Monday, December 29, 2014

Grand Forks, British Columbia

The drive!

Coming back to the Washington/ U.S. border

Beautiful British Columbia!

Toes in Christina Lake (it was SO cold!)

Selfie at the lake (with Elise McLaughlin)

It just looks wrong to have snow on the beach

Downtown Grand Forks

Checked off another mission bucket list item- I served foreign!

With Sister Cutler and Taylor who serve in Grand Forks... they meet in a business complex!

Outside an adorable little quilt shop

With Elise... I was so excited about EVERYTHING Canada! :)

Northern Washington, near Kettle Falls- almost to the border

Such a beautiful 2 hour drive!

Crossing the Columbia River


     Oh my goodness! Where do I start? So much to say and so little time. I'll start with today. I crossed off a mission bucket list item and made it up to Grand Forks, B.C.! It was so beautiful! We left at 7am and drove 2 hours to get up there. The further we got north of Spokane, the less and less houses we saw.. and more trees. I thought Spokane was dense. No. There were so many! And it had just snowed so everything was just magical looking! We met up with the sisters who serve up there (they never get to hang out with other missionaries on pday because they're so far from everything else) And we had brunch and walked around downtown and in little shops. It was great- but so cold! Then we went and walked around Christina Lake for a bit. It was absolutely gorgeous! I took off my jacket and boots and put my toes in the water. Bad idea! Afterwards I didn't want to get my socks/shoes wet so I ran back through the snow to the car. I now have a lot more respect for the pioneers. I don't know how they crossed the plains in the winter. It was so much fun! Elise McLaughlin from our ward drove us up and it was just a great day!

     The week was pretty dead in terms of meeting with people. We actually saw a ton of active members! But only a few less actives. We went caroling on Christmas Eve... and on Christmas day. It was really good to cheer people up with Christmas hymns. Christmas Day itself was a little hectic. Our lunch appointment was running behind, so everything else was delayed (like Skyping...) but we made it to see everyone. We ended up having about 5 meal appointments and we made it up to Riverside in the Colville stake to visit a few families. It was so great seeing everyone! It got me pretty excited to see you all in a few weeks :) It still doesn't feel real though. It feels like in a few weeks I'll be getting another call and going to another area. Well, I guess I'll be transferred back to my 1st area, right? Anyways. I loved seeing everyone! And a cool thing was that I've been reading through the New Testament backwards and on Christmas Day it perfectly lined up that I read Luke chapters 1 & 2. It was great. I love learning more about the Savior.

     We went on exchanges this week and I went out to Colbert. Sometimes exchanges feel like a break from your area, but this one was all work. These sisters just swept into the area and haven't done much (at least their area book and whiteboard were organized for them from all of mine and Sister McCabe's hard work last transfer). They've been there for 2 weeks and haven't even met any of their investigators. They've only been seeing less actives. So I wanted to show her that great things would happen if they started trying non members and less actives. That day we had 6 key indicator lessons (the only six they had all week). And I put one of their investigators (who I got to teach while we were in a trio last transfer) on date to be baptized. I organized their planners and showed her what she needed to do. It was hard work, but so rewarding! When I got back, my companion had nothing to show for their day and had driven 75 miles. We had a chat about that. It was pretty discouraging to have worked that hard and have my own area be neglected. Oh well. More work for me to do, right? I've actually been learning so much about patience. I feel like I'm practically a monk by now! But what I've been focusing on a lot is my own pride. I really need to be more humble about so many things. Praying is helping and the now that I'm recognizing it and asking for help, the Lord is really helping me to improve (I think...). Though that sounds like an unhumble statement. So I clearly need to keep working on it.

     We had a good lesson with Lau. We got him to come to church last week but he didn't come yesterday. He's had a hard time overcoming his past addictions with marijuana. He smoked last week and when I asked him why he said because it was free. So I taught a mini D.A.R.E. lesson to him about just saying no. I even did a role play with him where I offered him some weed and he told me no. We practiced 3 times! It may sound ridiculous- I definitely laughed about it after. But I really think it helped. Poor kid. He just comes from such a rough past. We taught him about the priesthood and he's starting to grasp it. Speaking of priesthood. Josh Nay's lesson last night was on the duties of the priesthood. The spirit was so strong. I don't even know how to describe his lessons. They're just great! At the end, I testified about the power and restoration of it and I don't even recall what I said because the spirit just supplied me with the words. But it was amazing! I need to take a picture with him to send home...

     Oh! Another miracle! We've been working with Aly and Justin since I got here. They've been becoming more and more active. They just got engaged and have a goal for the temple (though they're not ready yet, so they'll be sealed a year after). Justin has improved leaps and bounds! He's about ready to be ordained. They have a New Year's resolution to go to all 3 hours of church next year. They've only been coming for sacrament the last 2 months. And apparently Justin watched the Mormon message about the guy who wanted to commit suicide, but heard about fasting and tried it, etc. (I think Breanne sent it as a link one day). Anyways, he decided on his own to fast for 24 hours about the church. He's just on fire! Gosh I love watching the gospel change lives! It makes all of the hard times worth it :) How many times have I said that over the course of my mission??

