Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Answers to prayers and calls to repentance

I am so grateful to have my companion back! She is a sister training leader, so she goes on exchanges with each of the sisters that she is over. Which means that I get to go on exchanges too!! I love getting to learn from other sisters and getting to know them. We went on exchanges two days in a row, and then Sister Warner had a leadership meeting on Friday. I was only with her 4 out of 7 days last week and it is so good to be back together! I love the other sisters, there is just something different about being with your actual companion. The sisters I was with for exchanges are wonderful though. One of them is in her first transfer and she is already a great missionary! She told me that she looks up to me and hopes to be like me when she is done training. Hello call to repentance! It was so humbling to think of all the ways I can improve and knowing that I am setting an example for other missionaries. The second sister is an Hermana and she has only been active for a little over a year. Hearing her teach in Spanish was incredibly powerful. I couldn't understand most of what she was saying, but the Spirit was undeniable. We tracted into a couple Spanish speakers that she was able to teach, and one of them was so touched by the Spirit that Hermana Hathaway brought that she was tearing up. The Gospel is truly universal and applies to all people, regardless of language or culture. 

I love teaching the gospel and being able to see the blessings that people receive from living it! We taught our investigator Toshy about the Word of Wisdom last week. Apparently, she has already been living it! I think she is the first person I have ever met who is living it that isn't a member. She has incredible faith and humility. Her reason for not drinking/smoking before was that it was bad for her body. After we taught her, she told us that now her reason is to obey God's commandments. Earnest is also making amazing progress is living the Word of Wisdom and he is seeing so many blessings from it! I am so grateful for the guidance of a Father in Heaven who knows more than we do. I know that all of His commandments are for our benefit, even when we do not see the purpose. 

The general women's broadcast was amazing! I am so grateful for leaders who are called by God and given His counsel in what to speak on. I had a question that I was seeking an answer to and the very first speaker said exactly what I needed to hear. I know that the leaders of this Church are called by God and that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet on the Earth today. I am so grateful for the opportunity that we have to hear his counsel this coming weekend. I know that you can take any question to Conference and receive your answer. 

I have been studying Christlike attributes for the past couple weeks. Thinking about my Savior and how He lived His life has given me a long list of ways to improve. I am so grateful for His Atonement that allows me to repent every day and become a little better. I have been reading a talk about being a consecrated missionary as well. The main point of the talk is that being consecrated is more than simply following the rules, it is changing your attitude. I realized that the purpose of obedience is more than simply to change our behavior. The purpose of obedience is to change our hearts. We do not receive all the blessings we can if we simply obey because we are told to. When we have a sincere desire to follow God and His commandments, our hearts are changed. That is the power of the Gospel. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Monday, March 21, 2016

I love to see the temple

We got to go to the temple last week as a zone!! I have missed the temple and being able to go more often. It was incredible to go with the missionaries in the zone. This is why I am a missionary, to help others receive the blessings that come from temples and help them be sealed to their families. Most of us got names from the same family. Someone the James' know had a bunch of family names that they wanted missionaries to do. I am so grateful for temples and the peace and strength I have received from them. Even when I am not able to go as often as I would like, knowing that I have made covenants with the Lord gives me great comfort. I know that if I keep the covenants that I have made, that I will receive the blessing he has promised. 

Being over two wards means that there are twice as many wonderful people to meet and teach. The previous sisters in Chapel Hill had found someone named Toshy that they were teaching. Toshy is so great! We taught her about the Gospel of Jesus Christ this week and invited her to be baptized. Her response was "yes, what do I need to do?" That is the BEST response anyone can give! She is so sweet and so willing to do what we ask her to do. She is reading the Book of Mormon pretty much every day and really wants to come closer to God. She is applying what she learns from the scriptures to her life and really trying to understand the principles. She came to the adult session of stake conference on Saturday and had really good questions and said she felt the Spirit. She has a baptismal date and is well on track! I will keep y'all updated as it gets closer. 

