Monday, March 31, 2014

Mormon Bible - Week 9

Dear family,

I'm so glad you had snow in Utah. It snowed here in Maryland yesterday
too so I'm glad we're not the only ones suffering. When we went to
church it was only raining and I decided I would be fine wearing flats
and not wearing a coat since no one thought it would turn to snow. We
were on the go until 7 that night so I was running everywhere with wet
shoes until we came home for a couple minutes to put on boots and a
coat before heading back out. I'm so glad I bought those snow boots,
they're so warm. Anyway, it's funny when it snows here because
everyone freaks out. When church was out, everyone was telling us to
be careful and that we shouldn't be driving. One mother was freaking
out because she and her 19 year old daughter drove separately and she
said she was going to follow behind her home in case she spins out.
Katie, who lives about 20-30 minutes away from the church, called us
and warned us not to come because when she and AJ were driving he
almost spun into a fence and that there's 2 feet of snow. I told her
Sister Johnson and I would discuss it and let her know if we were
coming, even though we knew there was no way we were missing a lesson
with the two of them. We've been waiting all transfer for this. Well
we finally drove off to Katie and AJ's house after everyone at the
church was freaking out and lo and behold! There was maybe 2 inches of
slush on the streets. People are funny. It really needs to stop
snowing now. It snowed last Tuesday too and I'm done with it. At
least today is warm.

I taught a workshop at district meeting this week. Yay me! District
meeting is every week with the 4 other companionships in our district.
I think it went well. It was on using the scriptures in teaching and
even though it seems like an easy topic, which it was, I actually
learned something.  Sweet.

On Friday after our weekly sister training at the Visitors Center,
Sister Johnson and I had a meeting with President Cooke. We thought it
was going to be a meeting just to get permission to hold a family
history class at the Poolesville library. However, we got there and
President Cooke, Elder and Sister Kendrick, and Sister Connell (single
senior sister) were all there and Elder and Sister Knight were on the
phone. We had a two hour long meeting about family history and how
we're gonna use it as a teaching tool. President Cooke was very
impressed with mine and Sister Johnson's ideas and how we and our ward
have been using it to find people to teach. The ward that Sister
Johnson and I are in is one of the pilot wards for family history. So
far we're teaching three less active women about family history and
we've taught 4 young women how to use it. President Cooke wants to
have one of the elders film Sister Johnson and I using our iPads and
family history to teach and then interview Elder and Sister Kendrick
about how our mission is using family history and also to film other
missionaries who have had success stories with using family history to
teach and find. Sister Connell is working on a script and he wants to
have it done in a few weeks and then he is going to send it off to
Salt Lake. So that's super exciting. It was funny because we thought
we were going in to talk to President Cooke real quick but then it was
this long, really cool meeting and we're happy to be a part of it. The
whole time, I was thinking about how proud Grandma Veldron and her
mother would be. They were so big into family history and now I'm
using it to share the gospel.

We saw Savior of the World with the Velasquez family at the Visitors
Center on Friday. It was good but not what I expected. The Velasquez
family seemed to really enjoy it. They're such a cute family. They
came to church for the first time on Sunday and they brought the mom's
older daughter as well. I sat alone and saved them half a bench and we
were stressing because they weren't there when it started but they
came during the opening song. As soon as I saw them walk in, I jumped
up and ran over to them and beckoned them to sit by me. Sacrament
meeting wasn't too exciting but I think they liked it. The next two
hours were rough. I took Abby, the 8 year old daughter, to primary and
then joined the parents and other daughter in gospel principles. We
learned about the structure of the priesthood. It was nice to learn
because I've never been totally clear on the different offices of the
Melchizedek. But, the whole time I was thinking about what the
Velasquez family was thinking and feeling, especially since the mother
is still learning English. It was the fifth Sunday so third hour was
combined in the chapel and we talked about covenants and it was hard
to hear. Sister Johnson and I were sure they'd never want to come again. 

However, Abby seemed to really like primary 
and we set up a time to teach them this Friday. Also, the father,
Esteban, texted us today and asked if we could bring by a Spanish and
an English "Mormon bible"(Book of Mormon) for them tomorrow since I
gave mine to Abby on Sunday. Sweet! They're such a cute family and I
love them so much. It's people and families like this that make me so
excited and grateful to be a missionary.

AJ is doing well. The only time we can meet with him on weekdays is at
9 am before he leaves for work. Katie isn't home at that time and
other people that could come with us are at work or school so we have
the lessons outside. On Tuesday, it was snowing. So we had a 15 minute
law of chastity lesson while standing on his front porch during a snow
storm. It was awesome. We were then able to teach him and Katie on
Sunday after church! They have cancelled on us so many times so we
were thrilled. Brian McMullan, who just came home from his mission in
Utah a month ago, came with us and we drove through the scary two
inches of slush to see them. We taught the Plan of Salvation and it
went so well. AJ is super smart and humble and we just adore him.
Katie is lucky, and she knows it.

