Monday, May 16, 2011

"...that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world..." -Alma 7:14

Hi guys!

We have had an amazing week! I'm excited to write this email because I get to reflect on how the Lord's hand is so much apart of this work.

Sunday morning I woke up to a phone call at 6:00 a.m. It was Melanie calling. I was like, "Sister, It's Melanie." I got worried because it was odd she was calling us at that hour. I sat up in my bed and answered it. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "Hello it's Sister Zwick."
Mel: "Hi Sister Zwick. I'm sorry I'm calling so early, did I wake you up?"
Me: "Yeah but that's okay. I was getting up soon anyways. What's up?"
Mel: "I have been up all night studying general conference and I haven't been able to sleep."
Me: "Really!? What talks did you like?"
Mel: "I really liked the one called 'Preparing the World for the Second Coming' and I have a question for you and Sister Stacey. What do I have to do to prepare to go on a mission?"
Me: "Melanie, you would be the best missionary! You can totally prepare for a mission. You can go on a mission a year after your baptism."
Mel: "I know it's crazy I'm telling you I want to serve a mission before I'm even baptized but I just can't stop thinking about it and when I read that talk I got that feeling I get when I come to church and when you teach me, the spirit feeling."

She went on to say that she has a year left of school and it would be perfect timing for her to go on a mission in a year after graduation. She said she loves people and feels like she could relate to a lot of people with her crazy life she's lived. I think I told you on Mother's Day about her rough childhood. She grew up in Brooklyn, almost got shot. She's just amazing. I told her when I decided to serve it was the same way, I couldn't stop thinking about it and nothing else felt right. She was like, "yeah, yeah!" She would be so good because she loves people and has the most tender heart. She gets emotional in our lessons and is just really sensitive to the promptings from the Holy Ghost.

Something that's cool is that we had just gotten our May Ensign (the conference issue) and Saturday morning Sister Stacey read that talk (during breakfast) and told me it's awesome all about missionary work and left it out open for me to read on the table, which I did during dinner. The next morning Melanie called us saying she was touched by that specific talk!

Melanie, along with two other investigators were at church yesterday. We were planning on 6 being there but just 3 came. Sister Stacey and I sang a musical number in sacrament meeting, "The Olive Tree" which is all on missionary work. It's one that kept coming up on my ipod when I put it on shuffle mode the weeks I was praying about serving a mission. So that song is really special to me. But it's even cooler singing it as a missionary with your companion. I made sure not to cry. Mike (aninvestigator) was hilarious about it. He's like, "Woah! I didn't know you had that in ya. You sounded like angels up there." It really was pretty; better than any of the practices we did. The spirit was there and everyone loved it. We got asked to sing it again as a musical number at this funeral on Thursday of a woman in our ward who passed away this week. She's only 61 and has had health problems and died from an anurism and heart attack. Her family is all in town and was at church Sunday and heard us sing and asked if we'd sing at the funeral this week. It's sad because Sister Taylor (who died) was the music chairman and we had literally
just talked to her the Sunday before last to confirm our singing in church and she was so excited to hear it. So when we were asked I thought of her and this way she'll still hear it :). She's one amazing lady. We'd help her do the relief society bulletin boards and she's all creative. She and I used to talk about scrapbooking all the time. Her husband is okay now that all his kids are in town but I think he'll be sad when they leave.

During the passing of the sacrament Melanie leaned over to us and said, "Can we pick a date for my baptism?" Ha ha. Sister Stacey's like, "You're one step ahead of us." We were planning on setting her with a date this week but she beat us to it! She chose June 25th and is preparing for baptism! I'm really so excited for her. She's one of my best friends. It's so fun to teach someone our age. I'm going to mention BYU to her this week because it would be so good for her to transfer there right before her mission. I can't wait for you to meet her, you guys. She's got a rock solid testimony already. At church she always raises her hand and makes comments. People have mistaken her for a member. Yesterday was her 8th week in a row at church. She has a little journal she takes notes in during Sacrament, Sunday School, and Relief Society. Oh my, I just love her.

We knocked on a door this week of a man who came to church on Sunday! His name is Dave and we had a lesson with him and then he came to church. That's faith. I love seeing people act in faith and see the joy that comes into their lives from their righteous use of agency. He loved church and said he'll be back next week. He's in his sixties, divorced, jobless, and searching for greater peace and happiness. And we knocked on his door. He told us his parents used to have the missionaries over when he was growing up! I love hearing about seeds that were planted by other missionaries. It helps me know that no effort is wasted.

More good news! Timmia had her baptismal interview. Our District Leader was really impressed with her testimony. He said he loves giving interviews to baptismal candidates. I bet that would be so cool to hear these people who not too long ago were not meeting with missionaries and now bear testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel! Her baptism is planned for May 28th. She is so cute. Her prayers are amazing. I love teaching people how to pray for the first time. But the better part is teaching them that and then a month later they're volunteering to give the opening prayers and it's completely natural and comfortable for them! We're still teaching her Mom and grandmother. The Elders met all of them (when they came over to give the interview) and said they can see the family all joining. So that's hopeful! It was really funny, the grandmother kept looking Elder Duffin up and down. He's really tall and he was teaching her about the plan of salvation when we were waiting for Timmia to come out of her interview. You could tell the grandmother had a crush on him. haha. We're glad they're not teaching this family or they'd be a little toooo interested.

We meet with a less active woman who at our first meeting said she has no belief in God anymore. Well week after week we go see her and teach her from the Book of Mormon. She's again reading from it on her own! Randomly this week in the mail we got a note. It had no return address. We opened it and it was from her! It said: Dear Sister Zwick and Sister Stacey, Thank you for taking the time to visit and care about me. Not many do. It makes me believe again." Isn't that sweet?! We were jumping up and down because we were so happy. We didn't know if she was really progressing but just showing her love, and getting her back in the Book of Mormon has supposedly helped her.

We also had a really good lesson with Mike this week. He committed to come to church with his family and CAME again. He's progressing more than ever!!!!!!! After a lesson we extended him a committment to come to church on Sunday and he said, "Yes I will be there." Then his wife looked at us and said, "How do you do that?" And we all laughed. It's all the power of the holy ghost though. There is a quote in PMG by President Hinckley that says, "Every morning missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching...They will come to know they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same spirit." President Bulloch had us memorize that. I know it's true. When the spirit is present in the lessons we will say what the Lord wants us to say and the investigator will as well. It's almost like hypnotism. haha. It's just crazy the things people tell you and agree to do under the influence of the spirit. It's real and needed with every person we talk to. I know Mike felt the spirit and responded in that way because he knew it was what the Lord wanted him to do.

Well, this has been long. I love you guys! I will see you next week!!!

Love, Sister Zwick

One more thing: Mom, you asked if people are sad I'm leaving. This ward will get an even more awesome missionary in my place, I'm sure, so they should not worry. But at church yesterday like every person asked me, "So when do you go home, we need to have you to dinner?" Sister Stacey was like, "Let's not talk about this." But I guess the meal calendar was full, so now people are having us for breakfast and lunches. Multiple meal appointments in one day! They're all so so so nice. The Relief Society President is one of my favorite people in the world and is coming to Utah in July and so Mom, we're hanging out with her! She's so awesome and excited for it. Her husband is in the mission presidency and I met him while I was serving in Ogdensburg and now I'm in his ward. So that's been cool. Aw, I love these people here soooo much!

