Monday, August 29, 2016

"I'll go where you want me to go"

First of all, transfer news!! I am getting transferred! Along with all three other missionaries in the ward..... Crazy, right?!?! We were so shocked when we heard that both elders are leaving too! I have no idea where I am going, the zone leaders won't even tell us which zone we are going to, so I guess I just have to wait. I'm sad to be leaving, this area has been challenging at times but I have loved every day here. I have seen this area grow and seen the work move forward. The Lord definitely helped us leave the area better than we found it. We are going to be leaving lots of notes for the new sisters coming in to help them. Lynda and Jonathan's baptism is scheduled for the 17th of September, so that makes it harder to leave. I am going to miss them, but I know the new sisters will love them just as much as I do. The sisters are coming into a wonderful area and I know miracles will continue here. 

We had a miracle yesterday at church. We walked into the chapel and saw an investigator who we haven't had contact with in about a week. He randomly decided to come to church, although I know it wasn't random at all. He told us that he had felt earlier in the week that he wanted to go to church. He said that, as the week went on, he felt more and more urgency about going to church. He said that we wasn't able to see the church at first, but he really wanted to come so he kept looking for it. It was amazing to see him in church and to hear how the Spirit worked in him. He said that he was impressed by how reverent it was for the entire service. He also told us that he felt spiritually fed and that he was grateful he could attend. OH! A woman who hasn't been to church at all since I have been here (and probably longer than that) came to church too!! I have no idea what prompted her to come, but I am glad she did. 

This past week in district meeting we talked about temples and how the temple is the reason we do missionary work. We are not out here simply to baptize, we are here to help families become eternal. That is only possible through the work done in the temple. I realized that the temple is a physical symbol of hope. Because of the work done in temples, death is not the end of the relationships we treasure most. We have hope that we will see those we love again because of the sacred ordinances available in these holy houses of God. Our district leader gave us each a picture of the temple we received our endowments in, to remind us of how we felt and remind us of our purpose in teaching. I am so incredibly grateful for the temples and the opportunity we have to be sealed to our families for all eternity. 

We got to do lots of service this past week! About a month ago, we contacted a former investigator named Paula. She had met with missionaries for years and never felt like she knew it was true. She told us there was a possibility that she would be moving, so we gave her our card and told her to call us if she needed any help. She called us twice last week and asked if we could come help her pack and clean. Of course we said yes! We went and helped her a little on Monday and then again Wednesday morning. I honestly can't think of a better way we could have spent part of our preparation day. We were able to give her the help that she needed and I felt like we did exactly what the Savior would have done if He was here. I have no doubt that we were doing His work and were put there to bless her in some small way. As King Benjamin said, "when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God". We are able to live our religion more fully when we serve. 

Love y'all, 
Sister Pyper

Lynda and Jonathan
​So excited for these two to get baptized in a few weeks! <333

Culinary adventures
Sister Bobbitt and I made black bean brownies. She was hesitant to try them, but as of today, she has eaten more of them than I have :)

Monday, August 22, 2016

"Love oozes outta y'all like filling from a cake"

Oh my goodness, what a 180 from last week! This week was awesome! 

The title of this week's email came from Lynda. She has been really sick the past week or so and we were finally able to see her on Tuesday. She is feeling so much better and is as excited as ever to get baptized. She knew she wasn't going to be able to get baptized on the 20th, so we had to reschedule. We asked if she would like to be baptized the same day as her son and she just lit up! She said she had been thinking about that and was going to ask us if that was possible. OH! She also got a job this past week!! She has been looking for something for a while and miracles happened this week in her life! She is grateful to have the gospel in her life. Every time we teach her, she just gushed about how much she loves us and how much the church means to her. 