We taught Candy this week the Plan of Salvation as well. It's hard to
teach her because her heart is hardened from her trials. She knows it
and she knows she's rebelling against God, but it's her way of
blocking out the pain. Whenever she feels the spirit she starts to
cry. She's so sweet and we're working on her. She said she would go to
Savior of the World last night with the Hancocks and we told them to
be ready to go at 5:30 so we called them at 5:45 and Sister Hancock
said, "oh I don't know if Candy wants to go, I'll call her." And then
Candy didn't want to go. So that was super frustrating. Did they not
hear us? I feel like mom. No one listens or does what we ask! Sister
Johnson and I went to the Visitors Center anyway because our ward
mission leader said he was bringing a couple non member friends. But
once we got there, he called us and said just kidding they're not
going. We're not allowed to be at the Visitors Center if we don't have
any investigators so we basically drove there for nothing and it's a
30 minute drive. We left two tickets for the Hancocks since they were
still coming but we then had to leave because we have other people to
see and we can't be there. The Hancocks got there right at 7 when it
started and if you're not there at least 10 minutes before, they give
away all the seats. They weren't happy but there was nothing we could
do.

Dee is continuing to do well. We didn't have time to teach her this
week although we happened to run into her at the local bakery when we
went in there to buy something for her. So we got to sit and talk with
her and Katie for a while which was nice.

The rubber band bracelets Emma made me are awesome. I'm writing her a
letter today. The bracelets are really popular here, tons of girls,
young and old, always ask me about them and I've had two girls make me
and Sister Johnson some while we're at their house for dinner. For
some reason children like me here. I've always liked kids but I've
never been good with them. However, I seem to have a knack for
children here haha. I hope you saw the pictures of the Emery family on
Facebook. Those girls were so cute. I was afraid they were gonna break
my iPad, they were going crazy with the pictures and yanking it from
my hand.

The women's conference was good. I was disappointed it was only an
hour and President Monson didn't speak. But the talks were great and
there was lots and lots of singing and a couple videos. I can't wait
for conference! We have so many people we want to watch conference
with, we might have to go on splits.

I'm so excited that Sariah got her mission call!! If she's reading
this: congratulations!! I love you mucho grande and you're going to be
amazing! I was hoping for DC but Argentina will do (: and if she's not
reading this, pass on the message.

I've been trying to eat healthier out here. At home I was relatively
healthy. I didn't count every calorie but I was aware of them at least
haha. Here it's tricky because you don't know what members will feed
you for dinner. I also need as much energy as possible. This past week
I've been eating lots of fruit (which is usual) and salad which is
actually really good. Today I bought more salad, grapes, bananas,
pineapple (my favorite!), cantaloupe, and apples. I feel better and
then I can eat dessert or have seconds at a members house and not feel
too bad because I had a salad for lunch. That's been my moto for the
past week.

My first transfer is almost over! Wednesday will be second transfer.
I'm so glad first transfer is done. The first few weeks were rough. I
was unsure about what I was doing and my teaching skills.  Yesterday
though, I was running around at church to find people to set up
appointments for dinners, lessons, and member exchanges and I feel a
lot more confident teaching. Also, I was so so so tired at the MTC and
my first few weeks. I was always falling asleep in class at the MTC
and miserable because I was so tired and the car was torture because
we'd be stuck in traffic and I'd be falling asleep but I wasn't
allowed to. Now, I'm still a little tired every day but I have an
easier time waking up and I don't feel like I'm going to drop. It gets
better every week. And it's these friends and investigators that make
it all worth it. I love them so much and I'm so grateful I have the
opportunity to teach them and get to know them. It's the best thing
ever.

Ok that's it! I love you! I hope you like the long emails! Read D&C
59:23 and watch conference this weekend! XOXO

Love, Sister Black





Monday, March 24, 2014

Exact Obedience Brings Miracles - Week 8

Dear family members,

I can't believe it's been another week already! Time flies. The days
are long but the weeks are short.

Have I mentioned I don't like Facebook? I see posts by people but I
can't comment unless it helps me fulfill my purpose so I don't want to
be like "oh that's such a funny and cute cat. By the way Jesus loves
you so get baptized." because that's weird and kind of cheating haha.
But that picture of Charlie in front of the tv made me so happy
because I miss her and if she was here she could stand in front of my
tv or iPad all day and I'd just love her. Appreciate what you have.
Also that picture of Ashley with her two cats on the sofa made me
immensely jealous. Whenever I see a cat here, I get so excited. I
can't really show my excitement because it freaks cats and people out
so I have to slowly and subtly pet them while I'm dying inside of
happiness. I think I'm going to be a cat lady when I'm older. My
mission has helped me realize that that is my role in life.

Real quick, if your church leaders, especially the prophets and
apostles tell you to do something, just do it. Whenever the topic at
church is family history or member missionary work, people get bored
or annoyed and don't think it's important. Umm yes it is. The Lord has
COMMANDED us to do missionary work and to do our ancestors' work. Yes
sharing the gospel is scary, but we're not asking you to hand out Book
of Mormons. Just be a good friend and bring up church or beliefs in
conversation. We can discuss it without shoving it down their throat.
We just have a really good cookie that we're crazy over and want
everyone to have so we need to offer it without shoving it in their
faces but if we don't even offer it to them then what kind of friends
are we? We just want to help and bless others and also serve God. So
go be a missionary today. Maybe the prophet and apostles would stop
talking about it so much if we actually did it. Same with family
history. In ward council they were trying to discuss how to sneakily
get people into it and fun activities and names for it so people will
actually do it and not back out. Family history isn't just a hobby for
old people, it is something we are all constantly told we need to be
doing. It's actually really fun once you get into it. If anyone want
to learn how to use familysearch.org, email me or message me on
Facebook and I will teach you. It's so cool and easy once you figure
it out. So yes Emma should start doing it. Get her an LDS account and
then I will do what I can to help her from here. Everyone: follow the
prophet! Don't wait for something to be fun or comfortable or
disguised as a fun ward activity for you do it.

