Week 25: HAPPY NEW YEAR

Top o’ the mornin’ to ya! (I just really have always wanted to say that even though it’s afternoon)

This week was super fantastic! Mostly because it was Christmas and I got to Skype my family! That was by far the best Christmas present! But I’ll get to that later.

Something I forgot to mention last week was that we visited the Baptist church on the 22nd for their Christmas program. Boy oh boy was that ever AWESOME! They had a bell choir, a voice choir and a band and a pianist who has her master’s degree in performance. WOWZERS! Besides that wow factor, I loved the music itself and I was VERY happy that we were able to visit another church. Some people seem to think you can’t feel the Spirit when you go to other churches, but the scriptures say that if there are two or three gathered in His name, He will be there. And if truth is being taught, the Spirit is going to manifest it to you. For me, it most often happens through music and the Christmas carols are great for bringing the Spirit. I love that. 🙂 

Over the last couple of weeks, the more I’ve improved, the more I can recognize the Spirit letting me know what I should or shouldn’t be doing. It’s interesting to feel that and see that there are things that are good, better or best. I’m really working to always do the best things. I’m only human, so it’s difficult, but when I actually buckle down and do it, I feel so good and I can feel Heavenly Father’s love and strength so much more. There’s a pretty obvious difference when choosing between good and best. Amazing how that works, eh?

Something else I’ve recognized over the last few weeks is how important it is to gain relationships with the members of the ward where I’m serving. Previously, we’ve really focused on making sure we taught the investigators what they need to know, how to feel, etc etc. We’ve focused on picking up new investigators when we drop others. We’ve focused almost completely on the investigators needs. But we’ve neglected really getting to know the ward. We got to know a few of them pretty well, but it wasn’t until recently that we’ve really been going out of our way to visit them and see what the members need. We can’t do this work on our own, either the members or the full-time missionaries. If we take the time to get to know each other and actually work together, this work, the LORD’S work, is going to go a LOT faster. He’s prepared the way – you can see it from all the changes that have happened within the church and from all the conference addresses that the general authorities have given. He wants this work to MOVE. It’s not going to move if we don’t do anything about it and actually DO what He wants and NEEDS us to do. It can be scary to talk to your friends about the Gospel. But that’s not the only part of missionary work. Doing missionary work doesn’t have to mean inviting your friends to be baptized. It can be a simple thing: Posting on Facebook. Sharing a brief, two sentence spiritual thought. Sending them an uplifting text. Being an example. It’s really the best way to START being a missionary. Once you get comfortable with that, push your comfort zone a teeny bit farther. Study the scriptures and learn to LISTEN to what the Spirit is guiding you to say and do. Put your trust in the Lord because He really does know what He’s doing. 🙂 

Okay, so I’m sure you’ve heard over and over again that bearing your testimony really strengthens your faith. If you’re anything like I was, you’ll be saying something like: “Yeah yeah. I know. That’s cool. :P” Well. Let me tell you from experience that I’ve now changed that attitude to something more like: “Wow. It really does. I want to do this more often!” Why? Because there were a few times this week when I was just simply bearing my testimony. I didn’t really think of what I was going to say, I just relied on the Lord to give me the words. I didn’t worry about what others would think of my testimony or if it would be strong enough for others to feel the Spirit, I just worried about what the Lord would think. We were talking to a potential and just getting to know him. He doesn’t have a religious background and doesn’t really think too much about whether there’s a God or not. Towards then end, I started to bear my testimony of Jesus Christ and what He’s done for me. I don’t really remember exactly what I said, but the reason I want to bear my testimony more often was because of his reaction. While we were just talking to him and getting to know him, he shifted his eyes and his feet all around. He was really nice and didn’t mind talking to us, but he didn’t seem SUPER interested. As soon as I started to bear my testimony, the shifting stopped and he just looked at me as I spoke. I could tell he was listening and when I finished, he quietly said, “Wow. I think that could be something I might be interested in.” There is no doubt in my mind that the Spirit was there and that he felt it. He may not have know what it was that he felt, but he recognized SOMETHING. This experience not only planted a tiny seed of faith, but it strengthened my faith and my testimony that Jesus Christ IS my Savior. He died for me so that I could live again. It also strengthened my faith in Heavenly Father, that He really is here for each of us in our times of need. He’s watching out for us and He sends us help when we need it. I also came to know even more that the Spirit is powerful. All you really need to do missionary work is your simple and sincere testimony and let the Spirit do the rest. It truly is amazing the miracles the Lord brings to us. 🙂

