Monday, February 27, 2017

100 doors knocked, infinite blessings

Well, this past week was an adventure. Lots of hard work but very little success. Good thing my companion is a walking ray of sunshine :) Nah, it was a good week, just really long and filled with knocking. And knocking. And more knocking. At least we know that the people we do find are solid! Sometimes we have have to go through a lot of uninterested people to find those that are interested. Don't worry there are still plenty of tender mercies and tiny miracles to fill an email :)

The library was still open even though it was President's Day. 
Also, it was still light at 6!! Daylight Savings is right around the corner and I am so excited!!! People are more okay with us knocking after 6 when it isn't dark. 13 more days until Daylight Savings!!

We were tracting and met this awesome lady! She lives out of our area (out of our zone in fact) but she was visiting her friend. Her friend has met missionaries before and so has the other lady. They weren't too interested at first, but they invited us in to look at the kitchen they're remodeling. We were able to talk to them for about 20 minutes and it was so cool to see them soften as we talked. They told us that they had just been talking about how God puts people in their lives at the right time 10 minutes before we knocked and they felt like we were supposed to meet them at that time. 

Exchanges with Sister Xiong. This was the only day we found any new investigators, so that is the biggest miracle for today. Also the ward members are awesome! 
Not so much a tender mercy, but definitely hilarious! At the end of district meeting, we were singing the closing song. No one could play it, so we just sang a capella. Except I started singing the chorus instead of the verse...... I was laughing so hard I couldn't sing the rest of the song. 😝

Amazing lesson with Barbara, she is still reading the Book of Mormon and loves it!
I found out that a letter I had sent someone came at the perfect time and was an answer to their prayers. 
We were able to see one of our recent converts, Tom, who is really struggling right now. Any prayers his way would be much appreciated. 

I got to see all my MTC sisters at MLC (mission leadership council)! 

Our investigator Will told us he had read 'just a little' of the Book of Mormon......all the way through 1 Nephi a little over a week. What. He is so cool! The past sisters had met him a couple times, but he was always super busy. Sister Wall and I stopped by a couple weeks ago and this is his slow time at work! Now to start teaching the rest of his family. 
Eva's boyfriend. (Little bit of a long story, get comfy.) So Eva is someone we tracted into about a month or so ago. She had all these great questions about what her purpose is here in life and who God is. The second time we met with her, she told us she wasn't really interested in religion or meeting with us again. It broke my heart a little because I could just feel how much Heavenly Father loves her and how much she needs the gospel right now. I knew that we had the answers for her questions and that what we had to offer would help her so much. But she was adamant that she wasn't interested so we couldn't do anything except giver her our card and ask her to call us if she ever needed anything. So then Saturday night, at least 2-3 weeks since we have seen Eva, we are in the same apartment complex trying to figure out which building we haven't knocked yet. All of a sudden, we hear this man from across the parking lot yelling to us. At first we just ignored him, thinking he was yelling at someone else or just being creepy. Then we hear him say something about Jehovah's Witness girls and realized he was actually talking to us (the number of times we get mistaken for/told we are Jehovah's Witnesses.......NOPE. We are the other people that knock on your door to talk about Jesus😉). He asked if we were JWs and we said no. His next question was "are ya'll church people?" A little worried we were about to get kicked off the property (which he legally couldn't do anyway. We aren't soliciting and there wasn't a no trespassing sign, so we were totally legal), we say that yes, we are. He then introduces himself as Eva's boyfriend and tells us that he wants us to keep visiting her! Turns out he has been trying to help her find Christ in her life for years and was so grateful that we had even talked to her twice. It was so neat to see how we were put in the right place at the right time! Hopefully Eva will be more receptive the next time we stop by :)

A member randomly gave us a bag of food. She had brought it for the Scout food drive, but the bin was gone so she gave it to us instead :)
One of our recent converts got a calling!
Two of our recent converts came to church! And Chad came! We haven't seen Chad in a couple weeks so it was awesome to see him at church!!
Another set of sisters gave me an extra bag, which I needed because mine had ripped :(

