Monday, July 28, 2014

Weeks 21-22

Hello everyone!

This week's letter will include some events from last week as well. The first of these exciting events is that we had the wonderful, amazing privilege of helping a family move into their new house.  That's not too unusual.  But this family has 38 cats, 5 dogs, 6 ferrets, oh, and a rabbit!!! Seriously, their house is a caterie! They breed cats.  Needless to say, their house reeked even before approaching the door! The experience was quite yucky, but hey, it makes for an amusing story. And I thought Kimi was a catwoman... :P They gave us some salsa that they made. I've heard that they boil it before they can can it properly. But still, I don't think that will remove all the cat hair! Needless to say we won't be eating that. :P 

We met this really buff black guy named Martiz, who has started meeting with us.  He's our neighbor, actually. He's really cool and works at Best Buy. Anyway, he is hilarious!! He has asked us some VERY interesting questions about the law of chastity. And well, this is what he texted us at 1 am: "I wish I could cuddle with both of you right now." Hahahhah.  We have had lots of experiences like that with Richie as well.  It's super weird!   :P 

We had a branch picnic that was a good turnout. Sis. Peterson and I played sand volleyball in our missionary clothes.  So did the Elders. Lucas was able to make it to that and so was Richie. Lucas is doing awesome! He's having a hard time quitting smoking so we had to push his baptism date back. We taught him about the temple this week (we have to start teaching the new member lessons BEFORE baptism now) and he is way excited about going! He also received a priesthood blessing to help him quit. It's a struggle for him because both of his brothers are chain smokers so there's no respite from it! He's wanting help, like, for us to get him nicotine patches and gum. Sis. Peterson and I were totally lost in Walgreens the other day, haha. We have no idea how to help people quit smoking. The best we know how to do is bring him ice cream and leave the rest to the Lord. 

Brother Somers has an awesome friend, April, who is super interested in the church. She has a cute 5 year old daughter and both of them came to church yesterday. We started teaching her and it's way exciting! 

I gave a training at district meeting on Tuesday. That was terrifying! You know me, I just LOVE attention (no way! D: ).  But it was actually fun.  It's not like it's unusual. Missionaries have to do that kind of thing all the time.  But it was my first one. I had to train the other missionaries about how to help investigators receive revelation at church. It actually turned out really well. I was able to learn lots about the Spirit as I was preparing it. I talked about how we can receive revelation at church if we come prepared with a specific question or concern and then pay attention the whole time. I tried that at church yesterday and I felt like at each meeting I heard what just I needed to hear! So, if you haven't done that before, I suggest you try it! :) 

The Lord is teaching me so much right now. There are lots of changes He wants me to make.  (I gather that from how difficult things are right now with my companion!)  Here is what I'm learning, though. It is much, much easier to just accept what the Lord is trying to teach us than to resist it. We are so much wiser to sacrifice a broken heart and a contrite spirit to the Lord because this allows Him to change us in the ways that we need to be changed and become who He wants us to become. Plus, whenever we make a sacrifice for the Lord, when we give Him our will (which is the only thing that's purely ours to give) He multiplies our sacrifice exponentially (see Matt. 19:29) and we end up a better person because of it. I'm also learning that, in the end, it doesn't matter if things are perfect. All that matters in the end, ultimately, is who we've become: how well we've kept our covenants and followed the Savior's example by becoming more like Him.  Keeping covenants gives us strength and God's power, despite imperfections and (epic) failures. :) These are very different priorities than I had before my mission: i.e. playing the cello, school, repeat. So, this has been a great experience for me.    

Yesterday when we went tracting we met an artist! Well this guy wasn't at all interested in the Gospel, and was too busy to talk to us. But we saw that he was hard at work at his little artist desk, so we were like Wow that's awesome! He these cutouts of dogs and hockey players all over his house. The next thing we know he's invited us in and is showing us all these incredible drawings and stuff all over his house! It's quite amazing. If you send him a picture of your dog he will create a painted cutout of it to remind you of your dog. It's kind of a strange idea but they were very realistic. I thought of Grammy and how she would love on of those. :) He was super excited and pleased to show us all of his amazing work.  Bottom line, It was fun to be able to make his day and plus we got to share a scripture and a card with him. Cool beans. 