These are just a few pictures from this week:
-Beautiful Mohawk River
-Watchdog?
-This cat has thumbs!
-It's not white, it's green!
-Sister and Stacey and I with Timmia. Oh and I forgot to tell you. She asked us if she can wear a shower cap during her baptism. We didn't know the answer and have to ask our ward mission leader! ha ha.
-For service we sing hymns at the nursing home. This lady is named Sally. I love her!

Have a great week!








Monday, May 9, 2011

God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one."-President Thomas S. Monson

Hi guys!

Oh my, talking to you yesterday was soooooo great! It was by far my favorite phone call I made home, I think because I know I don't have to wait until the next phone call to hear your voices but that I'll be talking to you in person! Mom, I loved your email and I am really happy to hear your Mother's Day was special. Dad's gifts were so cute.

Thank you so much for letting me share stories about the mission and our investigators. It's my favorite thing to think and talk about and I'm really going to miss it here. I don't want to come home. I love feeling the Lord's love for the people we meet.

It's been warming up and the trees are blossoming! It's beginning to get so green! It's super nice to not have to wear a coat. We've been able to be on our bikes and walk a lot more. We can find and testify to a lot more people when we're car-less. Something I miss about a walking area. But we're kind of just making it a walking area now :) since it's nice weather. We drive to an area and then work around there. I love street contacting. It reminds me of Ithaca and I have such a testimony of God guiding our steps when we just are out searching for people. I learned that in Ithaca because that's how we found amazing investigators.

Some things I didn't tell you:
The Elders talked to this guy named Jeffrey from Puerto Rico :) who lives in our area and was really interested. We went and met him and he was very open and set an appointment with us. He's in his late twenties and is a father of three. We called a recently returned missionary who is home for college to come teach Jeffrey with us, and the member (Patrick) was sooooooo excited! Ha ha. He said he hadn't been out with the missionaries since his mission and wants to come out with us whenever we need anyone. We'll be using him A LOT. The three of us met at Jeffrey's and Jeffrey had to reschedule...:( But we asked if he just had a few minutes. We got to know him a bit and then he told us he does "Christian rapping". I had never heard of such a thing. ha ha. But just imagine Jeffrey: big baggy jeans a crazy designed shirt and a NY Yankees side ways hat. He started rapping. It was so cool AND we got to learn soooo much about his heart through his rapping. He really loves the Savior and is seeking forgiveness. We were able to bear testimonies of the BOM and tell him it was written by his ancestors, which excited him. We committed him to read Enos and set up another appointment for this coming Wednesday. He seems sincere and humble. I feel like he and his family are prepared.

Timmia is getting interviewed this Friday for her baptism. It's scheduled for May 21st. She's so cute and is making a lot of friends in the church. Her Mom, Leslie Ann loved the focus on Mothers all day yesterday. This is kind of funny: So I had to speak in sacrament meeting you know? They called me because a youth speaker backed out. Well the microphone wasn't working! So I had to speak without it. It totally brought me back to my musical theater days when Mr. Smith would sit in the back of the auditorium and tell me to project my voice. So yeah, I had to like shout from the pulpit. Sister Stacey was sitting near the back with Leslie Ann and her kids and said she could hear me. After sacrament meeting Sister Mika in the ward came up to me and said, "My daughter is terrified of speaking and was scheduled to be the youth speaker, but just didn't feel good about it." Then I said, "Okay that explains why he called me." She's like, "I don't know what she would've done. If she had to speak without a microphone she probably would never have wanted to speak in church again." So phew. I'm grateful I was the one it happened on instead of a youth.

Well, I feel like I talked to you so much about our teaching pool over the phone, so I don't want to bore you too much. I love you guys and it just felt so natural on the phone, like I never left. I'm sure that's how it will feel in a couple weeks. I can't wait to see you. I feel so blessed to have you as my family. You're all so sweet and funny. I hope you have a wonderful day! HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN Matty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you!

Love, Sister Zwick





Monday, May 2, 2011

Pictures


Downtown Schenectady


We died eggs with the Bishop's family

Almost Christina Street!

Did I tell you EVERYONE in New York has cats?

Sister Stacey's skirt. ha ha. Good thing we cary lint rollers!

We went to visit this less active in this rehabilitation center and the nurse was like, "We are on restriction because of the vomiting and diarrhea. But with a mask you can still visit her." So we put on the masks and went and read the Book of Mormon with her!



Walking this woman's dog for service. ha ha long story, but she was so grateful and even bore her testimony about it. Her dog is trapped in her place day after day and just pees in there. So sad.

"Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still..."-D&C 123:7

Hi guys!

Yes! Bin Laden is history! That's pretty exciting, even though we're not supposed to delight in bloodshed. ha ha.

How is everyone!? It sounds like Lizzy's wedding was pretty. I was thinking about her this past weekend and Sister Stacey and I both were hoping you'd send pictures since she knows Tyler. The one outside the temple from your phone was kind of small, Mom. Did anyone take any others?

We're still seeing bed bugs in our apartment but I'm trying to just forget about them. Sister Bulloch should be calling us today about her solutions.

Zone Conference was on Tuesday. It was really really good. President Bulloch taught us about the Abrahamic Covenant and our role and obligation (as Abraham's seed) to take the gospel to the world. It's more important than we realize. It's a covenant we entered into by being a descendant of Abraham, to "bear this ministry and priesthood unto all nations and bless all the families of the earth." (-Abr. 2:9). One thing he said was, "If it's not you who will find His people, someone else will because God has made a promise that all the families of the earth will be blessed with the blessings of the gospel, which are the key to salvation. And God keeps his promises." He needs us though. He needs MORE missionaries and more member missionary work. I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of moving this work forward by helping people enter into covenants and understand the power of the priesthood. God is relying on us, to help him fulfill his promises and get his children home to Him. Being born into or adopted into the Abrahamic Covenant is more significant than I realized and more than other members probably do too. It worries me when I hear people not going on missions or not getting married in the temple because it's going against what God wants us to do, to help this promise be fulfilled, and gather scattered Israel. President Bulloch also enforced that our salvation and blessings are dependent upon doing our part in spreading the gospel. Anyways, sorry I go off sometimes. I just wish every member of the church could feel what I feel about missionary work and how important it is for us to open our mouths and rescue our brothers and sisters.

We had a great weekend! Saturday and Sunday we had lessons back to back most of the day and evening! It's awesome when that happens because teaching is a blast. My comp is really good at teaching so I like listening to her teach and bear testimony. We're a good pair.

I'm going to briefly update you on some progressing investigators we're working with:
Melanie: Is a college student at Union College (a small college in our area). She's been to church 7 times and is just struggling quitting smoking before she picks a baptism date. The spirit in her lessons is close to the strongest I've felt my whole mission. She talks a lot about her Grandma who just recently past away. I'm pretty certain her grandma led Melanie to us. She bears testimony to us in the lesson. It's funny. She's very good at recognizing the spirit and tells us she's feeling it like as we're in mid-sentence teaching. Ha ha. On Saturday we taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she told us about a dream she had of her baptism. Cool huh? When we taught about the Holy Ghost and how she can have it as a constant companion and feel the feelings she feels more frequently. She kept saying, "I cannot wait to have the Holy Ghost with me always." She's also very humble and was crying when we talked about repentance and just said all these things she needs to change. We were able to bear testimony of the atonement and forgiveness and the cleansing that comes from baptism after repentance. She's so solid. I probably won't be here for her baptism but I know I'll be in touch with her after my mission. It's fun cause she's our age and I know we'll always be friends.