I love teaching. Love. It. This week was so awesome!

First, on Tuesday we taught Dee over at her house. She loves Sister
Cooke so we invited her over and then Dee invited three more women
members and her daughter and made dessert and it was such a party. It
was hard to teach because the women would talk and talk and get off
topic. We read The Family: A Proclamation to the World and also
discussed the law of chastity which was uber fun. It went well and Dee
is amazing and her missionary friend needs to come to Maryland faster
so she can be baptized by him! He gets home in April but he lives in
Arizona now so he won't be here until June or August. But she's ready
now! Pray for a miracle!

We didn't get to teach AJ or Paula this week. But AJ taught a self
defense class at an emergency preparedness fair they had at the church
on Saturday. He has a black belt in karate and apparently the class
went super well. Sister Johnson and I could only be there for 10
minutes before we left to the Visitors Center but he was really good
and professional. We're gonna teach him tomorrow morning hopefully.
He's such a good guy.

Saturday at the Visitors Center was awesome. Sister Johnson and I gave
some tours and then these two girls our age walked in and said that
they had to research the Mormon church for their project at college so
we taught them about temples and eternal families, ancient prophets,
Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon, and modern day prophets. They really
enjoyed it. They especially loved learning about eternal families and
they said they had no words for how they felt. After, a senior Sister
talked to them more and showed them this cheesy 10 minute video called
God's plan that always makes everyone cry and they were amazed and
saying how there's something different about this church. They then
accepted free Book of Mormons (or Books of Mormon, whatever floats
your boat) and we got their phone number and emails and they're gonna
go to church next week. So cool! I LOVE the Visitors Center and the
church is true!

Also, funny thing. So an older guy was in there talking to everyone
and you could tell he has some kind of mental disability but he's very
wise and in tune with the spirit and has a solid understanding of the
gospel. He can see people's light and can discern our color. Emma will
love this. He held my hand and closed his eyes and then told me my
color is blue because I'm a talker. So there you go Emma, I do talk a
lot apparently. I don't talk very much on my mission though but I talk
a lot at home and I enjoy public speaking so that was pretty cool.

Sunday was amazing. Candy came to church (Dee went to church in New
York during a school trip) and then she came to New Beginnings since
she's going to be a camp director at girls camp. She just loves the
young women and requested to be involved. When they were discussing it
during ward council, I shared how every year at girls camp one of our
camp leaders was a neighbor who wasn't a member and there weren't any
issues and we loved having her there. So Candy was able to learn more
about the personal progress program and get excited. She likes going
to church and knows she's in the right place but she's still mad at
God about her situation so it's gonna take some time for her heart to
be softened, but she is so cute and sweet and I just love her to
death.

I felt so sad during New Beginnings just because it reminded me of
when I was in young womens and I miss it. I loved
going to mutual every week and girls camp and church and being in the
class presidencies. Young womens is the best.

Ok so the reason why Sunday was amazing is because we got 3 new
investigators that day! Our mission wide goal this transfer (or our
10th key for those who know the mission lingo) is to get 3 new
investigators each week and Sister Johnson and I haven't been able to
so far until yesterday! So first we visited the Velasquez family after
church. The parents are from Honduras and have an 8 year old daughter.
The father was baptized over 20 years ago and is less active now. But
they're super excited to learn more and we're taking them to Savior of
the World this Friday and the mom kept on asking about church because
she really wants them to go. They're so sweet, I love them!

Our third new investigator is Kayla. She has been going to mutual
every week for two years with a friend and was at New Beginnings last
night. Sister Johnson gave me the opportunity to invite her to take
the lessons. So I awkwardly went up to her and started talking to her
and then eventually I asked if we could come over to get to know her
better and teach her more about the church and she said yes so now we
have an appointment for this Thursday and Sister Johnson is a proud
mama bear. I'm so glad she gives me opportunities to learn to do
things on my own. Kayla is so sweet and is gorgeous. I felt like a
potato standing next to her.

I decided last night that I need to be exactly obedient. I'm here to
serve and to invite others unto Christ and these people deserve the
best and I can't be the best missionary that they need unless I'm
exactly obedient. On Saturday I was really late to personal study
because I spent way too long getting ready and it happens most days
and I felt horrible. At the Visitors Center I asked God for
forgiveness and told Him that I know I was disobedient but these
people came to learn and feel the spirit and I don't want my
disobedience to affect my teaching and in turn get in the way of their
experience. I promised to be better and so now I have an alarm on my
iPad that goes off two minutes before personal study every day so I'll
never be late again. Even if I'm not ready, I better quickly put on my
name tag and go to my desk and start studying. I did it for the first
time Sunday and the Lord blessed us with three new investigators.
Obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles. I need
miracles and these wonderful investigators and friends need miracles
so I need to do my part to allow them to come.

