Monday, December 26, 2016

Merry Christmas/Happy New Year!!!

Well, since the next time I email will be next year (......that is so weird), I wanted to share some of the things I have learned over the past year. 2016 has been a wonderful year. 

1) I think one of the biggest things I have learned/gained a testimony of is that Heavenly Father is completely in charge of this work. He is involved in every single tiny detail of our lives. That has helped me to know that I am put exactly where I am supposed to be, even if I don't understand why at the time. There are a few instances that have really helped me to see this that I want to share with y'all.
a) Meeting Lindsay. Last week, the elders gave us a referral for this single mom that they had tracted into. We went to go see her and share the Christmas video with her and her family. She told us that she had lived in DC a few years ago and that the missionaries had visited them a lot. She had loved the missionaries there and only had good things to say about them. She had been really sick at the time and the missionaries had done a lot of service. She mentioned a few of the missionaries that they had grown especially close to. There was one in particular who she said was a favorite in their family. The name sounded familiar, so I asked a little more and it turns out that it was one of my best friends! I don't really believe in coincidence most of the time, but this has Heavenly Father's hand all over it! Of all of the places for Lindsay and her family to move, it was Durham, just a few blocks from where we live. (Also, we discovered later that the past sisters had also tracted into her months ago.) I am really hoping that this time is the time when Lindsay and her family are ready for the gospel. 
b) Being here for Corinthia and her family. Long story short, Lisa (one of our recent converts) and her daughter Corinthia have been struggling with some family things recently. Corinthia had been in D1 when I was there so I met her a couple times. She lost contact with the church when she moved to Florida and miraculously got back in touch with the missionaries (another long story) when she moved back up here. She remembered me when I came here to D2 and it has been so sweet to see the influence she has had on bringing her family to the gospel. I have no doubt that she was part of the reason why I needed to come back to Durham. Heavenly Father is intimately aware of the tiny details of everyone's life and He is always putting people in the right place, at the right time, to bless His other children. 
c) Not exactly a specific instance, but I know that I have been put with each of my companions for a reason. Sometimes I think that I need to be in a specific area because I need to be with a specific companion. I have learned so much from each of the wonderful women I have been blessed to serve with and I know that I needed each of them at the time we served together. I just hope that I made a difference in their lives like they did in mine. 

2) I have learned so much about my Savior and who He is to me personally. He is the Savior of the world, but He is also my Brother and my friend. I have loved being able to testify of Him and His restored gospel every single day. A while ago, I posted about my studies on Facebook and how I am reading the Book of Mormon and studying Christ's attributes. Every day I learn something new about my Savior. I have about 13 attributes that I am specifically looking for, but I constantly see more examples of people who exemplified the Savior. He lived a perfect life, in all aspects and He set the example for us. I know that I cannot become like Him in this life, but I am able to become a little closer every day. We do not need to only remember Him on December 25 or on Easter. The spirit of Christmas is the spirit of Christ and we can keep it with us all year long as we continually learn about him. Long after the trees and lights come down, long after the snow melts (for those of you who get snow), and long after the boxes are empty, Christ will still be the reason for our joy. There is a song that we have been listening to a lot recently that I love. I don't know what it's called but one of the first lines is "Why should men on earth be so sad since our Redeemer made us glad?". I testify that Christ truly is our source of joy and hope. He is the Light of the World and the reason we are able to have happiness. 

3) I have gained a stronger testimony of the priesthood. I have always known that the priesthood was real, but I have gained a deeper appreciation for the blessings I receive because of it. I know that it is the authority to act  in Christ's name to bless God's children. I have been able to see people that I love dearly make covenants with their Heavenly Father through that authority. I have felt the Spirit touch my heart at every single baptism I have attended and I know that that is because it was performed by the proper authority. Baptism is not the only blessing that we have access to because of the restoration of the priesthood. I have received a couple blessings when I was sick and immediately began feeling better. The priesthood is given to comfort, heal, lift, guide and bless each of us. I am so grateful that the Restoration of the gospel brought back this incredible gift. 

One of the sweetest moments of my mission happened this week. It was just a couple seconds, but it has made me think. I went on exchanges with one of the Hermanas (Spanish missionaries) this past week and we were in her area. I spent most of the day having no clue what she was saying, but I felt the Spirit anyway. I think we watched the Christmas video about 5 times that day as we talked to people. There was one family that will always stand out. There were two little girls and they were so sweet. They had been bickering a little when we walked in, but they sat down silently to watch the video. They were right next to each other (the younger one was practically on her sister's lap) and they were absolutely enthralled in the video. Even though I didn't speak their language, I could see the Spirit touching their hearts and I felt how much they loved the Savior. Seeing Him, even just in a video, was more of a priority than anything else. They forget about their argument, their candy, and everything except for the Savior. These two girls, whose names I don't know and who I will probably never see again, taught me what it means to truly love and worship the Savior. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

We match...again!!
Sister Ruske's family has this tradition where they all get matching pajama pants every Christmas Eve. This year, I got included in their family <3

New mugs

One of our recent converts gave us these. Her son had given them to her a couple years ago and she didn't like them. Sister Ruske and I saw them and thought they were hilarious. So now we have more mugs!