In MLC on Friday we talked about how to help new/struggling missionaries see the joy of missionary work. We talked about how there are lots of demands on us as missionaries, but that the blessing we receive because of those very demands far outweigh the sacrifice. I thought of this scripture and how perfectly it describes how I feel. 
Matthew 19:29 "And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, owife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life." 
I have received so many more blessings on my mission than I ever expected. I can honestly say, without a second thought, that my mission has been worth everything I left behind to come out here. I have been given so much more than I gave up and I am eternally grateful for this privilege I have to serve as a missionary. I have met so many incredible people, I have learned things I couldn't learn any other way, I have grown so much closer to my Savior and my Heavenly Father, I have been tested and stretched and tried and stressed like nothing else, and I wouldn't change a single day of it. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Reunited at last <3
All the sisters I was in the MTC with are all Sister Training Leaders, so we get to see each other at MLC every month! It was so fun to walk in and see all of them <3

Barbara from Brazil
​We have been teaching Barbara for a few weeks and she is awesome! 

Sister Xiong
Apparently Xiong means 'bear' in Chinese, so we had to take pictures with Sister Wall's bear on exchanges :)

Sister Xiong did my hair!

I love NC signs <3
Good thing we have a Tiwi that yells at us when we speed then, huh? :)
(A Tiwi is a box that all the cars have. It monitors driving (speed, where you are, how sharply you turn etc) and it makes people drive more safely. It keeps the insurance lower for the Church.)

Monday, February 20, 2017

"Every flower has to grow through dirt."

Monday: Huh, most of the tender mercies I wrote down came from emails this day. I guess that just means I love all of y'all and hearing from you makes me happy :) I also got an email from Christina (in my last area) which was super fun! 
We did find this awesome new investigator though! He is already engaged and plans to get married by the end of the year. They're just planning on having a courthouse wedding, so it shouldn't be too hard to convince them to get married earlier so they can both get baptized :)
OH! Funny story! We were tracting and met this super nice lady. She seemed interested and wiling to have us come back. We had set up a return appointment and everything. Then as we were getting ready to leave, she asked us what denomination we were. Apparently she had missed the "we are missionaries for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints" part. When we told her again, she realized that we were Mormon and then promptly was no longer interested. Hahahaha so much ridiculousness! Sometimes I wonder what it is about "Mormon" that is so much scarier than everything that we had just taught. Oh well, one day she will be more open :)

Tuesday: This is where the title of my email comes from. We had dinner with a family in one of our wards and they were sharing all these quotes from us. The mom and oldest daughter go to this kickboxing class and the instructor always ends class with inspiration quotes. This was one of their favorites and we thought it was pretty funny. It's a good reminder that beautiful things can come from circumstances that seem less than ideal, especially when given the right help. 
Valentine's Day (especially in the evening) can be an awkward day for a missionary. NO ONE wants people showing up on their doorstep talking about Jesus tonight. So rather than spend an evening getting doors closed on us/awkward encounters/being blatantly ignored, we decided to go store contacting and talk to all the other awkward single people :)  

Wednesday: I GOT TO SEE SISTER RUSKE!!! She is in this zone now, which means I get to go on exchanges with her. And they meet in the same building for district meeting so I get to see her every single week :) It doesn't feel like it has only been one transfer since we were together, it feels like it has been so much longer. 
We stopped by one of our investigators that we haven't been able to get up with for a while. She is still interested in meeting with us and we have an appointment for this Wednesday
We also found this awesome young lady named Taylor! She let us right in and was so friendly! She works with someone who is (maybe) a member and has been looking for a church that feels like a family! The Restoration made total sense to her and seemed to answer some of her questions. When we showed her the Book of Mormon app she thought that was just the coolest thing! She was going out of town this weekend and said that she would start listening to it on her trip! 

Thursday: Our investigator Jody got us lunch because we couldn't meet at his house. He told us that he has been feeling 'less guided' this past week....probably because he went out drinking and hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon. We're sad but at least he realized the cause of why he wasn't feeling the Holy Ghost guide him as much. Hopefully that will motivate him to keep reading and doing things to help him feel the Spirit. He continues to have great questions for us and he really wants to find out if what we teach is true. He wants to be a better person for his family and he really wants his whole family to come to church/meet with us. Currently his wife is the only holdup, she isn't quite as interested in religion/spirituality as he is. All we can do is just keep praying for her and helping Jody progress. I think that as Jody keep learning and feeling the Spirit, his wife will feel it and want to be a part of it. 

