Monday, March 28, 2011

" 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 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 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 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 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

Monday, March 7, 2011

"Wherefore we labour, that whether present or absent [from the Lord], we may be accepted of him." -2 Cor. 5:9

Dear lovely family,
I AM SOOOOOOOOO HAPPY HERE! I really feel like I am in a dream area right now. I love everything about this area, besides the blizzard outside! It feels like Spring will never come. I was way bummed we couldn't run outside this morning because the roads were just awful. Then after study we went out to our car and it was just covered in snow. We spent 40 minutes shoveling it out. It was stuck way bad and Sister Stacey (my new comp) was so mad because she was so excited to come email. Her family hasn't heard from her since the MTC. We got our car out and drove to the library and there was a sign on it saying "Closed because of weather." We called all other nearby libraries and found one open, so here we are! Schools are closed today too.
Let me tell you about this area. We cover a few little cities called Ballston Lake, Clifton Park, Glenville, Burnt Hills, Scotia, and downtown Schenectady. It feels a lot like Maplewood New Jersey (where I nannied). We are obsessed with the beautiful homes. I've already taken pictures of several that I want my future home to look like. ha ha.
The ward is unbelievable! It's the best ward/branch I've ever served in. I feel like President Bulloch has totally rewarded me with the best companion and area in the mission for my last few months. The chapel is HUGE. It's bigger than any Utah one I've seen. I'm attaching a picture of it. It's right up the street from our apartment and was built 8 years ago. Sisters were in this area but both went home early about 6 weeks ago (sickness) and so the ward has been missionary-less for about a transfer. When we got to church yesterday people were coming up to us right and left, "We have Sisters again!" and "We prayed you here!" And then our ward mission leader showed us our meal calendar. It's already FULL for the month of March. Yay for meal appointments! The ward is so missionary minded and willing to help us with anything. We had people coming up to us wanting to go teaching with us, referring their friends, and introducing us to their nonmember friends they had at church! It was amazing. I could not believe it. And in the opening prayer in sacrament meeting the guy prayed for the members in their missionary efforts. We both bore our testimonies. Brother Madsen, a counselor in the Bishopric told us the Glenville Ward is one of the largest and strongest wards in the North East. At one point they had 11 missionaries out. And another time they had 19 priests! It was so cool to see a functioning Primary, Young Women, Young Men, and Relief Society again. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from Ogdensburg. But with time and missionary's effort, the Lord will strengthen that unit up there.
Eric Maughan's (one of my guy friends from BYU, Liberty Square) family lives in the ward. His mom is so so sweet. She took a picture of me with she and her husband on her Iphone and texted it to him. It's funny because when I got my call he said, "My family lives in that mission. Maybe you'll serve in their ward sometime." And I finally am. Small world.
We are serving in the Albany Stake. The Stake consists of 6 wards and 6 branches. Albany 1st Ward just a few exits down on the north way from here is the ward with all the Medical and Pharmacy students :) But I guess this ward (Glenville ward) is like the powerhouse ward of the Stake and most of the Albany Stake leaders are from the ward. I have yet to meet the Stake President but met his first counselor yesterday. The ward is so strong because it's like most BYU graduates and their families. There are huge families here in this ward, like Utah. I love seeing cute families! And they are all sooo soooo nice. We've already gone to homes for dinner every night we've been here. Even before seeing the meal calendar Sunday members were calling us, so excited to have missionaries back and telling us that they have us for dinner. This ward reminds me of the Legacy ward mixed with the Alpine ward. Most of the men are Dr.s, Lawyers, and Engineers. General Electric (in downtown Schenectady) is a plant many in the ward work at.
The majority of our area is really nice. Downtown Schenectady is the ghetto. Every area in NY has to have a ghett. It reminds me of Syracuse. So many black people everywhere. We have had some sweet teaching appointments there though. One guy, Andre met us outside the YMCA (where he lives) and walked us through incoming traffic to a coffee shop on main street where we could sit down. It was so scary because all these cars were coming and he (along with so many other blacks) just act like all the cars will stop for them. Sister Stacey and I were looking at each other like, "What did we get ourselves into?" But as we sat down with him and taught the Message of the Restoration, the spirit was very strong, he was asking the perfect questions, like, "Why are there so many churches?" "Which one is right?" He related well with Joseph Smith and committed to read the Book of Mormon. We're anxious to meet with him again. He had already come to church once so that's why we called to meet him.
We have been trying to build up a teaching pool and so far it's going well. We have called every one who they had as investigators (6 weeks ago) and have gotten a hold of some and set up appointments. We have also stopped by those we haven't gotten a hold of over the phone and have taught some pretty solid people. We talked to the ward missionaries and two are coming out with us to appointments this week, as well as one of the counselors in the bishopric. It's so great to have the ward willing and ready to help build the kingdom here.
We are teaching two part member families. One wife of a member (Bekah). Their 5 boys are baptized too, but she's not. We committed her to read the Book of Mormon. It's the first time she'll have read it through. We testified that the truth of the church relies on that book. Sister Stacey is doing so well at teaching and testifying too. She had Bekah read the promise in Moroni 10 and she said she's willing to do it. This is the first time Bekah's been taught by missionaries. Oh and side note, she and her husband created the Rock Band characters!!!! They did all the art for Rock Band! So they and their boys are soooo into video games. Cool huh?
The other we're teaching is Mike. He agreed to start meeting with missionaries a couple months ago, so we're excited to continue what the other sister's started. He has a son on a mission, in Sister Stacey's home mission! When we went to his home to meet him and made that connection, he just lit up. The Lord totally sent her here to help him build a relationship of trust with us. She's going to find out more about his son serving in Colorado (her dad is in the mission presidency in the Denver North Mission) and it'll give us the perfect excuse to keep in close contact with Mike. Mike's wife and children are all baptized members. For 20 years his family has been members, but he's never joined. He comes to church often too! We are praying that we'll be the missionaries to see him join. We know the Lord has a plan for him. We are going to try to help him recognize the Spirit and also gain a testimony of the BOM. That's the key, I think. We'll be at there house for dinner and to teach him Wednesday night.
My companion, Sister Stacey is the best. We're already best friends! She's from Fort Collins, Colorado. She is studying Elementary Education at BYU Idaho. She did musicals in High School, and has 3 sisters who love to sing. We already sing and harmonize every where together. We're practicing Olive Tree and we're going to sing in the ward one of the coming Sundays. She reminds me of Ash a lot and looks like Aarean Jergensen. Luckily she has a GPS. It's saved our life.
I really am so grateful to be a missionary. I love every day of this life. I know the Lord is preparing people for this message all over the world and as we follow the spirit and prepare ourselves, we will be led to them. Thanks for all you do for me!
I love you!
Love, Sister Zwick
My address:
15C Ashdown Rd.
Ballston Lake, NY
P.s. Dylan and Mom, I loved your tapes. Thank you!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Open House Rooms

