Monday, July 28, 2014

You Can't Appreciate Rainbows Without the Rain

     So... this week was incredible! Sister Haynes and I have been working on being more ourselves as we teach and contact people (rather than being robotic). We've been having so much success! This week has been full of miracles!
     First, we have been praying about Lili a lot. She has been MIA and not responding to calls or texts. So we've prayed about when we need to be in the area near her house so we can catch her at home (she's NEVER home). We felt inspired to go by on Tuesday at 11am and she was there! She was on her way to work and only had a few minutes, so we shared Moroni 6:4 and talked to her about why we keep coming by and calling her. We want to help "keep her in the right way" and strengthen her faith, etc. It was good and she said she wants our help with that. And we went on exchanges with some sisters this week and had a lot of success in both areas in finding new investigators and potentials. We had this awesome lesson with a returning less active woman (I was in the Belle Terre ward) and at the end I asked her if we could take her coffee pot! She is trying to switch over to postum so she needs her coffee pot but got rid of her 3 cans of coffee! It's SO fun helping people make positive changes! :)

     We had a lesson with the Ruegsegger family. I can't remember if I told you about them before. They've gone in and out of activity for the last 10 years. They have 3 kids who are in middle school and elementary school. They have such a strong desire to come to church and be active, and they've been 3 weeks in row! It's so much fun working with people who really want this as part of their lives. Our bishop called us this week and told us that the Ruegsegger's mentioned to him that since we've been meeting with them they feel the Holy Ghost in their home so much more and that their desire to stay active is growing! I love that family! On Friday we meet with Sister Gerling. She's an active member of our ward, a convert, and has some disabilities. She doesn't understand some of the gospel principles, so we go to her nursing home each week and help her study. She's so sweet!

     Okay, Saturday was a whirlwind day! It started with our Pioneer Day stake celebration. Our stake did a 5K temple run (by our temple... hence the name), a breakfast, and carnival. Much like Simi's Pioneer Day activities. We had invited a lot of less actives and investigators to come, but no dice. Although there was a man we met last week on the street who works with one of our ward members that was there. He came up to US and started talking to us. It was really cool! And all because his friend invited him to come. In case any of you were wondering, Sister Haynes and I won the 3 legged race. :) 

     Later that day we did a blitz in the Pines ward. The elders gave us a general area to go to and said there were 2 big apartment complexes we should try. So we spent some time in one, found them some potentials, went to a different complex, got them an investigator and some referrals, and then decided to try a third complex. This complex was pretty big, but not a single soul was outside! So as we were driving to look for a parking spot, I looked to my left and through some buildings I see the top of what looks like another complex and I felt like we should go there. So we drive over to it and it's a small complex. We park, get out and start walking. We tried a few doors and no one answered. My companion starts heading back to the car, but I saw somebody pull up and said we should head over to talk to them. On our way to them we see this little brown girl walk onto her balcony and wave at us. She was maybe 6 years old. At the moment that seemed inconsequential, but it plays a role later on in the story. So we walk up to the people and start talking to them, and they're not interested. But because we walked all the way over to them, we saw there was a van with some guys standing outside it parked on the side. In the real world, you avoid this- but in missionary world, it's a perfect opportunity to talk to someone. So we head over. They were short, had brown skin (kind of  a mix between Polynesian and Indian colored skin). I could tell right away that they were Marshallese- we have a good pocket of those up here. Anyway, we try talking to them and they have severely broken English. But it turns out one of them is a investigator who lives in the North Spokane area! His friend with him wasn't too interested in what we were saying/ couldn't understand much of what we were saying so we headed off after a minute. I had this feeling that we should just text the Marshallese elders about this guy. There's not a whole lot of work for those elders, so it couldn't hurt. The only problem was that he never gave us his apartment number. But then I remembered the little girl who waved at us and thought, well we can give them that apartment number. We weren't sure if it was where he lived or not, but it was better than nothing! Well, the Marshallese elders (they're from the Marshall Islands, not the U.S.) headed over that day and guess what?! It turns out that the man we talked to was his cousin!!! The last time they saw each other was when the guy we talked to had held the elder as a baby in the Marshall Islands! The elder's are going back and teaching him this week. How cool is that??? It was so amazing to have the Lord work through me- and through small promptings help us to reunite this family. The Lord really is in the details of our lives!