     Well, I've got to get going. This was a fast week! I hope you have a great week and wonderful New Year! I love you all!

-Sister Metcalf

Christmas Presents

Adorable ornament- my twinner

Christmas webcam!

Giant snowman

A frosty Christmas


We actually got gas for $2.06 today!

Finally snowing!

Back roads before the snow!

Christmas Eve district meeting

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Second Longest Week of My Mission

     I say the second longest, because I'm sure there have been longer... I don't know. It's been long though. It still doesn't feel much like Christmas, but I'm sure it will soon. There's no snow on the ground here still. We may drive up north a bit to visit a family on Christmas Day just to have a "white Christmas". We'll see. I'm excited to Skype with family in just a few days!

     I picked up my new companion on Tuesday. Sister Riddle (my baby) 2nd trained her, so we have a weird "family relationship". When I get home, I'll explain what it all means. But basically I'm Sister Riddle's mom. Sister Riddle is Sister Dunford's step mom, which makes me Sister Dunford's step grandma. But I'm also Sister Dunford's dad. It's weird. Us missionaries come up with interesting phrases and things out here. Anyways, she's from Orem, been out for 3 months, and she's 19. I was reading some letters Breanne sent me this last week and it sounds like we're going to be having a similar last transfer. I'm planning on going full speed ahead, regardless of circumstances. Heavenly Father wants to make sure I leave it all out here on the court and come home exhausted I guess.

     So, Friday was the hardest day I've had on my mission in a long time. At this point my companion already declared that she wanted to go home and didn't want to be a missionary anymore. Things have been rough as I'm at a loss for how to help her... or even empathize. Plus, my dream was to train my last transfer. Obviously that didn't happen (though it sort of feels like it). We got a call on Friday morning saying that some visa waiters were being sent to Spokane and they wanted me to train one and put her in a tripanionship with us. I was SO excited! It felt like a tender mercy. We started getting things figured out- we found a bed, got a ride figured out to go get her that night, etc. Well, two hours later we got a call saying that they decided to have an Asian sister in our mission train her instead because she's going to Taiwan. That was rough. It was my dream to train my last transfer and there was a little glimmer of hope. The rest of the day was rough. Heavenly Father tried to send me a few bones by putting the Brunnette's in my path and helping us be led to find a new investigator for a family ward.

     We had a powerful lesson with a less active on Wednesday. Joseph Glanzer is great. He's a punk, but so fun to teach. He's 28 and a returned missionary, but struggling a lot. He's very honest with us though and I just give it to him straight- no sugar coating or beating around the bush. I must have called him to repentance for 5 or 6 different things that lesson. He was starting to perk up and agreeing that he needed to make changes by the end. The lesson was so spirit driven. I felt like God was giving me all of the questions that I needed to ask him to get him to open up and decided for himself to make changes. I love lessons like that. He ended up coming to church on Sunday and even meeting with Bishop Romney.

     Fun fact- this last week I ate rabbit and moose. Both in 9 Mile of course. Rabbit sausage was with the family who I actually slaughtered rabbits and geese for last summer in my first transfer. The moose was as moose sloppy joes at the Hyer's. There daughter Kathryn is a ward missionary and had us over.

     On Thursday I accomplished a mission bucket list item which was to watch a video or message with someone on their smartphone as I contacted them on the street. We came across Chelsee and her friend, got talking and had her pull up "He is the Gift". We watched it right then and they loved it! We taught a mini restoration and they both agreed to be baptized! We will go back and see them this week. They seem a bit flakey, but you never know! Also on Thursday we went to teach our new investigator Joshua. Well, his mom and little brother sat in too. The mom was the most interested out of all of them. She kept asking questions, etc. She loved it! My companion doesn't have the 1st vision memorized yet, so she froze up and sent it over to me. Again, fine by me! That's my absolute favorite part of the first discussion! The spirit was so strong. Their eyes were locked on me and after that they REALLY wanted the Book of Mormon to read and pray about. They all said they'd be baptized and invited us to come back this Saturday. It was incredible! That day we found 4 new investigators. It was a miracle!

     Even though it was a hard week- I am happy with what we accomplished. I love be the Lord's servant, on His errand. There is nothing better! 

     Josh Nay is progressing awesomely! And a less active couple we've been teaching for a while, Aly and Justin, just got engaged. He proposed to her in front of the temple! How cool?? They're not ready for it yet, but it's a goal they have now. When they told me, I couldn't help but smile. I get to work with so many great people! (Don't get me started on Lau... we've been struggling with him)

     Well, I love you all and can't wait to talk to you soon! Have a great week! Merry Christmas! :)

-Sister Metcalf

 At my 10th and final Harston's breakfast (they do one each transfer for the North Spokane Zone- and I've served 10 transfers in this zone!)

With Aly McFarlane and Justin Harley (they got engaged the day after!)

Sister Riddle (I trained her, and she 2nd trained Sister Dunford), Me, and Sister Dunford

Sister Jenkins and I with the mustaches I won at a white elephant party

Ugly Sweater Party FHE

Monday, December 15, 2014

One More Time!

