Monday, May 26, 2014

This Really Is the Lord's Work - Week 17

Dear family,

This week was crazy. We weren't super busy but a lot happened.

I think I talked about how we talked to an 89 year old man named
Spencer last week. We went back on Tuesday to see him. He was sitting
on his back porch with two other men. I sat next to Spencer while
Sister Taggart sat next to another man and the third ignored us. After
some time the third guy called us a cult and told us that Brigham
Young wrote the Book of Mormon. Ok. Anyway, Spencer likes to talk but
I managed to squeeze in the restoration. Sister Taggart totally went
to town with the other guy, John, and we got his number and address to
go see him and his wife. We probably aren't going to see Spencer
anymore because let's just say he can't keep his hands to himself. But
that was cool teaching John!

On Wednesday we taught the Velasquez and they're doing super well. We
also taught Francisco on Monday. We didn't put it on date because it
didn't feel quite right but hopefully we will when we see him
tomorrow. He came to church for the first time yesterday. He told his
mom who told us that he feels good when we're around. (: (:

Our family history class went super well again Thursday evening. Two
more people came so we had four members, five non members, and the
Kendricks. It was great. The Kendricks also showed me the completed
family history video. They changed it from an instructional video to
more of an "I'm a Mormon" feel. It's cute and I like it alright for it
being a video of me. Apparently President Cooke showed it to everyone
who was at stake coordination meeting last night. Yay. I think they're
gonna put it on YouTube as well if it isn't already. Also, thank you
Grandma Carol so much for all of the family history papers you sent
me! We have an hour every day to do family history so I've been going
through them like crazy and I love it.

Saturday was cool. We spent most of the day in Poolesville finding. We
were walking down the street when we saw two ladies outside
refinishing an old table. We went and talked to them and they asked
questions and invited us to share our message. We gladly did and sat
on the grass with them and shared the message of the restoration. The
young mom is Catholic and wasn't very interested by the end but the
mother in law was super interested and asked where she could get a
copy of the Book of Mormon to read. We gave each of them one and a
Visitors Center card and our number. The mother in law lives in
Michigan but hopefully she reads it and gets in contact with us again
or other missionaries.

Later, we were walking down Spencer's street because he told us to try
some houses. We knocked one house but they didn't answer so we moved
on. As we started to walk down the street, I started to feel really
hesitant. I also was afraid we'd run into Spencer since he's always
outside. I told Sister Taggart I didn't feel right so we turned
around. Right when we walked near the house we had knocked, a guy
pulled into the driveway. As he got out of the car we went up to him
and started talking to him. He's super nice and he got us water
bottles and then we sat down on his porch and we showed him the
"Because of Him" video and introduced the Book of Mormon. He was super
interested and excited to read. It turns out that his dad is a convert
and is actually a bishop in Seattle. What? We got his number and we're
gonna come by again. He said he's usually pretty busy and we caught
him at one of the few opportune moments. So cool. This really is the
Lords work. He directs us where to go to find the people who are
ready. Good thing we were on that street at that time and I felt
prompted to turn around when I did.

Saturday night was amazing as well. We had a lesson over at a member
couples house with Laura. The members have been married a year and the
wife was baptized last October and the husband used to be less active.
We wanted it to be a spiritual lesson without Laura's dog ruining it
with his squeaky toy. We started the lesson and the members basically
took over. They did such a great job and made what we were learning
totally relatable. This young couple is so cute and nerdy and the
husband is a huge gamer and a fan of cooking really good food. Anyway,
we watched the three part series of David A. Bednar's "Patterns on
Light" and then the husband out of the blue invited her to church and
she accepted! I was inwardly sobbing with joy at this point. Our cute,
atheist investigator who said she'll probably never go to church
accepted their invitation to go! I have prayed and fasted for her so
I'm so so happy. She came to sacrament meeting with them and it was

I was in a not so happy mood last night randomly. We didn't have any
appointments on a Sunday for the first time in forever so we spent
half the night street contacting and tracting and the other half
searching for less actives. I realized it's not about the doors you
knock or the investigators we look for, it's about the people who God
puts in our path along the way. We talked to some cool people and got
a solid potential for the elders. I was still feeling down and alone,
probably because everyone was enjoying a beautiful Memorial Day Sunday
afternoon with family and friends and I was spending hours looking for
people who don't want to see us. I was wanting God to somehow show His
love for me so I could know me and Sister Taggart weren't alone. We
have to head home by 8:30 every night if we aren't in an appointment.
So at 8:28 Sister Taggart and I parked the car and jumped out in
search of one last person to talk to. We saw a man in front of his car
so we hurried up to him. He didn't speak much English and looked Asian
and so I asked where he is from and I thought to myself "please say
China please say China" and he did! So I immediately started talking
to him in Chinese and told him that we're missionaries for the church
and we're here to teach people about Jesus Christ. My Chinese isn't
that good but he understood a bit and we got his info so we can refer
him to the Chinese elders. I was happy, speaking Chinese always puts
me in a good mood and God knows that. I got the message that He loves
me. And now I need to work on my approaches with people speaking

Today we has a Memorial Day BBQ at the church. It was fun. I really
love the ward, it reminds me a lot do the DC2 ward back home.

