Monday, August 25, 2014

Pictures from Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Our district in Stevens Point--August 2014

Whoa!  He's a tall one!!  Hee hee!

Picture in front of Stevens Point Brewery

Week 26

Hello Everyone!

I wasn't surprised at all that I am going to be transferred since I've been in Stevens Point for 6 months now. But it's a huge suspense because we get the text with all the names of the missionaries being transferred on Saturday morning and unless you get a call from the mission president, (telling you you're training or becoming a Sister Training Leader) you have to wait until Monday to find out where you're going and who your new companion is! So I'm going to Oshkosh. I'm not really sure where that is but I heard it's near Fond-du-Lac.  My new companion will be Sister Wilson. :) 

I'm a bit sad to leave because I know everyone well and Stevens Point has been my home for a long time, but I'm also quite thrilled at the opportunity for change, for change brings with it the opportunity for more growth. I bore my testimony in church on Sunday and everyone called on me to give all the prayers. I've met some very special people here in Stevens Point so it was a bit sad to say goodbye, even though it doesn't really feel like a goodbye! :) I even got a few gifts, which was nice. 

Haha, so I found out that the YMCA is getting a scanner, so that means no more filing! This is funny because I've spent 2 hours a week doing lots of filing over there for 6 months. :) 

We did have to move April's baptism date back again. She went off to a camp in Madison where there was some alcohol involved and she caved and smoked a cigarette. Darn!  We were upset about it. But she knows she messed up and is going to get back on track. 

We were able to have some good lessons at members houses this week, though! We almost accomplished the goal that Elder Martino gave us to have 3 consecutive member-present lessons in a row, except April went out of town so we had 2 in a row instead. It is amazing just how important members are to helping our investigators! Lucas really connected with the Spauldings, who helped him see that the Lord will give us what we want (in his case to quit smoking) but He wants to see how badly you want it. Sometimes we take 3 steps forward and then fall back 2 steps, but if we never stop trying, if we are persistent and tenacious about getting back up when we fall, and keep pushing we will eventually make it.  As I've reflected on that I realize it is true!  Think about it, with that determination and the Lord's help, we can do anything! Every time in my life I've had a major change take place within me, a positive change I was seeking for, it has been because I've not only pleaded with the Lord for help, but I've had to work my guts out to show Him how badly I wanted what I was searching for. Our efforts are miniscule compared with what the Lord can do. It's a lot like a child who wants a bike. The child works and works but can only come up with $6. Well, when his father sees that he's done his very best, then he is able to step in and buy the bike. In now way is $6 going to earn him the bike, but with his father's help he is able to get what he desires. This means we have to be humble, realizing that it is the Lord that ultimately provides us with what we strive for. All of this brings to mind my favorite scripture, Ether 12:27, which talks about being humble 3 times! Repetition must mean that's pretty important. I have come to realize on my mission that humility is a source of strength, especially when combined with faith. Humility means that we know where our strength lies. Ultimately it is God who blesses us with our talents and abilities and He is so merciful and loves us so much that He is willing to step in and provide us with those things we couldn't attain solely from our own efforts. God is merciful and amazing and when we work with Him in tandem we can accomplish anything! :) it just takes patience and persistence. Anyway, tangent over. When Brother Spaulding was saying this the Spirit was super strong and I knew it was true. 

Funny story for this week... so there we were, walking back to our apartment and all of a sudden a fireball comes flying toward us.  We yelled and then Brother Somers and the elders appear laughting hysterically. It was quite funny, actually. The firecracker almost hit Sister Peterson and she said she felt flames on her back. They got the whole thing on video, it was awesome.

Well, I'm nervited to go to Oshkosh, but mostly excited! It will be a bit stressful because I have to do lots of packing. But that's okay. :) 

I know that the power of prayer is real and is a great source of solace. I love being a missionary! 

I love you all and hope you have an amazing week!


Sister Woods

Monday, August 18, 2014

Week 25

Hello Everyone!

Shoutout to my fabulous G-ma Donna for working on her family history like a pro! I'm inspired by your efforts and I will definitley want to learn all about it from you when I come home. :) Family history is amazing! Only I didn't discover that until I came out here and had to start telling other people they should work on it, haha. 