     I'm staying in Shawnee YSA for my last transfer! :) Sister Dunford will be my companion- this will be her 3rd transfer out (and 3rd area... and 3rd companion). You'd better believe I'm gonna be working her hard. This is my last 6 weeks to fully consecrate 24/7 to the Lord. I'm gonna leave it all on the court! :)

     We had MLC on Tuesday and got to train the zone on Friday. I was so excited because I got to train on diligence with my companion :) I kind of fought for it. Diligence and obedience are my passion. I worked really hard to sound like I had a heart ;) and it ended up being a wonderful training (if I do say so myself). My hope is just that the other missionaries walk away motivated and convicted to improve themselves. Training is by far my favorite part about being a Sister Training Leader... that and exchanges. And I'm a STL again for my last transfer... that means that for over a year of my mission I will have been an STL! Crazy!

So many wonderful things happened this week and I don't know if I can get them all down (luckily I'm all caught up on my journal so I can have any details that I miss in there...) First was that while on exchanges in the 5 Mile Prairie ward we got to take a less active, Mindy, to the Addiction Recovery Program meeting that the church has. It. Was. Incredible. I don't have any addictions and I think I want to go to it when I get back. It's essentially like Alcoholics Anonymous, but for all addictions, and they incorporate healing through Jesus Christ and forgiveness through the Atonement. It's powerful! I was in tears. The church has some incredible programs. It was wonderful to be able to bear my testimony on forgiveness and really help these people in a group setting. It was like being a missionary for complete strangers who want help. The spirit is so strong there.

     On Tuesday night after MLC Danielle came down to the temple with Gina Ewing-DiBari (a girl in our ward who has been baptized for a year and a half now) and we did baptisms! Oh my gosh. I can't even describe how happy that made me. To see her in there, dressed in white. She was beyond excited to go and just loved it. She had confirming witnesses while in there that she was in the Lord's house doing His work. Afterwards she asked if she's allowed to go whenever she wants and if she can only go a certain amount of times a week. She's so excited to go back again and again. It was so special to be there for her first time! We went out to Olive Garden afterwards for dinner. I just love that girl. She is so solid! I wish I had other words to describe her, but that one is the most fitting. She flew home this week for Christmas break, but is planning on going to the Seattle temple with a group over break. 

     On Saturday we went on a blitz in a struggling area in our district. We all worked their area for 2 hours and found them a bunch of new investigators. It was great. And with Christmas around the corner, we've been caroling a lot lately! We went with another set of sisters and found 2 new investigators combining caroling with "He is the Gift". You know, everyone opens their door when someone is singing outside of it. I wish we could do that year round... maybe I'll try it in January... just sing random hymns until they open up :) We also got to carol at a community event at Riverside state park. It was so cold- but gave us some good publicity :) I love Christmas! I can't believe how soon it is! I haven't thought about it much (other than using it while proselyting) because transfers were coming up. Now I can let myself get really excited for it all!

     Two fun stories before I wrap it up. One was that on Sister Stratton's last day we were determined to work our hardest. We found new investigators, invited people to be baptized, etc. At the end of the night we were talking with this one girl and wrapping up our lesson with her. She was just out letting her dogs go to the bathroom and we caught her before she walked away... Anyways, at the end, we ask her if we can leave her with a prayer. She agrees and Sister Stratton starts to pray. Right in the middle of it the two dogs start fighting. And I mean FIGHTING. It was so crazy! Sister Stratton couldn't even finish the prayer. We just walked away confused and laughing. Dang Satan. The other story is follow up from a while ago. Remember when I talked about how we were going to teach a girl in our ward and she brought her Jewish friend and it was weird, but I testified of Christ? Well Emily came up to me this week and told me how she's been talking with her friend and she's super curious! They kept talking about the Restoration that we taught her and she thinks that it makes complete sense that we still have prophets today. So Emily and Courtney (another Courtney!) want to read the Book of Mormon together from cover to cover. How cool is that?! Hopefully we start meeting with her soon!

     Well, sorry it was short and sweet. But the clock is ticking and I'm out of time. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Sister Metcalf

Waiting for my last transfer call (which didn't come until 9:58pm)

With Sister Gardiner. She went on my first exchange with me... and I went on her last exchange with her!


At Olive Garden with Gina and Danielle after the temple

Danielle's first time to the temple! :)

At Frank's Diner last p-day

Monday, December 8, 2014

He is the Gift

     I hope by now all of you have watched "He is the gift". If not, go do it now. Then go share it on your Facebook wall. It's so good! What an easy way to remind people of the true meaning of Christmas. Please share it with your friends.

     This morning in my studies I found the coolest scripture ever!!! It's Act's 18:9-11 "Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace: For I am with thee, and no man shall set on thee to hurt thee: for I have much people in this city. And he continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among them." Are you kidding me? What a perfect sister missionary scripture! I absolutely love it and smiled from ear to ear as I read it. It was just the perfect way to start out my day.

