"The sweetest and most gratifying experiences you will have will be when you submit to the will of the Lord and follow the promptings you receive...
I have the BEST family! You guys are soooo awesome! I just opened my email account and had 16 new emails wishing me a Happy Birthday. Thank you all so much for all you said. I don't deserve most of the things you said. Thank you Grandma and Grandpa Stevens for the money and birthday card. I loved the card of the boy stuffing sunshine rays into the envelope! A year ago I was there in Florida with you. It's definitely cooler here but I'm so happy to be here serving people who are going to forever be my best friends. Thank you Grandma Cherie and Grandpa Gary for your card as well. Both of your cards got here yesterday as well as your package Mom. Perfect timing! Grandma and Grandpa Zwick's card came today. You all said the sweetest things. It means so much to have your love and support. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
This week has been so wonderful! The Lord's hand is in this work. I love feeling it daily. Sunday we tracted near the church and came across a woman who's sister is LDS. She said she felt such a powerful spirit in Salt Lake City when she visited Temple Square with her sister and said she still remembers that feeling. On her doorstep we were able to bear testimony of the Holy Ghost and how He speaks to us through our feelings and witnesses that something is true. She agreed, and then we asked if we could read some of the Book of Mormon with her (she said she had a copy) but said she was busy and wanted our phone number and that she'd call us. Usually when they say that, they don't. She talked about eventually joining the Mormon church, but just "not yet." She said she's catholic, just not practicing. I really hope she calls.
People keep calling us canceling because of the "busy-ness" of the season. It's sad. We have a message that tells the reasoning of the celebration! But those who are keeping their appointments are doing really well. We met with Allen twice since I last emailed. He's the one who we met on Thanksgiving. He is just LOVING it! We taught him the Plan Of Salvation yesterday and he had questions about original sin and we read from 2 Nephi 2 about the Fall and then in Moroni 8 about children not being accountable for sin until they know right from wrong (at age 8). He agreed with all of it and was like, "I never agreed with the thought that we were born sinful." Teaching the POS is one of my favorite lessons to teach. Especially teaching the Atonement and how loving and forgiving Christ is. It's so important for these people to know that God isn't mad at them for their mistakes and that we can change and apply his atonement to our lives and feel clean from any guilt or shame. 3 Nephi 9:14 has become my favorite scripture. I like to share it with less actives and while teaching the atonement. It says, "Yea verily I say unto you, if ye will come unto me ye shall have eternal life. Behold, mine arm of mercy is extended towards you, and whosoever will come, him will I receive; and blessed are those who come unto me." Wayne and Patty listen in and I think we might pick them up as new investigators again too.
We had a miracle occur Sunday. Do you remember in like October when I emailed you about that woman we came across, Diane? We were originally looking for a former investigator, and knocked on the door of where the former lived, and she answered and said she had just moved there from Georgia and was a member of the church? Okay so we knew God led us to her that day. Well, I never told you but we went back and her boyfriend was bad mouthing us right as we stepped onto their property. She was just looking at us in silence. I could seriously feel her spirit screaming at him to stop. ha ha. But she didn't dare say a word. We knew she had felt the spirit but he wasn't letting us even talk to her. So we told him we respect his opinion and looked at her and reminded her that she has our phone number and to call us if she wants to meet. We walked away saddened because we knew without a doubt that she had felt the spirit that day we met her, she was crying when we bore testimony and we could feel Gods love for her so strongly. Weeks have passed and Sunday we were in Morristown, about 50 miles from her home in Heuvelton. We were in Morristown to meet with an investigator there, Maggie. Maggie had told us she was moving out of her apartment, #1 into apartment #6 and so to go to #6. We went to apartment #6 and no one came to the door. I was like, "Sister lets go try her old apartment, #1, maybe she hasn't moved out of it yet." So we walk to #1 and knock and guess who answered the door!? DIANE! The same Diane from Heuvelton! She had moved into Maggie's old apartment. Right when she opened the door Sister Despain and I said in unison, "Diane!?" She was so open to us and was like, "Girls! Come in, have a seat, get warm!" I was thanking Heavenly Father for leading us to her AGAIN. She went on to say that she left her boyfriend and that he wasn't a good influence. She said he hated life and her children too and she couldn't live like that. She said, "I was looking for your phone number. I wanted to get in touch with you and have you come by but lost it in the move." There were still boxes all around and we helped her unpack a little. Then we watch the Restoration DVD and when the spirit was there took the opportunity to ask her if she believes Joseph Smith is a prophet. She said yes and started tearing up. We bore testimony of the Book of Mormon. She said she's been reading it and wants to come back to church. Now we know it was her boyfriend holding her back, and she's finally away from him. It was a mission miracle I will remember forever. We told her how much Heavenly Father must love her to lead us to her a second time. We love her too! We couldn't have found her without the spirit leading us to her door. She said she doesn't even have a P.O. box set up yet. The spirit had been working on her and Heavenly Father led us to her again. It's nice when things like that happen. It reaffirms the reality of God's love for all of us individually and He doesn't want any lost sheep. She'll be a wonderful woman in the Branch Relief Society.
K time is almost up but I just wanted to share what we did on my birthday since I know you're wondering, Mom. We taught some wonderful lessons and went out to dinner with a recent convert family. They are so wonderful and are getting sealed in Utah next summer. They invited Sister Despain and I to it. Sister Hacking, one of my former companions found them up here. We went to this place called Dixie Lee. It's kind of like KFC. Then we drove to say goodbye to some people... Sister Despain is getting transferred! It's so sad. We have loved being companions. We are traveling to Utica tonight to sleep at the mission home because Sister Bulloch wants to have a sleepover. jk. It kind of seems like that. She doesn't want us having to leave at like 5 am tomorrow, so we're leaving tonight instead and then I'll be getting my new companion tomorrow at the Transfer Meeting. She's a newer missionary and is coming up from serving in Syracuse. Em, thanks for the breadsticks. So we didn't get in until 9:30 last night. After we planned I opened my package and gifts. We were getting ready for bed and I was doing some dishes and outside the kitchen window saw a car drive up. We didn't know who it was! Sister Despain answered the door and a man said, "Is Tia there?" I was like, "Who calls me that up here!?" I went to the door and it was a pizza hut delivery man with breadsticks from Emily. Thank you em! We enjoyed them and are still enjoying them! It was such a good surprise.
Well, I have to go but thanks again. I had the best birthday ever, testifying of the Savior and the reason we have all that we have. There isn't a better way to spend a birthday. I love being here. Have a wonderful week!
Love, Sister Zwick
p.s. it's super snowy here! :)
p.p.s. We went on exchange with the neighboring sister's area, Watertown. I stayed here and Sister Cox came and worked with me. She's grown so much! She's an awesome missionary. It was really fun.
"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)