Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!!!

Well, since the next time I email will be next year (......that is so weird), I wanted to share some of the things I have learned over the past year. 2016 has been a wonderful year. 

1) I think one of the biggest things I have learned/gained a testimony of is that Heavenly Father is completely in charge of this work. He is involved in every single tiny detail of our lives. That has helped me to know that I am put exactly where I am supposed to be, even if I don't understand why at the time. There are a few instances that have really helped me to see this that I want to share with y'all.
a) Meeting Lindsay. Last week, the elders gave us a referral for this single mom that they had tracted into. We went to go see her and share the Christmas video with her and her family. She told us that she had lived in DC a few years ago and that the missionaries had visited them a lot. She had loved the missionaries there and only had good things to say about them. She had been really sick at the time and the missionaries had done a lot of service. She mentioned a few of the missionaries that they had grown especially close to. There was one in particular who she said was a favorite in their family. The name sounded familiar, so I asked a little more and it turns out that it was one of my best friends! I don't really believe in coincidence most of the time, but this has Heavenly Father's hand all over it! Of all of the places for Lindsay and her family to move, it was Durham, just a few blocks from where we live. (Also, we discovered later that the past sisters had also tracted into her months ago.) I am really hoping that this time is the time when Lindsay and her family are ready for the gospel. 
b) Being here for Corinthia and her family. Long story short, Lisa (one of our recent converts) and her daughter Corinthia have been struggling with some family things recently. Corinthia had been in D1 when I was there so I met her a couple times. She lost contact with the church when she moved to Florida and miraculously got back in touch with the missionaries (another long story) when she moved back up here. She remembered me when I came here to D2 and it has been so sweet to see the influence she has had on bringing her family to the gospel. I have no doubt that she was part of the reason why I needed to come back to Durham. Heavenly Father is intimately aware of the tiny details of everyone's life and He is always putting people in the right place, at the right time, to bless His other children. 
c) Not exactly a specific instance, but I know that I have been put with each of my companions for a reason. Sometimes I think that I need to be in a specific area because I need to be with a specific companion. I have learned so much from each of the wonderful women I have been blessed to serve with and I know that I needed each of them at the time we served together. I just hope that I made a difference in their lives like they did in mine. 

2) I have learned so much about my Savior and who He is to me personally. He is the Savior of the world, but He is also my Brother and my friend. I have loved being able to testify of Him and His restored gospel every single day. A while ago, I posted about my studies on Facebook and how I am reading the Book of Mormon and studying Christ's attributes. Every day I learn something new about my Savior. I have about 13 attributes that I am specifically looking for, but I constantly see more examples of people who exemplified the Savior. He lived a perfect life, in all aspects and He set the example for us. I know that I cannot become like Him in this life, but I am able to become a little closer every day. We do not need to only remember Him on December 25 or on Easter. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ and we can keep it with us all year long as we continually learn about him. Long after the trees and lights come down, long after the snow melts (for those of you who get snow), and long after the boxes are empty, Christ will still be the reason for our joy. There is a song that we have been listening to a lot recently that I love. I don't know what it's called but one of the first lines is "Why should men on earth be so sad since our Redeemer made us glad?". I testify that Christ truly is our source of joy and hope. He is the Light of the World and the reason we are able to have happiness. 

3) I have gained a stronger testimony of the priesthood. I have always known that the priesthood was real, but I have gained a deeper appreciation for the blessings I receive because of it. I know that it is the authority to act  in Christ's name to bless God's children. I have been able to see people that I love dearly make covenants with their Heavenly Father through that authority. I have felt the Spirit touch my heart at every single baptism I have attended and I know that that is because it was performed by the proper authority. Baptism is not the only blessing that we have access to because of the restoration of the priesthood. I have received a couple blessings when I was sick and immediately began feeling better. The priesthood is given to comfort, heal, lift, guide and bless each of us. I am so grateful that the Restoration of the gospel brought back this incredible gift. 

One of the sweetest moments of my mission happened this week. It was just a couple seconds, but it has made me think. I went on exchanges with one of the Hermanas (Spanish missionaries) this past week and we were in her area. I spent most of the day having no clue what she was saying, but I felt the Spirit anyway. I think we watched the Christmas video about 5 times that day as we talked to people. There was one family that will always stand out. There were two little girls and they were so sweet. They had been bickering a little when we walked in, but they sat down silently to watch the video. They were right next to each other (the younger one was practically on her sister's lap) and they were absolutely enthralled in the video. Even though I didn't speak their language, I could see the Spirit touching their hearts and I felt how much they loved the Savior. Seeing Him, even just in a video, was more of a priority than anything else. They forget about their argument, their candy, and everything except for the Savior. These two girls, whose names I don't know and who I will probably never see again, taught me what it means to truly love and worship the Savior. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

We match...again!!
Sister Ruske's family has this tradition where they all get matching pajama pants every Christmas Eve. This year, I got included in their family <3

New mugs

One of our recent converts gave us these. Her son had given them to her a couple years ago and she didn't like them. Sister Ruske and I saw them and thought they were hilarious. So now we have more mugs!

