"For he that diligently seeketh shall find; and the mysteries of God shall be unfolded unto them, by the power of the Holy Ghost..."-1 Nephi 10:19
Hello from "The Burrrrrrrrrrrrrg!"
How is everyone!? I look forward to Monday every week because I get to read Mom and Dad's emails and hear about all of you! One of my favorite parts is Mom's email subject ha ha and what was made for Sunday dinners! I miss those! Sorry that Christmas Break is over and you're all back to school and work. It's always nice in a way though, to get back on a routine.
Things are well here! Yesterday John passed the sacrament AND bore his testimony! Wahoo!!!! It's so neat to see him participate just as a normal member now! He's always been very sensitive to the spirit and got emotional bearing his testimony. I loved it! He talked about his health issues (diabetes and COPD) and that ever since he's been living the principles of the gospel, the Lord has taken care of his health. He said his sugar levels used to be in the 300's and now read 98-115. Then he shared his weight with everyone and how that has dropped. Lol. The things shared over the pulpit sometimes! Fast and testimony meeting is so funny! And the spirit was felt too, that's what counts.
Before sacrament meeting Sister Woodmansee was deciding on Hymns with President Champaigne and putting up the little number cards. I was playing some prelude (yes, I'm getting better at the piano :)) and Brother B. walks in and I overhear him say "Police" to President Champaigne. I was like, Oh no. Sister Woodmansee looks over at me and I give her this questioned look. Then President Champaigne and Brother Barber were talking in the little glassed in alcove area between the exterior and interior doors to the entrance of the church. After awhile, they both came back in and sacrament meeting started, a little late. So after church Sister Woodmansee's like, "How about Brother B. being in trouble with the law?" I was like, "Oh my, YES! What was that all about?" She's like, "He came up to President Champaigne and was like, 'Can I talk to you?' And President Champaigne said, 'I'm busy for a few more minutes but then I'll meet with you.' And Brother B. said, 'It involves the police and really can't wait.'" Ha ha. Of course other members were walking in the little glassed area where they were talking, trying to get in on it. Every one knows everything about each other in these little towns. It's like the branch is a little family. People fight and stuff, like siblings. We never found out what the problem was. We try to stay out of the gossip. I wonder about it for a few days and it's only a matter of time until we hear from someone what happened. So I'm sure we'll know the whole story soon.
Sorry that was random. ha ha. I just wanted to give you a little taste of life serving in a branch. One of our investigators came to church yesterday, which was exciting. We have great investigators who just have problems coming to church, work, spouse, distance. Just the common barriers. We always provide solutions but one excuse or another seems to hold them back. But one came yesterday! And afterwards he said, "I think I might be back." We're taking that as, "I will be back." He's a very hard nut to crack. He's met with missionaries off and on since 1930 or something like that! His name is John, too! We seem to have luck with that name, or it's just very common :) He is a slow cooker... He has a lot of "why" questions for God because 6 of his relatives (2 being his children) all died in the same month. Sister Despain and I taught him for a bit but we weren't getting anywhere because he wasn't willing to read or come to church. He's finally progressing now. We've had President Champaigne and his wife come teaching with us and President Champaigne shared his conversion story and that he still doesn't have answers to some of his "whys" and he's just going to have to ask God when he sees him again. ha ha. But that the Gospel has answered other questions he's had and given him a hope. Just this last time we taught John, the Champaignes couldn't come. We asked John what his questions for God are. And he said, "I don't even know. I'm just confused and feel like I don't even know if God is there." So we're starting simple. I told him, "If you read the book of Mormon every day, pray morning and night, and come to church, you will know that God is there. Are you willing to try it?" He agreed. So he was there Sunday and he's been reading and praying. We also asked him to write down his questions he has for God and if he's willing to share them, we'd like to help him find answers. We left him with those commitments, and by Thursday, when we meet with him again, we are going to hopefully be able to address some of his concerns. By writing them out, he'll then be able to find answers by asking Heavenly Father, us, and searching the scriptures with his questions. He's had all the lessons multiple times and something didn't work. So we're trying this route and if he's willing to act on the things we ask him to do. At church Sunday he walked up to Sister Woodmansee and I and said, "I like you two." It was funny. Then he gave us a very very old Bible left by two Elders (the first ones he met). It's so cool, it even has their names in it.
Anyways, I have found with those we teach, John, especially that we HAVE to teach to peoples' needs. It's a hard balance to find, teaching the doctrine from Preach My Gospel (the necessities) but being flexible and saying what the Holy Ghost impresses us to. There are so many important skills to develop when teaching the gospel. I have so much to work on, but I think I'm improving each day, just trying to evaluate what went well, what went wrong. Elder Holland says something like, "Stop teaching a sleep inducing, rote presentation" in one of his talks to missionaries. It was really cool to feel the spirit work through us that night telling John to write down his questions. I never even thought about that before I went in there. We haven't asked any investigator to do it. I love what the spirit can teach us as we teach others!
