Monday, February 29, 2016

When it rains, it pours. Blessings, that is :)

It's a good thing I promised a more exciting email last week, because there was a lot that happened this week! :)

We had interviews with our mission president and his wife on Wednesday. It was so great to be able to talk to them and feel their sweet spirits. They have such a genuine interest in each of their missionaries and our investigators. I got to talk to them about some of the people we are teaching and how they are doing. It is so great to see how much other people care about our investigators. I of course love them and think they are amazing and it is nice to see that other people think the same thing. 

Oh! We also were put on tornado warning on Wednesday! That was exciting :) We were in our apartment finishing studies and then eating dinner, so we were safe, don't worry! We had been warned in the morning that it was going to be windy and there were wind warnings in effect, so it wasn't a huge surprise. We were just sitting in our apartment and we heard this siren start going off. Neither of us knew what it was, but I assumed it was a storm siren. A member of our ward who lives close to us texted us and asked if we were okay and was giving us tips on how to stay safe in a tornado (not that we actually needed to use any of them). This ward is so great, they are always making sure we are doing okay! <3

We also went on exchanges again this week, and I got to take over the area. I was not as nervous as I expected to be and it ended up being a really good day! One of our appointments fell through so we went tracting and found 3 new investigators! We haven't been able to see any of them again yet, but we aren't going to give up on them. 

Earnest continues to be amazing. We had a lesson with him on Tuesday and he is making great progress with living the Word of Wisdom! That has been something he has been struggling with a bit, and still isn't totally there, but he is recognizing that he doesn't need to drink and that he doesn't even want to most of the time! He told us a story about how he was going to buy beer (on Sunday, still working on that...) but heard a whistle when he was trying to decide what to buy. There was apparently no one nearby who could have whistled, so he took it as a sign that he shouldn't buy the beer. The Lord works in mysterious ways :) One of Earnest's friends stopped by and Earnest let him in and explained who we were. It was so powerful to hear him bear his simple testimony that we are there to help people come closer to Christ. Earnest has come so far since we started teaching him and now he is beginning to teach other people! I am so exctied to see the progress he will continue to make and the blessings that come into his life from being baptized and living the gospel. 

In case I haven't told you how great this ward is, they are WONDERFUL! The stake president is in our ward and we had dinner with his family this past week. Their youngest son, who is about 9, had given his teacher at school a copy of the Book of Mormon. Without his parents asking him to! He has talked to his teacher about religion before (only in the South would that be normal) and is a great member missionary! There are so many ward members who want to come to lessons with us or feed us or help in any way they can! Ward members are a HUGE help to missionary work! 

I have been thinking about the Sabbath recently and how important it is. I realized this morning the importance of the wording of the commandment to "keep the Sabbath day holy". We are not commanded to 'make' it holy, we are commanded to 'keep' it holy. The Sabbath has always been holy. It is the day that Heavenly Father set apart and gave us to come closer to him and renew our covenants. It is not a day to be lazy or do whatever we want. It is a gift to be treasured and protected. Keeping the Sabbath holy, the way it is designed to be, will bring a greater measure of the Spirit into our lives and bring us closer to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I invite all of you to evaluate your Sabbath day observance and find one thing that you can improve on this next week. I know that I can always do better at remembering my Savior and keeping the Sabbath day as holy as it should be. 

Thank you so much for all your prayers and encouragement and support. I know that I could not be the best missionary I could be without the many prayers that are said on my behalf. It means so much to know that so many people pray for me and those I am teaching. <3
Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Life is good as a missionary

This week went by really fast, it seems like it was just Monday. It wasn't a terribly eventful week, pretty full of normal things. Sister Workman and I joked on Groundhog Day that it would be weird to have every day be the same. Then we realized that we are missionaries, our days are all the same :)

We went on exchanges this week. The sister training leader (basically the sister equivalent to a district leader) goes on exchanges with us once a transfer. This past week she was with Sister Workman, so I got to go to a different area for the day. It's always a little strange, but always good. I was just in the next ward over, so it wasn't very different. This next time I get to take over the area, which just means that I get to stay in my area for exchanges and basically get to be in charge that day. 