New favorite mural

We got lunch with the Hermanas before exchanges this week and this was the artwork. It's kind of hard to see, but it's a firefighter with a blue devil hat (Duke's mascot) putting out the fire on a ram (UNC's mascot). 

Monday, December 19, 2016


MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!!!! By the next time I email, Christmas will have passed. Weird. (Sister Ruske has been telling people 'Merry Christmas' since Thanksgiving. She's so cute <3)

Once again, I have absolutely no idea what to say about this past week. Things have been pretty normal. It still doesn't feel like Christmas, so it is always weird to hear people say they are going out of town for the holidays. It always takes me a second to figure out which holiday they are leaving for :) The weather hasn't helped it feel like Christmas. The past few days were cold, but yesterday was 70 and humid. NC just can't make up it's mind about what it wants to do. 

OH! Something cool that happened this week! We contacted a woman named Betty, who had ordered a Bible online. Full disclosure, sometimes I am not as excited about Bible referrals as I should be. I sometimes think they are only interested in the Bible and won't want us to share anything more with them, but not Betty! She is super sweet and really interested! We were able to teach her about the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong. The member that was with us helped teach and she bore her testimony. I have learned that few things invite the Spirit as much as a sincere testimony. 

We had another Bible referral this week for a man named Alex. He was also interested and wants to keep learning about our beliefs. I think Heavenly Father is trying to teach me to have more faith in Bible referrals :) He is super cool! He is from Nigeria and all of his roommates are from Africa as well. Too bad they don't speak French, if they did I would get to use the awesome members from my first ward again. Oh well, I guess teaching in English is good too :)

We have been working with a less-active woman for the past couple weeks. She has such a sincere desire to come back to church and is working hard to overcome some struggles in her life. We have been reading the Book of Mormon with her and doing service for her. I just love her so much! She is one of the sweetest women I have met. She has gone through a lot in her life but still laughs a ton. She always thanks us for coming to see her and tells us we don't know how much it helps her. It is always a little awkward to have her thank us so much, but it is sweet to see the difference we are able to make in her life. We really haven't done anything that special, we just come and talk to her and tell her we love her. It's the little things that make a huge difference in people's lives. We don't need to do something huge or impressive to touch hearts. 

Tender mercy from the week: We were tracting before a lesson and no one was home or interested in listening to us. We met this cute family and they invited us in out of the cold. They weren't interested, but they gave us hot chocolate to take with us as we kept tracting. I love people so much! There is always good in the world, no matter what else is happening. 

Saturday was the ward Christmas party, themed as a night in Zarahemla. The Primary had a little skit about Samuel the Lamanite and we all sang carols after. It was so cute! The best part though, was Christina. She was absolutely loving it, she spent most of the time taking a live video to put on FB (side note: I did not know you could do that!) and was so happy. We sang kind of a karaoke version on 12 Days of Christmas and she helped. She was so excited to be involved and she couldn't stop smiling. She is so cute <3

Transfers are coming up (Jan 1 is the last day of this transfer) and we have no ideas as to what will happen. I'm really hoping I get to stay here in Durham, but who knows? 

I had a thought yesterday while sitting in sacrament meeting. A recently reactivated member was there (and she brought her neighbor!!!!) and she is still trying to quit smoking. She was sitting near us and I could smell the smoke on her. It was a little distracting at first, but then I realized how grateful I was to smell smoke in church. To me, it shows that this woman is trying. She is not perfect, but she doesn't let that stop her from receiving the blessings of the gospel. No one in that chapel was perfect, but we were all there to take one more tiny step closer to the Savior. Every single one of us was there to partake in the Atonement. Yes, she smelled like smoke and that isn't normally a good thing. But her coming to church is a good thing. Church isn't a place for perfect people to say nice things, it is a place for the imperfect (us) to become a little better. To me, smelling cigarettes during sacrament meeting shows the power of the Atonement. Repentance is so much more powerful than we recognize. It is incredible to know that we have infinite opportunities to change, to become better. We do not have to stay the people that we are. We have the ability to change our very natures through the sacrifice of the Savior. I know that He lives. I know that Jesus Christ came to Earth to suffer for our sins, our pains, our heartache and our sadness. I know that this is His church and that He stands at its head. I am so unspeakably grateful for my Savior and the opportunity I have to testify of Him every single day. 

Love y'all
Merry Christmas
Sister Pyper

This ward is so cute!

This week two different members gave us gifts. Yes, we opened our presents before Christmas :) But look how cute they are!!!