This morning while getting ready, I was listening to the Especially For Youth 2006 CD. There are three songs on that album that I absolutely love. And though it might seem like it at first, if you think about the words, they apply to each and every one of us. Look up the songs “All Times, All Things, All Places”, “Prove Me” and “Live Like You Believe”. Woo boy! I love them! Those songs really motivate me and help me to want more than ever to have the strength and the faith that I need to be who Heavenly Father needs me to be. 

I’ve also been thinking a lot about personal study. As a full-time missionary, we only get an hour of personal study each day. I know that’s quite a bit more than most of you get with going to school and work and taking care of your families, but I treasure it. Some days more than others, but I treasure that precious time with the Lord. I also start and end with a prayer and I pray throughout it. I hope each of you does that as you study the Lord’s words so that you can come to understand the principles and commandments in a way that helps you be able to apply them as you go through each day.

The last thing I wanted to talk about today was family. I had an hour to Skype with them on Christmas. I treasured that hour and still do. It was the most wonderful Christmas gift I could ever have and I’ll always hold that time dear. After being away from my family for almost seven months only being able to communicate with them once a week, I’ve come to realize just how precious they are to me. Growing up, we didn’t often have family home evening, but we made it a point to try our hardest to have family dinner. As we got older, it became harder and harder, but I’m grateful for each moment we’ve had together. This Christmas, we had the best family home evening ever. My family waited all day so that we could open our gifts together (I was shocked to see a new flat screen TV in the living room). We talked and enjoyed the time together and as it came to the end of the hour, I pulled out my scriptures and shared a verse with them, then bore my testimony of how important this is to me and how wonderful it is that we have a Savior to help us. They each agreed to try to study the scriptures more (which they better be doing). And just before hanging up, I said a prayer with them. It was the most inspiring prayer I’ve ever said and it was a wonderful feeling to know that I was praying with and for my family. I felt the Lord’s love for each of us and I have no doubt that He was there as I spoke the words I know He wanted me to say. Even though it wasn’t often that we did it, I have a testimony that having family home evening every week and taking the time to pray together each night brings the Spirit to our homes. If we take even five minutes to get together, the Lord will strengthen us and bring us closer together as a family unit. I challenge each of you to take the time in your families (roommates or whoever you live with) to hold family home evening once a week and have family prayer at least once each day (not including meals). I know it will be difficult with busy schedules and other time commitments, but if you make time for the Lord, He will surely pour down the blessings on you and your homes. 
I love the Gospel and the many blessings and miracles that I get to see and be a part of each day. I love the Lord and His love for me. I know He is here and I know that He strengthens me every day of my life. 

Have a wonderful week and don’t forget to LISTEN! 🙂

Love,
Sister Mayle

 

 

MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! (And week 24)

Merry Merry Christmas everyone!!! 🙂

The holidays are upon us! People are giving us things like CRAZY! And it is AWESOME! I love being a missionary for two reasons: We’re serving the Lord and also, the ward members love us! I hope it’s like this when I go home *cough cough hint hint to the Severance ward 😉 * I’m just kidding. 😀 Those aren’t the only reasons I love it. It’s just that every day is awesome, even when you’re exhausted and nothing is going right. That’s when you stop and think and take time to see the blessings throughout the day that you wouldn’t have seen/looked for if you’d had everything go right. It’s great! 🙂

