Monday, May 16, 2011

"...that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God who taketh away the sins of the world..." -Alma 7:14

Hi guys!

We have had an amazing week! I'm excited to write this email because I get to reflect on how the Lord's hand is so much apart of this work.

Sunday morning I woke up to a phone call at 6:00 a.m. It was Melanie calling. I was like, "Sister, It's Melanie." I got worried because it was odd she was calling us at that hour. I sat up in my bed and answered it. This is how the conversation went:
Me: "Hello it's Sister Zwick."
Mel: "Hi Sister Zwick. I'm sorry I'm calling so early, did I wake you up?"
Me: "Yeah but that's okay. I was getting up soon anyways. What's up?"
Mel: "I have been up all night studying general conference and I haven't been able to sleep."
Me: "Really!? What talks did you like?"
Mel: "I really liked the one called 'Preparing the World for the Second Coming' and I have a question for you and Sister Stacey. What do I have to do to prepare to go on a mission?"
Me: "Melanie, you would be the best missionary! You can totally prepare for a mission. You can go on a mission a year after your baptism."
Mel: "I know it's crazy I'm telling you I want to serve a mission before I'm even baptized but I just can't stop thinking about it and when I read that talk I got that feeling I get when I come to church and when you teach me, the spirit feeling."

She went on to say that she has a year left of school and it would be perfect timing for her to go on a mission in a year after graduation. She said she loves people and feels like she could relate to a lot of people with her crazy life she's lived. I think I told you on Mother's Day about her rough childhood. She grew up in Brooklyn, almost got shot. She's just amazing. I told her when I decided to serve it was the same way, I couldn't stop thinking about it and nothing else felt right. She was like, "yeah, yeah!" She would be so good because she loves people and has the most tender heart. She gets emotional in our lessons and is just really sensitive to the promptings from the Holy Ghost.

Something that's cool is that we had just gotten our May Ensign (the conference issue) and Saturday morning Sister Stacey read that talk (during breakfast) and told me it's awesome all about missionary work and left it out open for me to read on the table, which I did during dinner. The next morning Melanie called us saying she was touched by that specific talk!

Melanie, along with two other investigators were at church yesterday. We were planning on 6 being there but just 3 came. Sister Stacey and I sang a musical number in sacrament meeting, "The Olive Tree" which is all on missionary work. It's one that kept coming up on my ipod when I put it on shuffle mode the weeks I was praying about serving a mission. So that song is really special to me. But it's even cooler singing it as a missionary with your companion. I made sure not to cry. Mike (aninvestigator) was hilarious about it. He's like, "Woah! I didn't know you had that in ya. You sounded like angels up there." It really was pretty; better than any of the practices we did. The spirit was there and everyone loved it. We got asked to sing it again as a musical number at this funeral on Thursday of a woman in our ward who passed away this week. She's only 61 and has had health problems and died from an anurism and heart attack. Her family is all in town and was at church Sunday and heard us sing and asked if we'd sing at the funeral this week. It's sad because Sister Taylor (who died) was the music chairman and we had literally
just talked to her the Sunday before last to confirm our singing in church and she was so excited to hear it. So when we were asked I thought of her and this way she'll still hear it :). She's one amazing lady. We'd help her do the relief society bulletin boards and she's all creative. She and I used to talk about scrapbooking all the time. Her husband is okay now that all his kids are in town but I think he'll be sad when they leave.

During the passing of the sacrament Melanie leaned over to us and said, "Can we pick a date for my baptism?" Ha ha. Sister Stacey's like, "You're one step ahead of us." We were planning on setting her with a date this week but she beat us to it! She chose June 25th and is preparing for baptism! I'm really so excited for her. She's one of my best friends. It's so fun to teach someone our age. I'm going to mention BYU to her this week because it would be so good for her to transfer there right before her mission. I can't wait for you to meet her, you guys. She's got a rock solid testimony already. At church she always raises her hand and makes comments. People have mistaken her for a member. Yesterday was her 8th week in a row at church. She has a little journal she takes notes in during Sacrament, Sunday School, and Relief Society. Oh my, I just love her.