Friday: Exchanges with Sister Jensen! We did a lot of service, and a lot of tracting. All of our appointments except for dinner and service fell through. Poor girl, she has spent her whole first week tracting! They are both new to the area, so they are pretty much starting from scratch. BUT Sister Jensen loves tracting so it's all good! We got flowers from a little girl after dinner, which was just the cutest thing <3

Saturday: Sister Wall and I were going through our area book to find some former investigators we could contact again. We found this one man, J.R., who wanted us to come back and teach him again. He played basketball with the elders quorum over the summer and had a great time. He has 3 year old twin girls who are so cute! Sister Wall of course was excited to meet twins and had to take a picture with them. They kept giving us hugs and wanting to play with us. 

Sunday: No one came to church :( 
It was ward conference in our second ward, so we had the opportunity to show that we sustain the prophet and apostles. I am so grateful to have a living prophet on the earth today! There is so much craziness that I can't imagine how I would navigate life without the guidance of a modern day prophet. Of course I love and value the scriptures and teachings of ancient prophets, but sometimes it is difficult to apply what they taught to my life today. 
We also got asked last-minute to talk about missionary work in third hour. Luckily we get good at improvisation as missionaries :)

Love y'all,
Sister Pyper

Sister Jensen :)
Raleigh South got a greenie this week! No, I'm not training again, but we went on exchanges her first week. She's so cute :)

​I ended up with all sorts of puppy bites on my arms. Totally worth it. (Fun fact, this is the same family that let me hold the mouse a few weeks ago)

We made a new friend :)
We were out tracting and we found a friend. Too bad he wasn't just playing possum :(

​Sister Wall just about died laughing when we saw this doormat :)

Where's Aslan?
​I didn't even have to go through a wardrobe to get here!

Calm Down Walmart
We went store contacting on Valentine's Day (we thought tracting would not go well for us) and they already had Easter stuff up. And Valentines' stuff was on clearance. What happened to St. Patrick's Day???

I had no idea this was possible
​Apparently the mailman opened the door to deliver mail and the whole thing just fell off! Hahahaha it was the funniest thing!!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Happy Valentine's Day! I love you!!

First of all, Sister Wall and I are staying together for another transfer!! We're so excited because this area is really progressing and we love being companions <3 Most of the people in this zone are staying, I think there's only going to be 3 missionaries that are different. 

Now that that's out of the way, here's the part that y'all actually care about. 

Monday: The best thing that happened today was getting a call from a former investigator named Jody. The previous sisters had tracted into him and had taught him once. My first day here we had another lesson with him. He told us he wasn't really interested, that he was mostly atheist and had no interest in religion. He offered to give us back the Book of Mormon, but we told him he could keep it if he was actually going to read it. He said he would, if only for the historical information. So then today, about 5 weeks later, he calls us. He told us that he had been reading a couple chapters of the Book of Mormon. "It has enlightened me on some things and I have some questions. Could you come back and talk to me some more?" ........UMMMMM, YES! We set up an appointment for the next day. Truly this is a work full of miracles. Heavenly Father is constantly preparing people and all we have to do is be in the right place at the right time. 
Funny story from today: our investigator Chad works at a pizza place. We decided to go grab lunch there on our way up to a zone activity and were able to talk to him a little. Then that evening we were having absolutely no success tracting (NO ONE wanted to talk to us "it's too late" "you woke up my baby" " we don't accept solicitors" etc) so we decided to go store contacting for a few minutes. A couple minutes in, we run into Chad. We were both a little confused but it was still funny :)