     I'll share some of the low points of the week and then move on to the good stuff. Tuesday I had the stomach flu. I was bad. Real bad. I stayed in the whole day and between being sick, just slept and slept. I was so disappointed because we had 9 set appointments with investigators and less actives that we had to cancel. I never want to be sick again on the mission. It's such a waste of time! Gah! I also went to the chiropractor this week (he's a member and did it for free). I found out that my back keeps going out because I have a chronically inflamed sacroiliac (SI) joint and once it's injured it is easily re injured. So I've gone in for a few adjustments and have been doing different exercises and stretches each morning for it. It seems to really be helping.

My companion goes home at the end of this week. I think "killing" a companion is almost as hard as training. Almost. And three transfers in a row... God must trust me to stay focused and to keep them focused. Actually, I had a conversation with Sister Stratton during companionship inventory and she talked about how she didn't like that I never let her talk about going home, etc. Sorry. That's just not how I roll. I told her if she really wanted to, she could talk to other missionaries about it- but I wanted to remain focused and keep us as a companionship focused on the work/ task at hand. That may be why another missionary called me heartless this last week. I guess that's what I get for being obedient and hard working and not letting others slack. The sister tried to explain how I am loving, but in a heartless way. I don't know how to explain it, but I just don't want others to waste their time out here. I am thoroughly enjoying my time being a servant of the Lord! It's seriously the best! I am so excited about all of these life skills that I'm learning!

     We did a lot of work in Colbert again this week along with the singles ward. There's a different feel in each ward. Sister McCabe has found a bunch of members to go on splits with her though so she can work in her area while we work in ours. Praise-eluiah! Between me being sick and splitting time in both wards, we only taught 13 lessons this week. We've been averaging around 20 ish. So I'm excited to really thrust in my sickle with the YSA's this upcoming week. We did get a chance to have a member drive us around one day and they took us up to Deer Park. We never get to make it up there because of miles. It's so pretty :) And the members up there were so touched that we drove that far to visit them. I'm convinced that YSA's just want to feel noticed and loved. If they have that, they'll stick around long enough to gain a solid testimony. Thursday night we got some sleet and then freezing temperatures overnight. The roads were icy Friday morning and we were told not to drive until the afternoon. Other than that the weather has been bearable. Just cold. No snow really. It rained today and we had the most beautiful rainbow! I didn't know you could have rainbow's in 35 degree weather, but apparently you can! I wish it would just dump snow here. Things are just dead and brown, and I'd love for their to be a white blanket covering it all :)

     Saturday night Jessica Tenny in our ward got married. Her home ward is Nine Mile Falls. We didn't even realize her reception was gonna be at the church building and we had planned to teach someone a lesson there. After the lesson I saw a bunch of people from 9 Mile who were walking into the reception. It was a little tender mercy :) I love that ward! I love all the (three) wards I've served in! I wonder what will happen this next transfer. Will I stay? Will I have to get to know a new area in just 6 weeks? Only time will tell I guess!

     Sunday was incredible! I love fast Sunday's for so many reasons! We started off with another excellent ward council. We are really getting this down and it feels like we're doing it the Lord's way. We're focusing on so many people and working hard to reactivate, retain, and find. We want our ward to be more unified, so we taped off the side pews so that everyone was forced to sit in the middle and be by other people (and therefore have to get to know someone). It worked great! haha. Some people were pretty thrown by it. I bore my testimony about "Feeding the Lord's sheep" and the joy that is found as we look outside ourselves and serve others. Right after, Danielle got up and bore her testimony!! Her first time ever! The spirit was so strong as she bore powerful testimony of the Plan of Salvation and her experiences in sharing the gospel. I couldn't stop smiling :) She's so solid, and seriously the best! Later that night we had a lesson with Josh about tithing. I never knew the spirit could be so strong when talking about tithing and fasting. Josh is just so elect and willing to obey and learn. He met with the bishop and is on track to receive the Aaronic Priesthood soon. I'm so excited for him! We taught him at the Fullmer's home again (his best friend who is on a mission). His friend Peter actually emailed one of his non member friends last week and invited him to take the missionary discussions and he accepted! So we'll be teaching him in the Fullmer's home too! Josh said he wanted to be a part of it and sit in with him. I am just LOVING all of the great things going on in the Shawnee YSA ward! :)

     The last bit of news I wanted to share is that last night I finally finished "Jesus the Christ"! Holy smokes that book is big! 793 pages in depth on the life of Christ. I learned so much from it. It feels like quite the accomplishment. I don't know when I'll have time to tackle it ever again. But I'm so happy I made it through at least once. I KNOW that Jesus Christ is our Savior. It is only through Him that we can live together as families with our Heavenly Father again some day. It is only because of Him that I feel so much joy and peace in my life right now! I want everyone to know about Him and His restored gospel! It truly blesses lives! I'm am so blessed to have this knowledge and want to wear out myself in sharing it with the people of Spokane the next few months, and then with the people of California, Utah, and the rest of the world after that! :) 

     I love each and every one of you and want you to have this knowledge as well! I hope you have a great week! I miss and love you!