So the highlight of the week was mission tour in Madison. We drove to Sun Prairie, which was like a 2 hour drive, and stayed overnight with the sisters over there. I decided I can't be transferred to Sun Prairie because it smells like cows and the Culver's over there gave us only a tiny spoonful of toppings, hahah. :P So we slept on the floor over there and had to wake up super early to drive to Madison.we were told "to look our VERY best" for this 6 hour meeting. I loved every second of it! Elder Martino of the Seventy gave us the most incredible trainings, getting us pumped up for our goal of getting a baptism in every area before the October Conference. He talked with us lots about working smarter, with just the right member (or Amulek, as he tied it in with Alma 8 and 10) who will "astonish" our investigators with their experiences. I was just so amazed by him. He just talked for 2 hours straight, all by the Spirit, no notes. He asked probing questions and taught us deeply from the scriptures. He is an incredible teacher! He encouraged us to have our investigators answer their own questions. Also, he challenged us to get 3 consecutive appointments in different members' homes with 3 different investigators, AND the investigator has to already be at the member's house. We are going to do it before next week! :) He said if we do then 2 out of the 3 would be baptized (on average). It requires much, much planning but it's possible!  Perhaps my favorite part of this meeting was hearing President and Sister Cutler bear their testimonies. They are such an incredible example to me of what an eternal marriage should be. I could go on and on about them, (Elder Martino surely did),  but one thing I love that President Cutler says all the time is that the Atonement is the tree of life spoken of in Lehi's dream. The Atonement's purpose is to bring our families God's life, which is family life! Elder Martino shared an insight about the Atonement that I thought was neat. When Christ was suffering and asked that the cup be removed he may not have completely  understood how excruciatingly overwhelming it was going to be. He meant "I understand everything depends on what I'm about to do. If there's any way I can't complete it (shrink) then please take it from me because I know how important this and if I can't complete it then Satan wins."  None of us can truly say He doesn't understand what we are going through! He told us as we put our hearts, energies, and inner desires into this work then no matter what we are going to grow. I learned a ton from this meeting and it was great! Mission tours are the best. 

After the meeting, well before the meeting started, I found out Elder Martino wanted to interview me! It was an incredible experience. He told me he felt impressed by the Spirit (he wasn't sure why he was saying it, he would never make an exception like this normally) that I need to have a cello out here. I had only briefly mentioned I played the cello in college.  He also gave me an incredible priesthood blessing. He talked with President Cutler and, well, somehow I'm getting a cello! It's not every day a Seventy says something like that. I am amazed.  And uber excited! :D  

Mom, I finally got to use my birthday giftcard at Texas Roadhouse in Madison! :P Thanks so much!!!!! It was above and beyond delicious. 

Funny story. Our parking lot was being redone and so one of the sides was closed. Well, the other side was full of cars and there was nowhere else to park so we had to park around the corner ( since we didn't see a sign or anything saying we couldn't).  Well in the morning Elder Booth calls us saying "sisters, where is your car??!" The police called the mission office because they said we were parked there too long. We were so freaked out thinking that we, the cute sister missionaries, (criminals!) had put one toe out of line and were going to have our car towed! Or get a horrible ticket. But we didn't. Phew! :) 

It was exciting to see Caryl Bender at church on Sunday. She hasn't been to church in forever! She will have loads of questions for us, she says. April is being baptized next Saturday! We are crossing our fingers, hoping and praying she won't smoke this week. And she's hopefully NOT going camping and will thus avoid alcohol. She's doing good so far... pray for her if you feel so inclined! 

Sister McCauley, who I'm pretty sure is the most awesome lady ever, lent us a Sheri Dew CD called "The Lord Needs Powerful People." I love visiting her. She teaches us so much about marriage, life, and psychology, too. Anyway, this talk is super good and I highly recommend it! :) 

Well, that's all for now! Love you all!


Sister Woods

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Week 24

Hello Everyone!

It is pouring today in Stevens Point!!! Seriously pouring.  And today Sister Peterson and I went to play racquetball at the YMCA. AND, while there, I saw one more naked lady than I bargained for. (I wasn't planning on seeing any). Yep, there she was, blocking the way to the bathroom, talking to other people, with her elbow propped against the lockers, practically posing. Sister Peterson and I busted out laughing. "wait, is she... no way!!" haha.

I got to go on exchanges in Wausau on Wednesday with Sister Pearson! That was an amazing time. It was so great to catch up with her. :) 

We had breakfast with Martice. He is hilarious, he's like "people are gonna be like oh great there's 2 Jehovah's witnesses and a thug over here."

I made the mistake of telling my companion I need to get better at talking on the phone a while back, so I had (THE DELIGHTFUL OPPORTUNITY, ahem. ) to make all the phone calls this week during weekly planning. xD Oh no!!! Haha, serves me right. I have noticed it's gotten easier for me.  Still horrible, but easier.

Lucas hasn't smoked in a week!!! He's doing awesome.  He and April were able to attend a baptism.  April is now dating Brother Somers. She is doing amazing. She got a priesthood blessing this week to help her quit smoking. She did slip up on Saturday but that's mainly because she didn't want to quit just to be baptized. She's done some re-evaluating and really is determined to quit for good now. We are excited for her! Unfortunatley, though, this means we had to push her baptism date back until April 30, which means I will most definitely be transferred by then. D: Hopefully I'll get to see lots of pictures or be sent somewhere close enough where I can still go!

