Monday, November 22, 2010

"Because I have been given much I too must give" Hymn 219

I can't believe it's already Pday again. I feel like I was just here at the library yesterday. Time is going so fast and I'm trying to "enjoy every minute, every second" like Dad urged me to do at the MTC curb. I wish I could just stop time and be able to serve as a full time missionary my whole life. I love the people of New York! I've been thinking that I'll move back up here to Ogdensburg next summer and be a member missionary and help the Sisters out. There is so much work to be done here. Transfer calls come not this weekend, but next. Sister Despain has been here since May and started crying last night because she wants to see more happen here and doesn't know what else to do. She's an amazing missionary though and has worked miracles here! I love her so much. She has given so much to this area. I just reminded her how baptisms are a poor reflection of doing our best. It talks about knowing if we are a successful missionary in Preach My Gospel, and the first thing it mentions is following the spirit and feeling it work through you to the blessing of those you teach. She's so in tune and has blessed lives up here. Whether or not they choose to use their agency righteously is not up to us. She feels like she's going to be transfered. She said she's going to write President Bulloch and tell him that she and I could stay companions here forever. I feel the same way. Not because I love serving in the area itself, but just because this tiny branch has so much potential and we want to help the Lord build it up. I don't think I could leave either, not having seen it grow. But I have to remember the work is going to continually move forward, forever. We think it'd be so fun to spend Christmas together again, just like the MTC. Two in a row! Like we're siblings or something! This past week was cold but I try not to think about it and just focus on the people. I learned that last winter, and it works! John is doing great and told us that his baptism was "the most important day of his life"! We taught him about Priesthood and Auxilaries on Wednesday. It was really cool. We could sense his feeling of inadequacy to hold the priesthood. But atleast he's humble! It reminded me of Elder Uchtdorf's talk from October General Conference. "Pride and the Priesthood" and that the power withdraws itself once pride creeps in. Throughout my mission I've seen how nervous people are to recieve the priesthood. It's been good to see though because they recognize it as something sacred. We taught him about the different offices and responsibilites and blessings that come from serving as a priesthood holder. We specifically told him how he can bless the lives of the members of the branch by contributing in an office. The highlight of the lesson though was his closing prayer. He prayed for "President Thomas S. Monson" to have health and strength and continue to direct the church as he does. Afterwards in the car I was like, "Sister Despain, he prayed for the prophet! And he got the name exactly right too." She's like, "I know!" It was so cool! I love hearing someone we teach develop their own love for and understanding of God's chosen prophet! He read through the April Conference Ensign and really enjoyed it, so now we're going to give him the October one. Other news: Zone Conference was on Friday. I think I said it was Thursday in my last email, but it was Friday. It was wonderful to see President and Sister Bulloch and the other missionaries in our Zone. He told our Zone, "This is the mission field as it really is." We are all serving in these tiny branches. He said our emails and stories invoke memories from his mission in Montana, serving in a little branch there. He testified of the uniqueness of the area making an impact on his testimony and love of service forever. He said, "The members needed us, we knew they needed us, and we were able to bless them and they blessed us." I know exactly how he felt, because we feel that way. I've realized how important church attendance is and how we each make such a valuable contribution. I'll be forever grateful for what I'm learning here, and I know the Lord needs me to learn even more. I found out that Ogdensburg is the smallest branch in the mission. :( Not for long though! Heavenly Father has led us to people who now have testimonies, but just huge barriers such as marriage, paralization, that keep them from being able to meet the qualifications of baptism. We are praying so hard for them. Currently, no one we are teaching has a baptismal date. We are planning on setting two this week, and praying that the date will push them to make a couple significant changes. The theme of Zone Conference was "Increasing our Faith through Obedience, Diligence, and Sacrifice." We have twelve in our Zone and President said it reminded him of the first twelve apostles who were sent to Europe. We read a lot of the counsel the Lord gave to them in the Doctrine and Covenants. My favorite verses we read were D&C 64:33-34 It says, "Be not weary in well doing, for ye are laying the foundation of a great work. And out of small things proceedeth that which is great. Behold the Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days." I love it because it talks about laying a foundation and these little seeds we plant every day, even when it feels like not much is coming from them, all goes towards that foundation. Just bringing people to the next level of conversion. I'm going to try to memorize that verse so I can recite it when I get discouraged. Ha ha. At Zone Conference, President Bulloch brought us out in the hall and there was a weight hanging by a rope from the ceiling. He asked an Elder to sit in this chair and hold the weight next to his chin and then to release it like a pedulum. He gave him some rules first though. He said, "Now, you shouldn't push it because then it will come back and hit you in the face. But if you stay still right from where you let it go, it will swing back and come short of hitting you because of friction and gravity. Then he said, you cannot move." So