Monday, September 26, 2016

Gas shortages, rainstorms and revelation

So, in case y'all didn't hear about it, there was a gas shortage this past week. I'm still not quite sure if it only affected NC or more of the South. Oh the joys of having no access to information about the world :) Anyway, NC was affected and everyone was panicking for a couple days. The first we heard about there even being a shortage was Sunday evening when we asked a member to come out with us. She couldn't come because she wasn't sure how the gas shortage would influence her plans. The next day the mission sent out a text telling us to keep our tanks halfway full (or more if possible). If we couldn't find gas, we were told to leave our cars parked and walk/bike/teleport to our lessons. Aside from being majorly confused at what was happening in the world, Sister Burkholder and I were totally fine. A little extra biking never hurt anyone :) By Wednesday, most gas stations had gas again, just less than normal. We have been switching the car every other day with the elders this week (long story) so we were going to be biking anyway. Side note, biking home from district meeting (which is about 2.5 miles) in the rain is SO MUCH FUN! Some of you may have read that sarcastically, but I am being serious. It was the best! We got completely soaked and had a blast. I love biking in the rain!!

The one downside to the gas shortage was that members were less willing/able to go out with us (which we totally understood). So number-wise this week was one of our slowest. But the lessons that we did have were really good! We saw Jarek about 3 times this week and he is making amazing progress! In a week, he has cut his smoking in half or more and is still so excited to get baptized. It is wonderful to see how much he loves the gospel and the light it brings into his life. He has had some bad experiences with religion in the past but tells us every week how much he liked church. He feels so welcome and always feels the Spirit. I love seeing the Atonement work in his life. Sometimes a change is immediately noticeable and other times it is more subtle. Jarek falls into the second category. Over the time we have been here, we have seen him grow his faith and come closer to the Savior. It has not happened overnight and it is a continual process, but he is repenting nonetheless. 

Oh my goodness the Women's Broadcast on Saturday was amazing! I have made it a point the past few sessions of Conference to go with a question. Every time I have done that it hasalways been answered in some way. This time was no exception. I have been studying charity recently and was wondering how I can have more charity. The very first talk was all about charity and I heard lots of things I needed. I love seeing how the Lord inspires the leaders of His church to teach us the things we need to hear. I know that the Spirit teaches us individually and tells us what we specifically need to hear. One of my favorite quotes from the broadcast was from the talk where the story of the girl with bipolar disorder was shared ( I can't remember who gave that talk and I don't have my notes with me. Either way it was a fantastic talk). The girl, in the middle of what was likely one of her darkest moments, told her mother that "you don't need to (do anything to take away her pain), someone already has". I love that! It was such a powerful reminder to me that Christ has already suffered everything for us. Every pain we feel, every loss we suffer, every tear we cry, every ache of loneliness or rejection, every single thing that we experience has been felt by the One who knows you better than you know yourself. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane so that you don't have to. Any and all burdens you have can be carried by the Savior. You do not have to carry them alone. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Halloween came early this year :)

I discovered completely by accident that I can be a Minion for Halloween :) Now to go find my long-lost family with their overalls and weird voices

Early Halloween pt. 2

​Before the Women's Broadcast on Saturday, we had an eat and greet. The Relief Society President brought these for us. 

Somehow, when we had dinner with a member, all the food ended up at my end of the table. It just happened. I thought it was hilarious to look at the table and realize that all the food was by me. 

Yes, sister missionaries ride bikes too!
It is hard to tell, but this is near the end of our ride in the rain. At this point we are completely soaked but having a blast!
Here we go. This is a good representation of how soaked we were. 

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Oh yeah, happy 9 months to me

As I'm writing, there is a thunderstorm going on outside. I love that there are so many storms here! Nothing super important there, just a random side note. Other side note, last Wednesday marked 9 months of being in North Carolina. It is crazy to realize how quickly the time has gone. Good thing I still have 18 months ahead of me :) (No, of course I'm not in denial) 

Things are going really well with our investigators! We taught Jarek about the Word of Wisdom last night in a member's home and he wants to live it! I love teaching families! Seeing Jarek and Corinthia progress together and support each other helps me understand why families are so important. Jarek and Corinthia are holding each other accountable to live the Word of Wisdom and they are both so excited about the gospel. Seeing them strengthen their relationship and try to teach her kids the gospel is incredible. They have been praying every day as a family and are going to start reading the scriptures as a family. It is amazing to see the changes that have happened in Corinthia since I first met her. When I first met her months ago, she hadn't been to church in months and always seemed stressed. Now, she is much happier and is so excited about the gospel! She still has lots to deal with, but she has more ways to find strength and peace. 