The saddest thing ever happened this week. Brother Taplin announced that he no longer wants the missionaries to come over. Yep, he's wanting to take a step back and figure things out on his own. He's been looking into other churches. We were SO DEVASTATED. Yep, I'm a baby so I cried right then and there and couldn't hide it. I testified that I know this church is true and Gospel is the path to happiness but he didn't want to hear it. He said I had gotten on his nerves. He also said not to take it personally. It's hard not to, haha. But that's how missionary work goes sometimes. It's heart-wrenching to bear your soul to people, the beliefs you hold most dear, and have them stomped on. But that's why it's great that it's not about me. it's about them and Christ.

But, on a brighter note, Nicole Friday and Tim called us and want to meet with us again!!!! First of all, this is uber exciting because it was all Tim's idea. I thought he hated us, haha! But it turns out they didn't move to West Virginia. They moved to Rosholt and now they are in a less stressful environment and are ready to meet with us again. :) Nicole even came to church yesterday! So that was very exciting.

This Thursday we are having  a mission tour in Madison with James B. Martino of the Seventy. It's a 6 and a half hour meeting and it's going to be AWESOME. I'm so excited.  All of the missionaries have to come prepared to give a talk about diligence and I guess they just randomly choose a few of us to share. :P (It's 3 zones of missionaries so I'm not too worried, knock on Woods!)

We also had dinner at the Lubahns and there were so m any dogs!!! And animals. Haha. They have a Chihuahua that reminds me of Reba.

I have a few minutes I'd like to share a few things I learned about repentance lately.  This has become my new study topic of choice. It fascinates me! Anyway, I read this great talk by Elder Christopherson called "Divine Gift of Repentance."  In it he talked about how there is no real progress or improvement in life without repentance.  Perhaps we should pray for time and opportunity to overcome our shortcomings instead of just mercy. And this part I liked, real change may require repeated attempts but there is something refining and holy in our striving.  This morning I also read in Jarom 1:4 about how the Holy Ghost is manifest according to our faith.  If we want more revelations, we can increase our faith. Random musings.

That's all for now!  Love you all!!


Sister Woods

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Richie Found His Dinner

Richie holding up some "road kill" . . . yep, they eat it!  Gross!

Riding Bryan's Bike

Sis. Woods got the opportunity to ride Bryan's bike.  She is grateful they have a car, as riding a bike in a skirt is a bit scandalous!  Ha ha!

Week 23

Hello everyone!

Happy Birthday to my sassy sister, Kimi!!!!!! :) 

I apologize for this boring email. I feel boring today. But things really are exciting over here, we have lots of appointments and people to teach.  There is too much to tell! 

First of all, I got to play a cello today! Wow, it's been 6 months! I'll never go without playing for this long ever again, that's for sure. Well, except 2 more times :P (total of 18 months). I am so rusty and out of practice with what I used to be able to play before I left, but the muscle memory is still there. :D I didn't have any music, of course, but it was fun to be able to play again and realize that I haven't forgotten how to play the cello. 

Since July 1 there has been a big push in our mission to have at least 1 baptism in every area before the October general conference.  We are praying really hard for this! If you felt so inclined, your prayers for this would be much appreciated. :D There are some areas that haven't seen a baptism in over a year. And this is helping us move toward our goal of 400 baptisms this year.

Oh yes, and we are getting smartphones in September! That will be exciting. That way we can listen to talks with people. 

Well the weather in Wisconsin has been all over the place. It's been super nice and sunny but it has also been rather rainy and humid a few days each week. 

So we have some exciting news! We were able to set a baptism date with April for August 23rd. She is SO EXCITED! She was at church again yesterday and says that she is planning on being there every week from now on! We have been meeting with her frequently. She is 28, is a paramedic and has a cute 5-year-old daughter named Ryan. I'm not sure if I mentioned that last week. Anyway, she is super smart, super awesome, and super prepared. She is just prime! She does struggle with smoking, though. Also we are super glad that she's not dating Brother Somers and is genuinly interested in the church. :D

Lucas is still struggling to quit smoking. His brother is now quitting with him. To make things more fair, Sister Peterson and I also had to surrender a vice of our own. Haha, you see, things have been hard so we've been resorting to Belts and Culvers therapy lately, which is bad! (and all too easy if in Wisconsin, since ice cream is everywhere!) So this will be a very good thing for all of us. :P 

We also had Martice at church yesterday for a few minutes.  He had to leave early for work but he showed up in his Best Buy uniform and felt very strange, I'm sure! It's always stressful when you have investigators at church on fast sunday and you are wondering what people are going to say.  It's especially when everyone cries, haha. This is the guy who sent us that text at 1 am saying he wants to cuddle with us, haha. He is super cool! He's 6'6", black, and very polite. He raps, too. He is a bartender at the Embassy Suites so we have met with him a few times at his bar, haha. "So 2 sister missionaries walk into a bar..." yep, scandalous. But he introduced us to some really cool, interesting people who we might be able to teach soon. :) This one guy was super quiet but he turned into a chatterbox once we asked him to tell us about his tattoos. 

Well, missions are great. I'm learning lots.  I love you all!


Sister Woods