Last week we had Zone Interviews/Meeting. Which means we got to have an interview with the mission president. Wow. President Stoker is so amazing. I absolutely love him and his wife and I’m so glad and extremely blessed to know them and be able to work with them! He truly cares about each of the missionaries in the mission and you can see it in his face and the way he talks with you. He and Sister Stoker got each of us a temple recommend holder that has the third verse of Called to Serve printed inside it with the Boston Temple in the background and on the front is a picture of the Joseph Smith Memorial with the mission name on it. That was awesome! 

Zone Meeting was wonderful! I got so much out of it! It was about obedience and how when we’re disobedient, it’s because we’re distracted, then we try to justify things and make it okay when really, it’s not. It was a really interesting lesson and I loved it! 

Oh! Before I forget: Ray. He’s the SWEETEST man ever! To refresh your memory: We’ve been teaching him for six or so months. He’s a slow learner, but he’s progressing SO much and he’s understanding everything we teach him. He asks questions if he doesn’t get it and he has such a desire to learn and understand! This week, we taught him about baptism and the Holy Ghost. He understood it really well and we committed him to work towards a baptismal date of February 1, 2014!!!! HUZZAH!!!! And it’s totally going to happen because he really wants to do it. And he believes this is the Lord’s church and that the Book of Mormon is true. Oh man! I’m so happy and excited and extremely grateful to the Lord for His blessings! 🙂 That’s our most wonderful news for the week!

We also had a great experience with Cheryl Bastarache. We talked about the Book of Mormon and praying about it. She is truly doing this to know if it’s the Lord’s word or not. She’s so sincere and it’s wonderful! She came to church yesterday, too (AWESOME) and shared with us that’s really searching for the answer because she did pray and she wants to know. The Sunday School lesson was PERFECT for her, too. Isn’t it amazing how much the Lord watches out for each of us? I love it!
This week we did a lot of bonding and building trust with the members. We had so much fun with Sister Hutchinson, the Ladieu’s and the Melby’s. Sister Hutchinson and the Ladieu’s… Boy oh boy! We had a TON of laughs and really got to know each other. It was wonderful! 🙂 I love both of those families! And the Melby’s. We went caroling with them last night and threw a few snowballs. I LOVE snowball fights (it wasn’t really a fight) and I love to go caroling and see all the wonderful smiles that it brings to people’s faces. It warmed my heart and was really just an amazing experience. 🙂
My studies this week have been really good. I love to study the scriptures and all the other materials we’ve been given! I decided that I want to be a “Preach My Gospel” missionary – meaning I basically know PMG REALLY well and use it in my teaching and the rest of my life. So I started at the beginning last week. I’m really trying to use a study journal more so that I can really get a lot more out of my studies. I’m also taking the time to answer the questions and really study the scriptures that are given and ponder them. So I’ve been working on Chapter 1 (page 1) for the last few days. It’s going to take me a LONG time to get through the whole book, but when I do, it’s going to really cool to look back and see all the progress I’ve made. I want each of you to start using a study journal if you don’t already. Really stop and think about what you’re reading. Ask yourself questions to try to apply it in your life. Then, as you go about the day, actually apply it! If the Spirit tells you to, share one thing that you really enjoyed about your studies with your spouse, with a friend, on Facebook, wherever. But share one thing with someone. Even if it’s short and is something as simple as “Wow. The Lord really is amazing, isn’t He?” That could spark an entire conversation, or it may not. Whatever you choose to share, do your best to go by the Spirit. Blessings and miracles will come as you strive more and more to do as the Savior has done. 🙂
I hope you all are still thinking of three things you’d like to give the Savior for Christmas! I’ll tell you mine next week (if I remember) and I want you all to let me know yours, too!
I sure hope you each have a very Merry Christmas and a wonderful WONDERFUL week! Love you all!
Love,
Sister Mayle

Week 23: MORE SNOW!

