"And no man taketh this honor unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron."-Hebrews 5:4
I already feel like the phone call was soooo long ago, don't you!?
Well, as you can see by the subject, John got ordained to the office of a Priest yesterday. He now holds the Aaronic priesthood! Sister Woodmansee and I had to speak so we were sitting on the stand as President Champaigne asked John to stand and asked for a sustaining vote for him to receive the priesthood. I was smiling soooo big. It warmed my heart to see him stand humbly, so prepared, and the branch supporting him. I don't know if I told you, but we only have two hours of church. After Sacrament Meeting our Branch President came into Relief Society and interrupted and asked if Sister Woodmansee and I wanted to come in to Priesthood and sit in on the ordination. We jumped out of our seats and went in. The blessing was beautiful. John looked nervous. He sat in the middle of the circle and had the hands of a few Melchizedek priesthood holders on his head. President Champaigne acted as voice and blessed him with the strength to perform ordinances and to live worthy to participate in them. Then he blessed him with a building testimony to further prepare to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. I could feel God's love for John so powerfully. I wish you could have been there. After the ordination he went out into the hall and wiped some tears. We were on our way back in Relief Society so I held out my hand and congratulated him. He shook it and said, "You didn't waste your time." I said, "Of course I didn't!" I told him how proud Christ is of him. Then he said he's never felt so good in his life. He said something about not being able to hug us. ha ha. And then we shook his hand again and went back into Priesthood and Relief Society. It was a priceless moment! If that was the only thing that happened over the course of my mission, it would've made it worth it, just to feel his gratitude towards us in helping him receive the blessings of the Gospel! Heavenly Father has blessed me to work with humble, faithful people who love Him and it's made our job so easy as missionaries. I feel so blessed to be here and see John's testimony blossom. He seems to be a different John than the one we met the first week I was here. I am so proud of him and can't wait to see him pass the sacrament next Sunday. I am so grateful he's stayed active and is doing so well. In our meeting with the branch president, before Sacrament meeting, President Champaigne said, "I want John to be part of the leadership of the Branch." Someday he will. I know Heavenly Father led us to him to keep this branch going and be in the Branch Presidency here. Who knows, it could be his calling! He doesn't have one yet... :)
Another wonderful thing happened at church. Diane said the closing prayer in sacrament meeting. There weren't too many people there yesterday, but among the few that came were Diane and John. It's so cool to see them in the congregation. President Champaigne is very impressed with Diane, as everyone is. She loves church! I never thought a less active woman would have this much excitement about coming as she does. It's been three years since she's been active. We've been visiting her weekly, re-teaching her the lessons and rekindling the testimony within her. I love teaching less actives who have a desire to come back because we get to let them find their testimony again by asking questions. Instead of really "teaching" we let her teach us. It's been a neat experience and I've learned a lot in the process. We ask things like, "What do you remember about the first vision?" She's kept all her appointments and hasn't missed a Sunday since we started meeting with her. Please pray for her with us. President Champaigne told us that he has a distinct impression that she has some strengths that we could use in the branch. The spirit was really strong last week when she stood and was sustained as a member of the Branch.
After church on Sundays we work around the church. We bundle up and follow up with potentials and tract. Ohhhh tracting. Sister Woodmansee doesn't like it. Am I weird, I love it. Sweet experiences always come out of it. Sister Woodmansee was talking to our branch president's wife as we were exiting and she's like, "Off to go tracting, my favorite thing." Then Sister Champaigne said, "It's gotta be fun with Sister Zwick cause she always has this huge smile on her face." ha ha. It was funny. Then Sister Woodmansee's like, "It is." We try to have fun. And Dad, your advice is working so well! Our door approaches have been full of invitations to church. We have had more friendly conversations, smiles, and even thank yous coming from the person at the door! It's awesome. I'm going to write you all about the church tour and open house we're organizing. We have been brainstorming and have come up with the coolest ideas. Our branch president was so happy about it. He said, "I already know of three people I'm going to invite." We also have a member who is a radio dj and so we're going to get him involved and publicize it big. We haven't picked a date yet, but we are thinking about holding it a few weeks after the holidays are over, so late January, early February. I HAVE to still be here for it, so I'm going to tell President Bulloch all about it and hopefully he won't transfer me. I have cool ideas for each room in the building and how to involve our members, using their talents and testimonies. So Dad, so inspired to get us thinking about this. Thank you! I had read under "finding" and starred "hold an open house" a few weeks back, but never did anything about it. When you mentioned it, I knew it was inspired and we needed to act on it. We were so suprised to hear how enthused President Champaigne was about it too.