Our investigators are amazing! So many of them are sharing the gospel with their friends! They are telling people at school, work, or in their families about the Book of Mormon and what they are learning from us. It is so incredible to see how learning about the gospel gives them such a desire to share it, even when they don't know very much about it. I was thinking about that and I realized it is (obviously) because the gospel is true. On some level they recognize the truth, even if they don't consciously recognize that it is the truth. They just know that it is good and that everyone around them can benefit from it as well. Missionary work is great! Before I was a full-time missionary, I was intimidated by the idea of sharing the gospel. I thought it always had to be inviting people to church or something 'scary' like that, but that is not what it is most of the time. Missionary work is often as simple as being a good example to others and being willing to answer any questions that come your way. You do not need to invite someone to be baptized in order to be a missionary, although of course that is a great thing to do :) 

This week I have been thinking about what it means to be a consecrated servant of the Lord. I have been pondering Mosiah 7:33 and what it means to have "full purpose of heart". I realized that there are lots of things I need to work on, but also that the Atonement allows me to do all that is asked of me. There are so many blessings that come from obedience. The more obedient we are, the more Heavenly Father can bless us. He has given us so much and all that He asks of us is that we follow His commandments, so that He can bless us even more. How great is that?? We don't have to perform incredible miracles, we simply have to be obedient. In the eternal perspective, that is very simple and not a lot to ask. I have definitely seen that as I try to be more exactly obedient, things are better. Our investigators are more receptive, they have a greater desire to know the truth, I am able to be guided by the Spirit more, and I have more peace. Obedience is so great! 

Sorry this is a short email, there really wasn't a lot to talk about from this week. Sometimes it's nice to have a 'boring' week :)

Today we are going to Duke to see an original copy of the Book of Mormon, so there will be at least one exciting thing in the next email, I promise!

Love y'all
Sister Pyper
​My district. One of the elders really wanted the basketball in the picture :)

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A very humbling week

Well, I was humbled a lot this week. Which is really great, I love knowing what I can improve on. I have a long list of "to do betters" now :)

The first thing I had to learn (again) this past week was that what I personally want is quite often not what Heavenly Father knows is best. Long story short, Bernard was not baptized on Saturdaylike we were planning on. Not through any fault of his own or any unworthiness at all, we are just waiting until Paula, his mom, is ready to be baptized so they can be baptized together. President James had some concerns about baptizing a child without a parent being baptized at the same time. We talked to him about their situation and his recommendation was to wait for Bernard's mom. That was not the answer I wanted to hear, but President left the final decision up to us. We spent a lot of time praying about what was right and I personally had to pray a lot for peace. It was a really hard decision to make, but I know that it is the right one. Prayer works! It was hard to give up what I wanted and ask Heavenly Father what He knew was best, but it was so worth it! We were able to talk to Paula last night and ask her what she thinks would keep her from being baptized. She opened up to us a lot and we know better how to help her now. She has a great desire to be baptized with Bernard and is so willing to change! I am so grateful for an inspired President and answers to prayers, otherwise Paula might not have this strong of a motivation to progress in the gospel. 

I have also been learning a lot this week about what it means to be a missionary and recognizing the weight of my calling. I am literally representing the Savior. I carry His name next to mine every day. I have been called by a prophet of God to share the Gospel with everyone I meet. It is a humbling thing to realize all that that entails and how often I come short of what is asked of me. But I also know that I would not have been called to be a missionary if Heavenly Father knew I would not be able to do it, with His help of course. I can't even begin to express how grateful I am for the Atonement and the opportunity I have every single day to repent and become more like my Savior. It takes everything I have and then some to do all that is expected of me as a missionary. I know that I wouldn't be able to do any of it without His help. We had a lesson with Earnest this week where he told us how much he appreciates us. He told us that he could tell from the very first time that he saw us that we came with authority. That was such a powerful thing to hear. As the Lord's servant, I really do have His authority to preach His gospel. I am so incredibly grateful for this time that I have to literally bear His name and take His gospel to all those who are willing to listen. 

