Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Hello again my loved ones!

Hello again my loved ones!
I hope everyone is doing well! Well first of all, something exciting...I get to go to the TEMPLE this weekend!! I am SO excited! We are going on Saturday to the Washington D.C. Temple. Our missions goal is to have the missionaries go to the Temple once a month BUT missionaries can only go if they have a recent convert who is going to do baptisms or to receive their own Endowment for the first time. Only then can the missionaries go with them to the temple. Which is a great incentive to work even harder I think. And so if you remember I told you about Angel who was baptized the first week I got here. Angel is 13 and we are also teaching her mom and soon to be step father (who are planning on getting baptized in August after they are married) so we planned a trip to go to the temple for her first time so she can do baptisms! But she also has to have 5 family names of her own to be able to go and do baptisms. We are so excited to go with her though. 

Also I've already been here for an entire transfer! Its crazy! We had transfer calls on Friday and no one in my District got transferred because everyone is either training and or being trained. And one more great thing about Transfers is that one of my favorite Elders is coming back out to our Mission this transfer!! I don't think I talked about it much but Elder Crowther was in our district in the MTC. He had to go home though because of some health issues, but is now coming back out to our mission!! And we are all SO excited!... But one sad thing about transfers is that one of our Zone Leaders got transferred :( we were all so sad. His name is Elder Newbold, he's awesome and so funny. oh and fun fact: I found out he's friend with Catherine Hansen!! Haha they know each other from EFY or something. I've actually made a lot of random connections since being out here. Brother Rockwood being my MTC teacher for one, and served in the Roseville, California Mission. And that picture of that giant dog I sent, well the member who owns that dog is from Arco, Idaho of all places and so I knew he would know the Sorenson's haha and he does, which I knew Courtney would find that funny. And I don't think anyone from our ward besides Bishop Alston would know him (and Aubrey, Amanda, Victoria, and Alexandra will know who I'm talking about haha) but Elder Jamison served in the Loomis 2nd Ward and he helped me with a flat tire on my car once. Anyway his Aunt and Mother-in-law are both in the ward that I am serving in! In Kutztown, Pennsylvania of all places haha. It's quite a small world haha. 

I've also acquired a few nick names since being here haha. Sister California, Sister Golf-club, Sister Vanilla haha (long story I'll tell you about that one some other time), our Ward Mission Leader has 4 kids and his little boy calls me Sister Gorgeous haha. He's the cutest thing ever and says the funniest things I swear, and he just started calling me that the other day and I was dying. He's so stinkin cute. I have a video of it so I'll send it along with the email. And the most recent one has been Sister Elsa. I wore my hair in a big braid the other day and no joke 3 times in one day I had 3 different people tell me I looked like Elsa. And therefore they started calling me Sister Elsa haha. And since Sister McCuen is a ginger we decided that before all of the snow is gone we're going to put our hair in braids and we'll walk around like Ana and Elsa for the day, knocking on doors and sing for people haha. 

Oh also fun fact: Sister McCuen snapped at me for the first time the other day! So I nicknamed her GingerSnap! I thought it was pretty clever haha. It was pretty funny actually. But I've grown up with 4 sisters and so I was not phased by that little outburst. But the reason for it is because Sister McCuen has Celiacs disease, so she's allergic to gluten. And when she has it she gets a really bad stomach ache. I had been bugging her and asking her if she wanted to get a blessing and she just snapped and said "No! I don't want a blessing! Okay?!" She then felt really bad for it but it didn't bother me because I knew she just wasn't feeling well.

Oh and I also had my first full on melt down this week! It was awesome! Haha jk. It was during one of our companionship studies and we were trying to role play a lesson that we had that day when I just broke down crying. I was just so overwhelmed with SO many things it felt like. I didn't feel like I was good enough to do this work. I felt so inadequate. This is the way I think of things...this is someone's chance to start on the road to eternal salvation, and my mindset is if I don't get right this time they may not come to experience that joy. I just want everything to go perfectly for our investigator that I get so stressed out over it. But sure enough Sister McCuen Anyway I'll just get to telling you about the miracles this week...