-Sister Metcalf

p.s. Mom is the only one who told me about her experience in talking with the missionaries about less actives/ investigators! Did no one else do it?? "Every member a missionary!" You all need to step it up a bit to keep pace with the Lord's hastening! :)

I finished "Jesus the Christ" by James E. Talmage!!!
The most incredible verse that I found this morning :) Acts 18:9-11

Monday, December 1, 2014

So Much to be Thankful For

Family and Friends,

     I want to start of by letting you all know how thankful I am for you and the positive influence you've had in my life! I'm so blessed to have such strong family and friends. Thanksgiving was wonderful. We had a breakfast, lunch, and two dinner appointments. It was great to be around families again and feel of their love and excitement (it's such a different feel just being with YSA's). I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and are working on your leftovers. Someone sent us home with half of a smoked turkey, and we also got two whole Costco pumpkin pies, among other leftovers. We're doing just fine on food! ha ha. When we didn't have meal appointments, we were weekly planning so our day was full. I was very happy with how the day went.

     On Tuesday night we drove up to Colville to go to their institute. So, our ward boundaries for YSA includes all of the 18-30 year old's in the North Spokane and Colville stakes. Geographically that is 1/5 of the mission boundaries. It's huge! We never get up into the Colville stake because it's boonie and far away. We just haven't been allotted enough miles to make it up there (I'm working on changing that). Anyways, we scrimped on miles during the beginning of the month so that we could make the 130 mile round trip to Colville. We attended their institute and met a lot of active young adults and tried to recruit them to come to activities during the week and church. But I don't know how many will come. For some of them it would be a 2 hour drive to the church building... But they were so excited that we came up and knew who they were and cared about them. I'm glad we went. Sister Stratton and I really want to go up to Canada (it's in our ward boundaries) but we just can't find a way to get up there ha ha. We'd probably end up going on a p-day.

     On Wednesday we went on exchanges. There are so many sisters going home the next few transfers. All last transfer I went on exchanges only with sisters who were going home at the end of the transfer and I am doing that again this transfer. Each time I go on them I realize that there are so many ways I can improve as a missionary. I try to implement the things I'm learning. I guess I'll never have it all down before I finish. But I'm sure gonna be trying! Speaking of missionaries going home- because one sister went home early in our zone, her companion was left... companionless. We talked to her last Monday and she felt like she wasn't needed or wanted in any areas because she's been bounced around in different companionships. She won't get a new companion until transfers in 2 weeks, and President Mullen told her to just be in a trio- he didn't assign her to anyone specifically, so she's been jumping around. So we adopted her! So now we're in a trio :) Sister McCabe is with Sister Stratton and me and it's great! We split our time working between the two wards. It works out perfect because YSA covers the whole stake- so we'd be in her area part of the time anyways, whereas when she was with other companionships she felt like she was really taking away from the time they could spend in their own area. It's a win-win. Plus it's nice having a 3rd missionary in lessons and in the car. There's less tense moments between my companion and I. They're both so great, and it's been fun teaching and working with them. It just gives me this boost of confidence when talking to a stranger because now 2 people have my back instead of 1 (and last transfer it felt like none). So I'm loving it! Plus, Sister Stratton served in Colbert for 7 1/2 months last year so she knows the area perfect, and I've been organizing her whiteboard and area book. It feels so good to be able to help her because she was so stressed out before! (she has only been serving in Colbert for a few weeks and knew nothing and no one). I love helping- and organizing!

     Over the course of our week we were dropped by 4 of our 12 investigators. I'm not too heart broken about it because they were people we were about to drop anyways. Back to the drawing board though to find more people and keep our teaching pool up (it's better than the zero we had when I first got here!) I want to leave this area better than I found it. I feel like my specialty throughout my mission has been reactivating less actives and unifying the ward through the active members... and that's a lot of what has been going on in Shawnee YSA. They've needed it. They had a ton of baptisms in the beginning of the year, but now all of those people are struggling. My prayers are so focused on other people that I forget to pray for the things I need myself. I need to just take the time... but I'm so exhausted at the end of each night... I don't think that'll ever change, so I just need to suck it up and pray longer ha ha.

     Side note- three times this week middle aged/old men commented on my red hair. And not like "Oh, you have nice hair" but more like "Who's that beautiful redhead I haven't met yet?" Or "All redheads are either drop dead gorgeous or homely as I'll get out... Don't worry- you're one of the beautiful ones." The weird thing is, that they came from members, not strangers. I basically thanked them but told them that made me feel uncomfortable... At least I know when I get back, if I can't find anyone my own age to marry, I've apparently got an in with old guys... Awkward.

     Well, sorry I couldn't remember many spiritual experiences. I know there were plenty. Most prominently I'm just grateful for the strong influence of the Holy Ghost right now. I feel it each day and never want it to leave. I would attribute a huge part of that to how constantly we pray as missionaries. I don't want to lose that habit of praying often throughout the day.

     I love you all and hope you have a great week!

-Sister Metcalf

p.s. here's a meme that I love that perfectly segway's Thanksgiving time into Christmas time. Can you believe it's already December?? I'm in denial!