Mike: Was at church again yesterday! His wife was so happy. I know it makes her so happy to have him there. When we taught him last night he was so quick to say he'd like to offer the opening prayer. That never happens! I've seen progress with him in just the past month. I love him and his family and can't wait to see them sealed someday. I really want you to meet him, Dad. He's really funny and a lot like you, I just wish he'd have the kind of faith you do. I told them if they're ever in Utah they have a place to stay. I've been telling a lot of our investigators that. ha ha. Sorry.

Timmia: Is not set for baptism on May 14th anymore. We brought a girl her age to the lesson (the Bishop's dauther, Jenny) who bore testimony and it was just a great lesson. Timmia said the closing prayer and was really thankful Jenny came with us and was all set for church. So we got she and her mom a ride set up and Sunday morning called them to make sure they were up and getting ready and they said they were too tired and not feeling well. She was also supposed to be interviewed for her baptism at church. I think one of the hardest parts of a mission is trying to stir a desire within others to act on the commitments we extend. It's like lessons go awesome, and the spirit is felt, and then we leave and they let the natural man take over. I know it's important to keep fasting and praying for them because eventually they'll have the motivation to live the principles of the gospel.

Well, time is up. I'm going to email some pictures now of the past couple weeks. I love you!

Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, April 25, 2011

"...He hath risen again, whereby he hath gained the victory over the grave; and also in him is the sting of death swallowed up."-Mormon 7:5

Hi Mom and Dad and sibs,
I loved reading about all the grandkids there. It's hard to believe you have 5, Mom and Dad. I love all the stories and funny things they say. The best is that Ellie got Blake out of his crib and he walked around thanking her! Ha ha. So cute.
First let me update you on the BED BUGS. Yep, we have bed bugs. We keep our apartment really clean and so we think we brought one in from a home we visited. We're in some really un-kept places sometimes.
Last Monday night we went to the Dinkle's home for dinner. We started talking about the bug bites and Brother Dinkle grabbed his laptop and looked up bed bugs and sure enough they looked just like my bites did. He also read that dawn is their prime biting time. Sister Stacey and I were up at like 3, 4, and 5 am and I kept hearing her walk into the bathroom to check herself. It was soooo scary. We didn't see any though. The next morning we checked our beds and found 2 dead ones. I tried to convince Sister Stacey that they are dead and gone BUT then I found one crawling right by me as I was studying Tuesday morning. So I called Sister Bulloch. She said, "Go wash all your clothes and sheets, and spray your WHOLE apartment with permetherin. Cancel your appointments. You shouldn't be losing sleep and need to get this solved." So we called Sister Maughan. She's like our second mom and loves to help us because she has a daughter on a mission! She said, "Get over here, the laundry room is all yours." Long story short, we washed everything from our clothes to our shoes and backpacks. And even slept at the Maughans that night. For some reason we had mattresses in the apartment and got permission from the Bullochs to throw two away. We called our landlord and he did a extermination thing. After all this we thought they'd be gone and brought all our clean clothes back and were so excited to have a good night's sleep and as we were getting ready for bed we found 3 MORE living! One in the bathroom, kitchen, and bedroom! And the next day saw 4 others! So now they're everywhere! It was really funny at first but now it's annoying because it's interferring with the work and our sleep. We're so tired because we get home from teaching and are up itching and having nightmares about them. I feel like I'm camping and you know how much I like that ;) I've been wearing bug spray every night and haven't gotten bit for about a week. Sister Maughan is so sweet. She bought us mattress covers and keeps calling us, offering us a place to sleep, and seeing what more she can do to help us. We don't really know what else to do. We have Zone Conference tomorrow and there we'll talk to President and Sister Bulloch. I DO NOT want to move again. Plus I feel like the bugs are in our stuff so if we move, they'll come with us. This has been one of the only things that has made me want to come home, bed bugs. My bites are recovering but now turning into bruises.
Wednesday night we had a dinner appointment with the Forschmidts. Brother Forschmidt converted to Mormonism from Judaism and being Passover, we had a Passover dinner. The sedar ceremony (which we did before eating) consists of some readings from Exodus about the plagues on the Egyptians. I had to read Exodus chapter 8 all about the frogs and lice. When I got to verse 3 I read: "And the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into thine house, and into thy bedchamber, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants, and upon thy people..." And I just started laughing. I couldn't hold it in. It was so bad because the ceremony was supposed to be serious. And then Sister Stacey started laughing. So the whole chapter she was looking at me because she wanted me to laugh again and I was like kicking her under the table so she'd stop. It was just too ironic after all the bed bugs.
The work here is going so good and I'm sad to leave it eventually. Last night we had an amazing lesson with Mike and his family. When we got there his wife (who is like our best friend) told us to come back to the kitchen and get a dessert. The rest of the family was in the family room. She got kind of emotional and thanked us for serving missions. It was really sweet. She said her husband has never been this receptive. It strengthened my testimony that Heavenly Father knows his children. We went in and his returned missionary son showed the "None were with Him" talk by Elder Holland from a couple conferences ago. It is about the power of the Atonement. We all went around and shared our thoughts and testimonies of the Savior. Mike even shared. The Spirit was so thick, you could cut through it. The atonement really applies when we do all we can do (live the gospel) though to obtain the Lord's mercy. I nonchalantly said that because Mike needs to see that he needs to live those steps, faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the holy ghost, and enduring to the end to really utilize the fullness of the gift of the atonement. We love Mike because we can joke around with him (he's super funny) but also be serious. We set a return appointment with him and he's always very busy. I've been using a pen instead of a pencil in my planner and he noticed that I was using a pen and my companion was using a pencil. He's like, "Sister Stacey, do you want a pen?" And handed her a casino one. It was funny that happened to be the one he grabbed. She's like, "No I like using pencil." Then I said, "I'm using a pen so you can't change the appointment." Then his wife's like, "The difference between a new missionary and one that's about to go home." And then we went into a whole conversation about how I'll hand down the pen to Sister Stacey when I leave. The handing down of the pen. ha ha. I really just have used a pen because I can't find my pencil and need to buy more today. On our drive home we got a text message from Mike's returned missionary son. He said, "My dad has progressed more with you two sisters than any previous missionaries. You're doing a great job. Keep it up. The effort you are making is helping." It made our Easter. I love bringing people unto the Savior and helping them feel the Spirit.
Have a wonderful week! I love you!
Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, April 18, 2011