Hello everyone!

Well first off, let me tell you the big news. And those of you who know me, MIGHT be able to guess how excited I was about this. All this last week we were hearing about a horrible storm that was coming our way and would hit on Saturday. All of Saturday it was cloudy and didn’t even seem like it was going to start snowing at all. Around 6:00 it started BARELY to shimmer down. It was a pretty dry snow and there was about an inch by the time we got home. We went to bed with it still softly snowing. We wake up in the morning. Even though it was Sunday, we had to do some exercise and shovel out the car that was buried under a little more than a foot of snow!!!!! YIPPEE!!!!!!! I have pictures, but sadly, I didn’t bring my cord to hook it up to the computer so I could send them. 😛 Let me tell ya. If this is how winter is always out here, I might just have to be a backwards snowbird!

So besides that, there’s not too much to tell. I do have to say, though, that the Tinker’s are awesome. They’re an older couple and every time we meet with them, we have such a wonderful spiritual conversation. I absolutely love talking with them! We shared the Christmas story with them from Luke 2, then went over to Alma 7:10-13 and talked about why Christ’s birth is something to celebrate. We’d already asked a few people that question and most of them had just looked at us like we’d just asked the dumbest question they’d ever heard. The reason I love the Tinker’s so much: They seriously considered that question (and every one that we ask) and sincerely answer it. That’s why they make it spiritual. Because they take the time to think about it. The simple questions are the ones that often provoke the most thought. Another reason I love them: Sister Tinker is a wonderful fellowshipper. She calls our investigators to invite them to church, to see if they need anything. Brother Tinker is always willing to take them to church or do what he can to help. It’s great! 

Oh man! I almost forgot the coolest thing! Sister Goulet is another sweet fellowshipper. She’s brought us four of our investigators! This last week, she was driving along and saw someone hitch-hiking. She passes them, turns around a few minutes later and picks her up. Sister Goulet tells this woman (CJ) all about us and asks if she’d like a missionary visit. She says yes! So we get a new investigator named CJ this week. Who wants to get baptized. AWESOME! 

This week at District Meeting, we were told that President Stoker is wanting us to try to do a family home evening every night (not just Mondays) now. Wow. It’s hard to know how we’re going to fit that in, especially with our mileage limitation and the amount of time we already spend teaching investigators. We’ve had to add an extra day of going out to Franklin/Tilton to see everyone! BUT! I know that we’ll be extremely blessed and continue to see miracles each day as we do as the mission president has asked. I think we’ll see the work move forward even faster as we work with the members, getting to know them, and helping them feel comfortable with doing their own missionary work. It’s going to be GREAT! 🙂

There wasn’t too much that stuck out to me during my studies this week. All of it was great! So I’ll just share one verse that I really love. It’s Mosiah 7:33, which says: “But if ye will turn to the Lord with full purpose of heart, and put your trust in him, and serve him with all diligence of mind, if ye do this, he will, according to his own will and pleasure, deliver you out of bondage.” I’ve seen this happen to me in my work as a missionary. Sometimes it’s difficult to stay focused, but if I remember to be diligent and serve with all my heart, it becomes easier to do what I have to do and to teach by the Spirit. And I know that He will help each of you in your trials, in your times of need, whatever it is that you need, if you turn to Him, trust in Him, serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, He will lift you up and bless you immensely. So this week, I’d like for you to take the time to study the scriptures and think about what help you need. Put your trust in the Lord, ask Him for help. Then be patient as you continue to study and wait for His help. It will come in His own time. 

I hope all of you have a wonderful week and enjoy life! Remember the reason for the season, and don’t forget to think of three things you’d like to give the Savior for Christmas! 🙂

I love each of you!

Love,
Sister Mayle

Week 22: Canterbury Tales CONTINUE!