     We had an incredible lesson with a new family we found this week! Shaun and Sarah and their 3 little boys are elect! I found them my 1st transfer here and they had just moved in. Every time we went back to check on them though, they were busy. Well we finally have a lesson with her on her doorstep and commit her to read 3rd Nephi 11. We came back the next Saturday and brought a member fellowship with us who was perfect! Turns out the wife read chapters 10, 11, and 12 and got her husband to read the intro! The spirit was so strong in the lesson and they were just so open and accepting of everything we taught! I wish you could have seen her face as we recited the 1st vision to them. They said they'd be baptized and invited us to come back! At the end, she said she'd been praying for a church that would be a good fit for their family- so cool! They're seriously so prepared! So many cool things happened in their lesson but I don't have time to write it all. I am emailing home a voice recording this week that goes into more detail.

     We had a TON of less actives at church on Sunday and it was incredible! It's just as satisfying as having an investigator at church! :) Also, we taught 30 key indicator lessons this week! Our mission goal is 20 and last week we only had 10. It was such a great week!

     I love you all!

-Sister Megan Metcalf
In front of the temple
Sister Haynes and me
More sunsets
Pioneer day 3 legged race!
Sister Gerling

Monday, July 21, 2014

One Year Down

     It's weird writing again so soon after having written only 4ish days ago. I feel like the same old routine things have happened. But I'll try to scrounge up some details for your reading pleasure.
Thursday was my 1 year mark. Weird. It was just like any other day except we went out to lunch (for another sister's birthday). We did weekly planning, which seriously takes a large chunk of the day. But we see miracles coming from planning this new way, so I won't complain too much. We went to our elder's quorum president's (Brother Spear) home for a lesson with Jason. A few weeks ago Jason mentioned about how he keeps all of the 10 commandments except the 4th one. So we taught him about keeping the Sabbath day holy. You know the cool part? He kept telling US why keeping the Sabbath day holy was an important commandment! And the whole time we were teaching and he was answering questions, he kept talking about how it's strengthening his relationship with God. Which is HUGE because Jason for the longest time has been struggling with knowing for sure that there is a God. So it was awesome to hear him say that :) He went out of town this week to head to L.A. It turns out he grew up in Simi Valley and went to Big Springs Elementary until 4th grade before moving! So he said he'll be heading there to show his 7 year old son where he used to live and go to school. I'm trying to talk him in to heading to Simi on a Sunday so he can go to church in our home ward! We'll see what happens though. He hasn't even been to church here yet (because he works on Sunday). But how cool would that be??
     We went on split's and taught Pat Price again- who said she feels like she's ready to try coming to church again finally! She's really feeling the spirit more in her life and is craving it now. So our next lesson we're teaching her in the chapel- hopefully that'll get her comfortable enough at church to come the following Sunday! Oh, while planning out split's, I felt prompted that Sister Haynes and the woman she was with should try Bre and Mike (the random referral/ less active who let us in and the son calls us the "mission girls") Well, she went and they talked to them both and they said they're open to us coming back AND they want to go to the Pioneer Day festival this Saturday because it brought back happy memories for her and she wants her kids to have those, too. How cool is that??

