"...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.
"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." -Joseph Smith
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Sister Zwick loves letters!
Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission PO Box 149 Whitesboro, NY 13492-0149
Packages can be sent to: Sister Christina Zwick New York Utica Mission 8539 Clark Mills Rd Whitesboro, NY 13492
"We have been made instruments in the hands of God to bring about this great work" Alma 26:3
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Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it.
"Young men and women who serve missions are never the same. They return home with qualities and strengths that seem to come from no other experience. They know, as they never knew before, that this work is true and that it is the most important work on the face of the earth. They return home with a desire to continue to serve. They have established a foundation on which to grow in future responsibilities."--President Gordon B. Hinckley, Dec. 1986
“The Standard of Truth has been erected. No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing. Persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame. But the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and dependent till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, until the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the Great Jehovah will say, ‘The work is done.”
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Thomas S. Monson- 16th President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
"Women of God can never be like women of the world. The world has enough women who are tough; we need women who are tender. There are enough women who are coarse; we need women who are kind. There are enough women who are rude; we need women who are refined. We have enough women of fame and fortune; we need more women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity." Margaret D. Nadauld (General Conference Address ~ October 7, 2000)