Monday, February 7, 2011

"And by the power of the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things."-Moroni 10:5

Hey family!

Oh my, I loved the emails. You guys are hilarious! Why do we always do contests? Ha ha. Geez, I can see you awake at like one in the morning trying to make your hot chocolate the best. Chad is always the designated taste tester huh? Em, didn't you do this with chocolate milk too? I really laugh out loud reading your emails some Mondays. Aw, I miss you guys! New Beginnings sounded so perfect. Did anyone take pictures? I'd love to see how it was all decorated, with the signs of each store. I'm so glad the girls liked the theme so much. It's an idea they'll probably be repeating! Did you think of it, Mom? I bet the bishopric was so pleased with it all. Way to go, Mom. And how perfect that Em and Ash are now home so they could help with everything.

So, I'm so excited for the tape. I am going to start one for you too today if I have time, or next Pday. I can't wait to hear Blake and Parker talking! I can't believe they both talk now. Is little Katey talking now too?

Yeah, Mom you were right on, we got hit pretty hard with snow all week. And it's still snowing outside. It's crazy how close together and big the flakes fall here. It's like sheets coming down. We even got SNOWED IN on Wednesday. It was falling so fast that even the snow plows couldn't keep up with it. The roads closed and if anyone was found driving on the roads they'd get a ticket. Needless to say, Sister Woodmansee and I had the longest day Wednesday. We got a lot planned for the open house though (February 26th). By evening we were stir crazy and made some funny videos of people we know. ha ha. It's so hard not to imitate some people we meet because they are SO funny. I'm trying to be better though.

Such great news, we set another investigator with a baptismal date! He's been investigating off and on forover a year. I'm pretty sure I've written about him in emails or letters home in the past. His name is Don and he reminds me of Grandpa Stevens, so it's been so easy to love him. In the Fall when we'd ask if he believes Joseph Smith is a prophet or if the Book of Mormon is true, he'd say things like, "Well, nothing has shown that it's not true." And "Joseph Smith seems like an honest man." But he'd never say that he "knows it's true", he just hadn't received that personal witness yet. He keeps all his commitments though and reads and prays every day. Ohhhh patience. It's really hard with people like him who want to follow Christ but haven't received that witness from the Holy Ghost that it is true. Sometimes when investigators have been taught for awhile and have felt the spirit and don't take that step towards baptism, there isn't much more we can teach them and at times it feels like we are spinning our wheels. We call them "eterni-gators" and they're in every area. It really bugs me if someone's teaching record is longer than a page ha ha and so usually I like to get them baptized or stop seeing them. With prayer we usually know if we should continue teaching them or not. Don is one we have felt like we should continue seeing. We been meeting with him once a week and inviting him to pray really wanting to know. Lately he's been coming to church weekly, which he wasn't doing in the Fall and the feelings of the spirit in his lessons has grown. We have been able to tell with him that just in the past few lessons, he's become more serious and is sincerely listening. He even gets teary eyed. I have felt the spirit strongly in his lessons and I know without a doubt, he feels it too. About two weeks ago we invited Elder and Sister Esplin to come teaching with us there and afterwards Elder Esplin said, "He doesn't want to make that step to be baptized because his conviction of this being true isn't strong yet. He's going to get to the point where his wife gets sick and he starts worrying about death and then he'll pray with that real intent." We all felt that during the lesson and didn't set up a return appointment because we wanted to see if he'd call us or show up at church (oh the games we play, it's like dating ha ha). We rode to church with the Esplins that weekend and Elder Esplin asked us, "How do you know when someone is converted?" We talked about the things people do that are little clues that they are converted. Things like when Dan (Ithaca recent convert) came to a lesson and said something inside didn't feel right about listening to the music on his ipod, and so he deleted all but 4 songs. ha ha. And how John just shaved his beard off because he wants to look like a more clean cut priesthood holder. It's just soooo cool to see people make changes in their life, not because the missionaries told them to, but because they are following the promptings from the Holy Ghost! One of the other clues is when they just can't wait to share the gospel with someone else! It's helped them so much so they know it will help their family and friends. Like Amanda (recent convert in Ithaca) creating a "The truth about Mormons" blog and over skype teaching her husband the gospel, him being in China. Ohhhh I love these people! So with that said, we got to church, had our meeting and guess what? Don showed up with his granddaughter. He brought his 23 year old granddaughter! Elder Esplin looked at us and smiled when Don walked in with her. There is the clue, he wants to share it with his family. Then after church Don was like, "We never set up a time for next week." He was so insistent about it. It just warmed my heart! That Tuesday (this week) we went to teach him and he said he's decided he wants to be baptized!!!! He received his witness. His sweet wife is suffering with dimensia and he wants to be sealed to her for time and all eternity. We gave him a picture of the temple that he's hopefully put up now, as a constant reminder of the eternal blessings that come from covenanting. The bummer is the date he wants to be baptized is APRIL 10th! His wife's birthday. I thought it was cute but soooo far away. It's a big commitment though so we don't want to push him. He feels like he'll be ready April 10th, so that's when he's getting baptized. I'm really excited to write Sister Despain and let her know he finally has a baptismal date. It's way fun, Sister Despain and Sister Goettsche and I write each other pretty often. Sister Goettsche keeps me informed on the Ithaca peeps who I love there.