     Friday was pretty standard. Dinner at a member's home, a few lessons here and there, nothing big. But my favorite lesson of the day was with this girl Breanne. She's 23 I think. Her parents are active and she used to be... then she fell away, got into drugs, was homeless for a bit... I mean she's really been through heck and back. Well, she got pregnant and moved home. I had met her a few times and she was pretty stand offish. But then a miracle happened. She had her baby premature, had received a priesthood blessing, and her heart has softened. Having this baby has really grounded her. She decided she wants her daughter to grow up with the values she was raised with, and to develop the relationship with God she has. She has an INCREDIBLE testimony of prayer. Well she started coming to sacrament this last month. We approached her about teaching her the lessons to try and help strengthen the faith she has and help her gain a testimony in the restored gospel. She accepted and we went over on Friday to teach the first lesson. She was upfront and said she wanted to go slow, maybe only meet every few weeks. But she has a desire to learn and to really better her life and give her daughter the life she deserves! It was a powerful lesson. I absolutely love working with less actives and helping to rekindle the fire. It's been incredible to see her 180 degree change in just the 4 short months I've been here!

     Saturday we did a lot of service. We helped a part member family weed their garden for a bit. We also went and helped a single mom of 5, Sister Aballay, clean her kitchen. Honestly, it was so gratifying to just help relieve some of her stress. I couldn't imagine raising a family on my own- she's a strong woman, so we were surprised when she accepted our offer to help. But I can always feel the spirit so strong while I'm serving others! Mosiah 2:17 is true! :) We also did some impromptu service while on our blitz in the Belle Terre ward. We had been contacting the people they wanted us to and talking to people on the street. Then I felt prompted that we should try some members and ask for referrals for them. The first house we find is a less active's home but we tried it anyway. The woman opened the door and was frantic. Their basement was flooded and she was home alone with her 20 something year old special needs daughter. We threw down our bags and got to work! We were shop vac-ing it, carrying things outside to dry, and jumping on towels to get the water up. Part of their ceiling had collapsed from the broken pipe and the place was a mess. We helped her for about an hour while trying to contact her home and visiting teachers. Her son eventually came to help, and by then we'd gotten things under control. She thanked us profusely and we told her that we were divinely inspired to come to her house. I pray that this situation will soften her heart and she will be more open to hearing what the missionaries have to say...

     Sunday was good. Meetings, church, studying, the usual. We had a lesson with a man we'd never met whom the sisters found when they were blitzing in our area. Yeah, he was not interested. He gave us the Book of Mormon back that they had given him. But we were still able to teach him a little bit and commit him to pray on his own. It really was weird- but okay in the end. We had a lesson with Shannon (an eternagator) who came to church again for the 2nd week in a row! She has been taking the lessons for years and her 2 teenage sons are members, but less active. She has such a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and her only hurdle is to stop smoking. The hard part is that she's stubborn, so she doesn't want any help or to go to the addiction recovery program that's offered. We have really established our purpose with her and she's making steady progress in other areas.

     The highlight of Sunday comes from one of our all star member missionary families in our ward, the Demars family (think of the Pinkston's). Just a short side note- Taylor just got back from his mission and his parents went down to pick him up and stayed with a part member family that he'd taught and baptized. There was one daughter who hadn't accepted yet. His parents had a lot of talks with them while they stayed there and his mom ended up challenging the one daughter to sincerely pray about being baptized that week. She prayed for days and got her answer! So on this elder's last day in Brazil, they got to go to the daughter's baptism and the family is planning on getting sealed in January! Anyways, their oldest son just returned from his mission in Brazil and gave a fireside for the youth. His family invited TONS of non members to come and he was basically teaching and testifying of the gospel the whole time. Their were tons of youth from the whole stake there as well and he talked to them about how they can prepare for missions and be member missionaries now. At the end, he has everyone there write down a referral for us! We got about 15 for our area, 10 for other parts of our stake, and some for Seattle and Boise! So awesome! We got to talk to a bunch of their non member friends and one agreed to meet with us and some others agreed to come to church next Sunday. Afterwards he came up to us to give us all the referrals and was talking about all these ideas he has to get the members more involved and missionary minded. He's awesome!

     Whelp. That was the rest of my week. We go on exchanges tonight and have some great lessons, service and activities planned for this upcoming week. We also get to help out at our stakes 5k fun run for Pioneer day this Saturday. It'll be great :) I love you all. I promise to share more about the things I'm learning in my studies next week- I always forget to do that. But if you haven't read Jesus the Christ by James E. Talmage- do it! I'm learning so much more about the life of Christ and I'm only 2/3 through it!

