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

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