“As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase.”-PMG pg.2


Hey everyone!
Palm Springs sounded like fun! You are all probably soooo tan! That's so fun Ellie and Spenny rode back with you, Mom! I miss them so much. Will you tell them and give them a love for me? Spen should think it's cool I'll be on an airplane in a few weeks. Andrea, are you so excited to be with the family for Easter? Too bad I don't get to call this Sunday! Before I forget, I hope you have a HAPPY EASTER and make time to reflect on the atonement.
I feel like I've learned a lot about the Atonement on my mission and how that event is central to why we're here and how we can live in happiness now and for eternity. Before we start teaching people we recite (not word for word) some points from Preach My Gospel, in the Teaching Skills section, under "How to Begin Teaching" and one of them says something like, "Any pain or guilt you feel can be removed because of the Savior's Atonement and you'll feel that as you apply these principles to your life." I almost start crying every time I say that because we all feel those feelings and how true it is that He is just waiting for us to come unto him and partake of his forgiveness and realize we need to change and be given the power to do it because of His help. I am so grateful for the Atonement. Christ just loves us so much and I just want everyone I meet here to feel that. In a scripture I read today it said, "He has all power, all wisdom, all understanding, he comprehendeth all things, and he is a merciful being, even unto salvation, to those who will repent and believe on his name." That's how Ammon describes him. The Savior really does know how we feel and he went through the pain so he can give us comfort. Sorry I went off on that. It's just amazing to think that someone knows us better than we know ourselves, and loves us unconditionally. It's beautiful :)
A lot has happened this week. It's been one of those weeks full of funny and sad stories. So I'll take you on a little emotional roller coaster ride...
Last Monday evening I noticed 3 little bumps on my right arm. They were red and itchy and looked like mesquito bites. Then Tuesday morning I noticed 3 more on my upper thigh. The redness kept getting bigger around them all even when I wasn't itching them. By Wednesday they started looking like rashes and nothing like a mesquito bite. We were near a member's home (who is a doctor) after visting an investigator Wednesday afternoon and called him. He said he wanted to take a look at them. So we went inside and he and his wife and two little girls were there. He's like, "Let's see your arm." So I showed him my arm. Then he's like, "Do you have any more?" I said, "Yes, on my leg." He's like, "Let me take a look at those." I'm like, "Well, they're kind of high. ha ha." And he's like, "It's still your leg." So I had to lift my gs in front of him and his family. He said something about them affecting my tissue? He gave me some steroid cream and said to put it on twice a day. From Wednesday to Saturday I got 5 more. At church on Sunday he looked at them on my lower leg and arm and was kind of confused because he doesn't know what they are and said it's not bug season. I think they're spider bites because our apartment is old. AND we don't have curtains and this gross blanket is hanging in front of the window (to act as a curtain) that my bed backs too. Saturday during lunch I was so fed up by my itchiness and got a big black garbage sack and took the blanket hanging from the window, and threw it away. Then we moved our beds and vacuumed all around them. We wash our sheets every other week during laundry, so I'm pretty sure it's not bed bugs. But just in case we stripped our beds and propped up all the mattresses and sprayed permetherin on them. We had to wait 24 hours to go into our room because the permetherin has toxins that we can't breathe in. We slept out on the couches Saturday night. Today the bites or whatever they are don't itch and look a little better. If they don't improve, by the end of the week I'll go to the doctor. I think they'll go away though.
We had two investigators at church yesterday!! Mike came!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He sat with his wife. He has not been to church since his son's mission homecoming in December. We want him to gain a testimony so badly. He loves Sister Stacey and I, which is so great. I know we were placed in this area together to help him. We've had awesome lessons at their home and his wife has said some very bold things to him. I mean very boldly. She's just put in a hard situation being so active, with very active children and a non member husband. We got the feeling she doesn't talk about these things to him until we are there because it's a touchy subject. On Tuesday night when we were there she said things like, "If in the future you're not here and I have the opportunity to be sealed to someone..." You can just feel her frustration with him. But yet she loves him and is just waiting for him to have a greater desire to know if these things are true. We asked him if he wants to know. He said, "I guess." And I said, "Do you want to live with your family forever?" And he said, "Yes." And I said, "Well then, you want to know, because that is a blessing that comes from knowing." We read a lot out of Alma 32 with him and talked about desire and faith. We promised him the Lord hears his prayers but that the witness will come after the trial of his faith and committed him to act in faith and come to church. Then his wife said, "I would love to sit by you in church. And the kids have told me in private they wish their dad was at church." AND HE CAME TO CHURCH! He even brought a separate car (we think to leave). But our awesome members got him to stay for Sunday school and Priesthood! Sunday school was the most spirit filled lesson that I've had my whole mission. It was on sacrifice and just so perfect for those who were in attendance. We had 2 less actives that don't usually come in class as well as Melanie and Mike (investigators).
We received a referral from the San Diego Visitor's Center, that a 9 year old in this area wanted a BOM. So we went to meet the Gilbert family and the Mom answered and was soooo cute and nice. She said her daughter was asleep and so we told her a little bit about ourselves and told her what we do and that we'd love to come back and explain more about the book of mormon and our basic beliefs. She was all for it and said, "I think we'd all like to learn, not just my daughter." We were so happy! Right as we walked away I was like, "Sister Madsen and her 10 year old daughter, fellowshippers!" The next day we called Sister Madsen to see if she and her daughter could come to the appointment, and they couldn't but she told us of all the other women in the ward with 9 or 10 year old daughters. We made some calls and got a member and her daughter all excited to come. Then we called another family in the ward to borrow a children's book of mormon (until the one arrives that we ordered from the mission office) because we thought that would be easier for the 9 year old to read. So Friday it was like one of our only set appointments and we were looking forward to it all day. We taught the family from Trinidad (who are doing awesome by the way) and got back to the car to a voice mail. It was the Gilbert mom. She's like, "I just wanted to call and cancel our appointment for this evening. I don't think my daughter knew what she was signing up for when we were visiting in San Diego. We're happy with our religion and aren't looking to change." It was a HUGE bummer. We had to call the members and tell them not to come anymore and bring the children's BOM back to the family at church yesterday who lended it to us. It makes me so sad when families walk away from this. If they only knew the blessings that flow from it.
We had a lot of those situations this week. Investigators and potentials not being home for their appointment and cancellations right and left. But I know the Lord will take care of them. It's not the end yet.
On a happier note, remember Precious? The cute Mom we met outside Val's house? She and her little black boys were walking to a barber shop. Well come to find out, the barber shop was closed! She told us that Saturday after a really great lesson with her whole family. She said she now knows why they had to go to the barber shop. She reminds me of Tyesha in Ithaca. She's already loving everything she's learning. She, her fiance, and 3 sons are all committed to coming to church this Sunday! Please pray for them with us that they'll use their agency righteously and come! We have their ride all set up. Her boys are adorable, Andrew, Donny, and Emmanuel. They were all participating in the lesson, answering questions, and reading! This is a golden family. So we're really hoping they come on Sunday.
About a month ago Sister Stacey and I created profiles at Mormon.org. You should all do one! It would be so fun if we all had one on their. I felt like I was on facebook or something, choosing my profile picture and stuff! It was fun! It took like a month for someone to review and approve it before becoming visible online but now it's there! So here are the links to both mine and Sister Stacey's:
Also GUESS WHO GOT BAPTIZED IN OGDENSBURG!?! DOLORES!!!!!! Remember her? I sent some pictures home with her and I. I worked with her the entire 6 months I was up there and she had the strongest desire to be baptized. I knew she'd make it. She finally broke up with her bf and is living the LOC!!!! She got baptized Saturday and confirmed Sunday. Sister Woodmansee wrote me this last week and let me know the exciting news. I wish I could've seen it but that's just the nature of the work. You plant seeds, teach, and work an area as if you'll be there forever, but your not and you leave and get to hear how the work keeps moving forward. She also said Don received the Priesthood last Sunday!
Jeff, HAPPY BIRTHDAY Saturday! Look for a card in the mail.
Sorry this is so long! I love you all!
Love, Sister Zwick


Monday, April 11, 2011

Pictures from Palmyra













"...I knew it and I knew that God knew it, and I could not deny it, neither dared I do it..."-JSH 1:25