Well, I love you all and I hope you have a wonderful week! 


Sister Woods

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

More Pictures From Sis. Woods

Are turtles allowed on missions?  I didn't see that anywhere in the little white rule book!

Bryan keeps this snapping turtle in his bathtub.  He feeds it raw hamburger.  Yuk!

There are fake deer everywhere in Wisconsin!

Oh my goodness!  Lacey got her favorite dessert ever . . . strawberry jello pretzel salad!

Such a silly girl!  

This is how Sis. Peterson sleeps.  Kinda funny!

Hmmm . . . does this mean there are lots of short people in Wisconsin???

Monday, July 14, 2014

Week 20

Hello Everyone!

Wow, I can't believe it's been another transfer already! Well, Sister Peterson and I are here to stay. :) Lots of amazing miracles happened this week, like, for instance, we now have people to teach!! Can't ask for a better miracle than that!

I feel like I'm learning so many little things, line upon line, all the time about charity and repentance but I don't have much time this week! I love studying the Gospel in-depth because it truly does change lives! I can feel it changing me. I am loving my mission! I'm learning so much. 

We had 2 investigators at church this week, Rick and Lucas! It was so amazing to see Lucas's transformation.  When we first met him, he looked quite, well, scary. He wore all black, skull t-shirt, chains, you get the idea. Well, this was his third time at church and without anyone saying anything to him, he wore dress pants and a nice shirt! It's like those stories you hear all the time.  He's changing! :) He is still working on quitting smoking. He unfortunately started again last week. It is a big struggle for him, confidence-wise! We are doing everything we can to encourage him to keep going! We plan on making him steak this week and bringing him ice cream (in addition to helping him strengthen his testimony of course!). We are hoping to have him prepared for baptism by the first week of August. 

Rick, a nice 21-year-old guy we tracted into, was also at church and he enjoyed it! He felt good at church and wants to change and keep learning!

We also got a referral from a member to see this awesome lady named Mindy who lives out in Amhurst. We met her and she is interested!  Ooooh, and we are teaching a family tonight! This lady's name is Beth and she has 2 daughters. We contacted her again and asked her if she's been reading the Book of Mormon and she says she hasn't... because her mom stole it! Hahahahah.  That's a great excuse, haven't heard that one! But it means the grandma is reading too, so we are excited to teach the whole family tonight. 

We also went to a Heritage Days Fair on Saturday.  It was an hour drive and we saw some Amish people on the way! The Elders went as well and we got to make ropes.  And, Sis. Peterson and I were in charge of "watching" the homemade bread, venison stew and dutch-oven cobbler. Yep, that was our assignment. And, well, it was a delicious assignment! 

I'll update you all with pictures next week! I caught a frog! :P

Well, I love you all! 

P.S. Thanks to Kyle for his thoughts and scriptures about Alma!! those helped out a TON with the less-active member we are seeing. :) 


Sister Woods

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Week 19--Holy Cow!

Hello everyone!

I have learned so much this week! Life has truly been challenging but rewarding. There has been so much on my mind lately that I probably won't be able to express it sufficiently. But I'm surely going to try!  