D2 Christmas party!
Welcome to Zarahemla!! All the signs made me very happy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 9 of training. My baby is almost all grown up :')

Well, I'm not entirely sure what to say about this week. It feels like I was just here, trying to figure out what to say and now another week has gone by. Craziness. Each day feels like it takes forever but the weeks just fly by. I can't believe it is already halfway through Sister Ruske's second transfer, it feels like she just go here. Her birthday was this past week and she is no longer a teenager! 

Well, one highlight is that WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!! I was so excited! We only get to go twice a year, usually around Conference, so I expected it to be my first transfer here. Then when it didn't happen I expected it to happen last transfer. Nope! Finally in December we were able to go. I haven't been since March, so it has been 9 months and I was so tired of waiting. I love the temple so much and it was fun to go in the same zone I was in last time (even though none of the other missionaries were here last time I was here). 

Another fun thing is that our mission president's wife came out with us on Thursday. The Assistant's called us Wednesday night and asked us what our plans were for Thursday evening. "Ummmm, tracting, why?" 
"Well, Sister James wants to come on exchanges with you, is that okay?"
"........Yeah, sure."
I knew the James' went out with missionaries, but this is the first time it has ever happened to me. It was so much fun to take her tracting with us though! Since it is December, Sister Ruske and I have been using caroling as a way to get people to listen. (Sister Ruske took a little convincing, but she came around and is excited about it now. My trainer and I went caroling and I noticed that people were generally happy to see us when we sang to them, so I wanted to do it again this Christmas.) (Also, weird side note: I will spend both of my Christmases in Durham and in 12 week. Funny how things work out like that). Anyway, Sister James told us that she has always been able to get in when she goes out with the sisters and tonight was no exception. We found this super sweet lady who is currently looking for a church! I love when people tell us they are looking for a church. I have learned to ask them what it is that they look for in a church, because 99% of the time what they are looking for is found in our church. 

Little miracle story. We had planned to go see this less-active sister and brought our ward mission leader with us. He was running late so we were going to go caroling to her neighbors. After we prayed in our car, we saw this giant van turn the corner where we were. It passed us, but both of us thought "hmmmm, I wonder if that is the Relief Society president?" Yep, it was! She had been planning to come stop by this woman and hadn't been able to do it until that night. She was so grateful that we were there and that we were all able to visit and uplift this woman. The RS president needed to get in touch with her by the next day at the latest so it all worked out. I love seeing how involved Heavenly Father is in all the little details of our lives!

OH, super cute story! We were sitting at Starbucks, having a lesson with Christina, when these two little kids come up to us. They both had their hands full of candy canes and were giving them to the people sitting in Starbucks. Their mom was following them and I'm pretty sure she was taking a video :) It was just so cute to see these kids who couldn't have been more than 7 doing something to brighten people's day <3 

I think my favorite thing about the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative is that the suggested acts of service are often small and simple. Sometimes I feel like I don't have time (or energy) to do big acts of service, but I can do these. You don't have to do something huge or highly noticeable in order to bless lives. Like those little kids above, they didn't do anything huge or expensive but it definitely brought joy to my day. Sometimes service is as simple as a smile. Sometimes you do do large acts of service and that is also awesome! But don't forget that your service doesn't always have to be noticed by others to matter. Heavenly Father notices everything you do, especially the many little good things that often go unseen. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Highlight of the week
WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!!! I was soooo excited! Sister Ruske said it felt like Christmas, and I completely agree! I haven't been since March so it was so wonderful to be able to go again. 

We match :)
​A member of our ward gave us matching scarves for Christmas :)

Christina :)

​I love her so much <3

Monday, December 5, 2016


So, a little more background to the picture. Every month, President James selects some excerpts from our letters to him to include in the newsletter. They are always anonymous but always uplifting and inspiring. This is actually the second time one of my letters has made it into the Tarheel (the monthly newsletter. The first one was about Lisa) and it was really cool to read this one again. By the time we got the Tarheels, I had forgotten about this experience. Reading about it made me remember it again and it came at the perfect time. In case it is too hard to read, it basically talks about an experience I had with one of our investigators. Somehow, the topic came up of how we came to be in Durham serving missions. We were explaining how/why we decided to serve and talked about what we do as missionaries. She was so impressed with our dedication and kept going on and on about how much of a sacrifice we were making. Not only was it weird to have her praising us so much, what she said didn't really make sense. I couldn't figure out why until Sister Ruske and I were talking about it later that night. I realized that it was weird because I don't see my mission as a sacrifice. I have received way too many blessings to see these 18 months in terms of what I left behind. Of course there are some days where I miss people/things from home, but what I get to do every day is worth more than anything I put on hold. Seeing people I have come to love so much come to know that the gospel I love is true is worth not going to school, missing my family, not seeing my little brother for 3 years, being far from home, and it is worth every single door closed on me. I am so incredibly grateful to be able to share the gospel all day, every day for 18 months that I cannot see it as a sacrifice. 