     Keep praying. Keep reading your scriptures. Go to church. Go to the temple. I love you all and want you to receive the blessings that WILL come in to your life from doing those things consistently.

All in!

Sister Metcalf
 Cow in the road! Who'd have thought this would happen in Washington?
Can you spot the cow out the window?
 Lunch at Noodles Express on my 1 year mark with Sisters Woodfield, Gardiner, Gosdis, McWilliams and Haynes
Things that I thought would last a year, but didn't

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Feeling Hot Hot Hot!

     Holy smokes it's hot here! Pushing 100 for the past few days, and there're fires all over the place. I guess I should feel blessed that we get a car half of the week, but the half that we're walking and biking- yikes! I don't think I've ever been out in heat like that for prolonged periods of time. It's helping me to recognize little blessings: like the shade of a tree and the wind blowing a cloud in front of the sun. It's pathetic, but it's true!
     Yesterday we saw a less active we've been working with, Pat Price. She's incredible! She has such a desire to come back and make changes in her life and she's showing it by her actions. She is sincerely studying the scriptures each day and praying. She started crying when she was telling us how grateful she is for all of the work we are putting in to helping her out. That makes it all worth it! We told her we want her to come take the sacrament each Sunday and eventually go to the temple because there are so many blessings in store for her. She really understands our purpose in coming and teaching her. She has this son, Tim, who is hilarious. He just got out of jail and we've run into him a few times. One time he was wearing a wife beater tank top and a do rag, the next he was wearing khaki shorts and a Hawaiian shirt. I just don't get him! We talked to him about his experiences in the church. He grew up in it and said after his dad died he made some poor choices and wound up in prison... and when he got out, no one in his family was going to church or acting like a Mormon anymore and he was way confused about why they stopped! We've invited him to sit in with us on the lessons, but he hasn't come yet. Only once for a prayer.

     We did a lot of service the last few weeks; helping people clean their houses, weeding, pitting cherries, serving at a brick oven pizza dinner. On our way to help serve at the dinner we ran into a lady pulling a bunch of bags out of her car and offered to help. She was going to tape off some rooms in their house to paint so it would be ready to rent out. She was pretty shocked when we offered to help her in our skirts, but she accepted! We got to talk to her a bit about our missions and the gospel. She lives in Liberty Lake, but has friends who are LDS who we told her she needs to talk to about going to church with. It was fun!

     Funny story from this week- Sister Haynes and I were going to try a potential investigator who said to come back later. The house was a bit run down... we knock on the door in the blazing hot sun and no one answers, so we leave to get on our bikes and head to the next place. As we're walking down the porch my foot goes right through one of the old steps and I almost fell! I partly caught myself using a bush. It hurt pretty bad, but it was so hot out I couldn't even care. So I just laughed and keep walking to the bikes. Then my companion starts screaming- turns out a hornet attacked her and stung her 4 times! We're still trying to figure out if that was a sign or not. We'll probably end up going to try them again though. Oh, and something adorable that happened this week had to do with Noah. He's the 8 year old autistic boy who's mom, Bre, is a less active who randomly let us in her house and started asking us questions-nothing else has come of that by the way :(. But as we were walking by their house, Noah was outside with a friend and saw us. He yells hello to us and then says to his friend "That's the mission girls! They teach people about God and the Bible!" It was so cute! If nothing else, at least those boys know we are on the Lord's errand and trying to help others develop a stronger testimony and relationship with Christ and Heavenly Father.

     We had a "blitz" in our area this last weekend. It's when other missionaries come into our are and help out with our work. So 2 other sets of missionaries came to the Evergreen ward. They help with whatever we need help with. I've done blitz's where we find less actives, teach lessons to investigators or less actives, etc. Well, we've been needing to build up our teaching pool lately. So we had them go out and street contact and do whatever they thought they could to find us people to teach. In the 2 hours they were in our area, the set of sisters found us 2 new investigators and 5 potentials. The elders got 6 referrals from members (I've only gotten 2 referrals from members in my 3 months here- all the others have been from non members) So crazy! But it was a huge help! We'll be going into someone else's area this Saturday to help them out. It's so fun to be helped by other missionaries, and to help others!