Stake conference was amazing! The adult session was really powerful. We were singing I Know That My Redeemer Lives and the last verse was a capella. I had this overwhelming recognition that the words I was singing were true. I do know that my Savior lives. He is my personal Savior and the personal Savior of every single person. I know without a doubt that He lives and that He knows me. I am so grateful for that knowledge and this time that I have to remember His resurrection on Easter. The fact that He lives today means that we can all live again. Death is temporary. Life can be eternal through Christ. His life did not end on the cross and ours do not end at death either. 

I am recognizing the importance of the way we live and the example we set. We tracted into someone the other day who knew a surprising amount about Mormons. It turned out that she has two classmates who are members. Their example touched her so much that she decided to do some research on the Church. She told us that some of the scriptures she read answered questions she has had for years about God. These members had no idea that she had done that, they had never asked her to. They just lived their faith openly and lived the way Christ would have them live. I am so grateful for their quiet examples of righteousness and the  impact they had on this woman's life. You may never see the results of your example, but I know that others see what you do and that you bless lives. 

Spring is definitely here in NC! There are beautiful flowers everywhere and it is getting warm! I will be trying to take more pictures and send them next week. 

Love y'all, 
Sister Pyper
Sister Warner & me at the temple

All the sisters from the zone, plus Sister James

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Humility is the key to true strength

What a week! So much has happened that I don't really know where to begin. 

Last Monday was my last full day with Sister Workman (she is doing well, minus a sinus infection. I actually got to see her briefly on Friday at a meeting my new companion had to go to) and we went to Duke Gardens and saw a first edition Book of Mormon that Duke has. It was amazing to see it and be able to hold such an important piece of history. As I flipped through the pages I couldn't help but think about the history of that specific book. Who read it? Who became converted because of it? Did Joseph Smith personally give this particular copy to someone? I know that someone must have been converted by it, all they had to do was read it and pray. I know that the Book of Mormon is truly the word of God and that this is His church. Having the Book of Mormon in my life has brought me so much closer to my Savior and my Father in Heaven and I am incredibly grateful for it. 

I got my new companion on Tuesday, after a very strange few hours where I was without an official companion and just with ward members. Her name is Sister Warner and she is amazing! She is from Alaska, the middle of 9 children, and has so much energy! She never seems to get tired or need to stop, she just keeps going and doing. Being with her for the next 7 weeks (yes, 7. This transfer is longer because the MTC is going back to 3 week training so everything is adjusting to that) is definitely going to push me and I am so excited! She came in with the unexpected news that we are now covering two wards and that she is the sister training leader. Lots of surprises that first day! We are still in the process of figuring out all the logistics of two wards, but it is not as difficult as I expected it to be. I was admittedly a tiny bit stressed when I first found out, but Sister Warner is a great source of knowledge and guidance. Prayer was of course what helped me the most. 

This past week I have been studying humility and how I can be more humble. I have learned how humility is truly a sign of strength and not weakness. It takes a lot of courage to admit that you cannot do it all on your own and that you need help. True strength comes from recognizing and acknowledging your weaknesses and working to improve them. I am only able to do what I have been called to do because of the Lord, I know that I would not be able to do even half of what I have done if I was on my own. I always have things to work on and I am honestly so grateful for that! I love being able to find new things to work on and knowing that I do not have to be the same person that I have always been. 

One of our investigators is a great example of humility. We were teaching Lashanda and her family about the Restoration. Lashanda's aunt was there and has very strong faith in God. This aunt is going to be starting her own church soon and has very strong opinions on what her family should be learning. Near the end of the lesson, the aunt was telling us that she felt that we put too much emphasis on prophets and that we were going to be leading her family astray. After about five minutes of this, she basically told us we were not welcome back. As we were leaving, Lashanda came out and started talking to us. She apologized for her aunt and told us that we are always welcome and that she just wants what is best for her children. Some of the older kids were there as well and told us that they like us and want us to keep coming. It was a very sweet moment and I am so grateful that the Spirit was able to touch them and soften their hearts to have the desire to learn more. Their genuine desire to feel the Spirit and learn more about God was so touching I am so grateful that Sister Warner and I were able to bring the Spirit into their home and that we were able to build a good relationship with them. 