I love being a missionary. I love teaching. I love my investigators. I
love the members. I love my companion. I love President and Sister
Cooke. I love this gospel. I love my family. I love all of you.

Read Mosiah 5:12. It doesn't matter if you're a full time missionary
or not. We all need to have a missionary name tag on our hearts and be
disciples of Christ. (:

Love, Sister Black

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

People Aren't Perfect; The Church Is - Week 7

Familia,

I saw the pictures of Jordan and Julie's wedding. Jordan looked so happy and everyone looked beautiful. It made me a bit sad to see all the extended family there. Not terribly sad but I definitely miss everyone.

So first I want to tell you something that I did over a week ago but forgot to email you about. You'll never guess what I did. I made oven apple pancakes. What? I hate it when Mom makes it! But I was craving it really bad and we were having a relief society culture night activity where we had to bring food and a display of our culture so I made oven apple pancakes and displayed the photo book of our family. It really hit the spot. Sister Johnson made special Colorado brownies since she's from Colorado. They're special because they're gluten and dairy free.

On Wednesday we had specialized training which Sister Cooke informed us is now on the blog http://calledtoserveindcnorth.blogspot.com/2014/03/specialized-training-for-february.html#comment-form. It was so fun and such a stress reliever. They talked to us about dealing with stress and then after a yummy lunch all of the newbies gathered in the primary room to talk with President Cooke and one of his APs (assistant to the President). We talked about our struggles and what we've learned so far. I've discovered that I'm not the only one who's had a hard time adjusting. Apparently we all hate waking up early (crazy) and we all hate the car because we get really sleepy but we're not allowed to fall asleep. We talked about other things we've struggled with and some complained a bit about their trainers (but not me because me and Sister Johnson get along great). We were laughing a lot and at one point we were laughing so hard that we were crying. It felt amazing. It was like a huge weight was lifted off of my shoulders as we laughed and talked. I got to talk to and joke around with Sister Hansen, my MTC and travel companion, which was great. Sister Johnson and I think a lot alike to the point that it's scary, but me and Sister Hansen have the same sense of humor.

Anyway after meeting with the other new missionaries, we played games. They were super exciting missionary ones. First, an AP would say a line from Preach My Gospel and each companionship had to find it while an arm was around each other. 4 of us won a round including me and Sister Johnson. Then we had to shoot the scrambled up first vision on the board with nerf guns in order. Another companionship and mine won as well. One of the APs was very impressed with my aim haha, probably because Mom bought a ton of nerf guns for Dad's birthday two years ago. Then the APs acted out different rules from the white handbook and we had to both find the right page twice before the other team. And we won! Whoooo

On Thursday we went to a Buddhist temple to help make sandwiches for homeless people. It was so cool inside and the Buddhist nuns are so Christ-like. Poolesville has the coolest stuff and is just gorgeous.

A lot of our area is right along the Potomac river. You should try to google pictures of Poolesville then you'll understand why I'm in love.

Saturday evening was so awkward. Sister Johnson and I were invited to speak at the Stake Priesthood meeting. We walked in and sat down with the elders in our ward who were also speaking and everyone stared at us. One pair of elders even asked our elders if we knew we weren't supposed to be there. When we got up to speak, I felt like we said really good stuff (we were talking about member exchanges and why they matter) but everyone stared at us with stony faces and both Sister Johnson and I could feel our faces turning red. Then the relief society provided sandwiches after for dinner before the adult session. Sister Johnson and I ate by ourselves and no one bothered to join us. I'm never doing that again. We could tell they weren't happy we were there. I think a lot of men don't like sister missionaries in general anyway which is rude but the people aren't perfect, the church is.

Speaking of Priesthood, the women who want to ordain women to the priesthood don't understand the plan of salvation or how God or this church works. Protesting isn't going to change anything because man can't change doctrine. President Monson can't give women the priesthood unless God instructs him to so protesting isn't going to do any good at all. They're better off praying to the source of the priesthood instead. So stupid. I don't even care if I offend anyone. If you want women to have the priesthood then you must have an
extremely limited understanding of the gospel.

Sunday I was feeling tired and down. I don't have that many down days, most are good actually, but for some reason I was feeling blue on Sunday even though it was a fairly good day. I was reading the talk by President Monson from the relief society general broadcast last general conference about the lady who was depressed so God sent a lady to give her homemade bread (I don't feel like explaining the whole thing, go read it yourself) and I was kind of thinking that that would be nice but God's never done that for me that I've noticed. Later, I was going to take a ten minute nap before dinner ended. I wished I had longer and sent a thought more than a prayer up to heaven that I wished God could somehow stop time so I could sleep longer. Well, apparently Sister Johnson decided to nap too and accidentally slept 10 minutes over which never happens so I got a 20 minute nap instead which was a tender mercy. Then, I was still feeling down when I got on Facebook and one of the missionaries had posted a comforting picture quote that made me tear up. I was also thinking about how much I was craving chocolate which was weird since I'm not a huge chocolate eater. Right then, a sister in the ward invited us over to help her with family history and when we got there, she had pumpkin chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven for us. I wanted to cry, God is too good.