Tuesday: Oh my goodness this might have been the best day of the whole week, even if the numbers didn't show it. 
First, Jody. HE IS SO PREPARED!!!! In just 5 weeks his heart has been softened and he is totally searching for the gospel. He told us that recently he has been feeling this small impressions to make changes to be a better person. Including quitting drinking, opening the Book of Mormon, praying (when 5 weeks ago he wasn't even sure if he believed in God) and he has even stopped drinking Coke just because he felt like he should. We had an amazing lesson with him that was completely led by the Spirit. He had a lot of incredible questions about what happens after we die, about how we personally recognize answers to our prayers, about how the gospel has blessed us, etc. Sister Wall and I both shared stories that we don't usually share with investigators, but we both felt very prompted to share them. I know that sharing those stories really helped him feel our testimonies and helped him trust us enough to open his heart and share spiritual experiences with us. OH! He also told us that he had been praying to know what our role was as missionaries. He told us he "felt like we were daughters of God and that we were angelic figures". HOW COOL IS THAT?!?!?! That really strengthened my testimony of my calling and made me even more grateful for the opportunity I have to serve the Lord in this way. Jody didn't want to set a baptismal date because "he believes in doing what he says he'll do" and doesn't want to set a date and then not make it. We're pretty sure he'll get baptized this transfer. 
Second, Chad. Yes, every lesson we have with Chad is great, and this was no exception. We went over the 10 Commandments and the law of chastity. What can be one of the more awkward lessons was totally fine and not an issue at all! He is so sincere and wants to be baptized. He was talking about 'when' he gets baptized, not 'if' he gets baptized. He was talking about not feeling like he knows enough or that he will be ready, so we showed him a teaching record. (Miracle in itself that I had one. I had had one in my other bag, but hadn't switched it over yet. I got something else out of my old bag and had the thought that I might as well just grab all the other papers, just in case. Then it ended up being perfect for Chad's lesson!) We explained that it was the record of what we have to teach people before they can get baptized and showed him that we have taught most of it.We were able to tell him that he has made incredible progress and that he will be ready to be baptized, and not very long from now. He actually wanted to keep it so that he could keep a record for himself as a way to keep track and motivate himself! Yep, he's also going to get baptized this transfer. 
Third, we went tracting in the evening and Sister Wall prayed that we would find a family. We knocked into this man and started teaching. Less than a minute later, a woman walks up the stairs and joins us! Tiny miracles are the best!

Wednesday: Exchanges with Sister Gordon. I got to bike (in perfect biking weather) and find a super awesome new investigator in their area. 
Also, we totally got hit on by a 16 year old boy. This isn't the first time Sister Gordon has been flirted with on exchanges. She's just too cute for the boys to handle :)

Thursday: Nothing too outstanding happened today but it was still a good day. Although this is the day we found a new investigator who dropped us an hour later. That was probably one of the most ridiculous things that has ever happened on my mission. 

Friday: We had dinner with Jimmy and his family. He's still hesitant to st a baptismal date, but his heart is softening. 
OH! Jody told us he has had more questions come up and asked if he could come to church on Sunday to ask them! He is just the best!!!

Saturday: Zac got baptized!! 
And I got to see Sister Bobbitt. 
And the Durham 1 sisters came down for the baptism because one of them had started teaching Zac. They told me that Bernard, that cute 9 year old I was teaching, got baptized last Thursday!! And the husband of a less-active member I found had gotten baptized that morning! It was so sweet to be able to see some of the fruits of my work there. Now to get Earnest baptized :)
And we set a baptismal date with Tanisha and her two kids for April 22
And we found a new investigator through a member. 
All in all, a fantastic day! 

Sunday: Jody came to church!! And he told us "it was a beautiful experience for me" <3

I have so much more to say, but I have so little time! 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

OH! HOW COULD I FORGET??? Tomorrow is Valentine's Day. No matter what your love life is like, whether your married, dating, completely single, or anywhere in between, know that you are loved beyond imagining. John 3:16 is pretty much everyone's favorite scripture here, but what better day to remember it than today? Heavenly Father loves you so much that He sent His Son, your older Brother, to suffer for you and give you an opportunity to return to live with Heavenly Father. No matter what anyone else says, no matter how alone you feel, you are loved. God is NOT distant, He is not unaware of you. I have never felt Heavenly Father's love more than I have out here. Because I am here to help my brothers and sisters return to live with our Father in Heaven, I am much more aware of His love for every single person I meet. If you ever feel unloved, all you have to do is pray to your Father in Heaven and ask Him how He feels about you. 

