Tuesday, April 26, 2016

"We are made to love"

Well, I am losing my companion. Again. Sister Warner is going to Pembroke to be a sister training leader. Yes, that is exactly what happened to my trainer. Who knows, they might end up being companions :) I thought I would be getting transferred, but apparently the Lord needs me here in Durham/Chapel Hill for another 6 weeks. I can't say I'm sad about that, I love it here! There are so many wonderful people and I'm looking forward to seeing at least some of them get baptized. 

Speaking of baptisms, our investigator Toshy got baptized on Saturday!! It was wonderful to see her take this first step in returning to Heavenly Father. She had asked me to give the talk on baptism, so that was the focus of my studies for a few days. I learned so much about why it is so important to be baptized and the covenants we make. The commitment we make to serve others is lifelong. We are never done serving. Christ gave His whole life in service of others and we are to follow His example by serving as long as we live. 

We met a fascinating lady the other day. She studies emotions and their effect on the heart. She told us that when we feel loved or appreciated, our heart settles into a smoother, more efficient rhythm. She said "we are literally designed to love" which I have been thinking about recently. Love is the foundation of the entire gospel. Everything we have is given to us by a Heavenly Father who loves us perfectly and endlessly. His Son gave His life out of love for us. Our love for them is manifest in the way we live our lives. If our bodies function better when we feel love, how much more must love benefit our spirits. Love is not just something that happens, it is something we actively choose. When we feel and express love for those around us, we are literally helping their heart work better. 

Sorry this is so short. There are lots of things we want to see today before Sister Warner leaves, so there will be lots of pictures again next week. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Baptisms are the best <3

Monday, April 18, 2016

No clever title, just a great week

We are scheduled to have a baptism this Saturday! (So far, no indications this one will fall through.) Toshy is the best! When we taught her the Word of Wisdom a few weeks ago, she was already living it!! I'm pretty sure she is the only person I have ever met outside the church who lives it. She has such a sincere desire to obey God and follow Him. The only downside is that she is technically in YSA, so we will have to transition her to the YSA sisters after she gets baptized :( But that's okay because she has already met one of them! Her sister is also being taught in another ward, so hopefully more of her family will be getting baptized soon :)

This past week was another one full of exchanges. Well, really only two, but they were back to back. It is so fun to be able to work with other sisters and learn from them! I know the purpose of exchanges is for the sister training leader to be able to help the sisters she is responsible for, but I feel like I benefit just as much from exchanges as the sisters my companion is with. The sisters I have gone on exchanges with are all so different but they all have wonderful insights and knowledge. Being able to see how others teach and the way they live the gospel always makes me want to be better. One of the sisters I was on exchanges with has only been a member for about two years. her testimony is so simple and so powerful. She does not know a lot about certain aspects of the gospel or the Church, but she knows the Book of Mormon is true and that Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. A testimony's strength is not based on length of time, but on the sincerity of belief. 

We had a multi-zone conference this week and it was amazing!! It was fun to see missionaries I came out with and .as always, it was inspiring to hear from the leaders (especially President James). President James told a story about W.W. Phelps and how he left the church but was welcomed back with open arms. It made me think about how often we turn away from the Savior but how often He invites us back and forgives us. I am so grateful for the Atonement and the ability that I have to always return to my Savior. After the meeting, we all went to Duke Gardens and got to explore. We were told told to fall in love. With the beauty of NC, that is :)

There was something that was said in a sacrament meeting yesterday that stood out to me. The topic was the Restoration and one of the speakers focused his talk on Christ. He said "Christ is the Restorer" and it made me think about all of the ways Christ restores us. After we die, our bodies will be restored because of Him. We are restored to happiness after we fall. He restored His priesthood and His church in this day so that we could be restored to Heavenly Father's presence. All loss and imperfection can and will be restored through the Savior. He not only saves us from our sins, but from every painful thing that happens to us. He came to make everything right.  

Sorry this is a short email this week, I will send lots of pictures to make up for it :)
Love y'all
Sister Pyper
​My companion is the best <3

This felt oddly like taking a graduation picture. I just really liked the bridge and wanted a picture. 