New favorite mural

We got lunch with the Hermanas before exchanges this week and this was the artwork. It's kind of hard to see, but it's a firefighter with a blue devil hat (Duke's mascot) putting out the fire on a ram (UNC's mascot). 

Monday, December 19, 2016


MERRY CHRISTMAS Y'ALL!!!! By the next time I email, Christmas will have passed. Weird. (Sister Ruske has been telling people 'Merry Christmas' since Thanksgiving. She's so cute <3)

Once again, I have absolutely no idea what to say about this past week. Things have been pretty normal. It still doesn't feel like Christmas, so it is always weird to hear people say they are going out of town for the holidays. It always takes me a second to figure out which holiday they are leaving for :) The weather hasn't helped it feel like Christmas. The past few days were cold, but yesterday was 70 and humid. NC just can't make up it's mind about what it wants to do. 

OH! Something cool that happened this week! We contacted a woman named Betty, who had ordered a Bible online. Full disclosure, sometimes I am not as excited about Bible referrals as I should be. I sometimes think they are only interested in the Bible and won't want us to share anything more with them, but not Betty! She is super sweet and really interested! We were able to teach her about the Restoration and the Spirit was so strong. The member that was with us helped teach and she bore her testimony. I have learned that few things invite the Spirit as much as a sincere testimony. 

We had another Bible referral this week for a man named Alex. He was also interested and wants to keep learning about our beliefs. I think Heavenly Father is trying to teach me to have more faith in Bible referrals :) He is super cool! He is from Nigeria and all of his roommates are from Africa as well. Too bad they don't speak French, if they did I would get to use the awesome members from my first ward again. Oh well, I guess teaching in English is good too :)

We have been working with a less-active woman for the past couple weeks. She has such a sincere desire to come back to church and is working hard to overcome some struggles in her life. We have been reading the Book of Mormon with her and doing service for her. I just love her so much! She is one of the sweetest women I have met. She has gone through a lot in her life but still laughs a ton. She always thanks us for coming to see her and tells us we don't know how much it helps her. It is always a little awkward to have her thank us so much, but it is sweet to see the difference we are able to make in her life. We really haven't done anything that special, we just come and talk to her and tell her we love her. It's the little things that make a huge difference in people's lives. We don't need to do something huge or impressive to touch hearts. 

Tender mercy from the week: We were tracting before a lesson and no one was home or interested in listening to us. We met this cute family and they invited us in out of the cold. They weren't interested, but they gave us hot chocolate to take with us as we kept tracting. I love people so much! There is always good in the world, no matter what else is happening. 

Saturday was the ward Christmas party, themed as a night in Zarahemla. The Primary had a little skit about Samuel the Lamanite and we all sang carols after. It was so cute! The best part though, was Christina. She was absolutely loving it, she spent most of the time taking a live video to put on FB (side note: I did not know you could do that!) and was so happy. We sang kind of a karaoke version on 12 Days of Christmas and she helped. She was so excited to be involved and she couldn't stop smiling. She is so cute <3

Transfers are coming up (Jan 1 is the last day of this transfer) and we have no ideas as to what will happen. I'm really hoping I get to stay here in Durham, but who knows? 

I had a thought yesterday while sitting in sacrament meeting. A recently reactivated member was there (and she brought her neighbor!!!!) and she is still trying to quit smoking. She was sitting near us and I could smell the smoke on her. It was a little distracting at first, but then I realized how grateful I was to smell smoke in church. To me, it shows that this woman is trying. She is not perfect, but she doesn't let that stop her from receiving the blessings of the gospel. No one in that chapel was perfect, but we were all there to take one more tiny step closer to the Savior. Every single one of us was there to partake in the Atonement. Yes, she smelled like smoke and that isn't normally a good thing. But her coming to church is a good thing. Church isn't a place for perfect people to say nice things, it is a place for the imperfect (us) to become a little better. To me, smelling cigarettes during sacrament meeting shows the power of the Atonement. Repentance is so much more powerful than we recognize. It is incredible to know that we have infinite opportunities to change, to become better. We do not have to stay the people that we are. We have the ability to change our very natures through the sacrifice of the Savior. I know that He lives. I know that Jesus Christ came to Earth to suffer for our sins, our pains, our heartache and our sadness. I know that this is His church and that He stands at its head. I am so unspeakably grateful for my Savior and the opportunity I have to testify of Him every single day. 