Hi guys!
Dad, don't worry I'm missing out on the warmth of sunny California too, if it makes you feel any better. Ha ha I love that Matty said it's the first time he's had a bed there. Remember he used to not like Palm Springs? It starts becoming nice around high school age because it's super relaxing. Thank you for both of your emails, Mom and Dad. And Chad your email made me the happiest! I'll write ya today!
Saturday night we got our transfer call and both Sister Stacey and I are staying in Glenville for 6 more weeks!! We were SO HAPPY to hear that. We were both pretty certain that we'd be here together. It's the best place to end my mission. I love those we're teaching and have the best companion. We're best of friends. She went on exchange while I was in Palmyra and was all scared this week for the call because she doesn't want to be companions with anyone else. Isn't that nice? I told her she better stop being so nice because President puts reject companions with the nice sisters. ha ha.
Tuesday morning, three elders, three sisters, President and Sister Bulloch and I traveled to Palmyra! I feel soooo blessed to be in this mission, so close to where the Restoration took place. The day began with a session in the Palmyra temple. Right when I walked in I was greeted by Elder and Sister Sherwood. They were a couple assigned to help Sister Despain and I in the Ogdensburg Branch during the time we didn't have a Branch President. They were in white and gave me a hug. It was soooo great to see them! I had written them a couple weeks ago to let them know I'm coming to the temple on the 5th, because I knew they worked there a few times a week. They as well as Elder and Sister Guthrie (another Palmyra couple that helped us in the Burg) found me in the temple and it was a good reunion. Before the session the temple president sat with us and we had the opportunity to ask him any question about anything! I swear I was the only one asking questions. President Bulloch and him had the answers and were so informative. I was sitting there just thinking how sad it would've been to not have all of these experiences. Even just that one, sitting in the baptistry room getting questions answered by a temple president! And the day got even better! The endowment was wonderful as always. It was cool to see President and Sister Bulloch in their temple clothes. I was thinking about my mission a lot and it was amazing to see that the covenants in the temple relate to the things I've been trying to develop as a missionary. I told that to President afterwards and he said, "There is nothing like a mission to give us a better perspective of our temple covenants." I will never go to the temple without being grateful for what I've learned on my mission. It's prepared me to be a better member of the church, member missionary, wife, mother, and teacher. I just hope I can remember the important lessons I've learned about obedience and sacrifice and in my future be more willing to do what the Lord wants me to do when he asks.
After the temple we went to the Grandin Building and got taught by President Bulloch and a Sister missionary about the long process it was to make the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon. It made me especially grateful for mine and the sacrifices made by Martin Harris and John H. Gilbert and other men who worked hard to getting the first books published.
I learned a lot about Martin Harris. We all remember him for losing the 116 pages of the Book of Mormon manuscript, but in fact he mortgaged his farm to pay E.B. Grandin to print the Book of Mormon! I didn't know this. President Bulloch drove us to the farmland he mortgaged and taught us more about coveting from D&C 19 with the background story of Martin Harris not wanting to give up his farm, but did because the Lord asked him to. President said "We remember Martin Harris for the wrong stuff. He paid for the printing of the Book of Mormon and was a great blessing to the Kingdom." Then we learned he didn't only lose his farm but his wife left him because of all he was giving for the spreading forth of the gospel! Sad huh?
We also went to Alvin's (Joseph's brother) grave. Sister Bulloch is so cute and puts flowers there every time. We learned about his influence on Joseph and how he told him to stay true to what he knew in spite of the persecution. Joseph looked up to Alvin and always remembered that and continued to hold true to what he saw.
On Hill Cumorah we studied about Joseph's instruction from Moroni. President Bulloch told us Moroni is known as "Joseph's tutor" and was actual visited by him 22 times from the time he first appeared to him and throughout the translation process.
We also got a tour through Joseph Smith's log cabin and the frame house right by the Sacred Grove. It was so funny, President Bulloch would get antsy when the missionaries would be giving us a tour because it was so simple and he'd say, "Can I interrupt and take a few minutes with them." Then he'd go all in depth and have us open our scriptures and tell us what else happened in the room. I LOVE PRESIDENT BULLOCH!
When we got to the Sacred Grove he said, "This is the first time I'll let you be alone." We got to separate one from another and be in the grove for an hour. You can feel the sacredness of the ground just walking in.
I know that Joseph Smith was a true Prophet of God. I am so grateful for his faith to go into the grove of trees and pray with a sincere heart. I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to him there and answered his prayer. I also know that through him the Priesthood was restored and all the saving ordinances can be preformed because of one boy's simple prayer. It's real. It's a real place and you can feel the Holy Ghost bear witness of Joseph Smith at every site in Palmyra.
The day was perfect. President Bulloch made wonderful connections between the temple, the sites, and our mission experience. I feel so grateful to be in this mission right where it all started and to have President Bulloch as my mission President. He's helped me grow in my testimony and has taught me what it really means to be a disciple of Christ.
I'll attach pictures in another email you can forward out, Mom.
I love you!
Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Missionary work is the lifeblood of the kingdom." -President Monson

Hi family!

It's been a great weekend. We had two investigators at conference and it seemed like the sessions they came to were the perfect talks for them. This mother of 8 children from Trinidad came to the Saturday morning session and was deeply touched by Elder Cook's talk on women and motherhood. I also was so grateful when President Eyring looked right into the camera and said, "You can know as I know that Joseph Smith was a chosen prophet of God to restore the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." She was nodding and it felt as though he was saying that right to her. Just like Elder Holland said, "If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit some one of us will send a little epistle just to you." I know Leslie Ann felt that and I did too, as many of my questions were answered and concerns were settled. So yeah, I loved loved loved General Conference. Especially Elder Holland's talk. He's exactly right, we need to ponder upon the unique phenomenon general conference is! Saturday morning we were in Schenectady to teach a women named Val before conference and this massive church's parking lot was filled with cars. I thought, how sad that is that they have no idea prophets are speaking to the world today! Val ended up not forgetting our appointment and wasn't home but the Lord always puts us in the right place at the right time. On Val's street this mom was walking with her two sons and we approached them and asked them how their day is and then asked her if she believes in God. She was like, "I do. I'm Christian. I've been looking for a church to go to." Downtown Schenectady is full of ginormous beautiful catholic churches, so it's funny she's "looking". We knew her search couldn't have been for a church building only, but for truth restored. Experiences like that just make me so so happy. We were led to Val that day to find Precious and her sons. We're teaching them this week.

We were also led by the Spirit this week to a former investigator's home. Her name is Aimee. We had penciled her in as a back up for Tuesday morning but since our appointment with a less active went through we didn't end up checking on Aimee. That afternoon we had planned to work in Schenectady but Sister Stacey just wasn't feeling it. She was like, "I really feel like we should stay in Glenville. We've worked Schenectady the past few days." So we said a prayer and told Heavenly Father we are not going to Schenectady but we're going to work in Glenville and to help us readjust our plans to be led to someone in need of our message." We decided to check on a less active and on our drive there, we came across construction that caused us to have to take a detour. We took the detour and we led right down Aimee's street. I said, "Let's stop at Aimee's and maybe she'll be home and we'll be able to meet her." We got out of the car, knocked on Aimee's door and she came. At first she was confused because she knew the other two sisters well. We introduced ourselves and she let us in. Over eight times she said, "I was just having one of those really sad afternoons, and then I heard a knock and it was you." She even called her husband at work and said, "You know how I was having a sad day? The sisters just showed up and we've been talking and I feel a lot better." Cool huh!? We had the best time with her, and everything that came out of her mouth told us how prepared she is for the gospel. Her father in law just passed away, she and her husband have had a hard time with that, they just moved into the area, they haven't found a church yet, and are living the word of wisdom! After we got to know her a bit her husband got home from work. They are newlyweds and she was telling us about her wedding and how she wished they had gotten married in a church. I wanted to be like, "It's not too late! Temple blessings are available to you." But we don't teach the temple on the first lesson. ha ha. That morning our dinner appointment canceled and ironically Mark and Aimee were like, "Will you join us for dinner or do you have somewhere you need to be?" We joined them for dinner! Strangers that felt like longtime members. We are soooooo excited about them and they definitely felt the spirit when we testified about life after death. The coolest part of the story is that when we left, the detour was gone!! There wasn't even evidence of any construction. Cool huh? Had we not taken the detour, we wouldn't have stopped there and helped Aimee have a better day.