So, apparently my eyes were closed when we took this picture. Ooops!! We were mission home buddies <3 We flew out together and have been in the same zone our first three transfers. She is the sweetest!

All the WA sisters: Bremerton, Puyallup. and me :)

I <3 the James's

Monday, April 11, 2016

(Having a) cold never bothered me anyway

Aside from being a little sick, this past week has been amazing! We have met so many people who are prepared to hear the restored gospel. The Lord is preparing people is many many ways. It is incredible to meet people who are willing to listen and want to follow God more closely. 

Something that Sister Warner does every day is ask me what my tender mercies were and when I felt the Spirit that day. It has really helped me recognize the Lord's hand in my life and I want to share that with y'all. 
Daily tender mercies/when I felt the Spirit
Mon- Even though all of our appointments fell through, we found a new investigator and some very promising people/Reviewing my notes from Conference and remembering all of the answers and counsel I received from the Lord's servants
Tue- We were able to have a lesson in a member's home with one of our investigators with a baptismal date/Finding a new investigator and feeling of God's love for her. I have never loved people as much as I do when I testify of how much Heavenly Father loves them. I know without a doubt that He loves every single person who has ever lived.
Wed- Knocked on someone's door who used to meet with missionaries in a place called Lumberton. One of the elders in my ward was just in Lumberton and remembered this man. James wants to learn more about the gospel and is very open/In zone training we went on a church tour. The elders who gave it bore very powerful testimonies and helped us all to recognize the Spirit we felt. We were able to sit in the chapel and hear them sing I Am a Child of God, and hear the baptismal prayer. It was so powerful to feel the Spirit that strongly and to imagine people I am teaching feeling the same thing. I am so grateful for this gospel and the Restoration. 
Thu- Despite our companions having neither a phone or their GPS, Hermana Alonso and I were able to get our companions back. There had been a meeting that our companions went to, so we were on exchanges. We had asked the elders to tell them where to meet us, only to realize that they didn't know how to get there. It all worked out and we were all able to make it to our lessons on time/On exchanges with Hermana Alonso, she was teaching in Spanish and I obviously had no clue what she was saying. I could feel the Spirit in the room as she spoke and I know those she taught felt it too. The Spirit is truly universal. 
Fri- Even though plans fell through, we were able to see all of the people who needed us/Hearing an investigator really pray, rather than reciting a scripture. Seeing how her understanding and relationship with Heavenly Father has changed was incredible. 
Sat- Our investigator Anita had remembered what she heard at Conference and had questions about what she had been reading. I love hearing the questions people have, it shows that they are really thinking about what they are hearing and want to understand/ Teaching a single mom and her two kids and being able to invite them to be baptized. I know the blessings that will come into their lives as they take that step to follow their Savior and I can't wait for them to have all the blessings available to them. 
Sun- My tender mercies and times I felt the Spirit are the same today. There was a fireside in the evening with our mission president and investigators/recent converts/returning less-actives. We had two investigators there, which was wonderful! Everyone (not counting missionaries or active members) got to share their experience with the Church, how they met missionaries and share their testimony. It was really sweet to hear to testimony of people who got baptized a week ago and to hear the people I am teaching share their feelings. Earnest talked about how we first met him and how much he has learned since then. He is so close to recognizing his answer and understanding that this is where he needs to be. I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I have been able to see his journey closer to God and to play a very small part in it. 

I love this Gospel with all my heart. It has blessed me more than I can express and I know that it will bless everyone who lives it. I know that this Church is Christ's church and that He is guiding it. He calls prophets to guide us and I know that Thomas S. Monson is His prophet today. 

I love y'all
Sister Pyper

Monday, April 4, 2016

"We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet"

I am so incredibly grateful for prophets and modern revelation!! The knowledge that there is a prophet of God on the earth today who holds all of the authority to act in God's name brings me so much comfort. Elder Stevenson's talk about priesthood keys made me recognize what a great blessing it is to live in a time when those keys are on the earth. I know that Joseph Smith was truly called to be a prophet and that Heavenly Father restored all of the keys through him. The priesthood is what allows us to receive all of the ordinances required for exaltation as well as the blessings that Heavenly Father has in store for us. I am so grateful for the privilege we have to be able to hear the words of God's chosen servants every six months (at a minimum) and to receive guidance and counsel. I know that Thomas S. Monson has been called by God and is truly His mouthpiece to guide His church. 