One thing God always proves to me is that he'll give people that witness of truth. I've learned to put my trust in Him and that He'll answer the prayers of those we teach. He's taught me that I can trust him too, because he provides that answer. It's always after testing my patience and faith. I promise those we teach that he'll answer their prayers of knowing if the church is true, and eventually He always does. It's deepened my testimony of the power of the Holy Ghost and through him we really can know the truth of all things. How grateful I am for that! I don't only know he's done that for me but I have seen him witness to so many others. Oh the reality of the Holy Ghost is sooooo cool!

Allen is doing sooooo well. I've decided who he reminds me of... JEFF. He's all tall and skinny and plays the guitar and is really funny. He's forty, but looks like he's in his twenties. When I get off my mission I'm finding a cute Mormon lady to hook him up with. He's so awesome, you guys. He even talked about wanting to raise his family mormon. I can totally picture him moving out West and meeting someone and marrying in the temple and just having this new life. On Thursday we met with him at his place which is in Canton (right outside our area). We were able to go there because we were passing through, driving home from District Meeting in Potsdam. Usually he comes into our area and we meet him at Wayne and Patty's (formers) and teach him there. Elder and Sister Esplin were with us so we were able to go inside his apartment. We taught Allen the Law of Tithing and the Law of the Fast. It's just so cool to teach him principles, now that he's gained that sure witness from the Holy Ghost. He trusts that it's all true now and he's really willing to live any commandment. Elder Esplin just loves Allen and thinks he's so neat. After we were done teaching we were all just talking and he said there have been very few people in his life where he's thought, "I want what they have" and that it's this inner hapiness that radiates. Then he said, "I noticed it in Sister Zwick." It kind of made me feel awkward and blush. ha ha. He looked right at me when he said it too. I felt like looking away because it was kind of embarrassing. But it was also one of the best compliments I've ever heard. Just knowing that the Lord used me as an instrument to help Allen realize where the happiness I feel is really coming from. Then he's like, "It really intrigued me and now I know where it's from, your beliefs." Then he said when he lived in Baltimore this black lady was on the same sidewalk he was on and she just had this glow about her and she was coming directly at him. We were kind of laughing. I could totally picture it. He said she walked up to him and started talking to him about God. He bore testimony that he knows Heavenly Father has placed people in his life to come to know Him better. I guess me and that lady have something in common? hmm. I thought Em and Chad might like that story. Before we left we kind of cautioned him that the adversary is going to try to distract him from being baptized and he said he doesn't care what anyone says and that he's already decided he wants to join the church. We were like, "Okay then!" ha ha. He picked Saturday February 26th to be baptized!

The saddest thing happened yesterday though. He doesn't have his car right now because it is getting fixed. So he arranged for his friend to pick him up and bring him to church. Well his friend canceled on him! So like 15 minutes before church started we got this voicemail saying, "I'm all dressed up, for the second time and it happened again. My friend can't pick me up, so I won't be there today...." He was even fasting too. ughh. We could just hear it in his voice how disappointed he was. So there it is, the adversary at work. After that happened and we talked to Elder Esplin about it we decided he really needs to go to the Potsdam branch, because technically he's living in that Branch's boundaries, and that way someone in that Branch who is closer than people in our branch are to him can pick him up and start the fellowshipping process there. We were really sad about him not being in our branch, because we've taught him and seen him grow. We're still going to be in charge of the baptism details. The Potsdam Elders are not stealing this baptism. We've worked really long and hard for it. Ha ha. But he will have to start going to the Potsdam Branch. He would've made a great addition to this branch, and the Ogdensburg Branch NEEDS him and his testimony, but we've gotta stick with the boundaries rule.

Just funny how the Lord has perfect timing: Allen always talks about how if someone asked him a year ago if he'd be going to church and have quit smoking he wouldn't have believed them one bit. And at that time (a year ago) he was living in Ithaca! We definitely could have met him then, but didn't. It strengthened my testimony that God puts us missionaries in places where we need to be and leads us to those who he's been preparing to receive us.

Well, I'm kind of sick of typing. ha ha. Sorry. I love you and I'll be writing you today!

Love, Sister Zwick

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