Monday, May 30, 2016

Truth is unchanging

We were able to work out in Chapel Hill more often this week and found some very solid people! Our time up there also showed me the importance of members. Sister Skalla and I were praying about which members to visit to ask for referrals. We felt impressed to go ask a certain member, but they were not home so we decided to knock a few doors. We knocked on their neighbor's door and he is so prepared! The member has been talking to him about the gospel and having lunch with him every week. It was incredible to see how the Lord led us to someone who had been prepared to hear the gospel.

This week I had a cool insight into the importance of the Book of Mormon. A recent convert in one of my wards gave a talk and read a verse from the Bible. She used a different translation and so it was a little different than I was expecting. It made me think about how the Bible has been translated multiple times and each version is a little different. That means that no one really knows for certain what the Bible says. Everyone has their own opinion of which version is the best, but which one is true? I realized that the Book of Mormon has only been translated once and, aside from being translated into other languages, it will not be retranslated. The doctrines contained in the Book of Mormon are unchanged and will remain that way. It is wonderful to know that the truths contained in the Book of Mormon will remain and will not be altered. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, in every sense of the word. It contains the fullness of Christ's gospel and is the evidence of the Restoration. 

No transfer news yet, we won't know until Saturday at the earliest. I'm expecting to be transferred though. Sorry this is short, not a lot happened this week. I guess my hope for a more eventful week wasn't fulfilled. That's okay though. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

This is Eric (our French investigator) and his family. It took  a very long time to get all 5 kids smiling. 

Completely unintentionally, we ended up matching this week. It's kind of heard to see, but Sister Skalla's shirt has polka dots too. Companionship unity achieved :)

Monday, May 23, 2016

How is your heart?

We had a multi-zone conference with Elder Zwick of the Seventy this past week. It was incredible!! I learned so much and came away feeling so uplifted! Also, fun fact. Sister Zwick went to Shorecrest when it was new. Elder and Sister Zwick sat at our table for lunch and it was fun to get to know them. Most of what was talked about centered on the Atonement and how we can really change ourselves. President James talked about goals and how a good goal can change everything. When we set goals, we have faith that we will be able to accomplish what we have set out to do and we take steps to make that happen. That is a similar process to applying the Atonement. When we have a vision of who we want to become, we must first have faith that Jesus Christ can help us get there. His Atonement does not only cover our sins, it covers everything. Christ has personally experienced everything we go through, from something as simple as being sick to the tragedy of a heartbreak. 

Sister Zwick's talk really struck me. She shared a story from when they were in Mexico. While watching a group of people come to the temple, she noticed that everyone from a certain village had a distinct way of greeting people. These people speak a Mayan dialect that she did not understand. She asked the temple president what they were saying. Their greeting translated to "how is your heart?" She then talked about assessing the condition of our hearts daily. Are our hearts pointed to Christ? Do we have His words written on our hearts? Have the covenants we made become a part of who we are in our hearts? When our hearts are changed through Christ's Atonement, we are never the same. The ultimate end of the Atonement is to change us, to make us better. Sister Zwick pointed out that the story of Alma the Younger and his mighty change of heart is located in the chronological center of the Book of Mormon. Similarly, our hearts and the ability to change them are at the center of our lives. Christ's Atonement should be the centerpiece of our lives. When we allow Him to change our hearts, we become better and closer to the person our Heavenly Father wants us to be. 

We taught Eric about the Word of Wisdom this week and he wasn't sure that it was for everyone. He understood that living the Word of Wisdom will help keep people healthy and prevent addictions, but he said that some people can drink coffee every day and be totally fine. I had the thought that Heavenly Father does not give commandments with exceptions. His commandments apply to all of His children equally. The commandments are given to bless us and protect us and He wants that for all of his children. The prophet reveals God's commandments for all of His children, not just for members of the Church. Everyone, whether or not they belong to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, is blessed by following God's commandments. 

Sorry this is a fairly short email this week, hopefully I will have more to talk about next week. 

Love y'all, 
Sister Pyper

​We decided to clean out our area book and get rid of people who have moved/were not interested. There were some in here from 2009. In total, there were 86 teaching records that aren't relevant anymore.....

Everyone told me magnolias were huge, but I didn't know how huge until they started blooming. They are about the size of my face. (Although this is Sister Skalla in the picture)

We found these super cute townhouses and I think I want to live here. I also loved the sign for the complex. 

Monday, May 16, 2016

Am I a missionary or a zookeeper? Or maybe a wedding planner?

As a missionary, I can't hold children. That is probably the hardest rule to follow, but this week made up for it with an abundance of animals. For a district activity on Monday, we all went to Eno River and did some exploring. Of course the elders spent most of the time trying to catch snakes/lizards/frogs. They succeeded with the lizard and the frog and I got to hold them. I am apparently an official NC missionary now. Then on Tuesday we had lunch with a member and she has bunnies! Two week old baby bunnies specifically. They more than made up for my inability to hold kids. Add that to all the hawks/vultures/bugs/deer/dogs I see every day and I basically have my own little zoo. 

Weddings are not typically something I spend a lot of time thinking about as a missionary. That is, until someone the elders are teaching gets married to a less-active member of the ward that we have been teaching. When that happens, the sister missionaries get called in to help :) Our Saturday morning was spent helping set up and decorate for the wedding. Not something I expected to be doing as a missionary, but it was wonderful! Seeing them take this step towards becoming an eternal family was amazing! It was so great to see how happy they all were and know that they are that much closer. Families are truly the center of the gospel. We just started teaching a couple this week who are engaged and I am so excited to see how the gospel blesses them as they begin their family. 