Something sad happened. Tammy and Eric, the couple with the little girl we were excited about going to teach last Monday night, they called us and left a voice mail saying, "We aren't interested in converting to Mormonism, and would like to cancel our meeting tonight and would ask you to not come by in the future." It broke my heart. It breaks my heart to see families walk away from the truth, especially after feeling the spirit. We called them back and bore testimony and then told them to call us if they need anything, and we'd love to serve them in any way possible. Then we let them know they're always welcome to church. Sad huh?
On the, "What can we do for you?" note, I have a FUNNY story! I'm not putting the last names in here, just in case this goes on the blog. Sister Woodmansee and I went to visit a less active, Sister S. She is in her 70's and drives a motor wheel chair EVERYWHERE. It's always really funny to see her cruising around the streets in the Burg. So after we shared a spiritual thought and talked for awhile I said, "Is there anything we can do for you?" And she said, "Yes, will you soak and scrub my feet and cut my toenails?" I have never had a response like that! I found myself saying, "Yes!" and pulling out my planner, looking for an open time to come back. Then she took her foot out of her black leather velcros (wearing no socks) to show us her feet. I was about to pee my pants. We could not do it then. We were not prepared. So we scheduled it for Friday night, New Years Eve. After we left and were walking back to our apartment for lunch I was like, "Sister Woodmansee, I can't." We started laughing and I was like, "Why did we tell her we could do it?!" She's like, "Sister Zwick, you told her we could." I was like, "I'll pay you. I can't." She's like, "We told her we would because we're representatives of Jesus Christ and can't tell her no! Is it offensive to wear gloves?" Then I was like, "Is it offensive to take pictures?" Woodmansee was soooooo great and said she'd do it! I didn't even have to pay her! I owe her soooooo BIG! We returned Friday night and I read the talk, "Charity Never Faileth" by President Monson to them as Sister Woodmansee was scrubbing away! Then Sister S. said, "Try to get the black sock out from under my toes." It wasn't sock! That'd be nice if she wore socks, but it was the fuzz from the interior of her shoes! I was laughing a little and we all were. Sister Woodmansee called it, "Defeating the black fuzz." My companion went above and beyond and even asked Sister S. if she had lotion and lotioned her feet and made them all soft and good. Sister S. was soooo happy to have clean feet. We prayed before we went in and could barely make it through the prayer without laughing. We were trying to think of sad things to stop laughing before we went in there. I couldn't even look at Sister Woodmansee as she was doing it because I know I'd start geeking out. Sister Woodmansee said she had to keep thinking, "I'm doing something for her, she can't do herself." Isn't that so cute? Afterwards Sister S. grabbed her black sneakers, before we could even leave and PUT THEM BACK ON her good clean feet! I was like, OH NO! What's she doing!? Getting them all soiled up again before next scrubbing sesh. ha ha. We're thinking about bringing her some socks or flip flops.
We ran into our mailman Tuesday. He said, "I see you're already wasting the stamps I gave you." ha ha. We wrote a few letters last Pday. We told him we're grateful for the Christmas gift. He said, "That's the least I can do. You probably pay my salary with all the letters you write." Ha ha.
Well, Mom, Thank you so much for the pictures from Stacey's wedding. She looked so cute! It's so weird to think she's married! I'm writing Liz today (we write sister to sister :)) and I think I'll enclose one of the pictures for her to see.
Ash might appreciate this from Tricia's email (my old roommate serving on temple square): P.S. We saw David Archuletta this week! Him and his girlfriend came to see a movie at Temple Square! He was wearing a suit and had his scriptures in his hand.
Who would want to be famous, right? You couldn't serve a mission! ;)
I hope you had a Happy New Year! 2011 BABY! We didn't do anything special for the New Year, but I did write out my goals and predictions for 2011. I'll send them home today with a letter. A year ago this week I flew into snowy Syracuse, NY. It's weird it's been a year already! Well, I pray for each of you every night! I'm missing you but I love sharing the most important message with the people of New York. It's the best. Have a great week and stay warm!
Love, Sister Zwick
p.s. We were given the turkey feet of two turkeys, one of which was the one that was butchered which we ate on Thanksgiving. They are still all soft and so they're drying out in our garage but they aren't drying really well. They keep freezing, then thawing out and becoming all squishy. They'll dry better once it gets warmer. They make good back scratchers, people say! Ha ha. (With some sealant on it of course). Taxidermy (kind of). It'll be an awesome souvenir. Mine is the big one (in the picture). I'm still getting used to the country lifestyle.
"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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Blessed to open this last dispensation
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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We thank thee oh God for a prophet
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)