the Elder did it and he moved backwards, because he was afraid of it hitting him. President said, "Elder, why did you move?" And he's like, "I was worried it was going to hit me." Then President said, "Do you trust in the gravity and friction working?" And he's like, "Let me do it again." So President said, "What's happening here? His faith is increasing because of his experimentation on being obedient." He did it a second time and didn't move, and just as President Bulloch said, it didn't hit him in the face. So then President is like, "Sister Zwick, do you trust that this works?" I knew if I said yes, he'd make me do it, and if I said no, he'd make me do it! I was doomed either way! So all the Elders were laughing and I looked at Sister Despain, so scared! I already have had braces twice. I was so nervous it was going to hit me in the face. Luckily I didn't get hit. The whole purpose of the demonstration was to show that "Faith is the substance or assurance of things hoped for" -Hebrews 11 and confidence in the doing. We discussed doubt and fear and how they oppose faith. And how when we doubt in an outcome, it can cause us to not do what we have been asked to do. So President said he's been praying and asking Heavenly Father, "How can I strengthen my faith in the Lord and how can I help my missionaries strengthen their faith in Him?" The answer he kept receiving is "the righteous use of agency." So, obedience. He told about his setting apart and that Elder Scott repeatedly said, "Trust your missionaries." We read in the scriptures about being compelled to be humble only sometimes produces repentances, and how in the same way, being compelled to be obedient, only sometimes produces obedience. He told really cool stories about receiving his answer, to help us strengthen our faith. He's the best story teller! Regarding obedience though he shared that quote that says, "When obedience ceases to be an irritant and becomes our quest, it is in that momtent God will endow us with power." He talked about the power being faith. And we do what is right because we want to qualify for the companionship of the holy ghost to touch the hearts of the people, not because we have to. And so he said, "If I want you missionaries to have greater faith, I've got to give you greater freedom." He did away with the "extra rules" the former mission president set in stone and said only the white handbook applies now. He knew there'd be casualties, but he wants us to have the opportunity to listen to the spirit more and when we're compelled we receive the lesser blessing. He told a story about his daughter begging every Spring Break to travel to Mesquite with her friends, and every year he told her "No." But her Senior year he and Sister Bulloch prayed about it and felt like they should let her go. He said "I came out of my bedroom with the best seminary teacher speech I could come up with, with all the reasons it is a bad idea to go, but let her make her own decision. It didn't take more than a second for her to get on the phone to her friends, 'I can go!'" But the next day he got home from work and she should have already left. She was sitting there in the house though! He asked her what was wrong and if she wanted to talk. She said no at first but then said, "Why does that happen? I was all ready to go. My friends pulled up, and a voice said, 'don't go'. I tried to ignore it, but it came again, 'don't go.'" President Bulloch said he told her he was proud of her for listening to the prompting, but the next morning they found out why. She got a call from one of her friends from the Las Vegas jail! They had met up with some boys and the cops arrested all the girls and guys there because of some drugs the boys had brought. He said, "If I would've told her not to go on the trip, I would have deprived her from the most testimony building experience of her life." Cool huh? It reminded me so much of you, Dad! I've been in that position so many times with you I feel like! ha ha. He talked about how he can't dictate righteousness and that it's a choice and he hopes we all are obedient so we can have greater faith and qualify for the companionship of the Holy Ghost. Zone Conference has made me think about why I live the rules. Is it because I love the Lord and want to qualify for the spirit so it can touch the people here, or is it because I feel forced to? I feel like I do it for the spirit but I can always do better at being 100% obedient. There are rules I do keep because I feel like I have to. I'm praying to see the positives in them and to have a desire to keep them not because I'm compelled to but because I love the Lord. It was one of my mission goals, to be exactly obedient. So this Zone Conference was a good reminder. I also have been thinking of things I can sacrifice to more fully give my attention to the people here. Like mail, only reading it Pday, etc. Thursday night Sister Despain and I were invited to a Potsdam Branch Relief Society Meeting to give a presentation on Preach My Gospel. How to use it in scripture study, family home evening, and how we're going to use what we learned from it in our future. I think it went well. The ladies were really appreciative and said they enjoyed it. Three of them I talked to were married to non-members. I have such a respect and admiration for them! They are so strong and were so interested in how to use Preach My Gospel in their home to help not only their children, but their non-member spouse. Wow. I don't think I could do it. These converts are amazing. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. THIRTY are going to be at our house? Mom, you're amazing. You are so nice. I'll think about all of you. Annual Zwick Tennis Tourny happening? I hope the weather isn't too bad and you can do it again. My bet is on Dad whipping everyone into shape. I'll be writing a letter home about our plans for Thanksgiving. A couple who is investigating invited us. Thank you for your support. I am so grateful to have you as my family! I love you so much! Have a Happy Thanksgiving! Love, Sister Zwick

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