It snowed like crazy yesterday so we couldn't use our cars and they switched our p day to today instead. They told us that Sunday evening and I was devastated that I wouldn't get my long awaited emailing and nap until today. I went to bed in tears over it. Then I woke up the next day and I was like, "why did I freak out?" That was so illogical to freak out over haha. I think it was just my old anxieties and stress kicking in. Mom always got mad at me for sleeping after school every day but that's how I've always dealt with stress and if I had a day where I was too busy to nap, I would get anxiety over it and would sleep in through school to ensure I still got time to sleep. So it's good that I'm on a mission where I'm forced not to nap as an escape so it's breaking me out of bad habits.

We had a zone activity today and we played the amazing race which was so fun. We were in teams based on districts and we were running around the church, ransacking hundreds of hymn books for a clue, hunting for a key at the local lake, throwing snowballs at leprechauns, eating tofu, hot peppers, and fish, and searching a car for a key to the treasure chest which had lucky charms in it. Two people in every district had to eat a super-hot pepper and they all about died. One elder from my district had his face in the sink and was sweating, crying, and had snot running while gulping water. A couple missionaries threw up because it was so hot. They all one by one came into the kitchen after eating it in the gym and were crying with bright red faces. To counteract it, they found a tub of ice cream in the freezer and, using one spoon, took turns shoveling down ice cream. Poor Sister Johnson is allergic to gluten and dairy but she ate the ice cream out of desperation after eating the pepper so she's gonna have a bad day tomorrow.

I invited three people to be baptized this week. One is on date and the other two are conditional. Candy is finally starting to feel comfortable with the Book of Mormon and accepted a conditional baptism invitation, AJ is Dee's daughters boyfriend and he's on date (her daughter is less active), we have a new investigator, Paula, who's older and accepted a conditional baptism invitation, and we're teaching Dee tonight with Sister Cooke. She's in love with Sister Cooke and she was so excited when she found out she's coming so she invited three other ladies to come too and she's making special dessert. It's gonna be a party, especially since we'll be talking about the law of chastity with all of them haha. Love it! 

We're working on holding family history classes at the Poolesville library next transfer so yesterday we walked 45 minutes in the snow to the family history center at the church to make fliers and a lesson plan to present to President Cooke tomorrow for approval. So exciting! Family history is fun.

Everyone asks me to say the prayer either at a members home or at a meeting because I'm the newbie. The ward mission leader has asked me to say it 3 times now and we've only had 4 ward correlations. It's crazy how many times I'm asked to say the prayer because I'm new. So girls when mom asks you to say the prayer even though you said it yesterday, be grateful you don't have to say it as much as I do (about 5+ times a day between meetings and just sister Johnson and I).
Praying a lot is good to do, Heavenly Father loves hearing from us! 

Ok love you all! Read D&C 38:7.

Love, Sister Black


They say that the mission changes you..











The second picture was after I tried sister Johnson's special Colorado
brownies and the fourth was when we were the only women at priesthood
meeting for stake conference and none of the men would sit with us.

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Miracle that the Three Dogs Escaped - Week 6

Family!! 我爱你们❤

I'm currently sitting on the metro typing this. I spent today in DC! It's only 11:30 am but Sister Johnson and I are so tired so we're heading home. We woke up at 4 this morning, 2 your time. Ouch. We drove to the metro station to get to DC. I love the metro, it's so easy to use and very convenient.

We were told that the sun rises at 6:30 am and a lot of the sisters planned to do sunrise pictures. But unfortunately we forgot that daylight savings changes things so we got to the Lincoln memorial at 6:30 but the sun didn't rise until 7:30 which thrilled us when we came to that realization. It was cold. Not super cold, but enough that you don't want to stand outside for an hour waiting on the sun. So Sister Johnson was kind and decided to go on a run to keep me warm and I was obligated to go with. We just ran around the reflecting pool which is actually quite big so it took us a while. We also went into a bathroom and put our hands under the hand dryer for warmth. I hope the hobos weren't cold. They were asleep on the sidewalk in the city and one was sleeping on the bathroom floor which was fun. 

When the sun finally rose, we missed it because it was cloudy and it set more behind the Jefferson memorial than the Washington monument where we were taking pictures but we still enjoyed ourselves and took lots of pictures. After that, we all went on a run to the Jefferson memorial which I wasn't a huge fan of but I did it. I don't mind running but I'm not a runner and I had to keep up with my companion who is. The Jefferson memorial was gorgeous. Well everything there is. The whole city is really nice and has similar architecture and is huge and has American flags everywhere and is overall awesome. 