Speaking of families, we have been teaching a mom and her 13 year old daughter for a couple weeks. We are still trying to begin teaching the husband, he is rarely home when we are there. The daughter has some struggles but her mom said last time we were there that she has seen changes in her daughter since we have been teaching them. Even though we have only taught them a couple times, I have already seen more light come into her life. There is more light and hope in her eyes than there was the first time we met. I have loved seeing the changes that have happened as she learns more about the restored gospel. I know that the Atonement will help her to repent and overcome her challenges. There is always hope. None of us are beyond repair. Seeing this girl learn that and begin to draw closer to the Savior is the greatest feeling. I love seeing the light in her eyes as we talk about the gospel. I feel like hearing about 'light in peoples eyes' never really made sense until I was a missionary. There is a noticeable difference in how people look when they are learning about the gospel when they feel the Spirit. Christ is the Light of the World and as those we teach come closer to Him, His light is more evident in their eyes. 

Cool experience of the week: meeting Rolando. We went tracting in an apartment complex where a potential investigator lived. He was the first person to answer the door who spoke English and he is awesome! We talked to him for close to an hour on his front step. He had met with missionaries in the past when he lived in NY, but didn't have any interest in joining at that point. He asked us lots of questions about things we believe and things he has wondered about. That conversation was one where I know that what I said was guided by the Spirit. He asked kind of unusual questions, like why Jesus is always portrayed as white, why people say 'Jesus Christ' is His name when it's only Jesus, why we are told to judge a tree by its fruit when we are also told that judgment is reserved for God, things like that. I immediately had answers come to my mind and shared them with him. He was impressed by my answers and kept shaking my hand because of it :) I have no doubt that what I said did not come from me, but that the Spirit brought to my mind things I had heard before. I could not have answered his questions at all, let alone in a way that clicked for him, without the Spirit. I am so incredibly grateful for the gift of the Holy Ghost that helps me do what I need to do. 

I pondered a lot about the sacrament yesterday during church. There is a man with some physical disabilities that passes the sacrament. It was incredibly sweet to watch him walk up the aisle, with slow and small steps, to pass the emblems of our Savior's body and blood. There was another man sitting in front of me with some disabilities and watching the first man pass him the sacrament was so sweet. I realized that we are all imperfect but we can all help each other. Both of these men have incredibly sweet spirits, but their bodies are limited right now. But those limitations are not permanent. Through the Atonement of the Savior, all of us will be resurrected and receive perfected bodies. His Atonement also enables us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father as we live His commandments. I am so thankful that Jesus Christ loved us each enough to suffer and die for us. As I watched the sacrament being passed to the ward, I thought about what it really means. Sometimes I take it for granted that we are able to renew our covenants every single week. That is why we take the sacrament, to renew our commitment to follow the Savior and His teachings. We promise again to follow Him, to serve Him and our fellow men, and to always remember Him. He can never forget us, we are literally engraved onto His hands. We are a permanent part of Him and we should do all we can to make Him a permanent part of us. Remembering is what we are commanded to do. We are promised that as we strive to always keep the Savior in our thoughts, we will have the Holy Ghost with us. What greater blessing can we have than the presence of a member of the Godhead? 

I know that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the only true church. It is the church that Jesus Christ Himself established and that is was restored through Him. I know that this is the only church with His authority, the authority to bind on earth and in heaven. The sealing power that was given to the apostle Peter is on the earth again and is found only in the temples. I know that this church is the only church that has the authority to bind families for time and all eternity. Families are our greatest blessing and they are meant to be eternal. God is not a temporary God. He does not create things that are not meant to last. Our families are created by God and we are able to be families forever through this gospel, and this gospel alone. I am so grateful for the blessings that I have received from this gospel, most importantly my family. The knowledge that I can spend eternity with the people who mean the most to me is worth any sacrifice required. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

I have a new favorite place!
​There are members who live on Bagpipe Lane, so of course we just had to go introduce ourselves to them :)

Only in the South
​The bottom line reads "Where the food is anointed and you won't be disappointed" 
I love the South

Monday, September 12, 2016

{Insert clever title here}

I realized that I forgot to send my address last week. Sorry! My new address is 88 Justin Ct, Durham NC 27705. If any of y'all want to write me letters I will be here for the next 4 weeks for sure :)

We have a booklet called Adjusting to Missionary Life that is full of idea to handle the stress of missionary life, in all its various forms. A line we read this morning describes this past week perfectly. It says "not all of life is deeply meaningful or exciting". This past week was pretty boring, actually. I can't really think of anything outstanding that happened, either good or bad. 

This past week (and until Wednesday when we get the car back) was bike week. Partly because we couldn't seem to find members to come out with us, we biked a lot this past week. Counting this morning, we biked about 30 miles over the week. Bike week is great! It has been pretty hot, which isn't fun when you're riding a bike. BUT it means that more people offer to give you water when they see you going past. I have learned to never say no to an offer of water, it usually gives you an opportunity to talk to people that you wouldn't otherwise have. There was one guy who offered us water while we were walking up a hill. He was so nice! He gave us cold water bottles and fixed the water bottle holder on Sister Burkholder's bike! We talked to him about what we do as missionaries and how our missions are done differently than other churches. 