A message for y'all

Jimmy and family
Jimmy (the dad) is the only one in his family that isn't a member. We're hoping to change that soon :)


​(NI=new investigator)

Sister Gordon
​Sister Gordon told me we would be biking and was surprised when I was excited :) We had an awesome day on exchanges. She's staying in her area so we get to go on more exchanges!!

Hopefully in the next picture I send he'll be in white :)

Wendy's knows what's up :)

New favorite street!

Monday, February 6, 2017

A typical week in the life of a missionary

So apparently people enjoy my daily miracles/tender mercies so I guess I'll keep doing it :)

To celebrate Sister Wall's birthday, which was the next day, we decided to get Chinese food for lunch. (Also, 5 of my 7 companions have had their birthday with me. I don't know what the odds of that are, but it's been fun!!) So that was nice, there's not a lot of Asian food in NC. It was a pretty uneventful day. We went to go find a recent convert who is in the YSA ward but the address was wrong. The lady who lives at her old house was super nice though! She let us right in out of the cold and drew us a little map to find the right house. She wasn't interested in learning more about the gospel, but she was still the highlight of the day. Also, the recent convert totally wants to come out with us while she's home from school!
Side note: don't go grocery shopping when you're hungry. Especially when there's a birthday coming up. You will end up buying nothing by junk food and you will  be sick of it two days later

Sister Wall's birthday! We had a leadership meeting in the morning and then the day just kept getting better and better! We found 4 new investigators today, which according to President James was a "post-missionary broadcast NCRM record" for new investigators in a single day. Birthday miracles never cease. We also had dinner with members of the ward who found out it was Sister Wall's birthday. The member asked her what her favorite kind of cake was. Sister Wall couldn't decide so we gave her a couple options. Well, when we show up for dinner we find out that the member couldn't decide she decided to buy all 3 kinds. Plus she had made danishes for dessert. Plus she bought Sister Wall a candy bouquet. At this point we have 3 kinds of cake, plus danishes, plus candy. Just from this one member. Then another member made cookies and Sister Wall got 2 cake mixes for her birthday. That's not even including the cookies we bought on Monday. PSA: If you ever want to send a missionary treats for their birthday, send them vegetables instead. I promise they will be so grateful, especially if they're serving stateside. 

Oh my goodness this was a day of miracles! We found this trailer park that we wanted to knock, but pretty much every single person spoke Spanish. For whatever reason, we kept on knocking. I'm so glad we did because we met this awesome lady named Melissa! We met her at the perfect time and she knew it! She was raised Catholic but has recently been disenchanted with the Catholic church. She broke her ankle last week and can't get permission to get Communion brought to her. She told us that she's falling away from the Catholic religion but looking for something that will allow her to keep the good parts of Christianity but will be more interested in her as a person. She knew that it wasn't a coincidence that we showed up that day at that time. She has had missionaries ( or Jehovah's Witnesses, people tend to mix us up a lot) come before and she hasn't ever been interested. She told us that this time she was open to learning more and was searching for something else.  We were able to teach her the Restoration and testify to her of God's love for her. It was such a powerful lesson and I felt so much love for her as we taught her. We didn't get a chance to share the First Vision with her. We gave her the picture to look at and she immediately started tearing up because she felt the Spirit. She instantly felt that it was true, even without hearing Joseph Smith's words. (Full disclosure, Melissa called us a couple days later and said that she felt that this religion wasn't for her. We were heartbroken but I have absolutely no doubt that we were supposed to be there that day and teach her. I don't doubt that she will accept the gospel later, she has already felt the Spirit testify of its truth.) 
We also met Jimmy today. Jimmy is not a member, although his wife and two boys are. We had dinner with them but he wasn't home from work yet. Jimmy walked in right as we were starting to teach them the Plan of Salvation. He joined us for the lesson and it was completely led by the Spirit. We focused a lot on baptism and how it is a necessary step in order to enter the celestial kingdom and live in God's presence forever. Jimmy has heard the lessons before and half-joked that he would just wait until he died, then his boys would go to the temple to get baptized for him. Sister Wall was amazing, she read Alma 34:32-34 and testified to him that this is his time to be baptized, that he can't delay his repentance. She was so bold and unafraid in testifying to him. I felt strongly that I needed to tell Jimmy how much he was loved, both by his family and even more so by his Heavenly Father. It was interesting to realize, after the lesson, that Sister Wall had been the super bold one and I was the super loving one, it is usually the opposite. I know that it was definitely the Spirit leading that lesson. Jimmy's heart was touched and he sincerely committed to pray about being baptized. 

