Monday, December 28, 2015

A week full of growth

This past week has been interesting, Christmas is a weird time to be a missionary (especially in a college town) because everyone leaves for the holidays. Sometimes they forget to tell us until we show up to an appointment and they aren't there :) On the other hand, Christmas is possibly the best time to be a missionary because so many people are thinking about Christ and they are more open to our message. Especially when we go caroling. Sister Workman and I have gone caroling at least 3 times in the past week, and it is so wonderful to see how excited people get! We found a family, Will & Stevie and their son,  last week through caroling and they are really receptive to the gospel! They went out of town so we weren't able to meet with them this past week but we have an appointment tomorrow. They are so open to hearing more about Christ and they already have really strong faith and they are trying to come closer to Christ. We love them already and are so excited to teach them again. Christmas is surreal here in the South, it is so warm! We go running in the mornings and I have been wearing shorts because it is warm enough. At 6:30 am. In December. It is a lot different than Seattle or Rexburg, that's for sure :)

I am always surprised at how varied people's religious beliefs are here. On Tuesday we had a lesson with a Muslim woman from Egypt. It was interesting to talk about her beliefs and to see how different they are from ours. While tracting yesterday, we ran into a man who is a practicing Buddhist, which is kind of unusual to find here in the South. One of the members of the ward is meeting with Jehovah's Witnesses as a way to find out what they believe and to strengthen her own testimony. I was confused by that at first, but she explained that talking to them has helped her to understand how to be a better missionary (partly through seeing what doesn't work) and that learning about another belief has caused her to really think about her own testimony and why she believes the things she does and how she knows that this Church is the true church. I think it would be very interesting and informative to learn more about other religions and to compare that to what I believe. I wish I could have learned more about other religions before coming out, there are times where I don't know what beliefs certain religions have and that can make it harder to relate.

I love seeing the ways that the Holy Ghost touches people and softens their hearts. Eric, our French investigator, expressed a desire to come to church to see what it's like and experience it for himself. We hadn't really mentioned coming to church very much, since we are trying to figure out a way to get him and his family (there are 7 of them, and 3 kids in car seats) to church and how we would get translators for all of them. It was really powerful to see how strong his faith is and that his desire to come to church outweighs any concern about the language or transportation issues. Amanda, the investigator who ordered a Bible "because she wants to be Mormon", was out of town this weekend to visit family. She texted us yesterday morning saying that she missed going to church with us and that she would have loved to have found the church earlier in life so that her older boys could have been raised in the church. Iris, the grandmother of our 9-year old investigator is softening to us a lot. She is participating more in our lessons and is more open to the idea of coming to church. 

Before I came out, I didn't expect to do much tracting. I knew that it happened a lot, but I also heard that people are moving away from it as much as they can because it isn't always the most effective use of time. My mission president believes otherwise. He believes very strongly in tracting and the opportunities it brings. I am realizing that he is right, we have found some incredible people through tracting. The Lord really does guide us to people He has prepared. One of our appointments fell through on Saturday so we tracted around the apartment complex. There were still a lot of people gone, but we were able to find a couple people who listened to us and we have appointments to teach them again later this week. 

I am also gaining a stronger testimony of referrals. We have had so many investigators come from referrals! Most often media referrals, when they request materials from the church, but not always. Referrals create such a great opportunity to share the gospel. Please give referrals to missionaries, they are so helpful! We were able to find someone this week through a referral who turned out to actually be a member! Darlene had requested a Bible and a Book of Mormon online and we went to deliver them and teach her the Restoration. She had met with missionaries years ago but lost contact when she moved. We taught her and she was really open to our message. I got to invite her to be baptized at the end of the lesson and she told us she had already been baptized. When we asked what church, we expected her to say the Baptist church. Nope! She had actually been baptized into our church! We got her records transferred into our ward and we are going to keep teaching her family so that they can all get baptized, since she is the only member. It is wonderful to see how aware Heavenly Father is of each of us and our needs, no one is ever lost to Him. 

I love being a missionary! I get to see firsthand just how much Heavenly Father loves each of His children and how much He wants to bless them. Having this opportunity to serve in this way is incredibly humbling. Every day I recognize things that I need to improve on and that I can do better. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father loves me enough to correct me! The Atonement is so wonderful and I love that I can repent every day and become a little better than I was the day before. I have learned that if you ask God what you need to do to improve, He will answer you so before you ask, make sure you are ready to change :)

I love y'all! Happy New Year! As you make your resolutions, be sure to think about the Atonement. That is what allows us to change and become better, in every aspect of our lives. This time of year is a great chance to reflect on Christ's life and to review our own and to commit to become more like Him in the future. 