Something Elder Bednar said that I loved was, "In many times we receive revelation without recognizing how and when we are receiving revelation." I told Sister Stacey I was so grateful to have her as a companion. Because she was in tune, we were able to be effective instruments in the Lord's hands that afternoon and help Aimee and Mark feel the Spirit.

Mom, thank you for sending my temple clothing! I was soooooo happy to get it! You would've laughed how excited I was. I immediately put on my temple dress to soak up the spirit of the temple that is in it from before my mission! It fits perfectly still, surprisingly! Tonight we are driving to Utica and from there I will be going to the temple with some other departing missionaries. We also get to go to the Grandin Building Printing Press where the first Books of Mormons were printed, as well as Hill Cumorah, and the Sacred Grove. I cannot wait! On Friday we were at a meeting and saw President and Sister Bulloch. I was talking to Sister Bulloch and was like, "I'm not allowed to jump up and down in the temple, but it's been sooooo long I don't know how I'll contain my excitement for being within the walls of the temple again!" It'll be a wonderful day. I've heard President Bulloch has so many added stories from teaching and studying for institute classes that he shares with us about Joseph Smith at the individual sights and that he teaches us so much. It'll be a very uplifting and inspiring day. I can't wait!

I love you. Please pray for our investigators this week, we're extending two baptismal invitations!

p.s. Sister Stacey has this dumb fake hamster pet (Zhu Zhu) that she and her MTC district had as a "classroom pet" they're sending it around to each other with pictures. That explains the pictures. We took them on Saturday.




Monday, March 28, 2011

"...no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing..." -Joseph Smith

Hi guys!

It's sooooo much fun to read your emails and hear how things are going for all of you! Matty, I am soooo sorry about your nose!!! I really hope it's not broken and that you don't have to go through that yucky surgery like Emily had to! I am soooo envious of Ash and Sam just chillin' on the beach and going to Disney World! I have heard of the Harry Potter World from Sister Stacey and it sounds so cool! How long has that been open? And how does Ash have a connection with someone in Harry Potter? That's so sweet! Hook ups!

It's really sad BYU lost. Thursday night we had a dinner appointment at the Bishop's house. He and his family talked about the game starting around 7ish. I could tell when 7:00 hit he was getting antsy, so we wrapped up this scripture activity with his kids. As we were leaving Bishop Andrews was like, "Before you leave, I have two questions: First, do you need anything?" We told him no and that the members are helping out tremendously with teaching and meals. Then he's like, "Second: Do you want to know the score of the game?!" We were like, "YES!" So he goes to his phone and and tells us Florida was leading, 16-23. So we went out to our car and all of a sudden the 11 year old daughter yells out their front door, "Now it's 21-25!" We were both wayyyy happy. I was all nervous for BYU and I wasn't even watching it! I bet it was so scary! We went to teach Mike and he called and canceled right before we got there. So we ended up following up with some potentials close by and then our phone rang. It was Sister Andrews (Bishop's wife). She's like, "I know I shouldn't be calling you but I just wanted to tell you it's half time and let you know the score!" Ha ha. We were like, "Will you call us at the end of the game and let us know the outcome?" She's like, "For sure!" She called around 9:30 and told us it's overtime, 68-68 and that she'd call us back after overtime finishes. Ha ha. We were freaking out, running around our apartment cheering and hoping they'd win! Then we got the call that they lost :( 83-74. That stinks the final score was that because it seems like it was neck and neck the whole time; kind of a bad reflection of the game. All night Sister Stacey was like, "I hope they lose so we don't have to keep hearing about it and missing seeing the games." I was like, "What! Don't say that!" So when they lost I told her it's because she said that ;) I'm happy you all had a good time watching it and that you invited Dylan over too. Sounds like Jeff is his same old self with imitations. Geez, I miss those! Was he doing Uncle David? Sometimes I wish he was out here meeting some people we've met because I know he could imitate them soooo well and then I'd be able to remember them forever.
Now onto what's going on here: I just feel so blessed to be here on a mission. And also so blessed to be in a ward where there are faithful members who understand the importance of sharing the gospel. I really want to live in the mission field for the rest of my life! It's so cool that every day these members get to have conversations with nonmembers and bring them one step closer to the truth. And Sister Stacey and I get to do it too, every minute of every day. I've been getting scared lately thinking about how in just a couple months I lose this identity, "Sister Zwick." I feel like I'm going to be so lost when I get home, not knowing how to even start a conversation because all I know how to is to share my testimony and think of how a gospel principle or scripture relates to the person I'm conversing with. I get teary eyed even thinking about it and how weird it will be not being here, and try not to think about it too much but it's coming and so I can't help myself!
Anyways, we had an amazing experience with a referral from church headquarters this week! This guys named Stephen went onto Mormon.org and requested a Book of Mormon. We got that information and referral as a text message with his address. So we showed up at his house with the BOM and introduced ourselves and asked him how he found Mormon.org. He said a friend told him to check it out and that he's studied a lot of christian sects of religions and hasn't found any to be true and/or agree with what he feels Jesus Christ taught. We taught him the message of the restoration, just there on his porch and testified of the truth of the book of mormon and the clarity of Christ's doctrine in it. He replied, "That makes perfect sense. I believe God would call a Prophet today." And then he was like, "And I'm so excited to read this book. I think I'll start it tonight." It was soooo cool to see how prepared he is! I know he's going to progress, the only problem is after we told him what we do as missionaries and that we'd love to come back and answer questions he has he's like, "I want to read this first and then I'll call you." Ugh. We are going to stop back there in about a week though, just to see how his reading is going. We also invited him to church and told him about General Conference, which I AM SOOOOOO EXCITED FOR!
One more funny thing: We were downtown Schenectady and had just parked to go see this less active. Well this group of about 5 tall black guys were right outside our car doing round-off back tucks in the middle of the street. ha ha. So I was like, "Hurry, lets get out and share with them before they pass." So we got out and started talking to them and they said they had never heard of Mormons before. We asked them their religious backgrounds and then they were like, "We have a basketball game so we've gotta get going." We gave them all mormon.org and told them to check out Paris (a kid around their age with a sweet conversion story) and they said they would. Then Sister Stacey was like, "We should've used Jimmer!" So I yelled, "Hey, do you know Jimmer Ferdette?" And they all turned around and said, "Yeah, yeah" and "He's coo!" And in unison Sister Stacey and I said, "He's MORMON!" ha ha.
I got a really great letter from Sister Woodmansee about people in Ogdensburg. She said John's funeral was beautiful and that she was the last one to say goodbye before they closed the casket. And she said, "TTFN!" It's what he always said at the end of phone conversations or when we were leaving. Ha ha. She also said they set John with a baptismal date! He's the one who had a hard time with death and had all these why questions for God. Remember? He's in some pictures I sent home too and gave me a throw my last Sunday there. I am sooooo happy for him! And will be praying for him from here. I have a testimony that God answers prayer. Almost every night in Ogdensburg I prayed to be led to potential priesthood holders to help sustain that little branch and all these men are being baptized up there! It's sooooooo awesome! I can't wait to go back and see some who were only investigators be full fledged members holding the priesthood and callings! I'm going to spend some time today writing people up there. They're so funny.
Well, thanks for all your emails and prayers. I know they help because I wake up energized and ready for another day at 6:27, so not like me! I'm so grateful to have been blessed with a loving family who have strong testimonies of the gospel. I miss you lots!
Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, March 21, 2011