We knocked on a door this week of a man who came to church on Sunday! His name is Dave and we had a lesson with him and then he came to church. That's faith. I love seeing people act in faith and see the joy that comes into their lives from their righteous use of agency. He loved church and said he'll be back next week. He's in his sixties, divorced, jobless, and searching for greater peace and happiness. And we knocked on his door. He told us his parents used to have the missionaries over when he was growing up! I love hearing about seeds that were planted by other missionaries. It helps me know that no effort is wasted.

More good news! Timmia had her baptismal interview. Our District Leader was really impressed with her testimony. He said he loves giving interviews to baptismal candidates. I bet that would be so cool to hear these people who not too long ago were not meeting with missionaries and now bear testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel! Her baptism is planned for May 28th. She is so cute. Her prayers are amazing. I love teaching people how to pray for the first time. But the better part is teaching them that and then a month later they're volunteering to give the opening prayers and it's completely natural and comfortable for them! We're still teaching her Mom and grandmother. The Elders met all of them (when they came over to give the interview) and said they can see the family all joining. So that's hopeful! It was really funny, the grandmother kept looking Elder Duffin up and down. He's really tall and he was teaching her about the plan of salvation when we were waiting for Timmia to come out of her interview. You could tell the grandmother had a crush on him. haha. We're glad they're not teaching this family or they'd be a little toooo interested.

We meet with a less active woman who at our first meeting said she has no belief in God anymore. Well week after week we go see her and teach her from the Book of Mormon. She's again reading from it on her own! Randomly this week in the mail we got a note. It had no return address. We opened it and it was from her! It said: Dear Sister Zwick and Sister Stacey, Thank you for taking the time to visit and care about me. Not many do. It makes me believe again." Isn't that sweet?! We were jumping up and down because we were so happy. We didn't know if she was really progressing but just showing her love, and getting her back in the Book of Mormon has supposedly helped her.

We also had a really good lesson with Mike this week. He committed to come to church with his family and CAME again. He's progressing more than ever!!!!!!! After a lesson we extended him a committment to come to church on Sunday and he said, "Yes I will be there." Then his wife looked at us and said, "How do you do that?" And we all laughed. It's all the power of the holy ghost though. There is a quote in PMG by President Hinckley that says, "Every morning missionaries should get on their knees and plead with the Lord to loosen their tongues and speak through them to the blessing of those they will be teaching...They will come to know they are servants of the Lord speaking in His behalf. They will find a different response from those they teach. As they do so by the spirit, their investigators will respond under the influence of the same spirit." President Bulloch had us memorize that. I know it's true. When the spirit is present in the lessons we will say what the Lord wants us to say and the investigator will as well. It's almost like hypnotism. haha. It's just crazy the things people tell you and agree to do under the influence of the spirit. It's real and needed with every person we talk to. I know Mike felt the spirit and responded in that way because he knew it was what the Lord wanted him to do.

Well, this has been long. I love you guys! I will see you next week!!!

Love, Sister Zwick

One more thing: Mom, you asked if people are sad I'm leaving. This ward will get an even more awesome missionary in my place, I'm sure, so they should not worry. But at church yesterday like every person asked me, "So when do you go home, we need to have you to dinner?" Sister Stacey was like, "Let's not talk about this." But I guess the meal calendar was full, so now people are having us for breakfast and lunches. Multiple meal appointments in one day! They're all so so so nice. The Relief Society President is one of my favorite people in the world and is coming to Utah in July and so Mom, we're hanging out with her! She's so awesome and excited for it. Her husband is in the mission presidency and I met him while I was serving in Ogdensburg and now I'm in his ward. So that's been cool. Aw, I love these people here soooo much!

These are just a few pictures from this week:
-Beautiful Mohawk River
-This cat has thumbs!
-It's not white, it's green!
-Sister and Stacey and I with Timmia. Oh and I forgot to tell you. She asked us if she can wear a shower cap during her baptism. We didn't know the answer and have to ask our ward mission leader! ha ha.
-For service we sing hymns at the nursing home. This lady is named Sally. I love her!

Have a great week!

Monday, May 9, 2011

God and mother, partners in creation, in love, in sacrifice, in service, are as one."-President Thomas S. Monson

Hi guys!