Sister Pyper

Monday, December 21, 2015

A week full of miracles

Well, I made it! My new address is 710 S Lasalle Street Apt R Durham, NC 27705. My trainer is Sister Workman and she is wonderful! I am learning so much from her. She is super cheerful and very good at explaining things. This is her first time training so it is a learning experience for both of us. We get along really well and she is a great example to me of the kind of missionary I want to be. 

This area and ward are amazing! People here are SO open to talking about Jesus, which is very different than back home :) The ward has a lot of Duke students, so lots of young families. They are all so missionary oriented and always happy to help! We have had dinner a member's homes at least 3 times and often have members come with us to teach lessons. PLEASE go out with missionaries if you can (especially if they need someone because of gender)! It is so helpful!

 We have a couple of incredible investigators who I claim no responsibility for, they were golden before I arrived. One of them, A, ordered a Bible online from When Sister Workman and her previous companion went to deliver it, they asked her why she had ordered one. She said it was because she wants to become Mormon!!! Her aunt is a member and she has seen the blessings that come and she wants that in her own life. She keeps her commitments and she just came to church yesterday. She is in the process of turning her life around and making the changes she needs to be baptized. She is going to be moving soon, which is great because her living situation is not that great. I am so glad for her! Unfortunately the place she is moving to is out of our boundaries :(

We found another incredible investigator, C,  on Friday. Sister Workman and her previous companion had put a #ASaviorIsBorn card on her door with their phone number, and she actually called them! That never happens! We taught her the Restoration and halfway through she called her husband in to listen to us too! She told us she had met with missionaries years ago and actually still has the Book of Mormon they gave her {which was a miracle because we had run out. Apparently we give too many away :)} and is very interested to learn more about Christ and our church. She has a very strong belief in God and His words. Near the end of the lesson, Sister Workman told them that we had an invitation for them and turned to me. I knew what that meant: I got to ask them to be baptized. That was one of the most stressful moments so far. First lesson with these people, in the field for less than a week and I am inviting them to be baptized. Well, C said yes! We may have to work on her understanding of baptism a bit though. She said she had been baptized into a church (presumably Baptist) but had spent so long "full of devilry" that she should probably get baptized again :) It was an incredible experience to be able to invite someone to take that essential step to come closer to Christ and have them accept! I know that the Lord prepares people to hear His gospel and will place them in our path if we do what He has asked us to do. 

This past week has strengthened my testimony of bearing testimony. Everyone always says that your testimony comes in the bearing of it. It is so true! I have found that as I testify of the things I believe to be true that I come to know with more certainty that what I am saying is true. I had the opportunity to recite part of Joseph Smith's account of the First Vision as we taught the Restoration. As I spoke, I felt the power of his words and knew without a doubt that it actually happened and that God and Jesus Christ actually appeared to him and spoke to him. I am so grateful for this chance I have to bear my witness of this gospel and its truthfulness. 

My invitation for this week (mission habits come quickly :) ) is to bear your testimony. In church, to a friend, on FB, however you can. I promise that as you tell someone about the things you know that the Spirit will witness to you that what you say you know is true. 

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Welcome to the MTC!

That is what I heard about 100+ times my first 12 hours. New missionaries have an orange dot on their name tags so they are instantly recognized and everyone welcomes you to the MTC. It got a little old, but I loved feeling like everyone was excited to see new missionaries. When I got dropped off at the MTC, I was met by a 'host' sister and she took me to get what I needed and show me where I was going. While she watched my luggage, I picked up my name tag, got checked in, and followed the rest of the crowd. We went to drop my luggage off in my residence hall and then found my classroom. Both are on the top floor of their building so I will have great calves by the time I leave :) 

We had some time to get to know our district before it was time for dinner. There are four elders and four sisters in my district. The elder are going to Richmond Virginia and all of the sister are going to Raleigh. My companion's name is Sister Paynter and she is wonderful! I joke that they put us together because our names are similar. She is really sweet and has a very strong testimony and an incredible desire to serve a mission. As we ate dinner we discovered that we have a lot in common. We are both 'older' for sister missionaries and have studied elementary education in college. She also never really thought about serving a mission but felt impressed that it was what Heavenly Father wanted her to do. Her obedience and dedication are inspiring to me and I am so grateful to be able to be her companion, even for just 12 days. 