"...and brought them to the knowledge of their God unto the salvation of their souls." -Alma 37:8

Hi family!
I was so happy this week because for the majority of the week I didn't have to wear thermals or my thick coat and it really was feeling like Spring. But this morning during personal study it started snowing and it has been ever since. There are about two inches on the ground already. We had to scrape off our car and drive slowly through the blizzard to get here. I'm so sick of layering and seeing my big brown coat in every picture we take! So please pray for warmer weather for New York.
SO SO exciting BYU is in the SWEET SIXTEEN! Jimmer grew up in this Stake and all the members say, "Our son played Stake ball with Jimmer." Ha ha like trying to have a connection. I haven't even seen him play. We hear BYU has stood their ground regarding morality and that it's brought a lot of attention to the church. We're encouraging members to use BYU basketball as a good conversation starter with nonmembers.
On Wednesday President and Sister Bulloch came to our District Meetings and held interviews for our District. They've also had every companionship teach them a lesson and they were impressed with Sister Stacey having only been out a couple weeks, having such amazing teaching skills. She really is so natural and I feel so blessed to have her as my companion. Really she is all around a better missionary than most of my past companions, some who had been out over 6 months! Mom, you asked if she is enjoying it... She has mentioned a few times, "If I knew it was this hard I wouldn't have come." It's hard to LOVE the work right at the beginning because you haven't really seen the fruit of your efforts yet. And I tell her I remember feeling that way too and to just do her best and take it a day at a time. When we have really sweet teaching moments she walks out of there just soooo happy and I am too. We always picture what the person's church calling would be. Ha ha. After good moments like that I tell her to try to keep the experience in mind because they do happen, and they'll continue to happen all throughout her mission. It's just the best to feel the Lord and the Spirit working through you to touch the hearts of the people here!
We had to basically start from nothing when we got here (investigator-wise) which means a lot of Finding (aka tracting,street contacting, following up with potential investigators and former investigators in the area book, meeting part member families, and asking for referrals from every one we talk to). I like teaching better than finding, but I've noticed Heavenly Father's guidance a whole lot through finding and so my love for finding has grown as well as my testimony that He knows and loves his children. It's soooo sweet to be led somewhere where someone is interested and knowing that it's right where we needed to be. We had that happen so many times this week!
We had planned into see a former investigator named Glenda (cool, same name as the good witch in Wicked). We got to her house and before we knocked at the door she came out. We introduced ourselves and immediately she said, "You are God-sent!" I was thinking, awesome this lady is spiritual! Then we asked if she had met missionaries before. She said she hadn't and told us her name, Trisha. Then she said she's a born again Christian but she's been searching for a new church and that she started attending church after her husband died in a car accident four years ago. She started tearing up and said, "It's been a really hard few years because my Mom also passed away in 2009." It's amazing how much people share with us, as strangers. I think the power of the holy ghost works through them as we talk together because I've seen it happen so much, people just trust us and share with us things so close to their heart that the gospel of Jesus Christ provides answers and healings for. Sister Stacey jumped in and testified of life after death and the knowledge we have of families being together forever through the power of God in this church. Immediately she said, "I want to join your church, I mean I want to come to your church!" It was so funny afterwards talking about it because she first said JOIN and then had to correct herself! We'll take join. :) Saturday we called three times and never caught her home, but left a message with her daughter in law to remind her about church. She didn't come Sunday. It's always a little disappointing when that happens. We're meeting with her this week though, hopefully will pick her up as a new investigator, and she'll come Sunday.
Michael and Mike (the father investigating who has a cute family in the ward) who I've sent emails about are the same person. I call him both names. We had a fabulous lesson there Wednesday night on the role of Prophet's role in the past and today. That's one of his hold ups, a modern day prophet. We used a lot of scriptures about Prophets and the foundation of Christ's church, being built on prophets and apostles. It was perfect because that morning President Bulloch trained us in District Meeting on teaching from the scriptures, and asking the investigator the question or have them look for something as they are reading. We practiced what questions we were going to ask him that are answered in the verses we wanted him to read and it was really sweet to see the lightbulb click and see him understand the scriptures. I love teaching from the scriptures because they give such power and validity to our teaching. I've noticed when I don't use a scripture to back up what I'm saying, those we're teaching don't respect me as a teacher as much because all it is is my opinion and testimony. But the scriptures are God's words and if they want to argue with him, they can. :) His kids also bore their testimonies. It was a great lesson. Cool too, his cousin was there with his wife. They live on Long Island. They have thick NYC accents (Mike does too cause he grew up in Brooklyn and was a cop in Manhattan for years). Mike and his cousin were cracking jokes all through dinner and I've really never laughed so hard on my mission as I did Wednesday night! They came up for Patrick (the returned missionary son's birthday). They sat in on the lesson as well AND the wife of Mike's cousin was like, "My sister just married a mormon and got baptized into the church so she is now a member." Coinsidence? Most likely not. We sent her back to Long Island with a Book of Mormon and encouraged her to look at Mormon.org and to talk to her sister about the positive impact the church has had in her life. Mike and his cousin are cops and so since they were both there we made reference to laws (temporal) enforced by police officers and ask what would happen if we didn't have laws or police officers enforcing them? They laughed and were saying "Chaos" and funny things. Then we talked about the same goes for God's laws (spiritual laws) that help us be free and happy. We read a scripture in Proverbs saying that almost word for word and then turned to Amos 3:7 and asked, "How do we know God's laws?" That's the scripture that says, "Surely the Lord God will do nothing but he revealeth his secrets unto His servants the Prophets. And we went on from there. I just feel so sad for the returned missionary. He was testifying and in his eyes I could see his love for his Dad and his desire for him to grasp this so badly.
My time is short but I have one more bit of good news! President and Sister Bulloch said John Spicer's funeral service was Tuesday and that the Sisters in Ogdensburg said it went really well and they were more comforted seeing him in his casket, rather than dead on the porch. Geez, I guess! And that John's family wanted the church to take care of the funeral service! It wasn't held at the church, but President Champagne and Elder Esplin spoke and they sang hymns at it. Hopefully it softened some hearts of his family members who he always said weren't interested.
AND Don in Ogdensburg got BAPTIZED! He's the one I love who reminds me of Grandpa Stevens! Sister Woodmansee and I set him with a date and he put it way far out, for April 10th. Well he decided to move it up! He got baptized on March 16th. I'm so happy for him! I got permission from President Bulloch to write him so I'm super excited to congratulate him. He's going to make a good contribution to the priesthood in that branch. So they lost one (John) but they gained one (Don).
Matt, I know the pain from braces. Hang in there bud. I just hope you didn't go to Stucki so you don't have to have them twice. Keep playing well with tennis! I can't wait to hit with you when I get home! You're going to kick my butt. I bet you've gotten soooo good!
Ash, I am so envious you and Sam are flying to Florida this week! How fun!!! Please tell Grandma and Grandpa Stevens I love them so much and I think about them a lot out here. I hope the weather is warm. Go to the beach a lot in remembrance of me. Be safe. Take and send pictures!
I love you all so much! Thanks for your emails! GO COUGARS!
Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, March 14, 2011

We're obsessed...