Well, since I can't remember anything too exciting that happened this week, I'll just give y'all a brief overview of each day. Sorry if it's boring :)
Monday- Preparation day, obviously. A pretty normal day, honestly. We did find a new investigator in the evening though. OH! WAIT! After we had gone tracting, we called a member to come pick us up. We didn't feel like we should be tracting so late, so we decided to go to the grocery store around the corner and talk to people there. We had prayed about it and felt like that was a good place to be. We walked in and the first person we saw was a former investigator! I had been thinking about her recently. She had really wanted to get baptized, but didn't feel ready to commit so we had to drop her. But she was so excited to see us and we set up to go see her later in the week (more details later)! I love seeing how Heavenly Father makes everything work perfectly when we follow His guidance!
Tuesday- Zone training. We spent most of the day up in Chapel Hill, being taught and (hopefully) becoming better missionaries. Then everything else fell through later that day. Literally everything. One of our investigators dropped us (dang boyfriend who isn't interested in listening to us), our dinner appointment was sick, and some potentials we were going to see texted us to say they are happy with their church and "didn't want to waste our time" *SIGH* That's okay though. Some days are like that. 
Wednesday-We saw Christina! I love her so much and she is so cute!! We taught her the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity last week and she still wants to meet with us :) She has been trying really hard to quit smoking and drinking coffee and has been making amazing progress! I am so proud of her! Also, funny story. Every other week we have a class/meeting with our ward missionaries. So after dinner we got dropped off so we could get ready to teach it. Only to find out that it is actually only the first and third Wednesday, not the fifth. Luckily we had left our bikes at the church on Monday after emailing, so we didn't have to walk home!
Thursday-Weekly planning, although we had to split it up so we could go teach a lesson. We went tracting afterwards and found a new investigator. None of our 3 appointments in the neighborhood were home, but we were able to at least see one of them. He was on his way out so we couldn't talk for too long. He told us that his wife is best friends with a member of our ward and that they really want to learn more about the church! Members are so important! Seriously, we could not do this work without you! Even if you think you can't be a missionary, your example makes a bigger difference than you realize. This evening was the RS activity, dinner and stories of service from the ward. Christina came and she loved it! We were a little late, but she was already sitting with people and making friends with them. This ward is full of awesome fellowshippers!
Friday-Not everything fell through today! We had some really amazing lessons. Christina is still doing well, we just had to push her baptismal date back because she is still struggling with coffee/smoking (not to mention her boyfriend). We were supposed to meet her at Starbucks so I could tell her all the things she can have (thank you Washington upbringing!) but she slept late so we just met her at home. We also saw Lisa. She has been struggling with some family things recently, so more prayers her way would be much appreciated <3 We found a new investigator and watched the #LIGHTtheWORLD video with him. If y'all haven't seen it, go watch it right now.
Saturday-We found this super cute older couple! They met with missionaries 30 years ago before they moved to NC and had very fond memories. We showed them the #LIGHTtheWORLD video (I'm pretty sure I have seen it about 20 times at this point and I never get tired of it) and talked about service. In the evening, we made cookies with a less-active member and helped her decorate her tree. I am so excited for Christmas! It still isn't too cold, which is nice because I want to go caroling :)
Sunday-We met with that former investigator that we ran into on Monday. She is still excited about getting baptized and even had a dream a couple days ago that she had actually gotten baptized! I'm pretty sure her (almost) 18-month journey to baptism is almost over. We explained that church will change times next year and the time we will be at next year works better with her schedule! We set a baptismal date with her and I am positive she is going to make it!

Here are my last few days of gratitude from November
Nov 28- Walmart. Kind of superficial, yes, but who said I always had to be grateful for deeply meaningful things?
Nov 29- Animals. This was the day where nothing worked out the way we planned, not even dinner. No one wanted to see us, no one was home when we went tracting, and a seemingly solid investigator dropped us. BUT while we were tracting this cute cat kept following us from house to house and being super friendly. It was a little tender mercy, but it brightened my day. 
Nov 30- Working GPS. The night before my GPS had died and wouldn't turn on when I plugged it in. I was a little worried, but it was all okay! It turned out to just be the outlet, it worked just fine when I plugged it in somewhere else. #nowiwontbelost

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Look! I'm famous! (well, anonymously.....)

​The one in the center is mine. Every month, President puts excerpts from our letters in the newsletter. I finally got one of mine put in!