     Oh yeah! Last week we had Jason over for a lesson at President Mullen's house. It was incredible! I was a little bit nervous- not to teach in front of my mission president, but his wife (she's a bit intimidating). But it went incredibly well! President Mullen is such a relatable, yet bold teacher! He helped out tons in the lesson, and so did Sister Mullen. The spirit was SO strong! And at the end we put him on date to be baptized on August 16th! Gotta love it :) It was probably one of the most spirit driven/ spirit filled lessons in my entire mission. Top 5 at least. Definitely one for the books.

     The temple today was amazing! I feel like I learn so much each time I go. And a tender mercy is that Sister Taylor (the little old lady I lived with in 9 Mile) was working her shift, so I got to talk with her and she gave me the biggest hug :) And I also ran into Brother Herrmann (Hugh's son-in-law and Gavin's uncle) from 9 Mile as I was walking home at the end of the evening yesterday. He was visiting a friend (who he gave us a referral to go see!) Yay! Heavenly Father really loves me! I feel it every day! And I can feel how proud He is of me for serving him. This gospel is perfect and it is true! I love you all!

Sister Metcalf
     p.s. go look up "What do women get" by Sheri Dew. I think it should be on YouTube. It was shown in relief society this week and I LOVED it!

No mail! :(
Rain! Glorious rain on a 100 degree day! (in front of the Mortensen's house)
Greenacres... again :)
At the Howard's after breakfast with Sister Walton, Robles, and Haynes
Pitting cherries at the Jensen's
Glorious sunset! (I'm taking WAY too many sunset pictures! But I can't help it!)
Up at the Ford's home

Monday, July 7, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough KEEP Going

     Not gonna lie, this was a rough week. We struggled to teach lessons with non members and less actives. We still talked to everyone we saw and had about the same number of street contacts/ gospel conversations as usual though- so it's not as if we were out less or not working as hard. It was just a rough week. We taught ten key indicator lessons (and then a bunch to active members). So In my head I know I should feel successful because I did all I can. But in my heart I feel like this week was just absolutely frustrating because of other people's agency.
     I'll fill you in on all the good and bad. So on Wednesday night right before ASL class we took 5 non members on a tour of the building and explained more about what we believe in, etc. It was really good! None of them were interested in learning more, but that's okay because they've had a lot of positive contacts/ interactions with the church and church members and their hearts are softening. We also did some service for a member in our ward who has a raspberry patch with like 100+ bushes. We weeded and picked berries. I think this is my favorite time of year because so many people are growing their own berries and fruit and just let us come and pick some whenever we want. It's the best :)

     This week we had back to back days of meetings where we had MLC first and the next day was zone training. Both took about 5 hours each, so it took away from proselyting time, but the trainings were good. We focused mainly on weekly planning and we weekly planned together so we could learn from one another. This new way of weekly planning is hard, but we're seeing miracles from it. Every Thursday we plan out our goals and who we are seeing/ what we are doing for every hour of the day with back ups (and what we plan on teaching them) for the next ten days. It's intense and takes a while. But I know that planning is a skill that is necessary for success not just in the mission, but in life! I'm glad I get to practice it here. Speaking of MLC- while we were there, the public affairs officer from the stake approached my companion and I. I know I've mentioned that with "The Book of Mormon musical" coming to Spokane that the church is doing a lot with the media to put a positive spin on it since it portrays missionaries in such an offensive and incorrect light. Well one of those things is to have a local TV crew follow around a few different companionships of missionaries for the day and do a little news spot on it. So my mission president suggested like 8 companionships for this lady to interview and submit info into the news station. The news station will review the "profiles" and decide which 3 they want to follow around. So... I may be Spokane famous in a few weeks- or... I may not. But it was super flattering that President Mullen would suggest my companion and I to be followed by a news crew!