It is amazing to see how much clarity and understanding is lost when people do not have the benefit of modern revelation. We were teaching an investigator this past week and she asked how we can know if we have been 'saved'. She knew that baptism is necessary, and that God knows if we are 'saved' or not, but she had no idea how she could personally know before she dies. We were able to teach her the Gospel of Jesus Christ and explain the priesthood and temples. That knowledge is needed so desperately by so many. So many people have no idea what is required to enter God's kingdom and always feel that they will never be worthy. They do not understand the Atonement. Christ's Atonement is what makes us able to be cleansed from our mistakes and shortcomings. None of us are able to fully live His laws, but He simply asks us to do our best and turn to Him for strength. Here in the South, I have met so many people who have been 'saved'. I am grateful for the knowledge that salvation is a process, not an event. The purpose of missionary work is not to baptize people. Yes, that is a huge step, but that is not the ultimate goal. The reason the Lord calls missionaries is to help His children return to His presence and become worthy to live in the Celestial Kingdom. That is what it means to be saved. That is the reason I am here. 

I have been thinking about sacrifice and sanctification this past week. The Lord has always required His people to make sacrifices. Sacrifice is not something that comes naturally or easily to us, which is why it is required. It was not easy for the Israelites to kill the best animal of their flock.  It goes against every natural reasoning. Today, we are not asked to give animal sacrifices. The sacrifices asked of us are in some ways harder. We are asked to give our whole souls to the Lord. He asks everything of us. He will often ask us to give up the thing that seems impossible to let go of. Abraham was asked to sacrifice his only son, the one who he had waited his whole life for. We are asked to give up our sins, distractions, temptations, pride, fear, and anything else that distances us from God. It is hard, but that does not mean it is impossible. The Lord will always help us to accomplish the things He commands us to do. Whatever it is that He asks us to sacrifice, it is what will sanctify us. He knows us infinitely better than we know ourselves and knows what keeps us from the complete joy He has in store for us. It takes faith and humility to be willing to give the Lord what He asks of us. That is something I am always working on. Often I know what it is the Lord asks of me, but I let my pride and fear get in the way of acting. I know that Heavenly Father does not require impossible things of us. Nothing is impossible with His help, and that help is promised to those who do all that He asks. 

Quick weekly breakdown ( I will try to be better at doing this weekly)
Mon- zone activity ( ultimate frisbee, soccer), grocery shopping, tracting, stopped by an investigator and talked briefly about the BofM
Tue- tracting with a different Sister while Sis. Warner was in a meeting, some appointments later. Oh! Little miracle from this day. I had written down an apartment number while tracting with the intention of going back and trying again later. When we went back, I could not remember why I had written it down. I knew there had been some reason I felt like we should come back, but I didn't know what it was. When we knocked, there was actually someone home and he became a new investigator! It was cool to see that little moment of inspiration. 
Wed- district meeting, went out to Chapel Hill for a couple lessons, dinner with a CH member, tracting. We found Anita, who said we came at exactly the right time and we were exactly what she needed! She has a baptismal date now and even watched a session of Conference. 
Thu- weekly planning, walking all over Durham (pretty sure we walked about 7 miles total). We met a former investigator's sister and taught her about the Atonement. Her sister has struggled with drugs before and had been clean for a few months, but isn't any more. It was wonderful to testify to her that Christ has not only suffered for her sister's addiction, but for her own worry and pain as well. The Atonement does not only cover our mistakes, it covers the pain caused by the mistakes of others. 
Fri- we got to invite everyone we saw to watch Conference. Getting to tell people all day about the opportunity to hear a living prophet was incredible. 
Sat/Sun- Conference!! Tracting and stop-bys between sessions
Being a missionary is the best, especially at Conference time. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper