Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Tornados in Jersey!!

Hello my beloved family!! 

Did you know I love you all?!?

Well happy Fourth of July this week everyone! Don't have too much fun without me blowing stuff up and all...well this week was pretty great! Kinda nuts actually haha but still pretty great! 

So first of all this week we had an awesome Mission Tour Conference where Elder Larry S Kacher of the Seventy came and spoke to us! I was way excited to hear him speak to us because he had also spoken to us while I was in the MTC and so I was excited to hear him twice! He basically trained and taught all of the missionaries some very very VERY important things about Mind Sets. And how we can't allow ourselves to get stuck in a negative mind set as a missionary. He really taught us how to thoroughly work with the Ward Council and how to find through the members. And OH MY GOODNESS!!....was that the biggest answer to prayer. Because lately Sister Jolley and I have been doing A LOT of tracting and not much has come of it. And so we knew that something needed to change. We needed to start working with the ward council but didn't really know how to go about doing so but that was all answered when Elder Kacher came! But one of my all time favorite parts was when Elder Kacher was talking to us missionaries specifically about who we are. He really wanted to get all of the missionaries involved in the meeting and for the most part a lot of missionaries participated but Elder Kacher noticed something that most all of the missionaries that were participating were Elders. So Elder Kacher stopped the meeting real quick, and asked all of the Sister Missionaries to stand up. As we stood he asked us why we were holding back the things we had to say. He joked about how Sisters are smarter than Elders, but sincerely he said to us "please don't hold back. If you do you will miss out on great opportunities and so will other. You have so much good to offer, and you are especially powerful. So will you promise me that from now on, you won't hold back?" Each of us Sisters all loudly said yes and with that promise we made we sat back down. But right after he walked up to one particular Sister and asked her "do you think you're good enough to be here?" She looked at him and said "I am trying my best to be good enough to be here." And he sincerely and enthusiastically said "No, don't tell me that. Because you ARE good enough to be here! You are perfect to be here! You are meant to be here! All of you are! Don't ever doubt yourself Sister. Because the Lord loves you. And you are special to him." That was powerful for me. And even just at the Sisters simple remark that she was trying her best, I know that if he would've asked me that question I would've said "Nope. No way, no how." But I took that and it felt as if he were talking to me personally too. I mean how cool is that?!? You just had a general authority, and special witness of Jesus Christ stare you down and tell you that you are good enough to do the lords work! That is special. And so after Elder Kacher taught us everything he could for that short time we stood and sung the mission hymn. And afterwards we got to speak with Elder and Sister Kacher more and come to find out Sister Kacher is from Richfield Utah!! I asked her if she knew any Ogden’s in Richfield and she said yes! I think her maiden name was Miller so maybe grandma knows her! Super cool!

And so after that we made our way back to our area and later that night we went to dinner. And George knows like everyone in this are haha and so he said that his friend Sal who owns a restaurant here wanted to feed us. And so we drove to the restaurant and as we began eating we received a tornado warning on the phone!! I turned around and looked out side and everything was just so dark! It was so dark outside and so windy you could barely see the trees outside in the parking lot! I started freaking out! But then Sister Jolley said to me "Sister Callaway calm down. We are the most prayed for people on earth and that we were safe." I was grateful for her faith and we said a prayer and I immediately felt calm. And then George's friend Italian friend Sal who owned the restaurant came and started singing something in Italian and George know what he was singing and said to us, "okay that's scary because now he's singing the same song they sang on the movie titanic right before the ship sank..." and then...the lights went out! I was so scared but I knew that the lord would protect us. And he's THERE WAS A TORNADO!!! It didn't touch down in our area but pretty close to it and there were 75 mile an hour winds, which uprooted some of the biggest trees!! It was crazy!! Once the storm passed we went back to our apartment and put on our service clothes and ventured out to pick up all the debris from the storm. And that was actually pretty fun! The sky after the storm though was crazy! I wish I had a picture but sadly I don't. On one side you saw a rainbow and this beautiful golden sunset and on the other you saw the darkest clouds I've ever seen AND the sky was green! And I mean like "Wicked" green(of anybody knows that play) it was crazy! I'll send a picture of it!!