Monday, November 28, 2016

12 new investigators + 5 baptismal dates + the Book of Mormon= 1 very happy Sister Pyper

Oh my goodness what a great week! At zone training a few weeks ago, someone gave an instruction on planning to baptize. They talked about how President wants us to set three-month goals and ask the Lord how many baptisms we can have each month for the next three months and then from that figure out transfer/weekly/daily goals. Sister Ruske and I did that and felt that Heavenly Father would help us have 2 baptisms in both December and January. In general, in this mission, 32 new investigators translates to 1 baptism. So in order for us to have 2, we need to find 64 new investigators. We did the math and figured out that we needed to find 10 a week in order to do that. After prayer and some discussion, we came up with what we felt the Lord wanted us to do in order to find those 10 people every week. We have been trying our hardest to do what we told Him we would do and He has definitely been holding up His end of the covenant! This past week we found 12 new investigators, 5 of them in one day! We had set a goal during weekly planning to have 3 investigators with a baptismal date and we ended with 5! The work is really progressing here and I am so excited to see what continues to happen!

Okay, one of the investigators we found was Eric. He is so amazing! Sister Burkholder and I had met him and we have been trying to get back in touch with him recently. The first time we met him we talked about the Book of Mormon and gave him a copy. He has an extensive knowledge of the Bible and has some....unique...ideas about some of the things it talks about. We taught him about the Book of Mormon and committed him to start reading and praying about it. We went on exchanges this week and had stopped by while we were in the neighborhood. He was sick but told us to come back later in the week, he had some questions about the Book of Mormon. So we show up for our appointment on Friday and had a member with us. In all honesty, the lesson started out terribly. Eric and the member are both very strong-willed and opinionated. Not in a bad way, they just both refuse to back down from what they believe is right. So this member and Eric were starting to argue and be a little contentious. I did not feel the Spirit and I was starting to get frustrated myself. I was trying to kindly interrupt and get back on track when Eric's sister spoke up and asked what made our church different than Christian churches. That was the perfect opportunity for me to bear my testimony. I had no doubt that the Spirit prompted her to ask that question because it turned the entire lesson around. I bore my testimony that we are in fact Christian, that everything we believe is centered on Jesus Christ. I was able to bear my testimony of the reality of a living, modern-day prophet and of the Book of Mormon. As I bore my testimony I felt the Spirit come back into the room. I can't take any credit at all for that, it was all the Spirit. Our member told us in the car after the lesson that she had felt prompted to pray to know what to say or when to keep her mouth shut. That is honestly the best thing she could have done! She was such a great contribution! She bore her testimony to Eric and his family and was able to relate to him in ways we couldn't. After I bore my testimony, the Spirit was there for the rest of the lesson and it was incredible! There was no more anger or contention, only calm and peace. Eric's heart was completely softened and he said that he had no problem reading the Book of Mormon, that he knew it was about Jesus Christ. I think the biggest lessons I learned from this lesson were the power of bearing testimony and the importance of prayer. It was bearing testimony that brought the Spirit back and prayer that helped us all know what to say. Thanks to our member's prayer, we are all now reading Genesis and have until Friday to finish. She apparently felt impressed to challenge Eric that if he would read 1 Nephi by the time we came back, we would read Genesis and talk about it. Sister Ruske invited them all to baptism and they all said yes! 

Other amazing investigators we found this week (running our of time, so I'll just tell y'all a tiny bit about them and fill you in more later)
Sarah: We met her Saturday night and she came to church the next day! And stayed for all 3 hours! 
Melanie: Let us right in, knew that it wasn't an accident that we met her. 
Mina: Saw us walking and asked us who we were. We taught the Restoration and she is willing to do what we commit her to!
We went on exchanges and the Hermana I was with prayed (in Spanish) that we would find 2 new investigators as we tracted in the evening. Well, we did find 2 new investigators, but they spoke Spanish so the Hermanas got them. If only we had prayed in English :)

This past week has really strengthened my testimony of the Book of Mormon. I haven't ever really doubted the Book of Mormon, but recently I have gained a deeper appreciation for it. I know that anyone who sincerely reads it and prays to know if it is true will receive a witness from the Holy Ghost that it is the word of God. I have done that, multiple times, and the answer is always the same. The Book of Mormon is true. Joseph Smith was called by God to be a prophet. The authority to baptize and perform other saving ordinances was restored through him. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is Christ's church. Jesus Christ really lived and died and was resurrected. He is truly the Savior of the world. I know all of that because of the Book of Mormon. I can't imagine my life without the truth found in the Book of Mormon. I am so grateful that Heavenly Father prepared and preserved another record of scripture so that we could have the fullness of His gospel. 