I love being here! I know that this is where I am supposed to be and that I need this experience. I am learning so much more than I thought possible and I am also being very humbled to realize how little I actually know. My afternoon classroom teacher is incredible. She is always asking us why we do the things we do or why things are the way they are. She makes us think about our testimonies and understanding of the gospel. I have learned so much about the Atonement and Christ and why baptism is so essential in the past two days. My testimony has been strengthened a lot more than I thought possible in such a short time. I have no doubt that Christ is our Savior and that His Atonement is the only way we can be able to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. As we are baptized by proper authority and take upon us Christ's name, we gain full access to His Atonement and we are able to be in the presence of God as we continue to live His gospel and repent. Repentance is not just for sins. Repentance happens every single day as we continue to learn and grow and become more perfect. Repentance occurs when our view of ourselves, of God, and of the world becomes more in tune with God's view. I am so grateful and humbled that Heavenly Father has asked me to be a representative of Jesus Christ for the next 18 months and to share the gospel with others. I have spent much of the past two days being taught about my purpose as a missionary. PMG says "your purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive His gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end' (that might not be the exact quote, I am still working on memorizing it). That is my purpose, but that is not all of it. My purpose is also to love, serve, work, and represent Christ in all I do. 

I know that this gospel is true and that it will bring more peace and happiness than anything else in this world. That is because this gospel is truly led by Heavenly Father and it is the way we can learn how to become like Him so that we can live with Him eternally. 

I love you all

Sister Pyper

Teresa's notes: Lauren actually had written this before the last post, but she typed in my email incorrectly.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Slide Week

Well, I see why this week is called slide week. It has gone by so quickly! I can't believe that I fly out to the field on Monday. I have learned so much in the past week that there is no way it has only been one week. We began teaching investigators, which was more than a little nerve-wracking but I have learned more of how to actually teach. I loved the investigators from the first time we met them and I know that I was feeling Heavenly Father's love for them and that He was helping me to know their needs. 

On Sunday, as a district we watched a talk Elder Bednar gave here at the MTC called The Character of Christ. Don't try to find the video, it is only shown here at the MTC. He did give a similar talk at BYU-I and that is publicly available. I invite you to find it and read it. His message was that Christ's character was completely focused outward and that nothing He did was for Himself. This past week I have been trying to focus more fully on others and their needs, not what I want. I am not serving a mission for myself. I am serving a mission to be obedient to Heavenly Father's will for me. My purpose is to do all I can to help those I teach come to Him and gain a testimony of His gospel. I had been having a rough day earlier this week and we had an appointment with our more challenging investigator that night. I knew that if I went into the lesson feeling sorry for myself that there was no way that I could be guided by the Spirit. I prayed to be able to forget about what I wanted and be able to focus entirely on his needs. As we taught the lesson, I was able to be guided to say what he needed to hear. As I left the lesson I realized that my burdens had been lifted because I had given myself completely to God to be an instrument in His hands to bless the life of someone else. 

We were able to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. I love hearing the words of the prophets and feeling their love! I know that they are truly called by God to lead His church and that they are His chosen messengers for this time. President Uchtdorf's talk reminded me why I want to be serving a mission. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father has trusted me enough to call me to do something so vital. I have been humbled as I continue to learn of my role as a missionary. I am simply a conduit. I do very little actual teaching. My role is to prepare as best I can so that the Spirit is welcome in the lessons and that He is the one who changes people, I am simply the one saying the words. 


Sister Pyper

Sister Pyper and MTC district at Prove Temple

Sister Pyper and companion Sister Paynter

Sunday, November 29, 2015

My mission call

"Dear Sister Pyper,
You are hereby called to serve as a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. You are assigned to labor in the North Carolina Raleigh Mission. It is anticipated that you will serve for a period of 18 months. You should report to the Provo Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, December 2 2015."

I can't put into words how happy I am. There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that this is where I am meant to go and that serving a mission is what I am supposed to do. This gospel means more to me than anything else in the world and I am so excited to have the opportunity to share it with the people of North Carolina. I already feel so much love for them and for my mission and I know it will only grow as I begin to serve. I have never been so sure about anything before. I have been incredibly blessed to have this gospel in my life and I can't wait to share my testimony and love with the people in North Carolina.

I get set apart tomorrow night and then I will officially be a missionary until June 2017. I am so excited to serve The Lord and share His gospel. It has brought so much joy into my life and I know that it will bless the lives of everyone who accepts it. There is nothing I know of that brings more peace and joy into your life. I am grateful beyond words for all the ways Heavenly Father has blessed my life and I know that serving a mission is nowhere near enough to express that gratitude but dedicating my entire life to Him for 18 months will be a start. Thank you to everyone who has supported me in this journey and continues to support me as I begin this next chapter of my life.

All my love,