Oh my, talking to you yesterday was soooooo great! It was by far my favorite phone call I made home, I think because I know I don't have to wait until the next phone call to hear your voices but that I'll be talking to you in person! Mom, I loved your email and I am really happy to hear your Mother's Day was special. Dad's gifts were so cute.

Thank you so much for letting me share stories about the mission and our investigators. It's my favorite thing to think and talk about and I'm really going to miss it here. I don't want to come home. I love feeling the Lord's love for the people we meet.

It's been warming up and the trees are blossoming! It's beginning to get so green! It's super nice to not have to wear a coat. We've been able to be on our bikes and walk a lot more. We can find and testify to a lot more people when we're car-less. Something I miss about a walking area. But we're kind of just making it a walking area now :) since it's nice weather. We drive to an area and then work around there. I love street contacting. It reminds me of Ithaca and I have such a testimony of God guiding our steps when we just are out searching for people. I learned that in Ithaca because that's how we found amazing investigators.

Some things I didn't tell you:
The Elders talked to this guy named Jeffrey from Puerto Rico :) who lives in our area and was really interested. We went and met him and he was very open and set an appointment with us. He's in his late twenties and is a father of three. We called a recently returned missionary who is home for college to come teach Jeffrey with us, and the member (Patrick) was sooooooo excited! Ha ha. He said he hadn't been out with the missionaries since his mission and wants to come out with us whenever we need anyone. We'll be using him A LOT. The three of us met at Jeffrey's and Jeffrey had to reschedule...:( But we asked if he just had a few minutes. We got to know him a bit and then he told us he does "Christian rapping". I had never heard of such a thing. ha ha. But just imagine Jeffrey: big baggy jeans a crazy designed shirt and a NY Yankees side ways hat. He started rapping. It was so cool AND we got to learn soooo much about his heart through his rapping. He really loves the Savior and is seeking forgiveness. We were able to bear testimonies of the BOM and tell him it was written by his ancestors, which excited him. We committed him to read Enos and set up another appointment for this coming Wednesday. He seems sincere and humble. I feel like he and his family are prepared.

Timmia is getting interviewed this Friday for her baptism. It's scheduled for May 21st. She's so cute and is making a lot of friends in the church. Her Mom, Leslie Ann loved the focus on Mothers all day yesterday. This is kind of funny: So I had to speak in sacrament meeting you know? They called me because a youth speaker backed out. Well the microphone wasn't working! So I had to speak without it. It totally brought me back to my musical theater days when Mr. Smith would sit in the back of the auditorium and tell me to project my voice. So yeah, I had to like shout from the pulpit. Sister Stacey was sitting near the back with Leslie Ann and her kids and said she could hear me. After sacrament meeting Sister Mika in the ward came up to me and said, "My daughter is terrified of speaking and was scheduled to be the youth speaker, but just didn't feel good about it." Then I said, "Okay that explains why he called me." She's like, "I don't know what she would've done. If she had to speak without a microphone she probably would never have wanted to speak in church again." So phew. I'm grateful I was the one it happened on instead of a youth.

Well, I feel like I talked to you so much about our teaching pool over the phone, so I don't want to bore you too much. I love you guys and it just felt so natural on the phone, like I never left. I'm sure that's how it will feel in a couple weeks. I can't wait to see you. I feel so blessed to have you as my family. You're all so sweet and funny. I hope you have a wonderful day! HAPPY SWEET SIXTEEN Matty!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I love you!

Love, Sister Zwick

Monday, May 2, 2011


Downtown Schenectady

We died eggs with the Bishop's family

Almost Christina Street!

Did I tell you EVERYONE in New York has cats?

Sister Stacey's skirt. ha ha. Good thing we cary lint rollers!

We went to visit this less active in this rehabilitation center and the nurse was like, "We are on restriction because of the vomiting and diarrhea. But with a mask you can still visit her." So we put on the masks and went and read the Book of Mormon with her!

Walking this woman's dog for service. ha ha long story, but she was so grateful and even bore her testimony about it. Her dog is trapped in her place day after day and just pees in there. So sad.

"Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still..."-D&C 123:7

Hi guys!

Yes! Bin Laden is history! That's pretty exciting, even though we're not supposed to delight in bloodshed. ha ha.