OH! Daily gratitude
Nov 21- socks. We tracted in the evening and I was so glad to be wearing boots and warm socks.
Nov 22- the tiny bit of Spanish I know (just enough to tell people that there are other missionaries that actually speak Spanish). We run into enough people who speak Spanish that any little bit helps.
Nov 23- my planner. Seriously, this little planner is my brain. I would be so lost without it and I would forget everything
Nov 24- The Book of Mormon. How grateful I am to have this additional witness of the Savior and the truth contained in its 531 pages. 
Nov 25- Members of the ward. This is the day we had that lesson with Eric. 
Nov 26- Members of the ward pt 2, specifically the bishop. He is so concerned about us and the people we teach, he always wants to make sure he is doing what is right and helping them progress.
Nov 27- Tiny miracles. One of our recent converts had an argument with their family a couple weeks ago and then vanished. No one had been able to reach them for about a week and then they walk into church like nothing happened. That was such a relief!!!

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

An Unusual Sacrament
​Yesterday was one of the most unique, and powerful, sacrament meetings I have ever been in. It was interactive and full of singing. Instead of speakers, we had songs. 8 people chose their favorite hymn/children's song and bore a short testimony explaining why they picked it. Then we all sang a couple verses of each song. It was incredible! The Spirit was so strong! We had an investigator at church for the first time, which can sometimes be stressful and worrisome, but not today. It was so powerful and she ended up staying for the whole time, even though she had planned on leaving early. 

 D&C 25:12 For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart; yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads.

Once again, my companion dressed me
(One of) the nice things about having a companion is an expanded wardrobe :) Yesterday I was sick of my clothes (all the ones I loved I had already worn) and couldn't figure out what to wear. So Sister Ruske let me borrow her clothes. The whole outfit is hers and I'm pretty sure I got more compliments on it than on my own clothes. 

Reason # 123876343643 I love the South
Found this while tracting. 

Monday, November 21, 2016

Halfway done training and I'm still convinced Sister Ruske is training me

So, in unrelated news, Ethan got his mission call! He is going to Tahiti! He reports March 22, 2017. Any and all prayers his way would be much appreciated :)

Okay, back to Durham. Durham continues to be amazing, as always. First, an update on Jarek, who isn't our investigator anymore. We gave him to the elders a couple weeks ago and that turned out to be the best thing for him! We had been thinking about dropping him and I am so glad we didn't. The elders clicked really well with him and have been able to help him progress. They set a marriage date and a baptismal date with him. He is scheduled to get baptized on Dec 10 and married the day before. We are so excited for him! Both elders are getting transferred, so we offered to make sure that the wedding goes as planned :) 

Now, for people we are teaching. CHRISTINA. In case I didn't tell y'all about her last week, she is amazing. The Hermanas found her and asked her if she would be interested in joining our church. She told them she would definitely consider it. The first lesson we had with her, before we had even taught very much and were just getting to know her, she asked us what she needed to do to be baptized. We set a baptismal date that first lesson and she has been progressing really well! This past week has been really stressful for her, she was in danger of being kicked out of her apartment. She had no idea where she would go or even if she would have to move. We had invited her to church and the member who came with us lovingly pressured her into saying yes. Our member, Sister Johnson, is the best! She promised Christina that she would hear something at church that would help her figure out what God wanted her to do. So she came to church, a little nervous because it was stake conference and we told her it wasn't like a normal Sunday. But she came and she loved it! Long story short, I wasn't sitting next to Sister Ruske, I was sitting with someone else (no we are not fighting. I love her dearly. I just had to sit next to another investigator). Anyway, Christina was asking about callings and why we were sustaining people. Sister Ruske explained that no one in our church gets paid and that we are all asked to help make the church run. Christina really liked that and asked if she could get a calling. After conference, I went over to talk to her and she told us she had good news. She said she knew we had been praying because.................SHE GOT A RAISE AT WORK AND HAS ANOTHER WEEK TO PAY HER RENT!!! Heavenly Father definitely answers prayers and rewards our faith. Now we just have to help her quit smoking and get her married/living away from her boyfriend and she's good to go! 

Nov 14- Email. It is amazing that I am able to talk to y'all even though we are far away. The fact that I can hear from people I love instantly is such a miracle. 
Nov 15- The guidance of the Spirit. Yes this is a repeat, but I am still grateful for it. We had an amazing lesson with Christina that was totally led by the Spirit. 
Nov 16- My ward. This is such an incredible ward and the members do so much to help us. 
Nov 17- My apartment. Having a safe, comfortable place to live is definitely something I take for granted. 
Nov 18- Sunshine. It is getting cold here, but the days are still beautiful. 
Nov 19- Cars. It is really nice to not have to bike everywhere :)
Nov 20- GPS. I have a terrible sense of direction and NC roads do not help with that at all, so having something to help me get where I need to go is really helpful. 
Bonus: each and every single one of you. Honestly. I am so incredibly grateful for all the people in my life and I am even more grateful that y'all care enough to actually read my emails. 

The title for this email comes from the fact that Sister Ruske teaches me every single day. She is so enthusiastic and cheerful and is such an example to me. I'm pretty sure I learn more from her than she does from me. 