Anyway the day after the storm we went to go help a nonmember family because we offered service to them even before the storm. As we went my arm felt like it was hurting and I didn't know why. During the storm the night before I had felt my elbow pop but thats usually pretty normal for me haha. But it still hurt nonetheless and so I just brushed it off and started working to help this family. Well as we were raking up the yard I put a load of leaves into a wheelbarrow and started pushing it toward the dump pile when I felt something in my hair......(yeah and if you're reading this right now and if you know me at all you know that I hate bugs!) so whatever it was I flung it out of my hair and it landed on my arm and stung me! I'm pretty sure it was a wasp because right after it stung it hurt so bad! The mother of the family rushed me into the house and put some medicine on it and it immediately felt better but of course the spot where it stung me started to swell up. But eventually as we went on throughout the day I was fine. 

However, the next day when I woke and I couldn't move my arm!! It was hurting SO bad and my arm was all swollen. I tried to pick stuff up but my muscle just hurt so bad that my arm gave out. I couldn't straighten it or bend it past 90 degrees. And so I thought either I popped it out of place or I was having some kind of an allergic reaction to the wasp sting. But we district meeting that morning of course my first thought was to just ask the Elders for a blessing and then see if it still hurt bad enough to go to the doctors. And so all morning I couldn't use my left arm. I couldn't even let it down to hang by my side so I just held it with my right hand to keep it from hurting. Well by the end of District Meeting I was in tears because it hurt so bad. And once the Elders saw me they asked if I wanted a blessing and I said yes please.

One of my Zone Leaders, Elder Hendricks gave me the blessing after Elder Owen(who is actually from Granite Bay and I knew him before we came out here!) anointed the oil and once he put his hands on my head and spoke my name I just felt like the pain was leaving my body! It was an amazing blessing and he said in the blessing that the Lord wanted me to know how grateful he was for the work I've done thus far on my mission. And that though the decision was hard, that he was grateful for my decision to serve a mission.(which was something that I had been searching for as an answer to prayer) I was promised in the blessing that my arm would be healed and that I would not be stopped in doing the Lords work. I was promised some other pretty amazing things as well! I just LOVE the priesthood! Once he closed I stood up and after not being able to move my arm at all the entire morning I was able to move it around! The pain wasn't entirely gone but the pain was bearable now and I was just excited to get back to work! My biggest fear was that I would have to go to the doctor and take time away from Proselyting which I didn't want to do. 

But that night we called Sister Anderson and she told us to go to the store and to get some Benadryl to take. And after going to a few pharmacies in town only to find that they were closed due to power outage because of the storm still we went to the local grocery store. And so before we went in I wrote out a certain number of pass along cards that I was determined to give away while in the store! While we were there I remembered how there was a woman that we met briefly at the CVS that I really wished that I had talked to but i didn't. But as we were walking through the store there she was! She came and said hello and we talked to her a little bit about what missionaries do and quickly gave her a card as she left. It was a miracle!! Sister Jolley said "I was totally praying that we would see her again so we could talk to her!" And of course the lord is mindful and gave us a second chance! 

Also! While we were still in the store I still had a few pass along cards left to hand out and so we began walking down the isle with all of the waters and Gatorade etc...I saw a worker organizing the merchandise and as we were walking past him without even realizing what I was doing I quickly turned around to him and said "Hi! Can we help you organize the gatorades?! I only have one good arm but she has two!" Haha SO random! After I said it my first thought to myself was "you weirdo you totally just made him feel uncomfortable!" But he just laughed and said "yeah if you really want to." And so we started helping him! He was a young teenaged boy and he said his name was Rizin (rise-in) and I just started talking to him like he was my buddy! Haha. While we were talking I told him we were volunteers for our church and I started talking to him about the gospel he talked about how he goes to church and we just had good conversation. We gave him a card and committed him to watch the Because He Lives video and we told him we would follow up with him on it. I made him promise me that he would go and watch it and he said "Yes I promise." It was a Miracle!! And then by the end I still had one more card left and I practically just chucked the last one at a guy from a distance haha. But we accomplished our goal and we still did missionary work in the store and we got a new potential investigator! I'll keep you posted on Rizin because he is awesome!

And then a few days later and now my arm is completely back to normal! I don't know what it was but the power of the Priesthood is real! I have a firm testimony of that. And now I would just like to mention a few things I learned in church yesterday. Yesterday in church we focused A LOT on the sacred nature of marriage and family, for reasons that obviously everyone knows. And oh my, other than the Atonement of my Savior Jesus Christ, Eternal Marriage and Eternal Families is what I have always been most passionate about. If anyone really knows me then you know just how excited I get when I think of my family, the one I have now and the one that I have yet to come. And it is part of the very foundation of my testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I KNOW that families are ordained of God and I KNOW that marriage between a man and a woman most essential and sacred of things ever to be upon this earth for the eternal happiness for the children of God. I could honestly go on and on and on about this subject because I love it so much but I will just share a few things that I have truly learned and that have struck me with such great power. In this most recent General Conference Elder Christofferson said in his talk, 

"A family built on the marriage of a man and woman supplies the best setting for God’s plan to thrive--the setting for the birth of children, who come in purity and innocence from God, and the environment for the learning and preparation they will need for a successful mortal life and eternal life in the world to come. A critical mass of families built on such marriages is vital for societies to survive and flourish. That is why communities and nations generally have encouraged and protected marriage and the family as privileged institutions. It has never been just about the love and happiness of adults." 