Love y'all
Merry Christmas
Sister Pyper

This ward is so cute!

This week two different members gave us gifts. Yes, we opened our presents before Christmas :) But look how cute they are!!!

D2 Christmas party!
Welcome to Zarahemla!! All the signs made me very happy!

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 9 of training. My baby is almost all grown up :')

Well, I'm not entirely sure what to say about this week. It feels like I was just here, trying to figure out what to say and now another week has gone by. Craziness. Each day feels like it takes forever but the weeks just fly by. I can't believe it is already halfway through Sister Ruske's second transfer, it feels like she just go here. Her birthday was this past week and she is no longer a teenager! 

Well, one highlight is that WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!! I was so excited! We only get to go twice a year, usually around Conference, so I expected it to be my first transfer here. Then when it didn't happen I expected it to happen last transfer. Nope! Finally in December we were able to go. I haven't been since March, so it has been 9 months and I was so tired of waiting. I love the temple so much and it was fun to go in the same zone I was in last time (even though none of the other missionaries were here last time I was here). 

Another fun thing is that our mission president's wife came out with us on Thursday. The Assistant's called us Wednesday night and asked us what our plans were for Thursday evening. "Ummmm, tracting, why?" 
"Well, Sister James wants to come on exchanges with you, is that okay?"
"........Yeah, sure."
I knew the James' went out with missionaries, but this is the first time it has ever happened to me. It was so much fun to take her tracting with us though! Since it is December, Sister Ruske and I have been using caroling as a way to get people to listen. (Sister Ruske took a little convincing, but she came around and is excited about it now. My trainer and I went caroling and I noticed that people were generally happy to see us when we sang to them, so I wanted to do it again this Christmas.) (Also, weird side note: I will spend both of my Christmases in Durham and in 12 week. Funny how things work out like that). Anyway, Sister James told us that she has always been able to get in when she goes out with the sisters and tonight was no exception. We found this super sweet lady who is currently looking for a church! I love when people tell us they are looking for a church. I have learned to ask them what it is that they look for in a church, because 99% of the time what they are looking for is found in our church. 

Little miracle story. We had planned to go see this less-active sister and brought our ward mission leader with us. He was running late so we were going to go caroling to her neighbors. After we prayed in our car, we saw this giant van turn the corner where we were. It passed us, but both of us thought "hmmmm, I wonder if that is the Relief Society president?" Yep, it was! She had been planning to come stop by this woman and hadn't been able to do it until that night. She was so grateful that we were there and that we were all able to visit and uplift this woman. The RS president needed to get in touch with her by the next day at the latest so it all worked out. I love seeing how involved Heavenly Father is in all the little details of our lives!

OH, super cute story! We were sitting at Starbucks, having a lesson with Christina, when these two little kids come up to us. They both had their hands full of candy canes and were giving them to the people sitting in Starbucks. Their mom was following them and I'm pretty sure she was taking a video :) It was just so cute to see these kids who couldn't have been more than 7 doing something to brighten people's day <3 

I think my favorite thing about the #LIGHTtheWORLD initiative is that the suggested acts of service are often small and simple. Sometimes I feel like I don't have time (or energy) to do big acts of service, but I can do these. You don't have to do something huge or highly noticeable in order to bless lives. Like those little kids above, they didn't do anything huge or expensive but it definitely brought joy to my day. Sometimes service is as simple as a smile. Sometimes you do do large acts of service and that is also awesome! But don't forget that your service doesn't always have to be noticed by others to matter. Heavenly Father notices everything you do, especially the many little good things that often go unseen. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Highlight of the week
WE GOT TO GO TO THE TEMPLE!!!! I was soooo excited! Sister Ruske said it felt like Christmas, and I completely agree! I haven't been since March so it was so wonderful to be able to go again. 

We match :)
​A member of our ward gave us matching scarves for Christmas :)

Christina :)

​I love her so much <3

Monday, December 5, 2016


So, a little more background to the picture. Every month, President James selects some excerpts from our letters to him to include in the newsletter. They are always anonymous but always uplifting and inspiring. This is actually the second time one of my letters has made it into the Tarheel (the monthly newsletter. The first one was about Lisa) and it was really cool to read this one again. By the time we got the Tarheels, I had forgotten about this experience. Reading about it made me remember it again and it came at the perfect time. In case it is too hard to read, it basically talks about an experience I had with one of our investigators. Somehow, the topic came up of how we came to be in Durham serving missions. We were explaining how/why we decided to serve and talked about what we do as missionaries. She was so impressed with our dedication and kept going on and on about how much of a sacrifice we were making. Not only was it weird to have her praising us so much, what she said didn't really make sense. I couldn't figure out why until Sister Ruske and I were talking about it later that night. I realized that it was weird because I don't see my mission as a sacrifice. I have received way too many blessings to see these 18 months in terms of what I left behind. Of course there are some days where I miss people/things from home, but what I get to do every day is worth more than anything I put on hold. Seeing people I have come to love so much come to know that the gospel I love is true is worth not going to school, missing my family, not seeing my little brother for 3 years, being far from home, and it is worth every single door closed on me. I am so incredibly grateful to be able to share the gospel all day, every day for 18 months that I cannot see it as a sacrifice. 

