Tuesday, February 22, 2011

"...the thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people, that you may bring souls unto me..." -D&C 16:6

Dear Family,

Randomly Mom says, "We're excited to have Dylan over for dinner next Sunday." WHAT!? How did that all come about? I'm sure it will be a lot of fun. And yes, I totally want to be there. I will be thinking about all of you Sunday!

Also, I think Jeff was on the same Red-eye flight Dylan was on Friday night into JFK! You'll have to find out. Jeff is crazy, now just stuck in New York? Just a few months ago he was stuck in South America! Mom, how do you stand it? Tell him to stop planning trips without a set flight home! That's so great he's here in New York though! It's so exciting when people I know are just a few hours away!

Mom, that's way funny Don called you and left a voicemail! He's the one that is just like Grandpa Stevens! He's also the one with a baptismal date for April 10th. He's going to be awesome for the branch. When we met with him last Wednesday he said, "I want to give your parents a call and just let them know how much I appreciate you both." Then he said, "Is there anything else you want me to tell them?" I knew you were waiting to hear my release date so I told him to tell you I'm coming home May 26th. He called the next morning and said he tried calling you a few times and didn't get an answer. It was sad! He was like, "When is the best time to call?" I feel bad he kept trying and didn't reach you. I'll send you his number so you can call him back.

We have had a wonderful week. The sun has been shining this week! Sunday was the first Sunday it hadn't snowed for a few months. It really was a "Sun"day! Ha. We had three progressing investigators at church. But the best was to see this couple, Brother and Sister Swank there! We have been trying to reactivate them since early Fall. When Sister Despain and I knocked on the door they'd just talk to us on the porch, but never wanted us to come in. We kept being persistent because we felt very prompted to keep trying. After about two more porch lessons, they let us in. We've asked a lot of questions, but have been trying not to pry. They gained our trust and opened up to us, sharing why they haven't been coming lately. Guess why? Offense. We go to their home faithfully every Friday and read from the Book of Mormon with them. She always feeds us lunch too which is a bonus. Their testimonies are still so strong. Sunday morning, about a month ago, Sister Swank called and said she's coming to church! It was the best surprise! She first came alone, and the past 3 Sundays her husband has been there too! He's a former counselor in the Branch Presidency! We need that couple in the branch sooooo badly. They are almost reactivated! I'll attach a picture to this email that I took with them on Sunday. I love them so much. I never knew so much joy would come from reactivating. A lesson I've learned up here through them and Diane has been that God truly knows all of His children. It's been so sweet to see testimonies rekindled and the light of the gospel shine through them again.

Another amazing thing happened. I know I've told you about our investigator, John who has a lot of "why" questions for God about death. He's been at church every Sunday for several weeks. We found out what is one of the barriers in his progression. He always says he wants to have more faith. But he looks at autopsy photographs of both of his children who died in a car accident, every month on the 17th (the anniversary of their death), and that cannot be comforting. He was a former police officer, and had access to the pictures. So we turned to the scriptures to Alma 22 where Aaron is teaching Lamoni's Father, the King and the King says, "I will give up all that I possess" even forsake my kingdom to receive eternal life, and come to know God. We left him with the challenge of getting rid of the pictures, or atleast to stop looking at them. And how God knows death is hard but that he needs to remember the good memories with them, look forward to seeing them again, and not dwell on their death. He didn't like that at all. He likes the pictures. We made it clear that we want to help him find happiness and that's why we suggest not to look at the pictures. This month was the real anniversary of their deaths, February 17th. We met with him on the 17th, the day he usually looks at the pictures. We didn't bring it up because we knew it'd be a touchy subject that day especially, but mid-way through the lesson he said, "I haven't looked at the pictures today and I'm not planning to." WE WERE SOOOOO HAPPY! It's times like this that I want to just jump out of my seat and hug our investigator, but have to put on a calm presence instead.

We have been getting ready for the Open House. Oh my, it's going to look AMAZING. Sister Woodmansee is a scrapbooker too, so what a team we are! The theme is "We Believe" and each room in the church is going to be about something we Believe in, with the an article of faith or scripture supporting the point. Sister Woodmansee made the flyers while I was typing up short powerful statements to go in each of the rooms. These are the rooms: Jesus Christ, The Restoration, The Plan of Salvation, The Book of Mormon, Service/Humanitarian, Temples, Family History. It will be a self-guided tour. We committed each member to bring a friend. Sunday we let them take as many flyers as they want to hand out. Our recent convert, John was in charge of handing them out. It was sweet to see the branch members' excitement for it. Each room is going to look awesome. We've prepared a lot for it and are going to set it all up on Friday. In the Plan of Salvation room we're hanging clouds from the ceiling with the questions, "Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going?" We've made a giant Plan of Salvation layout that will go on the wall and one liners above each part of the plan answering the questions on the clouds. We know a man we tracted into that is making an arch for us out of wood to go In the Book of Mormon room and we're going to label each piece. The center piece will say "The Book of Mormon" and somewhere near it we're going to put a quote from an apostle saying that it is the "keystone of our religion". Free Books of Mormon will be in there too. Each of the rooms will have free material. Elder and Sister Esplin are really good at the new family search website and are bringing their 3G internet service thing to show the importance of Family History and how we can find our family roots! Then in the Cultural Hall we will have the baptismal font open with a picture of Christ being baptized and on the other side a picture of a modern day confirmation. We're thinking of putting the 4th article of faith there. In that same room will be refreshments, and Mormonads playing (we have a DVD of them). That's going to be the last room they go to. I wish I could go off about each room. But I don't have time. The other day I was matching up things I typed out with pictures and I didn't know what to put with the "God is our loving Heavenly Father and we are His children, created in His image" because we don't have pictures of Heavenly Father. And then I got a splendid idea! We're going to put a mirror below it! Oh I love when creative juices start flowing! ha ha.

President Champagne has contacted soooo many radio stations and local newspapers for advertisement. We've been delivering flyers to investigators, less actives, former investigators, potential investigators and our neighbors. The word is out! We're hoping to have a good turnout. But it's quality we're looking for, not so much quantity. I just want to help bring people to Christ and feel of His love for them. Even if only a few people leave having felt the spirit, it will be a success. We are looking to find potential investigators so we'll be asking those who show up if we can come and share more with them. Saturday from 5-7 p.m. is when it is being held. We can't wait!

I'm trying to make every second in the Lord's service count because time is flying and this is the only chance I get to be here in New York, as a full time missionary, sharing with people the pathway to eternal happiness. I love it here. I am so grateful for this gospel and the joy it is to share it.

Well, I love you all so much! I think that's so cute Parker and Blake have a paper chain counting down the days until I get back! I'll be sending a lot of pictures in the next email. Have fun on Sunday :)

Love, Sister Zwick

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