We walked/jogged to the White House next. There were lots of school groups taking pictures there. It was cool to see it in person. Honestly I probably would've never seen any of this in my life if I wasn't going on a mission here. Like I've always thought it's cool but it's not somewhere I'd plan a vacation to. Anyway, while we were walking to the White House, Sister Johnson and Sister Leben had to use the restroom so I went on ahead with the other sisters and they said they'd run to catch up. However, they did not realize we were going to the White House so they couldn't find us and didn't have a phone and they used strangers phones to call us and I kept on missing their calls but they left a message saying they would meet us at Union Station which was a few miles away so we all spent like 30 plus minute walking there. When we finally found each other, I yelled "mommy!" And we ran up to each other with our arms outstretched and hugged. It was tender. We had lunch (at 10am haha) and then we decided we were tired and headed home in the metro. We saw the Washington monument, the Lincoln and Jefferson memorials, the White House, went to Union Station, and we saw the capital building from afar. We didn't go up to it but we saw it multiple times. My mission is so cool. And now I'm dead tired and need calories. We'll go again in 3 weeks when the cherry blossoms bloom and we'll go to more museums now that we've had an overview. Also everyone there dresses really nice. Lots of people in Salt Lake (Mormons) dress frumpy but in DC everyone is participating in a fashion show. It's awesome.

We had 4 investigators at church on Sunday!! Dee, Candy, and Susan came. Also, Dee's daughter is my age and was baptized 3 years ago and her boyfriend is talking about wanting to be baptized so he was there and we're gonna teach him and hopefully put him on b date tomorrow. He had one lesson from us a month ago before I came which apparently went really well but we've had a hard time contacting him so we're thrilled about tomorrow!

We were tracting on a street in Poolesville Saturday night. We have tract day bit but not a ton because it's not too effective. We knocked on a door right when these three digs started following us. The man who answered the door recognized them and said they shouldn't be out so he took them to his neighbor while Sister Johnson and I followed and herded. They belonged to a woman named Erica. We returned two but then one took off and the four of us spent 10 minutes chasing down this dog in the dark and in the mud. After we got the dog, we talked to Erica for a bit. She's catholic and she would've turned us down since we knocked on her door but since we served her she was willing to talk and we discussed the temple with her and invited her to see "Savior of the World" at the VC this month. She was really nice. 

It was then that we realized what we need to do to reach these people. We need to serve them and serve along side them. Poolesville is a very small, close community with lots of churches along the roads. Their "downtown" has a McDonald's and subway and gas station and a couple small stores but in grocery store. There are a few actual neighborhoods but otherwise the houses are really far apart because there are ranches. We joined the Facebook Poolesville Community group and lots of people post multiple times a day about help or service and they're all such nice, family and service oriented people. We're thinking of advertising free family history classes at the library there and we're trying to come up with ways to get more involved in the community and organize service projects. I don't think people realize that missionaries don't just go around teaching, we serve. So if you can think of ways to serve these people or projects we can do, let me know! Big things are happening here, I'm excited. Also, it was a miracle that the three dogs escaped and then we had to chase down one. If that didn't happen, we wouldn't have met Erica or come up with the idea to serve. We were feeling frustrated that night because all of our plans fell through but God had a different plan because He's awesome. 

We had a huge dinner at Sister Hancock's last night with Candy, a recent convert, two less actives, and a family of three. It was very fun and nice to talk to everyone and the lesson went well.

Funny story. We almost drove to Virginia. We're right on the edge of Maryland and Virginia. We missed a turn and arrived at a ferry that would take us across a river into Virginia. So I wasn't in Virginia but I saw it. We quickly did a U turn and left. We do lots of U turns as missionaries.

Ok that's it for the week, or at least everything I have time to write. My favorite part of being a missionary is the people. I love teaching and serving them. Even if I'm not feeling too hot, as soon as we start serving or teaching someone, I'm so happy! Also, I understand the gospel a lot better now that I'm on a mission. It always seemed so complicated at home but it's not! It's so simple! We need to have faith in Jesus Christ, repent, be baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end! And then eventually go to the temple as well. That's it! And it's all because of Jesus Christ's atonement. Everything revolves around that. Yes Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon are SUPER important, but what it comes down to is Jesus Christ because without Him we have nothing and we are nothing. We'd have no hope and no reason to live and we'd be condemned to live a sad, hopeless existence. But there's hope and there's a plan and it's so amazing and everyone need to know about it! The gospel of Jesus Christ is miraculous and life changing. At home, I heard of people saying that it's life changing but here I actually see it! These people go from being so sad and involved in bad stuff and going through really hard things to having this light in their eyes and a brighter countenance and they're so much happier and filled with hope and faith in Jesus Christ. I've seen it first hand with my investigators. This church is literally LIFE CHANGING. It's not something that you just do because it seems nice, you do it because it's the only way and the only chance and it makes everyone so happy! I know this gospel is true and that Jesus Christ died for us and that by praying, reading the Book of Mormon (and other scriptures), and going to church, we can experience true happiness and be so unbelievably blessed. 

I love you all is much! Thank you for your emails and everything you do!

Love,

Sister Black




Monday, March 3, 2014

Whiny Child of God - Week 5

Hey family!

This week went by so fast! Like holy cow that's crazy. 

I've been having lots of ups and downs this week. I'll have a really good day and then the next I'm not as happy and not motivated. It's hard work. The reason so many missionaries gain weight on their missions is because food is the only thing we can control. We can't sleep in or mess around and it's constantly study, plan, teach. So we overeat because it's something we can actually control and so we abuse it and get fat.  I've been exercising every day. 