I wanted to do an open house as a missionary even before I came. Remember Dad and I used to talk about how to find and he talked about holding an open house? I'm so grateful I finally did it. So thanks for inspiring us, Pa!

My favorite was the Book of Mormon room. We had the Book of Mormon playing on CD in there and you could seriously feel the spirit just walking past the room! Reflections of Christ was really cool too, in the room all about the Savior.


Cute pictures

The field is white, ice skating on the St. Lawrence River (We finally did it!), New shades for spring, and my last day near the Canooks!

"...let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still..." -D&C 123:17

Hi you guys!

This is my last email from Ogdensburg :( Sad! I'm feeling the same way I felt when I said goodbye to you and entered the MTC and left Ithaca, sad to say goodbye but also a feelings of peace, excitement and rightness (if that's a word) ha ha.

Here is the news: On Saturday morning President Bulloch called and asked my if I'd train a new missionary and open up an area. It's called, doubling in (in missionary lingo) when two missionaries unaware of surroundings have to go work in that area. It's only been closed for a transfer, so hopefully there are good records in the area book and we can follow up with some past investigators and build up a teaching pool. So... I'm going to ALBANY! The area we will be living in is called Glenville and is about 20 miles North of Albany. It's supposedly the biggest and richest ward in the mission and both Elders and Sisters serve in it. At least that's what one of the A.P.s told me over the phone. He used to be a Zone Leader in the Albany Zone. So I'm going from serving in the smallest poorest branch to the biggest richest ward. I'll know more about the area we cover when I get there and update you next week.

I'm sure I've driven through this area I'm going to. Remember when I was a nanny and had to drive about five hours from NJ to pick up Michael at scout camp in the Adirondacks? I stopped and shopped at an outlet mall there in Albany and that whole drive the spirit was way strong. It's just amazing to look back and now know why I felt the way I did that day.

I'm not there yet though, and I've been trying to keep my thoughts here to help these people for my last few days. I love those I've served here. They are like family to me. There is such a deep friendship that comes when you share the gospel with someone, and they feel your love and the Lord's love for them. That's why it's so hard to leave. I love the friends I've made here. They've taught me so much. I have really come to love without reservation here in the North Country. There are people I would've never thought of talking to or being friends with before my mission who because of this calling, I've been able to get so close to them and help them develop a relationship with our loving Heavenly Father.