Enjoying our own Twilight atmosphere. Sister Stacey said Eclipse is amazing! ahhh. Cannot wait!

"..those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise..."-Alma 40:12

Dear family,

I'm so sorry the pictures I attached last time didn't work. I'll try attaching them again, a different way.

Matty, congrats on making the high school tennis team bud! That's awesome news! Do you have your season schedule yet? I'm hoping to catch one of your last matches or at least region and state matches. Do you know what you're playing yet? I'm so proud of you!! And Ash, my companion is in LOVE with BYU Idaho and knows the best places to live there and what classes to take. We're going to make you a tape soon about it. Her little sister is named Catherine Stacey and is there right now. You'd probably get along well with her because I get along way well with her sister as a companion. They are the cutest cutest girls and so I promise you won't go wrong if you get in touch with her sister and find out where she lives, as well as getting some advice from my companion, Sister Stacey. Sister Stacey only has one more semester left there and had the best time once she found a good group of friends and figured out where to live. Em and Steph I hope you had fun in San Fran. I totally wish I was there with you. It's snowing here, again. So exciting for Em and Chad that they got a house in Alpine too! And Andrea, your kids are hilarious. I loved listening to their little voices on the tape and how Spenny locked up his licorice so Ellie wouldn't get it. ha ha. Ellie looks and sounds sooooo grown up. Jeff, way sweet that you get to go to a conference with your professors. I'd feel intimidated. Have fun with all the blacks. They're so funny. I have grown to love them here.

Onto missionary work: I told you about our investigator, Michael who is the father of a returned missionary and a son out on a mission. His wife and kids are at church every Sunday and after all these years being married to her, he's never joined the church. His wife told us this is the closest he's ever been to joining though! We had dinner there Wednesday night and taught a lesson on the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We let all the kids and he and his wife choose a scripture about the Holy Ghost, and then they explained their scripture and told of any experience where they've seen the spirit manifest in that way. It was cool to hear their testimonies and neat to see their Dad listen to them. But the best was the scripture Michael chose, MORONI 10-:5. Cool huh? Out of all the scriptures on the paper, he chose that one! Then he explained it saying that's the only way he'll know truth. As we were leaving he invited us to dinner AGAIN this week, because their returned missionary son (Patrick) will be home from school for Spring Break and his birthday. Patrick was at church and told us that he's been working on his Dad a lot since he got back from his mission in December, but that since we're set apart he's hoping something we say will help his Dad. It was so sad because I'm sure he prays every night for his Dad to soften his heart. After church he sent us pages of texts saying what his Dad's concerns are and things that can help us make a lesson plan for Wednesday. They are the strongest best kids and I just want their dad to have the testimony they have. Michael's other son is in Sister Stacey's home mission and her dad is in the mission presidency. Her dad just wrote her an email and said he called the missionary son and the son said, "My Dad has never been open to missionaries. But just a few months ago they put Sisters in the ward and he's been receptive to Sisters, and will finally let them in." His son was just so excited we're teaching his Dad. So we've been trying to obtain the spirit more by being obedient so that we can bring that to the lessons. We've also been studying a lot, to help resolve Michael's concerns. He just started the Book of Mormon for the first time in the 20 years he's been married to a Mormon. I really feel like he likes us which is good. We hope we can help him. He handed us his address book and his daughter said, "They're going in the book already?" He had us write our home address and email address in there! At our very first appointment, YES!

We had another sweet experience this week. We went to check on a less active family and come to find out, they've moved. But of course we shared the gospel with the new tenants and they were super open! They are the cutest black family. We set up an appointment and had a great lesson with them, so I'll keep you informed. The wife's name is Passion. And we literally found her 2 hours after our Zone Leaders trained us on "Having a Passion to Find." Ha ha. They love gospel music and at the beginning of the lesson after we sang a hymn they wanted to play their music, so they played a little Marvin Sapp for us and were all singing along to it! Their daughter Nyasia was dancing and clapping. It was so exciting. Look up this song and you can picture the experience: Praise Him in Advance by Marvin Sapp.

There was a ward potluck on Friday night. We took a bunch of the flyers so when we went around to meet and visit less actives during the week, we delivered them. The last less active we stopped by on Friday was this way cute mom with 5 kids. She was baptized as a young adult on a study abroad in France, but has since returned to Catholicism. Her husband is also Catholic. When we got to their home they were just leaving to a Catholic baptism of their family friends. So we met her, set up a time to come back and gave her the invitation to the potluck. She said, "We won't be able to make it to that." We said "Okay. Well we'll keep you informed on the upcoming activities and hopefully you can make it to one of them." We're at the potluck talking to the ward mission leader and all of a sudden, she, her husband, and all five kids walk in! They CAME after the catholic baptism!!! Her home teacher was talking to her already before we even noticed them, and all these women in the ward were talking to her about French (there are a few returned missionaries who know French). It was soooo amazing to see them there. So that's another part member family we're keeping in our prayers. We don't know what triggered her to come. When the ward mission leader saw her he's like, "That's a family the missionaries have tried to help come back for 4 years and not once have they budged." The potluck was the first activity they've come to since they've lived in the ward. It was such a testimony builder to me to never underestimate the power of inviting people to things. You just never know when they'll come back. We left before they did, but it looked like they were enjoying themselves. Sister Stacey was freaking out. She's like, "I am sooooo happy they came! And to just a dumb potluck. I can't imagine what it will be like to see a baptism."

My emails are probably too long and boring. I'll just tell you one more thing. It's not so good news. John Spicer passed away on Saturday. And the saddest part about it is that the Sister missionaries serving in Ogdensburg were the ones who found him dead! President Bulloch called me Saturday night and said, "Sister Zwick, I'm sorry I have to make this call but a tragedy happened today." At first I thought it was about one of you and I got this pit in my stomach and started to cry. Then he's like, "John Spicer died this afternoon." He went on to say that the sisters found him lying on his porch and he had no pulse. Sister Woodmansee is trained in CPR and her companion (a brand new missionary) had to call 911. An ambulance came and as of Saturday night they didn't know the cause of death. President Bulloch wanted me to call Sister Woodmansee and see how she's doing, giving me permission to do that. She was still shook up and crying but told me how it all happened. It's a blessing they were there when they were though. They had told him they would come if an investigator canceled and the cancellation happened, and that's why they went to his house. He's always outside on his porch or picnic table waiting for us and smiles and waves when we pull up. I bet it was so scary to find him lying there. I could not have seen it. I would have been freaking out and so scared. It's one more reason I know I was supposed to be transferred when I was. John has family in the area and I know they saw the change in him. Hopefully they will become interested in the gospel and good will come out of it. I know John's on the other side of the veil doing missionary work now and continuing to prepare himself to receive the Melchizedek priesthood and his endowments which he was so excited for for this coming November. Sister Woodmansee said the Saturday before last they met with him and taught, Follow the Prophet and he kept talking about how he wanted to be on the right hand of God. Cool huh? I've been journaling about all the memories with him. He's such a great guy and I'm so grateful he let the spirit change his heart and desires the last year of his life.

Well, I love you! I hope you are all doing well. Please be safe and healthy because I don't want another call like that from President Bulloch.

Love, Sister Zwick