We also had a semi-lesson (she is not technically an investigator yet so we can't officially count it) with a friend of one of the ward members. (Side note: PLEASE give the missionaries referrals if you have any non-member friends who are even remotely interested. It is incredible to see how the Lord prepares people.) Candice is amazing! She has incredible trust in God and is very aware of His hand in her life, guiding her to make the right decisions. She met with us and asked us questions. I was expecting the typical questions like "do you worship Joseph Smith" or "what's up with no coffee?" or "are you Christian", but nope. Candice's questions were all about our personal religious lives and what our prayers are like and if we feel God directing us. At first that was a little strange and it felt like a really private thing to talk about, but then I realized that that is what matters to her and what she is looking for. She talked about how her prayers have changed over time and how much she gets from them. It made me really step back and evaluate my prayers. Since we pray at least 20 times a day as missionaries, it can be really easy to get into a routine and become less sincere. I have been focusing on really praying sincerely and not just saying things I always say. I invite all of you to do the same thing. I promise that as you really focus on your prayers and become more sincere that you will feel Heavenly Father's influence in your life even more and you will come closer to Him. 

I know without a doubt that this gospel is true and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is truly Christ's church that has been restored in its fullness. I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet today. I know that the Book of Mormon is true and Joseph Smith's promise that "a man would get nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book" is true. Read it, pray about it, live what it teaches. You WILL come closer to God than you have ever been, no matter how many times you have read it before. 

In other news, Dame's Chicken & Waffles was SO GOOD! Sister Workman was confused by the concept of fried chicken and waffles together, but she saw the light :) It is quite probably the best fried chicken I have ever had and the waffles were amazing too. If any of y'all are ever in Durham, you should definitely go! It's a good thing it is a bit far and a little more expensive (but still totally reasonable) otherwise I might be tempted to eat there more often :)
Love y'all
Sister Pyper
​This came with maple-pecan flavored butter. I am full again just looking at it :)

​Yep, that is indeed a sheet of ice :) NC gets ice storms in February, apparently. (two more weeks, two more weeks) 

Monday, February 8, 2016

Too much of a good thing is....a wonderful thing!

Lots of exciting things happened this week, I don't even know where to start!

I guess first is Bernard. He passed his baptismal interview on Saturday so he will be getting baptized on the 13th! I am so excited for him!! He is amazing! He is 9, so his understanding is very simple and pure, which is always a good reminder for me of how simple the gospel really is. His definition of repentance is "to copy", which means copying Jesus. Which is very insightful and made me realize that, yes, that is what repentance truly is. He finished the whole Book of Mormon....and immediately started reading it again. I was not that diligent when I was 9. So this week we will be putting his baptism together and making sure everything gets taken care of. What a great way to celebrate Valentine's Day, by helping someone to make convenants with the Heavenly Father who loves them more than anyone on Earth. 

Eric, our French investigator, is slowly starting to understand the importance of what we are teaching. We taught him about the priesthood this past week and the blessings it can bring to his family. He knows that what we teach is good and from God, he is still working on piecing everything together and understanding that we are the only church that has the same power and authority that Christ had, so priesthood was a perfect lesson for him. His family is really important to him and he works really hard to provide for them and to teach them about God. It was a great experience to talk about how the priesthood has blessed our lives and specifically our families. I realized that when I think about Dad, the first things that come to mind aren't his job or the house we live in, but it is what he has taught me and the priesthood blessings he has given me. I am so grateful for the priesthood and the men who are worthy to hold it. 