How is everyone!? It sounds like Lizzy's wedding was pretty. I was thinking about her this past weekend and Sister Stacey and I both were hoping you'd send pictures since she knows Tyler. The one outside the temple from your phone was kind of small, Mom. Did anyone take any others?

We're still seeing bed bugs in our apartment but I'm trying to just forget about them. Sister Bulloch should be calling us today about her solutions.

Zone Conference was on Tuesday. It was really really good. President Bulloch taught us about the Abrahamic Covenant and our role and obligation (as Abraham's seed) to take the gospel to the world. It's more important than we realize. It's a covenant we entered into by being a descendant of Abraham, to "bear this ministry and priesthood unto all nations and bless all the families of the earth." (-Abr. 2:9). One thing he said was, "If it's not you who will find His people, someone else will because God has made a promise that all the families of the earth will be blessed with the blessings of the gospel, which are the key to salvation. And God keeps his promises." He needs us though. He needs MORE missionaries and more member missionary work. I feel so blessed to be able to be a part of moving this work forward by helping people enter into covenants and understand the power of the priesthood. God is relying on us, to help him fulfill his promises and get his children home to Him. Being born into or adopted into the Abrahamic Covenant is more significant than I realized and more than other members probably do too. It worries me when I hear people not going on missions or not getting married in the temple because it's going against what God wants us to do, to help this promise be fulfilled, and gather scattered Israel. President Bulloch also enforced that our salvation and blessings are dependent upon doing our part in spreading the gospel. Anyways, sorry I go off sometimes. I just wish every member of the church could feel what I feel about missionary work and how important it is for us to open our mouths and rescue our brothers and sisters.

We had a great weekend! Saturday and Sunday we had lessons back to back most of the day and evening! It's awesome when that happens because teaching is a blast. My comp is really good at teaching so I like listening to her teach and bear testimony. We're a good pair.

I'm going to briefly update you on some progressing investigators we're working with:
Melanie: Is a college student at Union College (a small college in our area). She's been to church 7 times and is just struggling quitting smoking before she picks a baptism date. The spirit in her lessons is close to the strongest I've felt my whole mission. She talks a lot about her Grandma who just recently past away. I'm pretty certain her grandma led Melanie to us. She bears testimony to us in the lesson. It's funny. She's very good at recognizing the spirit and tells us she's feeling it like as we're in mid-sentence teaching. Ha ha. On Saturday we taught her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and she told us about a dream she had of her baptism. Cool huh? When we taught about the Holy Ghost and how she can have it as a constant companion and feel the feelings she feels more frequently. She kept saying, "I cannot wait to have the Holy Ghost with me always." She's also very humble and was crying when we talked about repentance and just said all these things she needs to change. We were able to bear testimony of the atonement and forgiveness and the cleansing that comes from baptism after repentance. She's so solid. I probably won't be here for her baptism but I know I'll be in touch with her after my mission. It's fun cause she's our age and I know we'll always be friends.

Mike: Was at church again yesterday! His wife was so happy. I know it makes her so happy to have him there. When we taught him last night he was so quick to say he'd like to offer the opening prayer. That never happens! I've seen progress with him in just the past month. I love him and his family and can't wait to see them sealed someday. I really want you to meet him, Dad. He's really funny and a lot like you, I just wish he'd have the kind of faith you do. I told them if they're ever in Utah they have a place to stay. I've been telling a lot of our investigators that. ha ha. Sorry.

Timmia: Is not set for baptism on May 14th anymore. We brought a girl her age to the lesson (the Bishop's dauther, Jenny) who bore testimony and it was just a great lesson. Timmia said the closing prayer and was really thankful Jenny came with us and was all set for church. So we got she and her mom a ride set up and Sunday morning called them to make sure they were up and getting ready and they said they were too tired and not feeling well. She was also supposed to be interviewed for her baptism at church. I think one of the hardest parts of a mission is trying to stir a desire within others to act on the commitments we extend. It's like lessons go awesome, and the spirit is felt, and then we leave and they let the natural man take over. I know it's important to keep fasting and praying for them because eventually they'll have the motivation to live the principles of the gospel.

Well, time is up. I'm going to email some pictures now of the past couple weeks. I love you!

Love, Sister Zwick