Well, since I can't remember anything too exciting that happened this week, I'll just give y'all a brief overview of each day. Sorry if it's boring :)
Monday- Preparation day, obviously. A pretty normal day, honestly. We did find a new investigator in the evening though. OH! WAIT! After we had gone tracting, we called a member to come pick us up. We didn't feel like we should be tracting so late, so we decided to go to the grocery store around the corner and talk to people there. We had prayed about it and felt like that was a good place to be. We walked in and the first person we saw was a former investigator! I had been thinking about her recently. She had really wanted to get baptized, but didn't feel ready to commit so we had to drop her. But she was so excited to see us and we set up to go see her later in the week (more details later)! I love seeing how Heavenly Father makes everything work perfectly when we follow His guidance!
Tuesday- Zone training. We spent most of the day up in Chapel Hill, being taught and (hopefully) becoming better missionaries. Then everything else fell through later that day. Literally everything. One of our investigators dropped us (dang boyfriend who isn't interested in listening to us), our dinner appointment was sick, and some potentials we were going to see texted us to say they are happy with their church and "didn't want to waste our time" *SIGH* That's okay though. Some days are like that. 
Wednesday-We saw Christina! I love her so much and she is so cute!! We taught her the Word of Wisdom and the law of chastity last week and she still wants to meet with us :) She has been trying really hard to quit smoking and drinking coffee and has been making amazing progress! I am so proud of her! Also, funny story. Every other week we have a class/meeting with our ward missionaries. So after dinner we got dropped off so we could get ready to teach it. Only to find out that it is actually only the first and third Wednesday, not the fifth. Luckily we had left our bikes at the church on Monday after emailing, so we didn't have to walk home!
Thursday-Weekly planning, although we had to split it up so we could go teach a lesson. We went tracting afterwards and found a new investigator. None of our 3 appointments in the neighborhood were home, but we were able to at least see one of them. He was on his way out so we couldn't talk for too long. He told us that his wife is best friends with a member of our ward and that they really want to learn more about the church! Members are so important! Seriously, we could not do this work without you! Even if you think you can't be a missionary, your example makes a bigger difference than you realize. This evening was the RS activity, dinner and stories of service from the ward. Christina came and she loved it! We were a little late, but she was already sitting with people and making friends with them. This ward is full of awesome fellowshippers!
Friday-Not everything fell through today! We had some really amazing lessons. Christina is still doing well, we just had to push her baptismal date back because she is still struggling with coffee/smoking (not to mention her boyfriend). We were supposed to meet her at Starbucks so I could tell her all the things she can have (thank you Washington upbringing!) but she slept late so we just met her at home. We also saw Lisa. She has been struggling with some family things recently, so more prayers her way would be much appreciated <3 We found a new investigator and watched the #LIGHTtheWORLD video with him. If y'all haven't seen it, go watch it right now.
Saturday-We found this super cute older couple! They met with missionaries 30 years ago before they moved to NC and had very fond memories. We showed them the #LIGHTtheWORLD video (I'm pretty sure I have seen it about 20 times at this point and I never get tired of it) and talked about service. In the evening, we made cookies with a less-active member and helped her decorate her tree. I am so excited for Christmas! It still isn't too cold, which is nice because I want to go caroling :)
Sunday-We met with that former investigator that we ran into on Monday. She is still excited about getting baptized and even had a dream a couple days ago that she had actually gotten baptized! I'm pretty sure her (almost) 18-month journey to baptism is almost over. We explained that church will change times next year and the time we will be at next year works better with her schedule! We set a baptismal date with her and I am positive she is going to make it!

Here are my last few days of gratitude from November
Nov 28- Walmart. Kind of superficial, yes, but who said I always had to be grateful for deeply meaningful things?
Nov 29- Animals. This was the day where nothing worked out the way we planned, not even dinner. No one wanted to see us, no one was home when we went tracting, and a seemingly solid investigator dropped us. BUT while we were tracting this cute cat kept following us from house to house and being super friendly. It was a little tender mercy, but it brightened my day. 
Nov 30- Working GPS. The night before my GPS had died and wouldn't turn on when I plugged it in. I was a little worried, but it was all okay! It turned out to just be the outlet, it worked just fine when I plugged it in somewhere else. #nowiwontbelost

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Look! I'm famous! (well, anonymously.....)

​The one in the center is mine. Every month, President puts excerpts from our letters in the newsletter. I finally got one of mine put in!