Amazing lesson with our investigator Barbara. The member who came with us last week invited us to teach in her home and it was amazing! We taught Barbara the Plan of Salvation and she already believes it! The spirit world and the degrees of glory, which are often the parts that most people struggle with (even though they are found in the Bible), were things that she already strongly believed! We asked her what she thought happened after we die and she told us she believes that people have a chance to learn about Christ!! She also quoted John 14:2 when we introduced that there were different degrees in heaven. How cool is that !?!

Exchanges with the trio. We had a great day together and we found some great new investigators in their area! I love going on exchanges, I always feel like I learn so much more from them than they learn from me. Sister Xiong and Sister Tagge are such great missionaries and they have incredible testimonies. 

Bill. We met Bill a couple weeks ago but haven't been able to get up with him for a little bit. We were finally able to get an appointment to see him and he was actually home! And excited to meet with us! His wife wasn't home, so we froze on his porch while we taught him the Restoration. He told us that he had wanted to learn more before we came, so he went on Amazon and ordered a copy of the Book of Mormon. AND had started reading it already. All without us asking him to, just because he wanted to! Similar to Melissa, he was raised Catholic but doesn't go now. He had a lot of questions that the Catholic church can't/won't answer (along with questions caused by their doctrine and practices) that we were able to answer for him. He wants to read more of the Book of Mormon before we come back, but he is for sure going to read!

Zac passed his baptismal interview! We knew he would, but it's always nice to be official :) He will be getting baptized on Saturday, but sadly we can't count him. He decided he wants to be baptized into the YSA ward, so they get to count his baptism. Oh well, he's getting baptized so it doesn't really matter who gets to send in the number. 
Chad finished 1 Nephi and has been praying about being baptized every day since we first met him. 
Tanisha hasn't had any coffee in 2 weeks, ever since we taught her the Word of Wisdom. 
President and Sister James came to another ward in our building so we ran into them. I always love seeing them <3

All in all, a week full of miracles and tender mercies. You know, as per usual when you're on the Lord's errand. I have seen too many miracles to think that this is not God's work. I know that He is directing every step of this work to spread His gospel to His children. I know for a fact that He loves each and every single one of us. His gospel is all about His love for us, that is why He sent His Son to suffer and die for us. Heavenly Father wants us to be happy and return to live with Him. He has prepared a perfect plan for us to accomplish that end. His Son Jesus Christ is at the center of that plan and the heart of everything I am blessed to teach. No person is unnoticed by Heavenly Father, no one is unloved. The Creator of infinite universes knows your name and loves you. 

Love y'all
Sister Pyper

Sister Grimsman
Sister Grimsman came out with Sister Ruske so we have met before. We were way too cold to take our hands out of our pockets so we decided to just take an awkward picture instead :)

Trio for a day :)
We went on exchanges this week and I got to be in a trio for the day! Sister Xiong is from China and Sister Tagge is in the middle. 

The wonderful Helblings
​The mom and her two youngest boys got baptized in September 2016. They are getting ready to go to the temple soon! They're also slowly working on the other son who is an atheist. I love this family, they make me laugh so much!!

I tried jackfruit this week
​A family in one of our wards fed us dinner and had jackfruit. They found it at the Asian market in Cary and we were the guinea pigs. You only eat the yellow part. It was kind of like eating really thick flower petals that tasted vaguely like bubblegum.