I'm truly happy when I'm teaching people. When we are studying or driving around to people's houses, that's when I get down. But as soon as we start talking to or teaching someone I perk up. I just really want to sit and watch tv and do nothing. Which is actually what I'm doing all day today, well not watching tv, but sitting around in yoga pants doing nothing but emailing and binge eating my feelings away haha. I'll tell you why in a sec. 

I appreciate your love and prayers and support. This isn't as hard as I thought it would be, but it's still hard and I still can't believe I'm doing this sometimes. But I'd rather do this than anything else. 

My investigators are still doing well. Except Susan. She was on date to be baptized but she talked to the bishop and he told her she isn't ready so now she doesn't want lessons for a couple weeks. And she was so excited to be baptized.

Dee is fantastic as usual. We were over at her place on Friday for dinner and a lesson which went well. She is doing is well and I can't wait for her to get baptized when her son's friend gets home soon. I feel like I knew her before I came here, like you were saying Dad. I love her. She's so strong and smart and faithful.

We taught Candy last night. We took her to the VC at 7 and watched The Testaments.  By the end she was crying and seemed to really like it. She's uncomfortable with the Book of Mormon but she's getting there and is progressing. She's been at church every Sunday and even participated in Relief Society when we were discussing the story of the woman who touched Jesus's robe. She's great, I love seeing her and teaching her.

I've learned how to use a map. Whenever we go to someone's house I have to pull out the map and direct Sister Johnson as she drives. We get lost a lot and do lots of U turns. We try not to do three point turns since she can't back up unless I'm out of the car directing her which we've had to do a couple times in the middle of a dark road. 

I went to the DC temple to do a session on Friday. It was so beautiful inside and out. I loved it. You all should go there one day. It's incredible.

There's a less active family, the Ainsworths, who we have been teaching who have started to come back to church. It's a mother, Kesha (key-sha), and her three teenaged kids. She has such a strong testimony, they've just had a hard time going to church lately. But I want to share her stories because they are so cool. She's a convert of about 10-12 years I think. She moved to Utah with her kids because of a scholarship she got but she didn't want to be Mormon so she purposefully avoided the missionaries on her way to work and school. A lady she knew invited her to the LDS church so she went and loved it for 6 weeks. Then the missionaries came to church one day and she realized that she had been going to the Mormon church all along and freaked out. But she read the Book of Mormon and fell in love with Nephi (she says he's her man) and was eventually baptized.

One day, about a year after they joined, she was having a super bad day. She was going through a divorce and hurricane Katrina had just happened. Her kids were in New Orleans with relatives when it happened and she couldn't contact them or know if they're alive for 10 days. Shortly after when they were all back in Utah, she was trying to find someone to babysit her kids because she was so stressed and needed a break. No one could and she was walking down the street feeling super discouraged and decided that she was done going to church. Right then, the phone rang. And guess who was on the phone? You'll never guess. PRESIDENT HINCKLEY. No joke. Her family had 9 months before sent him a letter for family home evening saying that they were recent converts and that they were happy to be part of the church. So anyway after he convinced her that it was really him and wasn't a joke, he invited her and her family to have dinner with him that night. Right when she wanted to stop going to church the prophet called. Crazy. So they went and had a nice dinner with him and whoever else was there, she didn't say. After dinner, they went on a walk or something and he asked her how she was doing. She had completely forgotten her day's troubles until then and she just said "good." However he said "no you're not" and then proceeded to tell her about God's love for her and exactly what she needed to hear in her situation even though she hadn't told him anything.

It just goes to show how much The Lord loves us. He loved her so much that in her hour of need, he sent his servant, the prophet. That doesn't happen to everyone, but it shows that he's aware of us and our needs and loves us all. So cool. Sister Ainsworth got up and bore her testimony in church yesterday because her son had been in the hospital the day before with stomach pain and was super sick. The two elders in our ward went and gave her son a priesthood blessing and right when the blessing was over his pain went away. God is amazing.

Speaking of testimony meeting, it's so fun here! The members are a lot more diverse and a lot of them are converts so their testimonies are so awesome. One guy got up who's this black, burly guy named Ben. He's a bit older and carries a cane. He used to be in gangs and carry around guns. He told us that if anyone ever tried to bother us, just tell them that we know Big Ben. Will do! Anyway he used to be Baptist and has such a strong testimony and whenever he bares testimony, he bangs his cane on the floor for emphasis and it's so funny. He's way cool. I feel like some of these people would be judged if they were in Utah. Utah Mormons have a knack for being a bit judgmental (myself included). Sister Johnson told me that she's noticed I'm not judgmental like other Mormons she's met from Utah. I told her thank you and that I've worked on it. I used to be more judgmental but I've been trying over the years to be better. We're all children of God and He doesn't love the Mormons more than His other children. Just like Mom and Dad don't love me more just because I'm on a mission. 

So being on Facebook is weird and I don't really like it. I know I'm supposed to share the gospel on there so I've been posting pictures and whatnot but I need to figure out exactly what I should be doing with my time. I'm only supposed to be chatting with people if it's church related. I chatted with Sariah for a couple minutes about her mission papers which is fine and I'm also talking to Mike Fifer to see how he's doing in the mindset that I'm inviting others unto Christ.  So if anyone wants to discuss anything about the gospel then we can chat! If you have a question or if someone who's less active or a non member wants to chat then I'm good to go! The problem is finding them. I mean I have plenty of non member friends on Facebook but I can't just start chatting with them and calling them to repentance because that's weird and I'm pretty sure that's not the way to go about doing it.