Here's what I learned this week! Attitude is everything.  Especially in missionary work.  Yes, things have been really hard for me, I don't like change. I wish I could have stayed with my trainer forever, where I was comfortable and happy. And it seems like the strongest part of who I am, the studious overachiever, is in direct contrast to my companion, who hates reading and studying and feels insecure about it. We grate on each other.  I am an overanalyzer, always wanting to push harder, build more unity, and be better, trying to fix things that don't need fixing, but this drives her crazy. "things are going just fine, JUST GO WITH IT, Sis. Woods!" she says. Haha. So I'm learning to chill. A LOT. She told me I've been being negative lately and this was mind-blowing to me.  I had no idea! No wonder I've been feeling so down these past few weeks! Yep, focusing on the positive makes everything better. I'm usually very happy, so this past little while has been weird for me. I was feeling super down and not enjoying myself or my life. I'm learning to solve my own problems and deal with my emotions better, which has been a challenge for me.  (I tend to let things accumulate and never know how much my family, my companion, or the mission president needs to know about them.  I still don't. Especially since it seems there are few, if any, secrets on a mission. But I'm learning to deal with it.)  And things have gotten lots better! She is exactly who I needed because she is full of charity, is confident no matter what she says, copes well with stress and improvises well, and loves people.  She is also very sensitive and gets offended easily. I am learning to be more discerning (of what it is she's upset about) and tactful.  I have a hard time with those things. :P BUT, she is teaching me so much!! She is truly an incredible, incredible missionary.  She is really helping me with my self-confidence, to teach in unity with her and say what I think with CONVICTION, power, and boldness.  She is super bold, but also sweet and nice.  I have been experimenting with this lately, and have found it is so, so much more fun to teach people!! :) I love her! She is really great.  I've just had to get over some things this week. I am happy, happy! :) 

Here is another thing that has been beating me over the head lately. I've learned many things this week but here is a big one. President Cutler had us prepare to answer a question for interviews: How is your increasing understanding of the Atonement changing your desires as a missionary and allowing you to act and not be acted upon? Well, I've been thinking and thinking about that! And it is so true.  Honestly, I don't know how I've survived this long out here and am able to keep going! I do know that the enabling power of the Atonement is real because I've prayed for strength, especially this week and last, and received it.  I've been able to see  this enabling power (grace) replace negativity and discouragement with love and joy within me. Grace is the enabling power of the Atonement that allows us to maintain and sustain good acts beyond our own natural capacity. Relying on this changes our desires and allows us keep going! It allows us to act and not be acted upon.  I'm being put in situations where I am forced to "act" in ways that I never had to before and could never sustain on my own. I have to talk to people all the time and be confident all the time, which I am not. But, in the strength of the Lord I'm able to survive this and my desires are gradually changing.  It is truly a miracle that because of Christ we can do anything! If you think about it, we have been snatched from eternal doom and given the opportunity to be exalted.  We have all been given the ability to act and not be acted upon (2 Nephi 2:14). That agency is such an amazing, amazing gift that we have to use proactively.  I've learned this week that I can't sit back and let things happen to me and not speak up. I can't let discouragement and lack of confidence keep me down though I am quite introverted by nature. I've learned that because of Him, yes I can!  I know this is a lesson I'm just starting to figure out and will continue expanding on as I proceed in my mission and continue to learn to act and not be acted upon.  It seems like this is something that every missionary learns. Here is a quote I loved from Elder Bednar's talk "And Nothing Shall Offend Them": "One of the greatest indicators of our own spiritual maturity is revealed in how we respond to the weaknesses, the inexperience, and the potentially offensive actions of others."  Yes, we have to power to decide how we will react no matter what our circumstance.  We can't control them but we can always control our attitude.  We even have the power to choose not to be offended! Of course we have to deal with our emotions, we can't just magically wish them away.  But we can deal with them appropriately, rely on Christ, and still press forward and impact our circumstances.  A great lesson for me! :) 

Yes, I was able to get a priesthood blessing from President Cutler and it made all the difference in the world.  I wasn't able to express what I was feeling very clearly so he had me pray he would be inspired to know what to include and he was! It was the most amazing thing I've ever seen.  He blessed me to be able to have the seeds of charity swell within me, be better at communicating my feelings, not have an emptiness of soul (that's exaclty how I felt!), be able to feel the Spirit speaking to me, feel God's love for me and for others, and to be able to press forward steadfastly with faith in Christ.  Also to be able to see the good in Sis. Peterson and remember that the Lord is preparing me to be a wife and mother through these experiences.  At the end, I was totally crying and he said he felt impressed to tell me how much the Lord loves me.  It was a surreal experience, I wish I could reexperience it.  It blew my mind!

