Monday, January 10, 2011

"The harvest is the Lord's. Your responsibility is the thrust in the sickle." -James E. Faust

It was so great to hear you're all well, and that Matt is a ladies man! ha ha. GO BUD! You're going to have to give me some tips when I get home. ;) Congrats to Lizzie on her engagement! I want to see a picture of she and her fiance, so someone please send me one off of facebook or something.
Right now we are sore and tired. All morning we were moving. AGAIN. This is the third time on my mission I've had to go through old missionarys' junk. I swear President Bulloch puts me in an area to do the move because I've been asking the other sisters and no one else has had to, even once. I've always kind of liked organizing and throwing things away so it's kind of fun, just a lot of work. I wanted to just throw everything away! We have so many garbage bags that we need to drive to the church dumpster. We're happy we're moving because that means, a senior couple is coming into the area! The down side is, they get the house we are in. We knew we'd only be in it temporarily, but it wasn't too hard to get used to living in a house, just the two of us! Each night this week, after planning, we'd box up a room. Last night we got the last of everything packed and carried next door to the "little cottage". It's sooooo cute, right on the bank of the St. Lawrence river. I'll have to take some pictures to attach next week. It's bright red and has a little deck off the back. We got so much exercise walking back and forth from the house to the cottage, and it is finally all done! This morning we spent a few hours cleaning the house. It looks really good for Elder and Sister Esplin. They arrive on Friday. They are from Cedar City and are President and Sister Bulloch's best friends! Elder Esplin taught at SUU (institute) with President Bulloch. It will be so nice with them to come teaching with us and be like our "member support." It's different up here because the missionaries are the members' support instead of the members being the missionarys' support. We are literally keeping everything going. There is no other area in the mission like it though. I am learning soooo much and relying on the Lord more for help. It's my hardest area for a lot of reasons but I think it will be my favorite.
Things are really starting to move forward here. President Bulloch came to our District Meeting on Thursday and was really pleased with what has happened in Ogdensburg. But it's all because of faith, diligence, and prayer. Because of those three things, the work is moving forward quickly. I have learned so much about those three principles. I know with out a doubt that God is in charge of this work. It's His, and I just feel so blessed to be able to be here for him to work through. My companion and I just have to have the faith that He's preparing people, work hard, and pray to be led to them. When I first got here it felt like I was rolling a boulder up a mountain. We couldn't find very many interested. But we found John and that was a huge blessing and motivator. We kept pushing and praying and now it's like the boulder is rolling down the mountain, and we can barely keep up with it all. We have 18 investigators! It went from 8 to 18 in 4 weeks. One third of the branch yesterday was investigators! And 8 of our investigators are potential priesthood holders, something we've been praying for. Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers, on his timing. I was tearing up just seeing those we're teaching in the pews yesterday. Four investigators were at church. It's really a far drive for some so it was so wonderful to see them all there. Two have committed to come back next Sunday as well as 3 others who were not able to come this past Sunday.
We also set an investigator with a baptismal date: February 12th! Jimmy! He said he wants to be baptized! FINALLY! I was losing patience with him. He's sooooo funny, you guys. One of my very favorite investigators. He loves the Lord soooo much. I imitate his voice daily so hopefully I can still do it in a few months and you'll feel like you know him a little. ha ha. He voluntarily goes to half way houses to preach. He has a strong belief in the Bible but says he's "non-denominational" He's been taught by missionaries for over 7 months and had a problem with understanding that the priesthood has been restored because he felt that prophets only needed to be here to point us to Christ's birth but after that, there is no need. We always testify about prophet's preparing us for the second coming, and he even came to General Conference in October, and loved it. We have taught him the Restoration I think a million times and told him that it's either true or it's not, and that he has to read the BOM to know. He hasn't been reading though :( He's been praying about it. He made a new year's resolution that he wanted to come closer to Christ. We took that and ran with it and committed him to follow the Savior's example and to be baptized by someone holding the proper authority. I worry though because he hasn't come to church because of the distance. He's planning on coming this Sunday. He'll feel the spirit, and hopefully it'll be worth the drive EVERY Sunday. He's also living with his girlfriend... but he's been taught all the commandments and if he follows the Spirit, he'll be ready on the 12th. They're both coming Sunday.