 If you know of anyone who would want to talk to a missionary, I'm more than happy to help! I just feel weird because all I do is scroll through Facebook to see what everyone's up to or to steal people’s statuses and that's not very productive. I'm allowed to do it, that's why I have Facebook, but I need to find out how to utilize it better. We'll see. It's weird seeing everyone continue on with their normal lives and I'm a missionary looking at Facebook like it's nothing. Also you'll notice that all of my pictures and statuses not related to the church are gone. They're all hidden. Crazy. I'll probably keep most of them hidden when I get home. I was annoying when I was younger, I hated going through it to hide. I'm so glad it's gone. We'll pretend my teenage years didn't happen and also that I never had bangs. Eek.

We've been focusing a lot on family history. My area is part of the pilot program where we missionaries learn how to do family history and then we can teach others for free. Not everyone is interested in the church but genealogy is the 2nd most popular hobby in the world. People pay hundreds of dollars to be trained and to use websites but familysearch.org is free and so is missionary help so people are getting interested. Read Elder Bednar's talk from 2011. I can't remember if it's April or October, but it's on family history and it's so good. Now is the time to do family history! The spirit of Elijah is touching the world! And it's fun too, not just for old people. I can't wait to learn more. Everyone go make an account right now and do family history, you'll love it! And it's super important too like it's almost a commandment from God. It matters a lot to Him.

So remember how I was upset that I was called English speaking? Funny story. I'm still English speaking. BUT I talked to a guy on the phone in Chinese the other day. No big deal.  Just kidding I was ecstatic. A Chinese man came to the visitor’s center and filled out a card to learn more about the gospel. I didn't meet him but they gave the card to me since they know I know a bit of Chinese. I called him and he couldn't ready understand what I was trying to say. So finally I took a deep breath and said "ni shuo zhong wen ma?" Which means "do you speak Chinese?" He paused and then said "dui" or "yes". So then in Chinese I told him that I'm a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (wo shi ye su ji du hou qi sheng tu jiao hui de chuan jiao shi.) I literally like 2 hours before learned how to say that. He was like "ohhhhhhh." Then he started speaking really fast and I freaked out and was like "sorry my Chinese is bad, speak a little slower" so then we spoke broken English and Chinese. I asked him if missionaries had called him and he said yes but his air conditioner is broken and he's working on fixing it so he can't meet with them yet and I said ok I'll call him next week to see how it went and he said ok and then we ended with a bunch of awkward "xie xie"s and "zai jian"s (thank you and goodbye). It was so cool and I'm amazed that he understood what I was saying. Also, Sister Johnson was so excited when I told her I know Chinese and she said they've been praying to get a Chinese speaker and that I'll be giving lots of Chinese tours in the summer when all the Asians come vacation here. Also President Cooke on Saturday said that I can go to the Chinese branch some time and just to let him know when I want to go and he'll give me permission. So cool! Now I'm brushing up on my Chinese and learning how to say church stuff in Chinese. I love it. God is amazing and knows what He's doing, as always, but sometimes I like to doubt because I'm an imperfect, whiny child of God. But He somehow loves me anyway. 


Ok I know you're probably wondering why this email is so long. I'll tell you why. We had a massive snow storm last night and this morning so the assistants to the President told us we aren't allowed to drive anywhere today. So Sister Johnson and I cancelled our dinner plans and we're both currently chilling in yoga pants and a sweatshirt, eating chocolate, and emailing. Us and the two sisters we live with walked to the nearest store to buy junk food which was freezing but kind of fun and we gave out a pass along card on the way. I think they're going to give us time to shop tomorrow since today we can't go to a grocery store unless we want to walk 30 minutes. No thank you. Also, my first Friday here we had a tornado warning but nothing came of it. So happy March! Apparently half the stores close and no one goes to school when it snows here. In Utah this wouldn't have even fazed us. Oh well, I'm ok being inside for now. I'm bummed about dinner because we were going to eat with the Ainsworths and the bishops family.

I can't send any pictures from my camera since I'm doing this on an iPad which is annoying to type on but I have a couple from my iPad I'll send. They're not exciting, but whatever. My camera pictures aren't exciting either. I don't know what to take pictures of. I'm too busy focusing on the work to take pictures whenever I see anything remotely cool. I'm not here on vacation. I'll take more pictures when I go to DC in a few weeks when it gets warmer to do sunrise pictures at the mall and then next transfer I'm going to go see the cherry blossoms. So exciting! Maryland is gorgeous though even without DC nearby. I love the scenery, it blows me away and it's only winter. I can't wait for spring! 

Ok that's it! You probably won't get another email this long. I just have a lot of time to kill which is nice but I hope by tomorrow I can get back to work. I also wrote another email btw. You, Mom, can put both on the blog. I think it would interest people.

I love you mucho grande!!! Pray I don't get fat from all this chocolate I just bought... And pray that I won't get down as easily!  Read Romans 8:16-18.

Love, Sister Black 




What I looked like exercising this morning. Sooo exciting.


What I woke up to this morning.