Well first of all this week I learned a very important lesson about the principle of accountability. In our mission we have the Standards of Excellence. Which are just a set of goals we try to reach each week. There are 5 Standards of Excellence, where we try to get 2 lessons with Investigators who are progressing with a baptismal date, 2 people to come to come to Sacrament Meeting on Sunday, 3 New Investigators, 5 Member Present Lessons, and 5 lessons with Recent Converts and or Less Actives. And we as a mission try to reach 60% of them week per companionship. So we would only have to get 3 of the 5. And so this week our District Leader wanted us to pick as many of the Standards that we wanted to be accountable for. And so Sister McCuen and I said we wanted to be accountable for reaching ALL of them this week! Our DL thought we were completely crazy haha. Not that he didn't believe we could do it but just that no one in our district has ever achieved all 5 of them in one week. It doesn't seem like it would be too hard but it is actually very challenging. New investigators is where we struggle the most. But anyway Sister McCuen and I just wanted to set our goals high and so we did. Not realizing how stressful this week would be because of that haha but we saw many miracles because of it. The biggest one happened just last night. So by yesterday we had achieved 4/5 Standards of Excellence. The only thing was that we were short 1 new investigator. And for someone to be considered a new investigator you have to have had a full lesson with them and then set up a return appointment. And we had a list of a few people we have had lessons with but haven't been able to get a hold of since to set up a return appointment. And after all week of calling, texting, and stopping by this list of people NO ONE got back to us. We only needed ONE more new investigator! We just had to set up a return appointment with them to consider them as such. Anyway, so here we are Sunday night we just had our last member present lesson (which went overtime so we were hurrying home haha) but we had this one guy named Leo we had had a lesson with. We figured that he would be our best shot because he seemed the most interested. So while we were driving home we called him 3 times! And no answer! Not to mention we called him like 15 times throughout the week too haha. But after the third time and no answer I said to Sister McCuen "we need to pray!" So I turned off the music and offered the prayer. I simply asked Heavenly Father for a miracle and that he would help us to achieve our goals for this week. And then we immediately called Leo back. The phone rang like 5 times and then he answered!!! After ALL week trying to get a hold of this guy and having NO luck whatsoever, he finally answered!! And all I have to say is...PRAYER WORKS!! It was a miracle! We were able to set up an appointment with him and we had our 3rd New Investigator for the week! It was incredible. And immediately after we hung up the phone. We offered a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father and thanked him for the miracles! It was awesome! We then reported our numbers at the end of the night to our DL and told him that we had achieved our goal of getting all 5 standards of excellence this week and he was said he was so grateful for our efforts. 

Deciding to be accountable though has made such a difference in the work we are doing. People here are still so very kept to themselves and don't want to talk to us, but I know that the Lord is preparing people and as long as we are willing to go out there and find them the Lord will help and assist us in His work.

early in the week we had an appointment with an older woman named Sandy who lives right around the corner from us. She is the sweetest thing ever, let me just tell you. We actually met her on my second day while finding and asked if we could come and visit her again. And she told us she would call us back....uh huh, we all know how that usually goes haha. Anyway about two weeks ago we were walking down the street to our Ward Mission Leaders house when she saw us outside and told us to come in because it was so cold out. When we walked in we got to talking with her and then showed her Because of Him which then led into The Restoration. It was awesome! We then set up a Return Appointment. Anyway we taught he all of The Restoration on Monday. She loved it! She had never heard of Joseph Smith or anything before and was very intrigued. We got to the point in the lesson where I was suppose to invite her to be baptized but sister McCuen got carried away and did it instead. To which Sandy said no. Which is okay. I then simply bore my testimony. And Sandy got all teary eyed and started to cry and said how glad she was that we were there. We could tell that she definitely felt the spirit. We set up another appointment with her and will be teaching her again soon. It was a miracle!! 

And also yesterday at Church we had a great lesson in Relief Society about the Savior. And so the end this email I want to simply testify of our Savior Jesus Christ. 

I know that Jesus Christ lives. He is the Son of God. And it is because of His infinite and Atoning sacrifice we can be forgiven of our sins so that we too can me become like Him. It is through his grace, love, and mercy that all things are possible. And I love Him more than anything. Often times I think we forget that He didn't have to do what he did, and that there was a point where He himself, even the Son of God asked if there wasn't another way. Even though He knew that there wasn't, He still sacrificed Himself because He loves us and He loves Heavenly Father. I wish I could comprehend and understand the entirety and magnitude of the Atonement. But I know that one day I will. 

If you ever ask me what my all time favorite hymn is its "I Believe In Christ." I love the last verse "I believe in Christ, so come what may. With Him I'll stand in that grate day." Please oh please I implore everyone to find ways to come unto Christ. He can heal, bless, and help you in anyway that you need. I love this quote from President Benson and he basically puts my entire testimony into one paragraph, he said: 

“With all my soul, I love Him. I humbly testify that He is the same loving, compassionate Lord today as when He walked the dusty roads of Palestine. He is close to His servants on this earth. He cares about and loves each of us today. Of that you can be assured. He lives today as our Lord, our Master, our Savior, our Redeemer, and our God. God bless us all to believe in Him, to accept Him, to worship Him, to fully trust in Him, and to follow Him.”

In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

I love you all so very much!! Please look for ways to come unto our Savior and to help others to come unto Him also. I can promise you it won't be easy but it will be far far far beyond worth it. Look for the miracles! There are many, just pray often and look :) until next week.

~Sister Amy Elizabeth Callaway~

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