With Jessica Tenny (my favorite ward missionary and daughter of a favorite family in 9 Mile)
On the 1hr 20 min drive up to Colville, Washington
I saw the Colvin's (she's our 2nd cousin) on Thanksgiving
The last of 4 meals on Thanksgiving- at the Jamison's home

Monday, November 24, 2014

Hard Work

     Missionary work is hard. Why didn't anyone tell me this? haha. I'm kidding. I knew it would be hard. And I don't even know how to put it into words myself. But I love the incredible sense of happiness, success, and charity that I have never before felt. It really is worth all of the heartache over these people.

     We had some miracles this week with a lot of our recent converts/ less actives (most of the recent converts are less actives...) One was with Trevor Giger. He hasn't been to church in maybe 5 months and when I went by to meet him 4 weeks ago he said he wasn't interested in the church anymore. Well, this week he texted us and asked if we could meet up. He didn't show to his appointment, so we drove to his house. He was a little surprised to see us but invited us in. He was pretty closed off and not wanting to talk much. After getting a little bit of info from him I felt like we should read Alma 32:37-43. We talked about where his faith was at and you could just see him softening as he felt the spirit. By the end of our 30 minute lesson he had opened up and told us all of his concerns and committed to come to church (and he came!). It is just proof that the Lord doesn't want us to memorize lessons and spit them out at people, but as we listen to the spirit it will tell us what they need. The words we shared didn't change him at all, the Spirit did. I'm so glad that I am so close to the spirit and able to follow it's promptings!

     We met with Danielle on Thursday night and had a lesson all planned out. Just a few hours before I felt like we should do family history instead. So we texted her and had her meet us at the family history center instead. When she got there she said "I'm so glad you decided you wanted to do this because I woke up this morning and just kept thinking about how I wanted to do more of my family history!" Seriously, why would anyone ever NOT follow the promptings of the spirit in missionary work? He literally tells us everything that people need! To go along with that, I've been praying and pleading to know what I needed to do to help all of our recent converts who are struggling. For a few nights I kept getting this feeling that it's not me, but the ward that will help them. So we've been contacting people in our ward and having them reach out to these individuals and invite them to activities, etc. It's been working quite well. Again- I'm glad I'm listening to the spirit. It's so important to always be living in a way that we're in tune with it!

     A sister went home early this week in our zone and we had her companion come with us for the day while we tried to work in both areas. We found 2 new YSA investigators that day. But the biggest tender mercy was that earlier that day I was feeling so lethargic and not excited for our day we had planned and right when we were about to walk out the door we got the call that we needed to get the other sister. It was just what I needed to get me excited again :) Saturday then ended up being one of the longest days ever. No set appointments. It was a day of endurance for sure. Our first lesson of the day was at 8:55pm (always try one more house!) With a less active, and we had him go downstairs and bring up his 5 non member friends who were there. We had them ask us questions they had about Mormons and basically taught them through the Restoration. It was cool :)

     Last night we had another lesson with Josh Nay (my favorite returning less active). We showed up for the lesson at the other family's home 10 minutes early and caught the tail end of their family scripture study before Josh came over. It brought back so many memories! The best was when their 8 year old son gave the closing prayer, and in it he said "And please bless Josh that he will feel the spirit tonight and come closer to God." I started tearing up. It was so precious- this boy already knew how important it was for Josh to make these changes. I just loved it! And the lesson went great. He is soaking it all up and wanting the rest of his family to come back, too! I love watching the Atonement work in the lives of others.

     On Sunday morning the Sister Training Leaders, Zone Leaders, WML's, and bishops had a meeting with Elder Johnson of the 70 which had a huge impact on the way we conduct ward councils. It was incredible! Something he said really struck me. He talked about how at the Salt Lake airport he's seen families with a big sign that says "Finish Line" for the returning missionaries to run through. He said how sad that is. That for missionaries, coming home is NOT the finish. We are to continue the progress we make even after our missionaries. We are still expected to be missionaries, just in a different capacity. It gave a different meaning to the phrase "sprint to the finish". 

     The last thing I wanted to do was share with you this talk by Neal A. Maxwell (Consecrate Thy Performance) that I came across. It really made me self reflect and dig a whole lot deeper. I need to give my all to the Lord and not hold back part. But this isn't a talk for missionaries. It's for everyone. We all have something that we're holding back. Figure out what it is and surrender your will! 

     I love you all! Have a great week!

-Sister Megan Metcalf

p.s. I'm following up! How many of you talked to the missionaries to figure out a returning less active or investigator that they wanted you to talk to??? Anyone?

Working downtown... sort of...

With Sister Stratton and Amelie Hesse

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Weight of the World

Hello friends and family,

     Lot's of great things have happened this last week and a half. The temple was wonderful as always, and some of my favorite members from 9 Mile took us (because we also went with the 9 Mile sisters). It was fun!