Another highlight of this past week was Nancy's baptism and confirmation. Nancy was taught by the elders, but she likes us too :) She asked us to give the talk on the Holy Ghost at her baptism. Apparently she asked if we could do it together because "she likes both of us and didn't want to pick just one" (awwwwww <3).  Normally we can't go to a baptism unless we have an investigator attending or it is someone we taught getting baptized. Although if you are asked to speak, you have to go :) So we got to go and I am so happy that we did! The Spirit was so strong as she walked into the font and was baptized. For me though, the most beautiful part was the next day when she was confirmed. After her confirmation, she walked past us to go back to her seat. Her face physically looked lighter, like a burden she had been carrying was lifted. It was so sweet to be able to see that change in her and to know that her journey has only just begun. 
Something that was said in the other talk at Nancy's baptism has been stuck in my head. The woman who talked about baptism said something about 'the value of a soul'. I don't remember the context because that was what stood out to me. I have been thinking about that and just how valuable each of us truly are. We are worth more than we know. Our souls have tremendous value. Our souls were purchased with the blood of the Son of God. The life of the only perfect person was given for us. Christ Himself willingly gave His life for you. He took upon Himself every pain, every heartache, every hurt. He faced the agony of rejection and sin. For each of us. The true value of a soul is not found in anything visible. Our value is found in the sacrifice of the Savior. There is a song that I have come to love on my mission. It's called Matter by For King & Country. Part of the chorus says "To the One who spoke and set the sun ablaze. To the One who stopped the storm and walked the waves. To the One who took the tree so He could save. You matter" I know that that is true. We are valued so much that the lifeblood of the Son of God was willingly given. 

Something I learned this past week is  one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon. I have been noticing recently how often the word 'remember' is mentioned, especially in connection with the covenants and blessings the Lord has given us. I realized that one of the purposes of the Book of Mormon is to bring to our remembrance the covenants and commandments. The fullness of the gospel, including some commandments and the covenants of the temple, were lost during the Apostasy. The Book of Mormon contains the fullness of the gospel and reminds us of the promises the Lord has made to His children anciently. 

I can't think of much else right now. This is the last week of the transfer. so next week I should have transfer news. Sister Bobbitt is expecting to leave, but who knows? I hope I stay, I love it here, but I know that if I leave I will go where I am needed. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Nancy's baptism

Missionary work is exhausting
Not only is she fully dressed, she fell asleep in about 30 seconds. :)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Things Fall Apart

Well, everything fell through this past week. Literally every single appointment we had was either cancelled or the person wasn't home (with one exception where we were able to reschedule for the next day). I'm pretty sure Heavenly Father is blessing me with a sense of humor, because I honestly think that is hilarious. What are the odds that the 10 or so lessons we had scheduled wouldall fall through? Apparently 100% in this area.  How bizarre is that? Sister Bobbitt and I are both amazed that that actually happened. 

Despite everything falling through, it was a pretty good week! We went out with our Relief Society President a couple times to try to see less-actives (surprise, surprise, no one was every home). There were a couple people who we were able to see (but not teach) and it was really good to help the RS president get in touch with these people.

We have also been working really well with the members. Sister Bobbitt had this idea a couple weeks ago that we are putting into reality. She of course, any time she tells people about it, says that 'we' came up with it. For the record, the idea was all hers. I had absolutely no part in the idea, I'm just helping it become a reality. Her idea was that we should start teaching members similar to the way we teach investigators. The lessons we teach investigators are set up in such a way that we teach principles, extend commitments, and follow up to help them progress. In order to help members with their own missionary work, she felt that we should do the same kind of thing. She came up with about 6 things that are vital to being a full-time missionary and we adapted them to fit members who are not full-time missionaries. The first lesson we teach members is about obtaining the Spirit early in the day. (For those of you who are curious, the others are receiving revelation, gaining gospel knowledge, answering questions, starting gospel conversations, and extending invitations.) We just started this week, so we haven't taught anything but this first lesson to members, but it has been awesome!! The Spirit has always been really strong in their home when we are there. We have gotten about 3-4 times the amount of referrals we normally get from members and we are really hoping that some of them are interested. Apparently the boss of one of the young women has a (really fancy) copy of the Book of Mormon on her nightstand, so we are really excited about that one! 

OH! Another cool story! Sometimes when everything falls through, you end up being led to exactly where you are supposed to be. We were trying to contact potentials investigators and, of course, no one was home or interested. We realized that we were close to a less-active that we had tried to see earlier in the week with the Relief Society President. She hadn't been home that time (noticing a pattern yet?) but we thought maybe she would be now. So we stopped by and she was home!! She is from the Dominican Republic, and doesn't speak too much English, so it was a very simple lesson, but the Spirit was definitely there. She told us that the night before, her mom (who we are pretty sure is not a member) had a dream about us. She told her daughter about it the morning before we came over. Her mom said that she had a dream that missionaries were coming and that she 'needed to make room to receive them'. How cool is that?! We gave her information to the Hermanas so that they can teach her and her family. I know that we were supposed to be there at that time and that we were led there. It took everything else falling through, but hey, the Lord truly does work in mysterious ways. 

