
and were like, "Did that just happen?" It reminded me of a section in
PMG that I have read so many times that comforts me when my heart is
sad for them. It says something like, "Some may not accept your
message even when they have received a spiritual witness that it is
true. Don't become discouraged, discouragement will weaken your
faith." We were sad because we love her and want her to be able to
receive salvation. She won't forget her feelings though. We went on
with our night and tried to push it behind us. All we can do now is
pray for her.

On a better note, John Spicer, the vietnam vet. who loves the book of
mormon came to church for his first time on Sunday. He loved it and
said he wanted to get up and bear his testimony! We also set him with
a baptismal date this week. He's preparing to be baptized on November
6th. He was befriended by members and felt comfortable. We also had
another investigator at church, with her son, and also a less active
father of a large family was at church too. We stopped by his home
and invited him to church and he came! He and his wife are sealed and
haven't come to church in over a year. It was cool to see him singing
the hymns. He had tears in his eyes when we shook his hand good bye.
I asked if we can plan on seeing him there next Sunday. He said
"yes". We're praying for his family to come too and are planning on
visiting them before Sunday to teach them something simple, encourage
them to come to church, and show them our love and the Lord's love for

We had the area authority attend our branch on Sunday to see if it's
functioning okay without a branch president. His name is Elder
David(?) Cook. The spirit was strong and he bore his testimony and
talked about unity and being one with each other and the Lord. By the
sounds of it, we'll be staying open. That means Sister Despain and I
have a lot of people to find and reactivating to do! He said he is
best friends with Uncle Craig.

We also had an all mission conference on Friday. It was fun to see
all the missionaries. Elder Grow from the seventy came. Something I
really liked that he said was "one of the purposes of the book of
mormon is to show that God would have a righteous people who would
keep covenants with him." It's all about keeping our covenants with
the Lord so we can remain clean and worthy to live with him again. I
love being able to help people make their first covenant at baptism to
start on their path to return home to live with Him and their families
forever. It's a beautiful work!

I love you and miss you all. Thanks for your emails, prayers, and
love. I hope you have a good week.
Happy Birthday Annie!!!

Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, October 4, 2010

"May we ever be found doing the work of the Lord." -Pres. Monson

What an inspiring week we have had here in the North Country.  Sister Despain and I were calling our investigators to repentence on a few important barriers that are keeping the three most progressing from baptism, living the word of wisdom, and the law of chastity.  I used to tip toe around teaching those, but now they've become my favorite to teach, because it really tests the individual's commitment to follow the Savior, in all things.
In my study a few mornings ago, before these lessons I was reading a conference talk from April conference titled, "When the Lord Commands" by a seventy.  He talked about three main reason people choose to disobey the commandments.   They are 1) We don't know how it applies to us.  2) Don't understand it's importance.  3) It's just too hard.  So before teaching Dora, Delores, and Jimmy the word of wisdom and the law of chastity we wanted to make sure we hit on all of these areas, so they will be able to obey it fully to recieve all the blessings of the gospel.
The lessons went well!  With Dora we asked her if she believes Joseph Smith is a prophet.  She responded, "Yes."  Then we went on to explain his revelation in D&C 89.  Before we even started reading she said, "You're gonna tell me to give up my coffee, aren't you.  That is something I just won't do."  We asked her again, "Do you believe Joseph Smith was a prophet?"  She said, "Yes."  So we read on and testified of the importance of the commandment (the why), and encouraged her to experiment upon the word.  I don't even know how many times I said, "Dora, you can do this.  You will surprise yourself."  I was trying to make it sound all fun.  It does sound fun, doesn't it?  Seeing if you can go without something you've relied on for so long.  We were like, "Just try it.  We'll be praying for you every day."  
We taught this Thursday night and and Saturday she came to both sessions of conference (met us at the church) and said, "I haven't had a cup of coffee since Thursday morning.  OH MY GOSH, I WAS SO HAPPY TO HEAR THAT!  I was jumping up and down hugging her.  I am still so proud of her.  She said it's been easier than she thought.  She said she's replacing it with root beer every morning with breakfast.  ha ha.  Sick, but whatever works! 
Then Jimmy, a potential priesthood holder is so great too.  We taught him the w.o.w. and he was like, "I feel this is true.  No other church teaches to refrain from these things."  He's been searching for a church for years.  He likes to start talking about what other denominations believe, and we have to always draw it back.  He's struggling with the priesthood right now.  In a footnote of his New International bible it says that the priesthood power didn't need to be here after Christ came, and that Christ was the power.  So he's continuing to pray about Joseph Smith and the restoration of the priesthood through Peter, James, and John, and John the baptist.  He committed to live the w.o.w. and was happy to tell us that he has more energy now, not drinking coffee, than he did while drinking it.  He and Dora were both talking about being off coffee and tea.  They are strengthening each other!  They are both black and we think they should start dating, after baptism of course :)  We don't have to encourage partnership yet!
It just impresses me so much to see people conform their lifestyle to how the Lord wants them to live, without having known these commandments most of their life.  It strengthens my testimony of the happiness that comes from living the commandments when I see others try living them for the first time and find joy in it. 
General Conference was so good.  We were surprised and excited to report to our District Leader, that 5 of our investigators came!  Dora and Jimmy were there for both sessions on Saturday, and then a family we tracted into and was there Sunday as well as Dora, again!  Our investigators are going to almost double the branch size here.  The Lord has led us to some great people who truly want to follow him.
I just want to be a missionary forever.  There is nothing better than teaching people the right way to live.  The way that can bring peace and happiness despite circumstance.  It's by following the commandments and the doctrine of Christ, faith, repentance, baptism, recieving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end.  It was beautiful to hear all the things we teach spoken of by the apostles and prophets, as our investigators were sitting there.  I loved watching their faces as MOTAB sang, and telling them "That's the modern day prophet" when President Monson stood to speak, and as he did the spirit confirmed to me that this man I tell people every day is god's mouthpiece for the world and teaches us revealed truth, really does.  Oh how I love President Monson! 
I could go on and on forever.  But, I do have to get going.  I'll include some of my favorite quotes from conference.
Have a good week!  I love you!
p.s. Jeff-so exciting, a temple is going to be constructed in Lisbon, Portugal!  The church is growing there because of you and others' missionary work!
"The world will teach our children, if we do not." -Sister Wixon
"The sweetest and most gratifying experiences are when you submit to the will of the Lord and teach by his spirit." -Elder McConkie
"Future generations will look to you for your consecrated lives." -Elder Christofferson
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication...There is more to life than increasing in speed...We have to forego some good things to focus on the better and best." "Turning our ways to His ways is the beginning of our wisdom." -Elder Uchtdorf 
"A righteous exercise of agency allows us to progress eternally." -Elder Hales
"Faith is not a free gift without desire or effort.  Faith must be saught after and developed.  Questions and doubts turn into assurances and understanding because of faith." -Elder Edgley
"Temple mirrors of eternity remind us of our divinity."  "As we reach out to each brother and sister, we affect generations." -Elder Gong
"We become what we want to be by consistently being what we want to become." -Elder Scott
"As you trust Him, you will come to find that He has come to trust you." -Elder Eyring
"No where are the principles of love and mercy more manifest than that of repentance." -Elder Packer
"Build your life on a foundation of truth and righteousness.  It is a foundation that will last to the eternities."  -Elder Perry
"Pray earnestly for the spirit.  Invite him into our lives by the same gentleness in which he invites us." -Elder Bednar
"Someday each of us will have to account to the Savior in what we have done with his name." -Elder Arnold