The ward members here are amazing! We had a last minute lesson right after church in our second ward and needed someone to come with us, and a member in Relief Society said she was available. It turns out that she is a convert and joined the church in her 30s and is now in her 60s. She wanted so badly to serve a mission, but was married with children when she got baptized. She was so excited to hear that she can still serve a mission, even at her age and being divorced. It is so wonderful to see the joy that comes into people's lives as they live and share the gospel. 

I unexpectedly got to see my mission president and his wife yesterday! They spoke in one of our wards and it was so powerful! President and Sister James talked about the importance ward members play in the work. I have definitely seen how much of a difference it makes when members of the ward come out with us. The lessons always go better and the investigators have someone to connect to. There have been so many times when the member with us said exactly the right thing for the investigator and it was something I would have never thought of. Do not discount your importance in missionary work! You are needed. I have so many ideas for how to be a better member missionary when I am not a full-time missionary. "Ask the missionaries, they can help" is true! We would absolutely love to help you share the gospel and find ways that you can help those you know. Please just ask, I guarantee the missionaries will be more than happy to help you. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper
This is what a 200 year old Book of Mormon looks like.  ​Fun fact: the original Book of Mormon contained a preface from Joseph Smith. 

Duke Gardens: The one with the birds
Duke Gardens: Asian edition

Monday, March 7, 2016

The only true constant is change

As of yesterday, I am officially done being trained. That by no means means that I feel prepared for this next transfer though. I am staying in the area, so I don't have to worry about learning a new area, but Sister Workman is getting transferred to Pembroke to be a sister training leader. Both of our elders are also getting transferred, so I will be the only missionary staying in the area this next transfer. Which means that I not only have a new companion, but I also have three missionaries to introduce to the area/ward/investigators. The Lord clearly has much more faith in me than I do. This next week will be full of lots of prayer and growth. It will be a great time to learn to rely completely on the Lord because I know that there is no way that I can do it on my own. I am more than a little anxious about it, but I know that as I rely completely on Heavenly Father and do whatever is asked of me that He will magnify my abilities and give me the peace and strength that I need. 

That stress has actually already given me sweet experiences that have strengthened my testimony. We found out Saturday evening that Sister Workman is being transferred, so I have had all weekend to process the changes that are happening. I have been praying a lot and asking for peace and comfort. I know that President James is inspired and that he seeks guidance from Heavenly Father in every decision and so I don't doubt that this is what Heavenly Father wants. That doesn't always make things easier though. As I have prayed and really sought His help and guidance personally, I have felt so strongly that He is aware of me and is going to help me. I know that Heavenly Father doesn't ask me to do things that I won't be able to accomplish. I know that peace comes when we most need it, if we sincerely ask our Heavenly Father to make us more than we can be on our own. I am sincerely grateful for this opportunity to strengthen my faith and become more of the missionary that Heavenly Father wants me to be. I know that I am doing His work and that He will not leave me alone as long as I turn my heart completely over to Him. I am excited to see what He has in store for me. 

I had an interesting insight while cleaning last week. Every transfer we deep clean our apartment and really focus on cleaning everything. As I was scrubbing the oven rack, I thought about how satisfying it is to see things becoming clean and how it is worth all the effort it took. I realized that that is how Christ feels about us when we repent. It makes Him so happy to see us becoming better and cleaner. His Atonement was infinitely more of a struggle than cleaning the oven but I was able to get a glimpse of how willing He was to suffer so much agony for us. Christ loves us so much more than we recognize. The greatest evidence of His love for us is His willingness to suffer and die for each and every one of us. I know that the Atonement is real and that it covers everything. We do not have to suffer the pains, sorrows, and guilt of life because Christ already has. He has taken all of the burdens of the world so that we do not have to carry them alone. All He asks is that we use the precious gift He has give us and repent. I am so grateful for His sacrifice that allows me to become a little better every day. The 'spiritual deep cleaning' that is possible because of the Atonement is the greatest gift I have ever been given. 

Since Sister Workman is leaving tomorrow, we are going to Duke Gardens today and seeing an original copy of the Book of Mormon that Duke has, so there will be lots of pictures next week :)

Sister Pyper