I know that this gospel and this church are true. I wouldn't be here in the humidity, surrounded by hardcore Baptists if it wasn't. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that it stands alongside the Bible in bearing witness of Jesus Christ. I know that He lives. The Savior who died for each of us lives. His resurrection is real and eternal. I know that repentance is possible because of the Atonement. I am so grateful for the knowledge that Christ suffered, died, and rose again for me. His Atonement is infinite and individual. It is available to every person who has ever lived and every person who ever will live. I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is truly His church established once again in its fullness. I know that Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's chosen prophet and that revelation has not ceased. I know that God has not left us alone or in the dark. He will always reach out in love to His children. All He asks is that we seek Him. Pray. He is there. He hears you. He loves you. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Reasons I love my companion
 After getting a scratch somehow, she insisted on cleaning it for me and giving me a band-aid. With a light saber. 
She also looks super cute when she makes faces when we take pictures <3

Sister Bobbitt has a green thumb
She put half an apple in the fridge and ta-da! The seed started sprouting! 

Apparently I take lots of pictures of bug-related things??
So, there are these webs everywhere and they are huge. It looks like they are made by some kind of caterpillar? 

Look at this ridiculousness
I did absolutely nothing to my hair this morning. Thank you NC humidity for making it curly all the time. 

The Mystery Mobile: Apocalypse edition
​I feel like this is what Scooby Doo & Company would do in a zombie outbreak. 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Miracles beyond description

Oh my goodness this past week was AMAZING!!!! When I first got here, the average number of lessons per week was 4-5. This past week we had 12! And we found 10 new investigators! That was double our goal. The Lord is definitely hastening the work in this area. I honestly don't even know what we did this week to have so much success, but whatever it was clearly worked :)

Well, I guess I kind of know what we did. We were really trying to follow the Spirit more this week. We went on exchanges and Sister Peterson and I both felt like we should try to find apartments/town homes to tract. We made a list of places that looked promising and prayed about where the Lord wanted us to go. We both felt good about a particular street, so that's where we went. We found 2 new investigators and got 7 referrals! Whoever said Wake Forest is a dead area has clearly never come to this street :) The work has grown so much in this area since I have been here and I am so grateful to play a small part in it. Following the Spirit is key in everything we do. We were trying to contact some potential investigators when I realized we were near an investigator we haven't been able to get up with. We decided to stop by to see if she was home. She wasn't, but her neighbors were just getting home. Sister Bobbitt turned and knocked on their door before we left. Hello 4 new investigators!!

Lynda continues to be amazing!!! We had explained that she needs to come to church the two Sundays before her baptism in order to get baptized on the 20th. Yesterday, she was feeling sick in the morning but really wanted to come. When we saw her, she told us that she had prayed that morning for the strength to go to church so that she can get baptized on the 20th. Even though she was dizzy and kind of nauseous, she came. What a trooper! After Sunday School, the elders gave her a blessing. She said she instantly felt better. I am so grateful for the priesthood and that we have access to the blessings that we need. Oh! We also set a baptismal date with Lynda's son Jonathan!!

Sometimes we have days where we find lots of people, and sometimes we have days where no one wants to talk to us. Saturday was the latter. We had an appointment with a less-active member of the ward. We go to her house right on time and knocked. No answer. Rang the doorbell, no answer. Rang again, we heard someone come to the door. *click* Yep, that was the door being locked. So we decide to call her. After leaving a voicemail and knocking again, we decide to just go eat our lunch. We parked on the street near her house and started eating. Not even 5 minutes later, the person we had gone to see pulls out of the driveway and leaves. To me, that was just hilarious. PSA: Missionaries will not egg your house if you tell them you don't want to talk. Promise. Personally, I would much prefer someone to just flat out tell us they aren't interested rather than trying to hide. Although I did think it was hilarious. A similar thing happened with someone else that we stopped by. We knew they were home, but no one answered the door. We left a card, and 5 minutes later it was gone. Sometimes I think I have been blessed to not care. Not in the sense that I don't like people, but things like this don't offend me. I honestly just think it's funny. 