I wish I had the time to tell you about each investigator! I'll just share a couple more short stories...
We met Janet last week in the Burg. We were walking to follow up with a potential and she was walking home from Wal Mart. We approached her and talked for a few minutes. She immediately told us how much she loves the Savior. We asked her how she feels His love, and she told us a story about her daughter telling her "Mom, God doesn't want you to smoke anymore." And that when she heard her daughter say that, she knew it was from God and she stopped smoking. I was just in awe like, "THIS LADY IS LIVING THE WORD OF WISDOM ALREADY!" She let us set up a time to come by Wednesday night. Wednesday we went and taught her the Restoration. The spirit was very strong. She said the closing prayer and called us her friends and then said, "I don't have very many friends. But these two girls are my best friends." It made me cry. She was punched in her temple as a child and is a little slower, but very bright and retains what we teach her. We did a few "check for understanding questions" just to make sure. It's amazing the love God has for every one, and lets us feel it for them too. We committed her to church, got her a ride, and she was there. She got emotional in Relief Society. Afterwards Sister Woodmansee asked if she was okay and she said, "I am. I feel close to the Savior here." Cool huh? Also, in sacrament meeting President Champaigne spoke on reverence and talked about how being reverent in the chapel prepares us for the reverence in the temple. Janet said, "Temple?" Sister Woodmansee was sitting by her because I was by Don (a really smart investigator--in his 80's) and pulled out a pass along card with a picture of the Salt Lake Temple. Janet frantically grabbed her purse and rummaged through it then said, "I lost it." I guess she was looking for the pass along card we gave her the first time we met her. She was devastated. Sister Woodmansee gave her another one and it like made her day! ha ha. Just a little pass along card! Cute huh?
We've been working on getting anyone and everyone we meet to church. The spirit is incredible there. It's helped me understand how true the gospel is. It doesn't need full functioning auxiliaries, just the priesthood and the spirit. I love this little branch soooo much!
Friday and Saturday I went to Watertown. We exchanged with the Sister missionaries there. I got to work with Sister Palmer. She came out the transfer before me. I don't really like exchanges, because I don't like leaving those we're working with here and just being in an area where I feel like I don't have stewardship. It was a good exchange though. I learned some things from her to bring back here. The best part was A MEMBER MEAL APPOINTMENT! We don't have those up here. It was fun to talk to some members and hear their conversion stories. Saturday night when I got back and we planned for Sunday, as I was flipping through our teaching records I realized how much I love these people. I missed them all night Friday night and Saturday I was thinking of all the appointments Sister Woodmansee and Sister Cox got to go to. I missed this area! It felt soooo nice to be home! And the day was so good yesterday, seeing some of them at church.
President Bulloch called this morning and let us know that Elder and Sister Esplin (the Senior couple) are on their way, just started driving from Utah to New York! It will take them 5 days. Then he asked me if I needed a change (transfers calls are this weekend). I told him I can serve another transfer up here, but I'll go wherever he needs me to. I got to talk to him about the greater satisfaction that comes serving in a small branch, and seeing it grow compared to a ward. It's still exciting in a ward, but not as exciting as it has been serving up here feeling the potential this branch has and seeing the benches become less empty! I love it. I don't think I'll be transferred unless he really needs me somewhere else. So we'll see. He also asked me if I thought Sister Woodmansee would be ready to train. She could for sure train! One new sister is coming out this transfer, then 3 new sisters the next transfer! Yay for girls who aren't getting married young! There is soooo much more to life! Lol. Anyways, since it is transfer week next week, Pday will be on Tuesday. So don't expect an email Monday, but Tuesday.
Well, I have to go but never forget how much I love you! Talk to you next week!
Love, Sister Zwick
p.s. Ash, congrats on smart cookie job! mmmm (hint hint) ha ha jk. Do you have to wear a uniform?

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