Love y'all,
Sister Pyper

My District
This ridiculous group is who I spent the last 6 weeks with. This picture accurately captures all of us. Sadly all the elders are leaving and one of the Hermanas is too. So the district will be a lot different this transfer.

So, I never taught her, but I love her dearly. She got baptized in D2 back when I was in D1. I came on exchanges here when she had her baptismal interview and that was the first time I met her. She is so sweet and so good. We stopped by to see her one day and this is what happened <3

New favorite shirt

Trees in NC
While we were tracting one day, we noticed this tree. This is what all of Durham looks like right now and I love it so much! 

Monday, November 14, 2016

A week full of being placed in the right places

This past week was full of amazing things! Here are the things I was grateful for each day, along with explanations for the more interesting ones. 

Nov 7- Electricity. 

Nov 8- Promptings/inspiration from the Holy Ghost. Sister Ruske and I had gone to stop by someone who was interested, but they weren't home. Neither of us felt like that area was where Heavenly Father wanted us to tract, so we prayed to know where we should be. I felt/saw a family and felt like we should go find them. I was telling Sister Ruske about it and said that I felt that there was a family with a little girl we needed to find. As I told her that there was a little girl, she asked "like that family that is sometimes at Corinthia's"? Ummm, yeah, actually. We knew which building they lived in, but not the exact apartment. So we went to that complex and knocked on the door we thought it was. No one was home, so we decided to just tract the rest of the building. We knock on the next door and end up teaching the woman who answered. When we asked her who she knew that would also be interested in hearing our message, she told us she lived with her brother and sister-in-law. They have a two year old daughter. Yep, we found the family I had been impressed to find! Heavenly Father is definitely involved in all the details of this work. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Holy Ghost in this work, there is no way I could do it on my own. 

Nov 9- Kindness of the ward (also partly inspiration). We had a couple lessons set up for the next day but we hadn't found members to come with us yet. We were texting and calling all the people we could think of, but none of them were able to come or they didn't answer their phone. One member told us she wasn't really feeling well and couldn't come with us. By this time it was 9 pm, so we prayed to start our nightly planning. Sister Ruske prayed that we would be able to find a member to come with us to our first lesson, because we had one for the second. Not even 1 minute after we prayed, this member called us back and said that she could come with us. She had felt bad about saying no and didn't want us to miss a lesson because of her. So even though she had originally said no, she ended up taking us. Not all of our prayers are answered that quickly, but it was wonderful to see the Spirit working. When you follow a prompting, you just might end up being the answer to someone's prayer. 

Nov 10- I am grateful for the Atonement. It is incredible that the only perfect person to ever walk the Earth voluntarily suffered and died for each of us. 
Cool story of the day: meeting Bonnie at Costco. Another story where we didn't feel like we were in the right place and Heavenly Father led us to where He needed us. After an appointment fell through, we didn't feel that tracting was what we were supposed to do, at least not in that complex. After praying to know where we should be, we felt that we should go to the Costco right around the corner and talk to people in the parking lot. We weren't quite sure how to go about contacting people, but Sister Ruske had the bright idea to offer to help people unload their carts and then we could talk to them. So that's what we did and we met Bonnie. Sadly, she lives in the Raleigh stake, but she was so cool! She was super sweet and kept telling us that she appreciates what we are doing to help more people learn about Christ. We gave her our number and told her to call us if she wants to get in touch with the elders in her area. It turned out that she had already met the elders! They had knocked on her door one day while she was making dinner. Her husband answered the door and they were talking to him. They commented that whatever she was making smelled good and the husband offered them some :) Too bad for them, it wasn't ready so they gave the elders apples instead. We're hoping that the next time she sees the elders she will stop them and invite them in for a real dinner. And then get baptized, of course :)