     This week we had a miracle with a lost wallet. Two weeks ago Sister McDonald and I found a wallet on the ground. We knocked on all of the doors around but no one answered. So I wrote down the address for a later date and stuck the wallet in the glove compartment. Fast forward two weeks. We are at FHE because we'd just had a lesson with an investigator who was there and then our evening appointment cancels. Which is fine, but then we literally could not find any female fellowship to come to our next lesson with a single guy who we'd already rescheduled with 2 other times for the same reason. So we cancelled on him. I was so frustrated. So many of our plans fell through and I didn't know where to go. So we get in the car and I decide to go get some gas. As we're at the gas station, Sister Stratton finds the wallet and asks about it. So I explain and we decide to go try an return it. We knock on the first door and the lady says she doesn't recognize the name or picture on the high school girl's ID, but she pointed us across the street to her neighbors and says they've been there for a long time and they might know who it is. So we cross the street and knock on that door. The lady opening it was skeptical, but we explained. Then out of nowhere we hear this girl yell "Sisters!! Mosiah 3:19!" You don't hear that often- and we had no idea who she was. So the older lady invited us in. Come to find out this 25 year old girl was baptized 2 years ago (but went less active) and was going to move into our ward the next week! We were able to have a lesson with her and her non member boyfriend who at one point was on date to be baptized apparently. She wasn't going to be there that night but stopped by to drop off a rent check- it's just crazy how all these little things get orchestrated. There is no doubt in my mind that God exists and that He loves us and is involved in the details of our lives.

     We also went on exchanges twice last week. The first one I had a pretty young new missionary come out to work in YSA with me. It was a cold day but we saw a lot of miracles. The other time I got to have my dream exchange. I went to 9 Mile (of course!) And got to be with Sister Haynes, my old (and one of my favorite) companion! She goes home this transfer and is sweep training there. SO I helped her get things mapped out and updated for her so things weren't quite as stressful. While planning the night before I made sure we weren't going to the same people that we usually do. Whenever I go on exchanges there the sisters set up appointments with the families (less actives and recent converts) who really love me- and I love that. But I really felt like it was more important to not do that, and we had some miracles from it! We picked up a former investigator, and we found a new investigator! And that night we had stake conference so I was able to see tons of the members there. A few weeks ago I emailed Sister Abrams about crock pot recipes since we recently acquired one, and she not only emailed me some recipes, but she gave me a box full of all of the ingredients needed to make them all! I just love her :) That ward is too good to me. It honestly feels like family now (another blessing of being there for 9 months).

     This week, though it had some great highlights, proved to be stressful. This ward had like 10 baptisms in the last year and almost every single one of those recent converts is struggling. I literally have no idea what to do. It's emotionally draining to have people tell you over and over again that their testimony is failing... Many of these people won't even set up/ keep an appointment with us to be able to talk about it so our conversations are through text. I've had a lot of sleepless nights and shed a lot of tears over wanting to help these people out so badly. Why don't they see it? I know that they are so valuable to Heavenly Father and I don't want to lose them. This church is what saves people. I just don't have any solutions right now and I feel like the weight of it all is on me because this is happening "under my watch". Though if I'm being honest, when I have thoughts like that the spirit rebukes me almost immediately and tells me "You're doing all you can. You are successful. They still have their agency." But still. I wish there were more I could do. I hope members understand the impact they have on the work. If they are not engaged in their home or visiting teaching, the people struggle. If they don't bother forming friendships with them or acknowledge them on Sunday (or any day for that matter) recent converts and returning less actives struggle. My challenge to you this week is to find out from your missionaries who a recent convert or returning less active is, and then go talk to them! Be their friend. Help them as they're making this difficult transition. Help them see that it's infinitely worth it to stick it out! Please help. There are missionaries like me all over who are dying for the help of the members- this work is not mine alone. It's shared with the Lord and the members. We all need to do our part in hastening the work of saving souls.

     Okay. Rant over. Sorry. But I haven't been this frustrated or at a loss in a very long time. This may be the Lord forcing me to see that I can't do this on my own and need to seek guidance from Him more in this work. It's an incredible responsibility to be a missionary. I absolutely love it though! I am learning so much each day and feel I am slowly become better prepared for the life ahead of me. This church and the restored gospel are true. I wouldn't be this passionate about finding, reactivating, and retaining if it weren't.

     Okay, I want to end on a more positive note. I want to share about Josh Nay. He is a less active that we have been working with for a little over a month now. (I think I've shared a bit about him before, so sorry if any of this is a repeat). He was baptized when he was 12ish but was never ordained. He was open to taking the lessons and we've been teaching him weekly for a month-ish now. His best friend is serving a mission in St. Louis and has been emailing him constantly and inviting him to really learn about this. Josh never really had a testimony when he was baptized, and his family was active for less than a year before they fell away again. He has absolutely started glowing since meeting with us. He's come to church the last 3 weeks and has been reading the Book of Mormon. He's recognizing the spirit more and more in his life and says that taking the sacrament and meeting with us and reading his scriptures, etc. just feels right. The last two weeks we started having the lessons in his best friends home (even though Peter Fullmer is on a mission, his family still loves Josh and is so excited about this all! And we bring his friend Gracie McClellan with us) The spirit is so strong in member homes! This last week we had a lesson solely on the priesthood and the honestly half of us were crying by the end because you could feel the spirit so powerfully. We invited Josh to meet with the bishop about getting ordained and he agreed. But you can tell he's just taking this so seriously. He wants to make sure he fully understands it and that his testimony is strong. Gosh. I love teaching less actives who are willing to make changes and can feel how the gospel is making their life better. I leave every lesson with him just smiling my little heart out. It's people like that that make it worth fighting through all of the struggles.