Oh man, church on Sunday was so sad. I love this little branch so much! Even more than I loved the Ithaca ward. The tight knit group sitting there in the pews are my best friends. I'm the chorister ha ha and had to lead the music while feeling the spirit looking out over people I've served and helped come unto Christ and uh, it was so sad guys! There were a couple tender mercies Sunday. John blessed the sacrament for his first time!!! And we had 4 investigators there at church, one of which bore her testimony in Relief Society (Dolores, I LOVE HER). Before Sacrament Meeting Elder Esplin (now 1st counselor in the Branch Presidency) asked if I'd bear my testimony after the speakers. I knew I'd be crying but I told him I would. Elder Esplin announced I'd be leaving and the next woman (Sister Dolbear) who spoke said, "The've gotta quit moving these kids on us. You get used to these wonderful sisters and then they move them on us." She calls us kids. She's way funny. After she spoke, I got to bear my testimony. Oh my, I was crying of course. I told them all that we're going to have a "2011 Ogdensburg Branch Reunion" in the Celestial Kingdom one day with all of us there. I could barely look at John Spicer. (We met with him on Saturday and he said he was praying that I'd be staying in the area. SAD!) I was able to bear testimony and say a few things about them individually. I let them know how much I love them and how much I can feel Heavenly Father's love for them because he led me to many of them sitting there. Sweet Diane was just bawling. It was so sad. Elder Esplin got up afterwards and said, "We're going to make a slight change in the closing hymn and sing 'God Be With You Till We Meet Again' Hymn 152" I got to lead this little Ogdensburg Branch in that song my last Sunday here. The spirit was really strong and we were all crying. It was like a funeral or something.

After church all the members and I were talking and Sister Terrance was like, "Can we write a petition or something, so you can stay?" They're so sweet! And Sister Dolbear was like, "When I was preparing to be baptized, a Sister missionary I liked was getting moved, I called the church headquarters and complained and she stayed another 2 transfers." But nothing has changed. I told them I'd be back in the Fall because I promised John that I'd be at the temple with him when he receives his endowment. He's going through the Palmyra temple in November. He said he's always pictured it with us (Sister Despain and I) there, so she's already planning on flying out for it. He's speaking in sacrament meeting next week, I'll have barely missed it.

Leaving areas has been the hardest part of my mission experience. You really grow to love those you serve. It's just magnified in this calling because I feel like the Savior helps me feel how he feels about each one of his brothers and sisters. It's such a blessing to feel His love for them, but so hard to say goodbye too. I have a few more people I want to stop by today and give a hug to. I also can't help but want to be sure I've testified to everyone here God wanted me to here. I've been looking through my planners, making sure everyone is in the area book. It's going to be good to have a change, but I have grown to love it here. It's been my hardest area, no doubt, but any sister who serves here is so so blessed. The branch runs off the missionaries and it is a great growing opportunity. I know how to teach primary on a whim and give a talk with a few minutes notice now. I feel so blessed to have served in areas for long spans of time. I like seeing people grow in their testimony of the principles of the gospel. The hard part is that I get all emotionally invested. I'm definitely NOT going into psychology.

Sister Woodmansee and Sister Despain are training as well. THREE sisters are coming out!! There will be 16 sisters in the mission now. Keep em' coming!

Well, I have to get going. We have a lot to do today. We have to leave to Utica at 6:30 a.m. tomorrow to get to the New Missionary Meeting and meet our trainees. I CANNOT WAIT to see Sister Goettsche too! We write almost weekly. She's finally leaving Ithaca (after 5 transfers) and going to serve in Bennington, Vermont (part of our mission, cool huh?).

I love you! And I'm soooo glad the dinner went well. I was really envious on Sunday thinking about you. The picture is so cute. Thanks for sending that!

Love, Sister Zwick

P.s. Oh YEAH! The Open House was so great! Not very many showed up, but one of our investigators, John brought his friend all through it and was testifying! ha ha. Cool huh? Also, our branch president brought people, and a few less actives came too. It was just neat to see the Swanks there the WHOLE time, like solid members, when they just started coming back to church! It totally blessed the branch and the work up here. I'll email pictures and tell you more about it on a tape.

More North County Friends

Sunday in the branch:

Investigator, Dolores

Brother John Spicer

Sister Marsh :)

President and Sister Champagne

Brother Barber and I. He broke the Sabbath just to get me a goodbye treat and called and had us drop by!

Don and Muggie! Don has a baptismal date on Muggie's birthday, April 10th.

Patty and Brittney (whose house we went to for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners). Wayne is so sick with cancer and was lying down, so missed the picture.

Sister Terrance made me a goodbye dinner and invited her friend and Elder and Sister Esplins.

After dinner with Sister Terrance.

Friends Forever




John Mart (the one who my email about dealing with deaths was about)

Ha ha, John edited his shirt

At the open house with Brother Cadieux. I LOVE THIS MAN. Isn't he so cute? He's there faithfully preparing the sacrament EVERY Sunday. He's the most active in the branch. Was baptized about 10 years ago.