     My 4th of July was good for the most part. We still had to be in to our apartments by 9pm and it's still light out here at that time, so we didn't see any fireworks (plus they're banned in Washington) but we did hear a few that night. In the morning we helped a family move out of their house (the ones who had the brother who moved to Alaska after our cool experience with him my 1st eek here), then went to a ward/ community picnic. For dinner that night we were invited to come to a BBQ with 2 of the senior couple missionaries who work in the mission office. It was us and the AP's and then the office missionaries families. So it was fun, and I'm happy I got some grilled food for the 4th :) It was a really slow day work wise though because EVERYONE was gone to the lake or family's, or a firework show in Idaho. So to combat that, our zone decided to have a lemonade stand! haha. So for an hour, we set up a stand outside our church with a sign saying "Liberty Lemonade: it's free just like our country" We were able to talk to a lot of people about the church and passed off some referrals. Our intent was to give church tours with it, but there weren't any takers on that. So on top of not teaching many lessons, we had 3 investigators drop us (plus the 2 investigators that we dropped on Thursday and Saturday) that makes 5 less people in our teaching pool. I know they are people who weren't ready for the gospel and that we're really just making room for the elect, but it's still disheartening. 

     One of the ladies that we dropped (stopped teaching) we went to her house a few days later to help her do some cleaning. She's going through chemo and we wanted to still serve her. So she had us wash down her walls in a few rooms. Okay, have any of you seen walls of a smoker's home? When she took down the pictures and clocks there were visible yellow rings around where things were. And when we sprayed 409 on the walls (because soap and water weren't enough) you could just see the grime dripping down. Witnessing that was enough for me to know that smoking is terrible for you. I mean, if that's on the walls, what's on your lungs? Yuck. I think anyone trying to quit smoking should just wash their own walls and that would give them incentive to quit.

     Sunday was a rough day. We've been working so hard in this area but it seems that between potentials, less actives, and investigators, we only have less and less people to work with despite all of our efforts in finding and working with members. Our ward mission leader, Brother Petersen, isn't very helpful or motivated. I even fasted about what we should do with our area. We felt like we should ask our bishop what he would like us to do since he holds the keys to missionary work in our area. So when we asked him what he wants us to do, he said he didn't have an answer. It was so disheartening again to not know the direction we need to go. Not to mention I was feeling sick all day (not to a point where I stayed home though) so we just pushed through the day. We had a lot of cancellations of appointments and just kept pushing through. By the end of the day and talking with one of our ward missionaries (because our ward mission leader didn't have any suggestions for us either) we felt like we really needed to focus on our youth and on service. So that's where we're headed now with the work in the Evergreen ward. I have a testimony that God never wants us to stop moving. When we're not sure where to go or what to do, he doesn't want us to just sit around until we feel inspired. He wants us to take some steps in faith. He's not gonna part the water until we get our feet wet a little. And just as Nephi didn't know what he was going to do to get the plates from Laban (after 2 failed attempts) he just went and did because he knew that the Lord ALWAYS provides a means and an answer! I know that's true!

     So since this last week didn't feel so great, we're gonna start off this week with a bang. We're teaching one of our investigators, Jason, in our mission president's home tonight with his wife. I'm a little nervous, but really excited! I'll let you know how it goes next week.

     I love you all! This gospel is true! And the hard days are what help me to appreciate the good days even more. I know that trials bring the most growth and improvement, and so I'm thankful for difficulties that I am given. Plus, I know it could be worse. I'm so blessed to live in this great country and to be serving my God! Again, I love you all!

-Sister Metcalf

Free lemonade stand on the 4th of July‏

4th of July BBQ dinner at the Fisher's home 


Lemonade stand

District picture before transfers (Elder's Harris and Howell and Sister's Haynes, Seastrand and McWilliams)

A beautiful day to bike (on 16th street by Evergreen Middle School)

I LOVE sunsets!