     God loves me. And He loves you too! If you don't feel that right now, please kneel down and ask Him to let you feel that love. I promise He's there and that He'll answer you.

     I love you all! Have a great week! :)

-Sister Metcalf
At the temple with Dawn Smith and Joni Emerson
With Sister Stratton, Haynes, and Fidler
Transporting a mattress to someone in need
Raking at the Worley's while on exchanges in 9 Mile

Monday, November 10, 2014

Back to Back Baptisms

     What a crazy and fun week! Being without a companion and bouncing around for 2 and a half days wasn't all that desirable but as you heard I spent some time in 9 Mile so that was great! All p-day and Tuesday things were pretty crazy because of figuring out how it would work having elders in 9 Mile and sisters in the other ward. Things just weren't working out with housing and I was trying to help- long story short the elders were only in 9 Mile for like 4 hours and then they put sisters back in! And Sister Haynes- my companion from the Valley- is sweep training there! Yay! I'm so happy! :) This week I'll be going on an exchange there as well as one other exchange. And next week fyi we'll be going to the temple so I won't be emailing until Wednesday.

     Well it's nice in a way to be back with a Sister Training Leader as a companion. Even if our personalities don't click, it's still nice to have someone who is willing to share the load. Sister Stratton is great and a very hard worker. Street contacts are a breeze now! We found 3 new investigators this week- one of which has real promise and I'll talk about her later. We went to MLC and trained together in Zone training last week. We came up with some really fun role plays for people to do. I just love being a missionary! :)

     Recently I've been listening to some talks by Jeffrey R. Holland. He just sounds so much bolder than when you read his talks. Anyways- I got thinking. Everyone loves him. And it's because he's so bold and loving. I've really been trying to emulate that the last few transfers. Being bold and declaring repentance is honestly the best I have ever felt in my entire life. There's just no way to really put it into words. It was a little scary at first- but I don't fear man anymore. I got to call a couple of people to repentance this week and be really bold about changes they needed to make. One was our recent convert, Alyson. She's been going through a rough patch in life and is mad that things aren't going perfect. Umm... no one said living the gospel would make your life perfect! So I told her that. That she just needs to trust God and His ways. She'd been really depressed lately and wasn't reading her scriptures or praying. She didn't think they'd help and said she hated that everyone kept telling her to do that- so guess what I did. I told her that doing those things were the main way to invite God into her life and if she wanted God's help, or guidance, or comfort right now then she'd better get to work. By the end of her lesson she was so pumped up about reading and praying! She even deleted Facebook and Instagram so she wouldn't waste time with those anymore. :) It's the little things in life that bring joy- really!

     We had a less active who I've never met call us up this week, Alyssa Money. Her recent convert sister just moved in with her and they wanted us to start coming over weekly and go to church. We were able to teach them and find them a ride to church. Alyssa has an 18 month old baby, so it was interesting having a kid at church. I've gotten too used to the quiet sacrament meetings in YSA. They're great and I have high hopes for them.

     So Breanna is my new favorite investigator! She is dating a less active. He's actually got a solid testimony, but he works graveyard shifts so he hasn't been to church in a while. His family converted about 5 years ago. We had never met him and we dropped by one night and they were both there. We started teaching her and invited her to investigate. She wasn't sure. So I turned to their family and asked what a difference the church has made in their lives. After they all bore testimony I looked at her and said "Do you want that in your life?" She said "Yeah! And I've been talking to Keith about wanting to get baptized because he said we can get married in the temple for all of eternity. I'd like that!" They got off work on Sunday morning at 6am but still came to church together! When we talked with them about it afterwards they both said they loved the spirit they felt and wanted to come back next week. The Lord truly is hastening His work!

     The best part of the week was getting to go to 2 baptisms on Saturday night! The first was for Kanyon Larson in 9 Mile. He's 9 yrs old and we'd been teaching him for a bit. His family is fairly active but they wanted his dad to baptize him. So we were working on getting his dad active and ready. I'm so excited for their family. They're also working towards getting sealed. Then we rushed over to Danielle's. The font at the stake center leaks so when we got there it was half empty! We had to fill the font to the rim and by the time she got baptized it was down to the right level. By the end of her service is had completely emptied!! Yikes! It was wonderful. Her mom and sister ended up bailing and not coming :( She was so sad about that but went through with it anyways! Her boyfriend, Zach (who has his call out to St. Louis), baptized her. He had to do it twice and Danielle is shy so she didn't like the attention on her for so long. But you should have seen her Sunday after she got the Holy Ghost. She was absolutely beaming! She said that's when she felt the spirit confirm it the most. And she was SO excited to finally receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! I love that girl! :) And I love the gospel!

     Well, those are the highlights from this week. Sorry it was short.

Hope you all have a great week! I love you! :)

-Sister Megan Metcalf
Danielle Schimschal's baptism!

Kanyon Larson's baptism!