We're meeting with one of our families we're teaching tonight. They are the ones I emailed about a few weeks back, Tammy and Eric. They couldn't meet for a couple weeks because of the holiday season, but we've been praying for them and really hope they've been reading and praying. Eric was the one who offered the closing prayer and hadn't prayed in fifteen years.
A sad thing happened, that guy who we found, Rick, who had a testimony of the book of mormon already and met with missionaries years ago... we went back and he wouldn't let us in. He said, "I've decided to go back to my church." It was a big disappointment, but he has the book of mormon and hopefully he'll pick it up again and feel the spirit that fills the pages.
Well, this is getting long, but CHRISTMAS EVE! We taught a couple great lessons and didn't have to tract :) That night we went to a Chinese Buffet, since we both love Chinese food. Yep, just the two of us. We were the only ones in there at first! ha ha. That night we delivered cupcakes to our friends, the Millers, the cutest Amish family ever. They invited us in and we got to sit around their dinner table with the 7 sons and 2 daughters. The Father asked to offer the prayer on the food. All of a sudden all the kids, even the two year old put their little hands in their laps, and bowed their heads, and closed their eyes. Then it was silent. They do silent prayers! Woodmansee and I looked over at each other and smiled. I was thinking, when are they going to know it's over? All of a sudden the Dad did a big sigh. ha ha and all the little heads popped up. It was the coolest experience, just to sit there around their dinner table, lit by oil lamps, as they ate pig liver (yummmm) and engage in conversation with them. The little girls were mesmerized by my necklace. I know they can't wear things like that and I wished I would have left it in the car, because I felt so bad they liked it so much. We were there for over an hour, got to share with the Mother and Father about our beliefs as the children cleaned up dinner. They're all the hardest workers. One of the sons was falling asleep standing up when we left, in front of a bowl of water that he was washing the dishes in. It was so cute. The boys have this funniest haircut, really short bangs, and a chin length cut (never even). After visiting them we came home, planned, and opened our Christmas Eve pajamas. Sister Woodmansee says thanks, Mom.
Funny story of something else that happened Christmas Eve--We are really great friends with our mailman ha ha, and have even been able to clear up some of his misconceptions about Mormons. He still has yet to give us his home address, but we left him a Christmas card and box of chocolates in the mailbox for Christmas as we left our house and put the flag up. When we returned home that night we had a letter in the mailbox that said, "Sisters" on the envelope, with no return address. Inside was a Christmas card with two books of stamps and it said, "Have a very merry Christmas, Sister Zwick and Sister Woodmansee! -Your M.M." NICE HUH?
Now Christmas! Santa came! I missed Dad's voice from the family room, letting all of us know. We LOVE the stockings, Mom! Sister Woodmansee has another Christmas in the field (sad) and says she's even gonna use it next year. After singing at the nursing home, ha ha we came back and it was so great to talk to each of you!!!! I thought the cell phone getting lost was the funniest story, and I could just picture Mom being frantic driving all around looking for it, only to find it all broken. I am so glad it still worked! Thank you for the Christmas presents. Just this morning I looked in my stocking and found the card from "Santa" saying, "Good job this year" with more money! Mom and Dad, THANK YOU. You did way too much. It was the best Christmas ever. My favorite gifts were the necklace with the Forever Family and temple pendant, and the customized calendar from Em and Chad. I've looked through it like a million times, just reminiscing my mission. It's sooooo dang cute! I love it. I want January first to come so I can take down my old calendar and put it up! Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Zwick for the jewelry and warm scarf! I wore it Christmas night in the 8 degree weather! EEEk It's getting soooo cooooooollllddd. We walked around town and delivered Christmas treat plates we made on the 23rd to Less Actives and Investigators, and it kept my neck sooo warm. It's beautiful too. Thanks Grandma Cherie and Grandpa Gary for the money and calendar and thanks Grandma and Grandpa Stevens for the money and card. I feel your love and support every day. I love our family, each of you sooooo much and love that we are promised to live together forever through the blessings of the temple and living the gospel.
Never forget that I love you! Have a Happy New Year!
Love, Sister Zwick
p.s. I'm gonna write out my goals and predictions and mail them to you to seal up to read for next New Years, 2012! Cool that I'll be home with you then! Yay!
I love this quote from President Bulloch's email, "Patience and persistence are two of the noble qualities we develop as we learn to endure circumstances like difficulty, suffering, loneliness, and rejection."
"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)