I love that. Not only is that just coming from an apostle of God but I feel the spirit each time I read it, and therefore I know it is truth. Particularly the last sentence. Marriage has never just been about two people just being happy together. It essential for society as a whole to flourish. And most importantly for Gods plan to be fulfilled.

Something I have come to realize on my mission is that as I have been set apart as a missionary I feel it. Now let me explain, I've noticed that before I was a missionary I would be totally fine with just staying in my sweats at home and watching a movie or two on any given day... But as a missionary I know what my purpose is, and I do not like to waste time. In fact I'm afraid of it! Haha. I've truly felt that if I am not doing something to fulfill my purpose then I don't feel good. I don't feel fulfilled or satisfied. And so it goes with our purpose and sons and daughters, men and women of God in the sacred roles that we play in that of Gods eternal plan. 

 I also read Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk from conference about Marriage and Family. And if you have t read over it I'd encourage you to do so  because it is a powerful. And it is a mans last testimony of what matter most in time and eternity. He said this in his talk, 

"We also believe that strong traditional families are not only the basic units of a stable society, a stable economy, and a stable culture of values--but that they are also the basic units of eternity and of the kingdom and government of God...

We want our voice to be heard against all of the counterfeit and alternative lifestyles that try to replace the family organization that God Himself established. We also want our voice to be heard in sustaining the joy and fulfillment that traditional families bring. We must continue to project that voice throughout the world in declaring why marriage and family are so important, why marriage and family really do matter, and why they always will.

My brothers and sisters, the restored gospel centers on marriage and family. It is also on marriage and family where we can unite most with other faiths. It is around marriage and family where we will find our greatest commonality with the rest of the world. It is around marriage and family that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the greatest opportunity to be a light on the hill." 

I know it's lengthy but what I learned from that is this...We will not quit. We will not give up. We will defend this most sacred and eternal gift of family that God himself has established for the eternal happiness of his children. And so like many in the world today and along with the Prophet and Apostles themselves, I will willing give my name to the world as one who will stand up in defense of eternal marriage and family as the sacred God-given gifts that they are. 

Some people who read this could be thinking "Whoa, Sister Callaway that's a little bold." And yeah I very well know it is. But here's something else I've learned as a missionary...Nothing short of boldness is going to get anyone's attention. Especially in the world today. I've often been told that I am a "people pleaser" I don't like to hurt anyone or offend anyone and yes that title might've been true of me 5 months ago but not anymore. And though I still have a LONG ways to go I've learned that I have to be bold as a missionary but not overbearing. Over-bearence is boldness without love, we've often been told that as missionaries. But as bold as you can be if you are filled with charity or the pure love of Christ then nothing can be too hard for anyone to hear. I am not ashamed of the gospel. I know it is the absolute truth. And though hard it may be, my simple desire is to share this gift with others who are prepared to hear it. I hope and pray and with all the energy of my soul I invite everyone to stand up for the gospel boldly. To defend and protect our families for they are most sacred and bring the most eternal joy and happiness. As Elder Jeffery R Holland said 

"Now be strong. Live the Gospel. Even if, others around you don't live it at all...Defend your beliefs with courtesy and compassion but defend them." 

I bear my firm testimony that Jesus Christ is our loving Savior and Redeemer. His arms are always outstretched to us. And I know that the marriage and family is ordained of God I have felt the spirit confirm this to me over and over and over again each time it is discussed. And I love my mom dad sisters and brothers more than I will ever be able to begin to describe. And how grateful I am that my whole family will soon be sealed for time and all eternity in Gods house. And how excited I am for the day when I will have an eternal family of my own. I know the gospel is true, and I pray everyday that we will have the courage and strength to defend it. 

I love you all more than you will ever know!! Until next week! 
~Sister Amy Callaway~

And a few pictures of Sister Jolley and I being weird and a total fail at taking a picture and also a picture of the Tornado!!!

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