Hello everyone!!!!

So the big news first: Transfer calls came on Saturday night. Sister Buxton and I were expecting it since we’ve both been here the same amount of time (about 6 months) and it was just a toss-up of who would be the one being transferred. Well… Sadly, Sister Buxton is being transferred, but I will be staying in Canterbury for my fifth transfer! YAY! It’s definitely bittersweet because I’ve learned so much from her and we’ve done so much together. But I also am 6 months old (WHAT?!?!?) and don’t know anything else so it’ll be interesting to work with another sister. I’m kind of excited, but also a teensy bit nervous. It’s going to be fantastic though. I’m happy that I’m staying in the ward for Christmas! This ward is SUPER wonderful and loving and it’s great. 
Speaking of the ward: We had a fantastic Thanksgiving. We had the big dinner for lunch at the Knowlton’s. Man, that family is FABULOUS!!!!! My family isn’t quite that crazy, but I still felt completely at home. It was a really good/fun experience. 🙂 The rest of our appointments were with a few other members and we ate pie at all of them. Apple Pie, Pecan pie, Chocolate Mousse pie, Pumpkin pie, TASTY PIES…. The cool thing about that day was that Sister Buxton and I both decided to only say things that we’re thankful for in our prayers. It was weird not to ask for anything, especially when we prayed at the member’s houses, but it was good because it really made me think more about how grateful I am for those things that I ask for, like the Spirit to guide us. It was definitely a day full of thanks. 

Sister Buxton and I had some AMAZING experiences with studies and with investigators this week. We were studying chapter four of Preach My Gospel this week (again), which is all about how to listen to the Spirit. Holy cow. We learned some sweet SWEET truths from it! First of all: The Bible Dictionary is pretty wicked awesome. I’m definitely reading and studying that when I’m home and have more time to do it. Check out “Light of Christ” “Holy Ghost” and “Spirit” in the Bible Dictionary. Read it. Be sure you’re focused. Let the Spirit guide your thoughts. It is SO cool! And second: If you have the chance, study with someone. Read it aloud. Take the time to stop and think, write your thoughts. Because you can get so much more out of it than just reading through something. That’s something I’ve really come to know on my mission. And it’s a great help for studying and actually retaining the information.
On Friday night we did something fabulous. We went to the live nativity at the Joseph Smith Birthplace Memorial with two of our investigators. We’re only allowed to go if we bring investigators or less-actives, especially since it’s an hour and a half away from here (it’s in Vermont). Oh man. SUCH a great experience! We got there just in time for the nativity story. It was funny because Sister Buxton and I had told them there would be lots of Christmas lights and the live nativity and it was going to be really cool (I’m sorry I don’t have a wide vocabulary and always use cool, awesome, amazing and wonderful). When we drove onto the site, there weren’t very many lights. We parked at the church parking lot and walked up to the memorial (there was SNOW!!!!!), which was super cold. There aren’t really any lights, except those shining on the nativity scene. Sister Buxton and I are both like “Umm. This is it? I sure hope not!” Especially since both of us know how lit up Temple Square is at Christmas-time. Those are the kind of lights we were expecting. So the nativity goes on and takes 5-10 minutes. Then all of a sudden, the lights all come on. WOW. It was BEAUTIFUL! Especially with all the snow! I did take pictures, but I forgot my cord to plug into the computer today, so I’ll be sure to remember it for next week. I was able to see some of the sisters that I met back in March when we did a bowling night with about 20 of the sisters that would be coming to this mission. That was really good. 🙂 Also, there’s a pedigree (family history) chart. A few of the Presidents of America are related to Joseph Smith (Bush and Nixon I think are a couple). So is Winston Churchill. THAT was fascinating. I’m learning to love geneology even though I haven’t been able to do any of it on my mission. Definitely making that a priority when I go home. 🙂

I’m continuing to learn how to listen to the Spirit and act on the promptings I receive and I think I can say that I’m seeing some improvement! It’s getting easier and easier to recognize and it really helps the lessons that we have. I am SO glad we can have the Spirit to guide us. 