Eric (our French investigator) came to church with his wife and 3 of their 5 kids (the other 2 were at a sleepover). It was a bit of an adventure trying to help all of them understand what was going on. We have a member who speaks French, so he translated all of sacrament meeting and Gospel Principles. He went with Eric to priesthood, which left us with the wife and the two kids who aren't in Primary. Thankfully the member let us borrow his iPad so they could at least read the lesson in French. I spent most of the lesson realizing I do not know nearly enough French to communicate anything about the gospel. At least I was able to tell them we were talking about prophets :) It was also really cute to hear the little boy talking in his limited English to Sister Skalla. 

I think that's about it for this week. Not every week is full of great adventures, some are just full of little good things. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

This is what happens when your district goes to a park
Don't worry. This is a lizard, not a snake. Although the elders tried to catch a snake too.....
I caught a frog! Apparently this makes me a true NC missionary

Baby bunny! This is a satisfactory substitute for not being able to hold children. 

Not only did we get to hold baby bunnies, but I got to have 5 of them on my lap. I think I found my happy place. 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

"I know the scriptures are true" no matter what language they are printed in

Because Durham and Chapel Hill have a bunch of international students/refugees/immigrants, we had to order supplies in a lot of languages. It is fun to see all the languages sitting on our bookshelf. It hit me that these inspired translations allow even more people to read and understand the message of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon really is the foundation of everything that we believe and our strongest witness of Christ. Knowing that people are able to read it in the language of their heart makes me so happy! Eric, our French investigator, doesn't really speak English so he wouldn't be able to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon if it wasn't in French. He has been able to read it and come to understand its importance as he reads it in a language he speaks. I am so grateful for all the people who sacrifice their time to translate the scriptures so that they are more widely available. 

The scriptures provide so much comfort and direction. This past week was a bit strange. We found out on Thursday that the elders in the ward are no longer in the ward. One of them went home for medical reasons and the other one got transferred into a trio in another zone. It came as a complete surprise to us and we didn't know who was going to be taking over their investigators. Sister Skalla and I had a bit of a hard time focusing on our planning because we had no idea what to plan for. We spent a lot of time praying for guidance and searching the scriptures for direction as well. It all worked out just fine, one of the sets of elders in our district is covering our ward now too. 

I was reminded that I never sent the promised pictures from my adventures on Duke Campus, so that will be the rest of my email this week. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

True in every language

Durham is 'Bull City'. Still have no idea why though. Bonus points to anyone who can get me an answer. 

Yep. First book printed in English in the US. Right in front of me. Oh, there are only 11 copies left in the world. 

This was carved out of a single piece of ivory. And I struggle to draw stick figures....

​At UNC there is this memorial for students of the university who died in war. Each war has a 'page' you can pull out to see a list of names.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Testimonies and growth

I have a new companion! Her name is Sister Skalla. She is very different from my last companions, but just as wonderful. I am excited to get to learn from her. 

Someone was mentioning that it is a bit strange to be in an area for so long. At the end of this transfer, I will have been here for 6 months. That is a bit strange, most sisters are usually in an area for 3 transfers (4.5 months) or less, but I am apparently still needed here. I am very happy about that though, I love it here! 

Staying here also means that I get to see more people progress. I am most excited about Earnest. I feel like he is part of the reason I am supposed to stay here. He has made such amazing progress since I first met him and I know he will only continue to grow! Yesterday was fast and testimony meeting and it was one of the most powerful testimony meetings I have been in. All 4 of us missionaries in the ward got up and bore our testimonies, pretty close together. About halfway through the meeting, Earnest asked me if anyone could get up to talk. I explained that usually speakers are assigned in advance, but testimony meeting was open to anyone who felt prompted to get up. He then asked if you had to be a member to get up. When I told him no, he said he wanted to go up. A couple minutes after that, he got up and bore his testimony. He talked about his experience learning about the gospel and how much it has blessed him. He said that he knows this church is true. I felt so strongly that Heavenly Father is personally aware of Earnest and how much He loves him. I know that Heavenly Father is aware of all of His children and that He wants us to be happy. It was such a powerful experience to be able to hear the testimony of someone I have been teaching and see the effect the Atonement has had on him. 

Toshy, our recent convert, is also doing wonderfully! We just started the new member lessons with her and she talked about how much the Book of Mormon has helped her and blessed her. Hearing her simple testimony and her love for the gospel made me realize again how grateful I am for the Restoration. I am so grateful for the knowledge of Heavenly Father and the Savior that have come because of the Restoration. I know that they are real and that they love me. I know what my purpose here on Earth is and what is required of me. That knowledge brings me so much peace and direction. 

A member of the ward yesterday mentioned that she has seen me change since I have been here. I have been thinking about that and realized the reason I have changed. I am spending all of my time thinking about the Savior and how I can help others. As a missionary, I have to rely on the Savior for everything. He is the only reason I am able to do any of the things that I have to do as a missionary. That complete reliance on Him has changed who I am and I am so grateful for that. I am not the same person I was when I left and I am not even the same person I was a week ago. At the risk of sound cliche, a mission really does change you. I have come closer to my Heavenly Father and my Savior. I know that nothing I do is truly my own, it is all Heavenly Father. This is truly His work and I am so thankful that He has allowed me to have a small role. This gospel is the greatest blessing that I have been given and having the opportunity to share it with others makes me so happy. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper