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!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Short and to the Point

     Every week in Shawnee YSA is a great week! And I get to have at least 6 more here. Sister McDonald went home and my new companion is Sister Stratton. She served in the same zone as me in the beginning of my mission. She will be a sister training leader with me and this is her last transfer so I'll be "killing" another companion! Yikes. I'm hoping that she'll be way more fired up about working her hardest until the end. It's difficult to pull a companionship along.

     So one of the highlights from this week is that we had so many people at church on Sunday! Our average attendance is about 65 people in sacrament meeting. We had investigators, less actives, and non member friends of people. I love it! I was really excited for Josh Nay to come. He hasn't been since he was baptized at age 12 and his best friend is on a mission right now. His heart is so soft and he's keeping commitments. I'm really excited for him!

     We're still teaching Amelie from Germany, but she doesn't want to do anything without her family. She's planning on taking them to church with her when she gets back at the end of this month. Her mom and brother already have gone to church once out there to check it out. It's crazy how God works to hasten the work all over the globe.

     On Tuesday we found out that we won't be teaching Courtney anymore. She's still investigating, but just with the other YSA ward. Her friend who she was coming with was dating a girl in our ward, Elise. Well, they broke up and things got awkward so he switched wards and took Courtney with him. I tell people that we "lost her in the custody battle". She is so elect. I hope to be able to go to her baptism whenever that is! Speaking of baptisms. I'm so excited for Danielle's! She'll be baptized this Saturday and I get to be there! She's so excited, too. When I asked her what she's most excited about she said two things- to have the Holy Ghost and to be able to go to the temple! Now I'm not bragging or anything- but I feel like she's been taught well if those are the two things she is most excited about :)

     Some of our recent converts are struggling. We're having a hard time helping them on our own. It's a testimony to me of how important the ward and ward council are. If the ward doesn't step up soon we're gonna lose these people and there's nothing the missionaries can do about it. We had a chat with our bishop, so hopefully things will change.

     On Saturday I was invited to Russ and Christie's wedding! It was held in Bishop Hardy's office. They only had 3 of their children there and one other set of missionaries. I felt so honored to be invited! The spirit was strong there as Bishop Hardy emphasized the importance of being sealed for time and all eternity in a year. I'm so excited to come up in a year for their sealing! Russ has made ginormous changes in his life since I began teaching him and it was incredible to see his 180 flip from almost a year ago. I can't believe I started teaching him last December!

     When my companion went to the mission home on Sunday (and 4 other sisters in our zone did too) I got to pair up with Sister McWilliams. She was in my same district out in the Valley. She's great and is serving in 9 Mile. So I got to see more families out there and am working in 9 Mile until Tuesday morning. It's so great how often I get to be reunited with everyone there! I got to do some deep cleaning at their house and help Sister Taylor out. The sisters left that place a mess and it's being swept out. Elders will be there again :( Boo! I hope they take care of it. That area is my baby!

     Anyways, this week will be full of new adventures and new investigators I'm sure! I love you all and hope you have a great week! Put mom in your prayers!

-Sister Metcalf
Pumpkin carving! Mine was a pirate kitty and Sister McDonald's was a haunted house
It's true!
More giant animals :)
Russ and Christie's wedding ceremony!
driving range
on hole 6