Saturday was the best because of a couple of those experiences. In the morning, we were trying to figure out who we should bring to Ray’s lesson because the person we wanted wasn’t able to come. Oh man… I said the first person that came to mind and as soon as the name came out of my mouth, I was like “Wait, what? That’s weird.” I didn’t really question it though, and neither did Sister Buxton. So we called the lady and asked her if she was busy at 3.30. “Well, I don’t have to be. What’s up?” As soon as we got off the phone with her, Sister Buxton and I just looked at each other and were like “Completely inspired.” Such an AWESOME experience! Ray’s lesson turned out to be the best one we’ve ever had with him! Sister Cerafici (the one that came with us) is the most amazing woman. She has never met a stranger – everyone she meets, it’s like she’s known them her whole life. So that was fantastic. Then, Ray pretty much taught us about Joseph Smith and the First Vision, compared himself to Joseph Smith and said that he really wants to know if this church is God’s church! SO GOOD!!!! 

We had another lesson that day with a woman named Mary. It was great because Sister Buxton and I both felt that we followed the Spirit on what we said and shared with her. But it wasn’t great because she’s already made up her mind about the Book of Mormon – she doesn’t need it because she has the Bible. If the Book of Mormon just says everything the Bible says, why do we need it? We tried to explain to her that it clarifies the things in the Bible (the Bible has been translated SO many times and the Book of Mormon has only been translated once, which means that there are a lot of truths that are missing from the Bible because of time – remember though, the Bible is the word of God and DOES contain the fulness of the Gospel). The Book of Mormon is ANOTHER testament of Jesus Christ – who doesn’t want more of His word? And also, the Book of Mormon is a record from a people living half-way across the world from the people in Jerusalem. They were written at the same time. God reveals his word to everyone, and His word is the same because He is unchanging. We need both the Bible and the Book of Mormon because they work together. They teach together. Same reason we go in two’s or three’s as missionaries: The law of witnesses – there has to be two or more witnesses for it to be validated. 

I can tell you that it’s such a blessing to have the Book of Mormon AND the Bible together. Both were written by prophets and both testify of Christ. There are things in the Book of Mormon that aren’t in the Bible because the translations aren’t perfect – people have changed it or taken things out both on accident and on purpose. The Book of Mormon clears up things that are a little confusing in the Bible. There are no contradictions between the two. I love both books so much and I know that they are BOTH the word of God. Prophets wrote those words. We’re to study the words of the prophets. I’ll study them both. I encourage each of you to study both of them, too.

There’s a Mormon Message video called “Testimony of the Book of Mormon” by Elder Holland. It’s powerful and I love it. I’d like for you to look that up, watch it, and continue (or start) your study of the Book of Mormon. If you have any hesitations about starting it, take the time to pray and ask Heavenly Father if this book is something He wants you to read. Once you begin reading, pray each time, before and after. Ask Him to show you what you need to know (maybe why the Book of Mormon is important?). Tell Him your worries about it, if you have any, or even just your worries about every day life. After, pray and ask Him to confirm the truth of what you read. I know without a doubt that if you do this, you will receive a witness from the Spirit that the words of the Book of Mormon are truly from God. That they were written by inspired prophets. And I know that if you really try to understand and apply in your own life what you read, you will receive so many wonderful blessings, even more than you already have. Some things in life will get easier. The answers to the decisions you have to make will become clear. All you have to do is have faith, read, and pray. If you do this, I know you’ll find whatever it is you’re looking for. Heavenly Father loves His children. He gave us the tools we need to know what we’re supposed to do. We have to use them. 

I hope each of you has a wonderful week full of laughter and joy. Enjoy the time you have with family and friends. Love the Lord. 🙂

Love,

Sister Mayle