I guess since this week was not very eventful, I will include some little miracles from each day
Monday- While we were tracting after a lesson, we didn't really have a specific place we felt drawn to, so we were just walking trying to find a place that felt right. A few streets over from where we started, we heard a man ask us if we were lost. We told him we weren't lost and told him we were missionaries. It turned out that he was a member of the ward and he pointed us towards his neighbor as someone who might be interested.  
Tuesday- While out with a member, we went to go stop by another (fully active) member of the ward. This woman's husband hasn't been to church in months and usually doesn't say anything to the missionaries. Well, he got home while we were sitting in the living room. After putting his things down, he came back into the living room and had a conversation with us! After we left, the member who had taken us told us that was the first time he had talked to missionaries since he stopped coming to church. 
Wednesday- A family who lived in the Durham 1st ward when I was there moved after I left. They moved in to the Durham 4th ward, which meets in the same building as the Durham 2nd ward. I was able to see them briefly in the evening and it was so fun to see them again!
Thursday- Despite not having really biked in almost two transfers, I wasn't sore at all. 
Friday- Tracted into someone who seems totally ready for the gospel. He told us that he is at a point in his life where he is starting to wonder which religion is true and which one he should join. 
Friday pt 2- This one isn't so much a miracle as it is a funny story. We started talking to this man in a the parking lot of an apartment complex. He knows a Mormon and is good friends with him. We had a good conversation, but he was really interested in hearing more. We asked if we could give him a card with our number on it (in case he was ever interested in learning more about the church) and he said "I already have a girlfriend". Sister Burkholder and I started laughing as soon as we got around the corner. 
Saturday- This was the day we biked the most. It was also probably the hottest day. There was one hill where we both just gave up biking and decided to walk. Two people in a row gave us water bottles (the second one is the one mentioned above)
Sunday- Church. I love being able to go to church every week and take the sacrament. 

I think that's about it. Seriously, not an exciting week. Before I end this though, I want y'all to know how grateful I am to be out here. I had the realization this past week that the only thing I have to do for a year and a half is talk to people about the restored gospel. That's it. I don't have to worry about school, work, politics, or anything outside of my calling. There is nothing better I could be doing and nothing else I want to do right now. I get to spend all of my time talking about something that matters more to me than anything else. I get to tell people very single day that the Creator of the universe knows their name and that there is hope. I know without a doubt that this gospel is true, that the church I represent has been restored by Jesus Christ Himself. He is truly the head of this church. It is not run by mortals, but by the Savior. I do know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that he has been called by God to lead the church here on the Earth. Ultimately though, Thomas S. Monson is not the one in charge, Jesus Christ is. I am so grateful to be a part of His restored church and have a greater knowledge of the gospel. I know that the work I am doing is not my own. I am here to bring God's children to a knowledge of Him and help them to return to live in His presence. What more could I ask for? 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Durham Pt 2

Yep, I am back in Durham!!! I am so happy to be back! I am in the Durham 2nd ward and my companion is Sister Burkholder. She is from CA and was just in Durham 1/Chapel Hill 2 last transfer. So both of us are new to this ward and are figuring it out together :) This ward is amazing and we have been kept very busy this past week. The sisters had 21 lessons the week before we came and we were able to have 17! Not bad for both of us being new to the area! 

What is equally exciting is the updates I have heard from Durham 1. There are so many people there who are progressing and doing really really well! The husband of a less-active member just got baptized this past weekend and we always expected him to take much longer to accept the gospel. Another family that I worked with is also on track to get baptized. The husband and son of a different less-active member have a baptismal for a couple weeks from now! I am so excited for all these families that are learning the gospel together. 

One of the coolest small world moments happened when I first got here. When I was in Durham 1, we were working with a member named Corinthia. She had been baptized a few years earlier but wasn't very active. Before I left Durham, she had moved to Florida and we lost contact with her. Well, it turns out that she recently moved back to Durham and lives right across the street from our apartment. When the past sisters were walking past, she saw them and asked if they were the missionaries. So they started working with her and she has been coming to church the past few weeks! It is so wonderful to get to see her again! She is so sweet and she really wants to keep learning about the gospel. We are teaching her boyfriend too and he has a baptismal date! 

Sorry this is so short this week, a last-minute thing came up where we need to give the car to the elders so we have to go soon. I will write more next week 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Wake Forest's main attraction
Farewell Baptist Seminary. I learned a lot from working with the people here. Sadly for you, it only served to strengthen my testimony of the truth I share. 

Reason #3547664 I love the South
​Yep, that sign does indeed say "Pocomoke Cowboy Church". Above the door it says 'no drama zone' and the Jesus picture reads 'Do you know Him? Will He know you? Let us introduce you'
This tiny little church was on the way to Lynda's and it always made me happy. I love the South so much. 

Only in the South
​Yep, Walmart sells fatback. It is literally just fat. That's it. 

We finally found a museum in NC that is open on Monday!! Our district went to the Life & Science Museum yesterday. Pretty much every other museum is closed on Monday, which is frustrating. 

This magical little girl managed to catch 3 butterflies in the time we were there. Did any of us missionaries catch one? Absolutely not. 

This is Corinthia and her boyfriend Jarek. The two kids are hers. Nate is hiding between me and Jarek :)