Hmmmm, what else happened this week? I can't think of anything specific, so here's a list of some of the ridiculous things that happened
-while talking to someone, a girl in another room kept shouting random things to the girl we were talking to. maybe they were drunk, maybe not?
-someone we talked to referred us to their neighbor who is a member of the ward
-almost got the cops called on us (for something that isn't even illegal)
-a kid answered the door and immediately said "don't come back" when we apologized and started leaving, he said "wait, who are you? I thought you were one of my friends" After we explained that we were missionaries, he told us we would have to come back later :)
-after a lesson fell through, the members who came with us took us to dinner. The dinner that they were originally planning on being a date. Yep, they practically begged us to crash their date

I can't even begin to describe how incredibly grateful I am to be serving the Lord as a missionary. I know that this is His work. For some reason, He trusts me enough to allow me to play a role in it. I am reminded every day that I am not the one who can convert people. I am merely the one who provides an opportunity for people to hear the truth. I know that this church is true. I know that Joseph Smith did see Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt that the priesthood is real and that it is found only in Christ's restored church. I know that my family can be eternal through that priesthood authority. That is the greatest blessing I could ever ask for. Knowing that my family can be mine, forever, makes me happier than anything else in this world. That is why I am here, to help others to experience the joy that I have found. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

For some reason, we have a tortilla press in our apartment. After getting a recipe from a member, we made tortillas! 

So apparently cicadas are huge???

So, on exchanges, Sister Peterson noticed a dead cicada on someone's porch. So of course we picked it up. I had no idea they were this big. 

Monday, August 1, 2016

Who would have thought I would ever be grateful for Pokemon??

I'm not sure if y'all are aware of this new app called Pokemon Go! The fact that I am aware of it, as a low-tech missionary, is a good indicator of how huge it is. It's an app where you can walk around and hunt for Pokemon. There are certain places that have lots of Pokemon, places like parks and downtown Wake Forest. Sister Bobbitt and I thought it was funny that it took an app to get people outside :) But it is surprisingly really good for us as missionaries. We try to go to the park near our house about once a week to contact people. We went last week and there were so many people there! We couldn't figure out why at first, until we noticed that just about everyone was on their phone. Thank you Pokemon for getting people outside. Especially in Carolina humidity. Most people are slaves to the AC, but apparently Pokemon hunting takes priority. What a weird reality shift. 

Oh! Tiny but impressive miracle from Saturday. We had biked to a neighborhood near us to go tracting. While we were talking to people, I could hear some thunder in the distance. It wasn't close enough that I worried about it, but I could tell the storm was coming in. We biked back home when it was time to go back, getting home right at 9 pm (curfew for missionaries). Sister Bobbitt had unlocked the door and was taking her bike inside and I had just gotten on the porch when instantly it started pouring. Literally right after I got under cover. The Lord definitely blesses us when we are obedient. The storm was still going on after we finished planning, so I prayed that our home would be protected and that we would be kept safe. Not even a minute later, the storm started dying down. So prayers definitely work, even in the smallest details. 

Lynda (our golden investigator, the one with a baptismal date) said something really sweet this past week. She told us that "being friends with y'all makes me want to know God more". Awwwwww! I love being able to play a small part in this daughter of God coming to know her Father more and receive the blessings of the gospel.

It's amazing to see how the Lord prepares people in ways we can't imagine. A former Baptist Seminary student is not who I would have imagined would be ready to hear the restored gospel, but clearly that is why I am not in charge of this work, the Lord is. I am so very grateful for that. This truly is His work and He is very much involved in it. I know that I could not do any of the things I have been able to be a part of without His hand. He does everything from stopping storms to inspiring someone to make an app to get people outside is :) I heard someone say that all of the technology we have access to today has a divine source and was created so that more of Heavenly Father's children can hear His gospel. My testimony of that has increased this week. We have been able to use lots of different methods to teach this past week. We had phone lessons, text lessons, and a couple Facebook lessons. It is amazing to see how much good can be done with the tools we already use every day. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper