"..those who are righteous are received into a state of happiness, which is called paradise..."-Alma 40:12
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.
"After all that has been said, the greatest and most important duty is to preach the Gospel." -Joseph Smith
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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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Blessed to open this last dispensation
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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We thank thee oh God for a prophet
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)