Here is a funny story. So we saw a treadmill outside and it said "free" on it!! Yep, so we got all excited, having just returned from Sweet Frog frozen yogurt, and went to investigate.  :) And, sure enough, there was a sign on it that said:" Yes, it works!" This was truly a tender mercy. So funny! And these nice people even delivered it to our apartment for us, since it was too big to fit in our car, haha! It's kind of old and super noisy, but hey! It works.  :) 

Fourth of July was good.  We watched a parade.  Oh, and we saw this drunk guy shoot Roman Candle fireworks and he totally started a fire right in front of us! Next thing we know there are police cars and firemen coming to put it out.  Haha. We heard the fireworks last night, actually, since they don't actually set off fireworks on the Fourth around here. It's always the day after. 

I also went on exchanges to Wausau with sister smith!! It was great!! It was the first time I've been out of Stevens Point, like, on official missionary business. :P I even got to try Hmong food, which consisted of cilantro-like noodles.  I had an amazing day.  

I'm super excited for Abby and her mission call!!! And I'm super proud and excited for Ashley!!! Congrats!!!!

As usual I'm running short on time.  

I love you all!!!


Sister Woods 

Week 18

My wonderful family and friends,

I can't believe it has been 4 months already! Time has flown by, especially this month. 

Well, I have fabulous news! We were over at the Carroll's house for family home evening last week and someone brought pretzel jello salad!!!! I literally died and went to heaven. For those of you who don't know, this is my favorite thing ever, and I only get to eat it on Christmas and my birthday at home. So this... was amazing! And, she sent us home with the leftovers, haha. Perks of being a missionary. :P

Lucas is doing so well!!! We taught him about the Work of Wisdom this week and he's quitting coffee and smoking! He only smoked 1 yesterday, which is really huge for him. He's doing great and we are very excited for him. We have calls with the district leader every Sunday and he asked us how we are focusing on "the one" lately. Haha, I told him we most definitely are focusing on THE ONE because Lucas is the one and only person we are teaching!! Yep, we are zeroed in on him! :P Well, we did lots and lots and lots of tracting this week and found a couple more people.  We went tracting for over 4 hours on Saturday (my record!). Yes, on Saturday we were able to tract into some much nicer people. They even gave us water! Probably because we were so sweaty. :P These past 2 to 3 weeks we have been encountering some real meanies!!! I suppose being outright opposed is better than having them set up a return appointment with us and then leave us standing at the door! True story (it happens all the time). It was quite frustrating.  Cole, the attractive guy not wearing a shirt, did that to us. We showed up to our appointment and he left us standing at the door. Good thing Sis. McCauley was there to talk with us in the car before our next appointment in the same building, which also cancelled. She served a mission, she knows what it's like! Then he said we were scaring his roommate! Haha, that is pretty funny. I don't know that Sis. Peterson and I are very intimidating... :P I'm learning lots of good things out here, that's for sure! And hey. Sister Harper told us how she was chased with an egg on her mission so I guess we are pretty lucky. No one has chased us yet! :) 

Yesterday we got to talk to the most amazing guy ever when we were out tracting. At first he wasn't interested when we were talking with him. Then we asked him if he's heard anything different than what we had just explained to him in his research about the Book of Mormon and our church. Then all of a sudden he started asking us all kinds of questions about Joseph Smith. We had a great discussion with him! He asked us about our testimonies, why we decided to serve missions, and if we have had any "undeniable" experiences with God and we were able to share those. It goes to show that the Book of Mormon changes hearts. :) He is moving soon but I'm certain he's going to read it and have lots of questions for the missionaries one day. 

Well, that is pretty much it for this week. It has been a tough one! Nothing too exciting. Oh, I tried yellow watermelon which was pretty good. :)

Love you!

Sister Woods