We have an investigator named Bada who we were thinking about dropping. She has been meeting with the missionaries since about October and hasn't ever read the Book of Mormon. She kept saying she would but when we came back she hadn't read. She finally read this week!! Since she is really busy (she is getting her PhD in nursing at Duke) she was only able to read the introduction and the testimonies, but that was enough. She said that as she read the story of Joseph Smith, she "felt that it is from God". We invited her to be baptized and she said yes!! She didn't commit to a date, but only because she wants to talk to her husband (who is in Korea) first and pray about it. It was such a testimony to me of the power and importance of reading the Book of Mormon. For her, even just those few pages were enough to convince her of its divinity and truth and give her the desire to be baptized. The Book of Mormon is true, and by extension so is everything else in this Church. A couple of our investigators are still praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true. I know that they will receive an answer. The Book of Mormon is true. That is why I am on a mission. I know that everything I tell people is true, I wouldn't be doing it if I didn't know that. 

Yesterday was Sister Workman's birthday and two different people sent her cake mixes, so we will have plenty of cake for the rest of the transfer. We are going to go to a place called Dame's Chicken and Waffles this afternoon to celebrate. We have been wanting to go for a while, we just never have the car when we think about doing it. It is supposed to be amazing, so I will give you a report next week :)

Scripture of the week: Mosiah 1:7 " And now, my sons, would that ye should remember to search them diligently, that ye may profit thereby; and I would that ye should keep the commandments of God,that ye may prosper in the land according to the promises which thLord made unto our fathers" 
Obedience really does bring blessings. Obedience is the only way we can receive the blessings Heavenly father has promised us. The commandments are not restrictions or punishments. We cannot obey something we don't know, that is why we have the scriptures. 

Love y'all, 
Sister Pyper

Monday, February 1, 2016

The snow is thawing and so are people's hearts

The greatest miracle from this past week was church! I missed it so much when it was cancelled last week due to the snow. We also had 4 of our investigators there, which was amazing! One of them, Kaia, even brought her friend along and her friend is interested in coming to Young Women's with her and would be interested in meeting with us! Since it was the fifth Sunday, priesthood and Relief Society were combined for the third hour. Before the lesson, a woman who just moved in approached us and told us she would like for us to meet with her non-member husband. He has apparently met with sister missionaries before and really liked it and she was wanting us to continue to teach him. I really hope we can help him progress and get baptized so that they can be sealed!

Since this is a new transfer, we have a new district leader. And a new district. We used to be with the Chapel Hill elders and sisters but now we are with the Durham 2nd missionaries, so meetings are a lot closer. It is a great district and I am excited to get to know them better! The district leader is great, he is very interested in our investigators and wants to know how he can help us in any way. 

Last week there was a baptism for the Durham 2nd ward that we were able to attend because 2 of our investigators (Bernard and Earnest) were there. People kept introducing themselves to Earnest and helping him feel welcome, which is the greatest thing to see! I absolutely love when members reach out to investigators (hint hint)! Even at church yesterday, Earnest always had someone talking to him and getting to know him. At the baptism, I overheard Earnest telling a member of our ward that he "got some good answers about if this is the right path" and that he "can't wait until he becomes a member"! I am so excited for him! It is incredible to see the changes that are happening in him as he learns more about the Gospel and comes closer to our Savior through reading the Book of Mormon and praying. He already had incredible faith but he has just grown so much. Bernard is of course still amazing. He is the 9 year old who is reading the Book of Mormon faster than I am. Granted, he also has more free time than I do :) He also really enjoyed the baptism and is looking forward to his own on the 13th. He is totally on track and I am thrilled to be able to be a small part of his journey. 

I have such a testimony of the importance ward members play in missionary work. We could NOT do everything we do without their support and help. Having members come with us to lessons, or even better, having a lesson in a member's home, makes it go so much better than if it was just the missionaries. Your testimonies and experiences are so valuable and investigators progress much better when members are involved throughout their conversion process. Please help your missionaries. Go out with them if you can at all. Invite them to have a lesson in your home. I promise that blessings will come. The Spirit is much stronger when there are members in the lesson who add their testimony to ours and can help us teach the principles. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper