Monday, November 24, 2014

Surprise exchanges and new investigator


We had surprise exchanges this week. It was pretty much just a sleepover. On Friday the Sister Training Leaders came to our apartment and we switched companions. I was with Sister Shimon. She has been out for 9 months and was really fun. I learned a lot from her. I went to her area with her and we taught a few lessons that night. The only problem is that now I want to keep teaching those investigators, but they're not in my area! 

Sister Cobb and I have a new investigator though. We met her while contacting on the boardwalk and she had lots of questions for us. This week we taught her about the Restoration. The lesson was a little scattered because she asked so many different questions, but the Spirit was very strong. I'm starting to really love teaching. 

We also went to specialized training this week. It was for all the new missionaries who had come in 3 weeks ago. It was really fun to see all the sisters I came out with. I still don't know them very well because we were only together for a day, but it was nice to see familiar faces. 

I'm excited for Thanksgiving this week. Apparently missionaries just accept every invitation to dinner and go to all of them. We had a small thanksgiving dinner yesterday at a member's house. She'd been talking to us for weeks about a new ham recipe she was going to try. It was funny how excited she was about it. 

It still hasn't snowed and I still love New Jersey!

Sister Williams

Monday, November 17, 2014

One month down

So apparently it's in the single digits in Meridian, but it's still 30's here! Lots of rain though.
I have been on my mission for a month already. It feels like forever but at the same time went by very fast. I feel like the rest of the months will fly by. 

Last p-day we got to go bowling as a zone so that was really fun. Other than that, it's been a week full of knocking on doors, trudging through leaves, and planning for appointments. It's hard to contact because it gets dark at 4 now and people don't like answering their doors when it's pitch black outside. Apparently everyone here goes to bed at 8.

We had an appointment this week where we were planning to teach our investigator and her boyfriend about the Law of Chastity. We were so nervous and spent a very long time preparing. When we went over to teach it, she started asking us about the Word of Wisdom. So, we had a spontaneous lesson on that instead. It went over really well but was a weird switch. Her boyfriend made us soup and called us his daughters. I love meeting with nice people:)

We got a text Tuesday morning from a recent convert saying that she was told by the Spirit that we had a message for her. We didn't have one in mind, but we went over that night to visit her. My companion opened to a chapter in the Book of Mormon and we started reading and discussing it. It was just going so so, but while we were discussing, the recent convert looked down at the scriptures, read a verse that was completely unrelated from what we were talking about, and said that was exactly what she needed to hear. The Lord had a message for her, not us. We just had to turn to the right chapter for her to find it. I've seen so many little miracle like this that I can't even remember all of them. It's amazing how little we do and how much the Lord actually does. 

Hopefully it stays warm here as long as possible!

Sister Williams

Monday, November 10, 2014

Pulled over while proselyting in the "crazy cat state"

Policeman nicely asks Sister Cobb and Sister Williams to cease and desist while proselyting at Monmouth University
 Hello everyone!
It's been an interesting week. I've mostly still been trying to adjust but I still love it out here.
It's still full fall right now but a couple days ago we had what New Jersey calls a nor'easter. It's pretty much a storm that blows in from the north. Sister Cobb and I were out contacting when it hit, which wasn't the best experience.

Something I've noticed about New Jersey is that every single person in this state has at least two cats. I'm not exaggerating, they really do. Jersey is the crazy cat state of America. We also have a less active member who has a pet pig. His name is Barbecue.

Last p-day we went to the beach which is only about ten minutes from our apartment. It's so beautiful there! The shore is covered with millions of shells, you are almost always standing on them.

A couple days ago, our district decided to all go contacting together. The Elders wanted to go to a college campus. I wasn't sure about that but we went. We contacted for about 20 minutes and then kind of got thrown off the campus by the police. They were super nice about it though. The Spanish Sisters got a picture of us being "pulled over" while proselyting.

So something that almost every missionary dreads doing out here is role plays. We do them in companion study and practice teaching each other. Sister Cobb and I decided to make it a little more exciting. We dressed up as missionaries from Book of Mormon times, stood on the couch, and preached to the Lamanites, speaking in biblical language. At first I thought those Lamanites would stone us or something, but they accepted our words and agreed to come to church on Sunday:)

Missionary work is pretty fun. I love going out and meeting all sorts of new people. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel to two investigators this week and the Spirit was so strong during both. I love sharing my testimony.
Sister Williams 

From Sister Cobb: The companion's view

This whole week has been pretty tough. It was almost like a scene from The Best Two Years. Knock - slam. Walk - pouring rain. Appointments - not home. We don't have a lot of people to teach, and we got a few doors slammed in our faces. I'm so proud of Sister Williams for persevering through it (we did a lot of finger painting and piano playing this's therapeutic). She is determined to keep working hard, even though we aren't seeing a lot of the success most missionaries expect.

Interestingly enough, November 8th was my favorite day of the week.  It started off on an amazing note - teaching. We finally got to teach someone! We went over to a less active's home. Her name is Sister Woods, and she is a character. She feeds us figs and seaweed and has an enormous pet pig. His name is Barbeque, and she feeds him bacon (she thinks it's hilarious). We had a sweet lesson with her and her grandson, Ryan. Ryan isn't baptized (his parents aren't members), but he loves the missionaries and always sits in on our lessons. He's a pretty spiritual little guy though.

After that, all of the missionaries in our area met at the church to go on a contacting blitz! It was a blast. We went contacting around Monmouth University and then in Asbury Park. Asbury Park used to be in our area, but the sisters are no longer allowed to go there because the ward petitioned to get us out. It's pretty dangerous, even during the day (I know some sisters who almost got kidnapped there). We got to talk to this really neat woman who asked us a lot of questions, like, "Will I ever see my mom again?" and "What happens to us after we die?". She was really interested and invited us to come back and teach her! We gave her to the elders though, because she lives in Asbury Park. We also contacted a sweet Spanish woman who wants to know more about eternal families! She also invited us back, but we gave her to the Spanish elders because we don't really speak Spanish. All in all, we got to talk to a lot of people about the gospel. It was so fun.

On Saturday, we had another appointment to teach Amanda! Hooray! Amanda is one of the sweetest, most prepared people I have ever met. She was texting us all week about how much she was loving the Book of Mormon. During our lesson, SHE taught US about the gospel. She is really excited to be baptized!

We taught her about the Restoration, and Sister Williams got to share the first vision for the first time on her mission! When she recited the first vision for Amanda, the Spirit completely filled up the room. It was powerful, and Amanda could feel it. It was one the most spiritual Restoration lesson I have ever been a part of. Sister Williams is a clear teacher and is so sincere. After the lesson, we invited Amanda to pray to know if the Book of Mormon was true, only to find out that she had already prayed about it and knew it was! 

That night, our recent convert Crystal invited us out to dinner. She is such a humble and giving person. I always feel bad when members take us out for meals or buy us anything, but I know that they will be blessed for serving us. If anyone deserves blessings, it's Crystal. She was baptized in May, has more trials than any person should have to endure, and loves the Lord. She is so faithful and determined to keep her family rooted in the gospel.

Sister Cobb

Their humble home (apt)

Monday, November 3, 2014

First Week in New Jersey

Sister Williams and Sister Cobb

New Jersey is BEAUTIFUL. The fall leaves are absolutely gorgeous, although it's already starting to get really cold. 

I thought my departure date from the MTC was on Wednesday (Oct 29), but the elders from the New Jersey district surprised me when they told me only three days before that we were leaving Monday. Had to get up at 4 a.m. to get to the airport. I miss my district so much, but it's still great out here.

So we flew out to New Jersey and spent the night at the mission home. There were a lot of other sisters there that had flown in from the Mexico MTC. I was the only English sister there. The next day we had a lot of meetings and then we were assigned companions and areas!

My companion's name is Sister Cobb and she is the best trainer in the world. She's from Arizona and has been out for four months. Our area is Eatontown South so we are at the very bottom of our mission. Our area covers the coast (everyone here calls it the shore) so we get to contact on the boardwalk sometimes. 

We actually got the night off for Halloween this week because Pres. Taggart didn't want us outside after 6. So we carved pumpkins and made caramel apples. A less active member we visited also gave us a huge bag of candy:)

I love the people here. Everybody talks A LOT. We've visited so many people and handed out so many pamphlets. On Saturday, Sister Cobb had the impression that we needed to go visit a former investigator and commit her to baptism. We did and she accepted! Her baptismal date is November 23rd. She said she was so glad we came by because this was just what she needed. 

I feel like I've been here forever even though it hasn't even been a week, but I love it so much:)

Sister Williams

First Week in New Jersey: The Companion's View

I am the proud mother of SISTER WILLIAMS! *insert cheering and dancing*

Needless to say, I already love her to death. Seriously, I think I might suffocate her with my love. I had to rein it in a little bit when we first met so that I wouldn't overwhelm her. 

Sister Williams is from Boise, Idaho. She's 19 years old, attended BYUI for a year, wants to be a social worker, loves art and music, and her spirit animal is a fox. We had tons of fun on the night of mischief and on Halloween (mission rules - we had to stay inside). We carved pumpkins, made caramel apples, watched Legacy, finger painted, and made popsicle stick temples. It was a blast. We are having so much fun and working hard out here! I absolutely adore her. The full story of our companionship is actually really neat, so I'll tell you more about it.

Inspired companionship

I have been more than a little worried about training a new missionary. I'm still ridiculously new and inexperienced, and I don't feel qualified to be a trainer! I've been praying A LOT for comfort and counsel as to how I should train her and what we need to do to be successful in our area. 

The Lord told me so much about my new companion before she got here - her name, what her emotions would be like when she came to New Jersey, her personality, and even her coping mechanisms for stress. I have been able to love her and serve her from the second she got here, because the Lord prepared me for her. 

Last week, I managed to get Sister Gilchrest (a very nice, cookie baking senior sister) to share two things with me: her peanut butter cookie recipe and the list of incoming missionaries. Well, the second I glanced at the list of new missionaries, the name "Williams, Rachel Yvonne" literally leapt off the page at me. It was amazing. I just knew that Sister Williams was going to be my trainee, even before I discovered that she was an English speaking sister! 

Here's how President decides on the trainer/trainee companionships: On Tuesday, before transfer conference, all of us go into a huge room and eat lunch. He goes into another room and prays with the assistants to know how he should pair the companionships. He receives that revelation, comes back out, and then announces the companionships. On Tuesday, we drove up to Morristown for the "Meet Your Trainers" meeting with all of the trainees! As soon as we got into the room with all of the scared-looking trainees, I scoured the place for Sister Williams. I marched right up to her, gave her a huge hug (it took her WAY off guard, ha), and pulled her into lunch with me. Of course, I didn't tell her I was her trainer. That would just ruin the surprise. When President Taggart announced my name and called Sister Williams to be my trainee, I wasn't surprised at all! Knowing that Sister Williams really was supposed to be my companion was very comforting. I know that the Lord does bless and inspire the priesthood holders who lead this church.

Our first night in Eatontown was really fun. I am pretty sure Sister Williams was scared to death (I'm not sure if it was of me or of being on a mission...) and wondering what in the world she got herself into. We didn't even unpack before we went out to go and meet the good people of Eatontown! It was quite the adventure. The next day, we went out contacting on the boardwalk at Bradley Beach (which was super fun, by the way... we met all of these really cool people), had dinner at our recent convert's house, and met with the Bishop. 

Sis. Williams' first contact

Proudest moment of my entire life: Sister Williams' first contact! It was her first full day in the mission field, and she went for it all by herself! She was SO brave and started talking to this man named Howard while we were grocery shopping. He about talked her ear off (people in Jersey LOVE to talk), and she listened patiently and wove the gospel into the conversation. She was a pro. The look on her face after the contact was over was absolutely priceless: it was a mixture of shock, joy, pride, and adrenaline. We did a little happy dance in the juice isle of Shop-rite to celebrate.

First baptism invitation and acceptance

On Saturday, we had interviews with President and Sister Taggart. President Taggart gave me some really inspired advice for our area and for Sister Williams. He challenged us to use the power of faith to find the prepared people in our area. Right after interviews, we went to our favorite trailer park in Eatontown to meet with some old investigators. They weren't home, but I felt strongly that we needed to go and visit another former investigator, Amanda. It's a miracle we even know about Amanda. She was meeting with the missionaries two years ago and even had a baptism date, but disappeared right before it. Last transfer, while Sister Fjerstad and I were teaching George and Debbie, Amanda walked into their trailer! As soon as she saw us, she said, "Wait! I used to meet with you! I think I still have my Book of Mormon. I finally feel ready to come closer to God, and I want to meet with you again!" Amazing, right? Well, we never got to see her again before we got doubled out. 

Anyways, while Sister Williams and I were driving to see Amanda, I told her that she was going to invite Amanda to be baptized. She had a terrified look on her face. We stopped outside of Amanda's, and I asked Sister Williams, "Do you have faith?" She replied, "Yes?". "No, Sister Williams. Do you have faith?" She paused. After a minute of thinking, she looked at me again, this time with confidence, and said, "YES". I nodded. We prayed in our car, and then walked through the rain to knock on Amanda's door.

A man answered (we later learned that it was her boyfriend, Angel). He invited us in immediately and called for Amanda. She came out of a back room, saw us, and gave us enormous hugs. She was so excited we'd come back to see her! It was amazing. We sang, "I am a Child of God" with her and Angel, and by the end of it, she was in tears. Amanda told us that she could feel the Spirit and that she wanted to feel this way all the time. Sister Williams bravely charged forward and promised Amanda that she could feel that way all the time. She testified of baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and invited Amanda to be baptized... and Amanda said yes! I don't know who was more excited - Amanda or Sister Williams! Angel wants to start meeting with us too, so we're hoping to have a wedding and two baptisms this month. Miracles miracles miracles!

Diligent and obedient

 It's been amazing to see how the Lord blesses us as we work as diligently and obediently as we can. We're already seeing miracles, and it is not a result of our talents or abilities. It is the Lord's power and goodness that is making this work possible.

To quote Sister Williams (the best trainee in the whole world): "I like being a missionary! This is fun." It took her until Friday to say that (another one of the proudest moments of my life), but she's right! Being a missionary makes me so happy.


Sister Cobb