Nov 11- Such a great day!! We set a baptismal date with two of our investigators, one of whom was a referral from the Hermanas. Her name is Christina and she is amazing! The Hermanas told us that they had seen her a couple times when they were in the neighborhood and had stopped to talk to her. One of them (likely following a prompting) asked Christina if she would be interested in getting baptized and she said "she would definitely consider it"!!!! How awesome is she!! Anyway, so we went to contact her and it was amazing! She told us that she had gotten mixed up and thought she had a doctors appointment at the time we were supposed to go see her. So she went early to her appointment, only to find out that it had been earlier and she had to reschedule it. She had just barely arrived home when we knocked on her door. We taught her the Restoration and the member who was with us bore a powerful testimony. Christina asked a question about why the Sabbath is celebrated on Sunday when Saturday is the seventh day. Our member was able to explain that to her, telling her about an article she had just read a few days ago. Missionaries are not the only ones who receive the promise that we will be given what to say in the moment we need it, that promise is given to all who open their mouths to share the gospel. As we talked to Christina and explained that our role as missionaries is to help others come closer to Christ through baptism and learning about his gospel, the first thing she said was "what do I need to do to be baptized?" After a moment of being speechless, Sister Ruske and I happily told her that that is our job :) She is so prepared and I am so excited to keep teaching her! We committed her to keep meeting with us and prepare to be baptized on Dec 10
Our next lesson was just as incredible! We met with Twanna, who we had found the past week. She had ordered a Bible online and is really interested in the gospel. Sometimes I am not as excited as I should be about people who order a Bible, thinking that they just want the Bible and nothing more. Twanna has proved me wrong and given me more faith in media referrals. She has already been baptized, just like 99% of the population here in the South, but she "doesn't feel like she has been fully baptized". She is Baptist, so she believes in baptism by immersion. When she got baptized in her church, though, her face didn't go under the water and the person didn't do it again. So she has spent the past 20some years wondering if her baptism really counted. When she gets baptized on Dec 17, it will though so all is well :) Hopefully this ward gets used to having a baptism at least monthly, because Heavenly Father keeps sending us incredible people who are prepared to hear the gospel. 
The evening was spent doing work for the elders. They have been really struggling to find people to teach, so Friday night 4 other sets of missionaries came here and we all went out and found people for the elders to teach. It was amazing. In an hour and a half, 12 new investigators were found for the elders to teach, and some of them were families. It was powerful to see the other missionaries coming together to help the elders. Tracting for someone else was so different than tracting for ourselves. I am always excited to find people to teach, but doing it for someone else made it so much sweeter. I felt more love for the people we met and more of a sense of the importance of the gospel. I am so excited that the elders have more people to teach now and I am excited for their investigators to progress. 

Nov 12- LAURA'S BAPTISM!!! We spent most of our day at the church; filling the font, printing programs, setting up the room and studying. The baptism was wonderful, there was a great turnout from the ward. So many people came that every seat was full and there were still people standing in the back. Standing room only at a baptism is probably one of the greatest things that has ever happened. Sister Wall and Sister Huang, who were the sisters before I came in, were able to come for her baptism and that meant a lot to Laura. After her baptism there was time for Laura and some of the missionaries to bear their testimony. It was so sweet to hear Sister Wall bear her testimony and express her love for Laura. (It was also really weird to realize how long Sister Wall has been out. I was here in Durham when she came out, almost 9 months ago. Which means that I have been out for longer than that and I'm not sure how I feel about that)

Nov 13- Oh my goodness, the miracle of today is definitely that Laura got confirmed. Church starts at 11, so we told her to be there at 10:45 just to be safe. Of course, that didn't happen. 11 comes around and she is nowhere to be seen. Sister Ruske and I start getting antsy, but we're trying to stay calm. She was supposed to get confirmed right before the sacrament, but when she wasn't there, they moved the confirmation to after the sacrament. So we had a little more time, but we were still worried. Laura finally walks in right after the sacrament is over, at 11:25. She had told us she couldn't stay long so we were hoping she had enough time to stay for the rest of sacrament meeting. She walks into the chapel and immediately gets called up for her confirmation. When she comes back to sit with us, she immediately has to leave again. She had been called in to work last minute and literally had just enough time for her confirmation. Also, I got to hold a ferret today, which was fun :)

OH! I almost forgot! The story behind the bird picture! Wednesday we were eating lunch when we hear a thud outside our door. Thinking someone had dropped something off, we opened the door but didn't see anything. Then we look down and see this little bird just laying on our sidewalk. He had hit our door and must have been stunned. He didn't move or try to fly away, even when we got close enough to touch him. We weren't sure what to do about our newfound bird friend, we didn't want to kill him but we also didn't want him to stay there to get eaten. Eventually we decided to move him to a box and hide him in our bushes. When we came back from a lesson, he was gone. There wasn't any blood or feathers left in the box, so we are assuming he was fine and ended up flying away. 
Luke 12:6-7 "Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows"

I know that Heavenly Father is intimately aware of the tiny details of our lives. Every single aspect of every single persons life is known by the Father who loves you perfectly and eternally. No matter how insignificant the world may think you are, there is always someone who loves you. A perfect Father who sent His perfect Son, your brother, to feel everything you go through. Never forget how much you are loved. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Laura's baptism
​The other two sisters were involved in Laura's teaching. The blonde one was here for 6 months and got really close to Laura. It was so sweet to see the two of them so happy to see each other <3

I made a new friend!

We had dinner at a member's house last night. While waiting for the last bit of food to be ready, one of the boys brought me his pet ferret! Funny thing about being a missionary, it has changed my perception of what smells bad. The family told me that ferrets stink and that this one needed a bath. He didn't smell that bad too me, I have been in places that were worse. 

Our bird friend
This was the bird that decided to fly into our storm door. He ended up being totally fine :)