That's my week! This truly is God's work! I found myself wondering
this week how on earth am I supposed to teach others about the gospel
and bring them to the waters of baptism? I'm just a 19 year old girl
who 6 months ago was brace faced and on the phone crying to my mom
because I accidentally bought the wrong pair of shoes online. But I
don't have to do this alone. For one, I've got Sister Taggart.
Missionary work is awkward most of the time. I feel awkward knocking
on doors and going up to people and sometimes it's scary, but I always
have a companion who's got my back. I think God gave us companions to
keep us sane. And two, I have God as the third companion. He knows who
is ready and where we need to be and as long as we are being obedient
and doing our part he'll lead us to them. I made sure I was exactly
obedient on Saturday because we were gonna teach Laura and look at
what happened. We gave out 5 Books of Mormon to people on the street
and she came to church. If this was mans work I would've gone home by
now. This is too hard to be out here because of an imaginative,
bored,14 year old farm boy and a fake book. I see everyone being with
their family and friends and doing fun things like swimming and
playing outside this weekend while we never stop working of The Lord.
But it's worth it because I know this is the true gospel of Jesus
Christ and I'm doing His will. I can always swim and have fun next
summer but this summer is for The Lord.

Romans 8:28 (:


Sister Black

P.S. It happens even out here. Found at the temple parking lot.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Third Transfer - Week 16

Dear family,

It's good to hear from you guys. Transfers was last week and I'm now
in my third transfer. My companion is Sister Taggart. She's from
Layton. She has curly hair like me so therefore everyone tells us that
we look alike even though we really don't. I was really excited when I
found out Tuesday night that she was going to be my companion. I had
narrowed down who I thought it would be to her and another sister but
she was the one I wanted so I was thrilled. She's been out for 9
months and so far I think we've been working well together.

She has a GPS which has been so nice. I wasn't allowed to drive until
this transfer and I hadn't really paid attention to directions when
Sister Johnson drove us everywhere so I've been a little lost a couple
times. I haven't driven since January so I was a little jerky the
first couple days and changing lanes on the freeway and also talking
while driving stressed me out a bit. But I'm good, no car accidents

It's weird not having Sister Johnson here. I feel like we broke up
because she moved out and I saw her once last Saturday and I gave her
a couple of her things she forgot and then we left. I miss having her
around and I was so used to her so now I have to adjust to a new
companion. Sister Taggart is great but even Sister Johnson and I took
a couple weeks to really get comfortable with each other but we're
getting there. I realize how much I really have learned from her. My
first couple weeks with Sister Johnson I had no clue what was going on
and I just did whatever she told me and I would watch her and wonder
if I would ever get to that point where I would know what to do. But
with Sister Taggart I've had to take over since she's new to the area
and I'm the one who knows everyone and what needs to be done so it's
been interesting but kind of fun. I definitely don't feel like a
greenie anymore. I was relying on Sister Johnson too much because that
was what I was used to so it's nice that now Sister Taggart and I feel
more equal in our companionship. It's like when I live at home I still
rely on mom even though I'm an adult just because I'm used to it but
when I'm at college I actually can do everything on my own when
there's no one there to tell me what to do. Btw, Sister Johnson got
transferred to Lexington Park with a temple square Sister from Hong
Kong. Lexington park is about 2 hours away on the coast and is full
pros so she's not at the Visitors Center at all.

Monday night we helped a member move for a couple hours and taught the
Velasquez, Tuesday we spent most of the night seeing some of the
members and investigators so Sister Johnson could say goodbye, and
then Wednesday was transfers. We went to the Visitors Center, Sister
Johnson and I said goodbye, then I found Sister Taggart and we sat
next to each other and then we went home together after transfer

Thursday night we had our family history class at the library. Three
nonmembers, four members, and Elder and Sister Kendrick all came and I
think it went pretty well. I was feeling stressed because I'd been
planning it with Sister Johnson for a couple months and then the day
before she got transferred and Sister Taggart doesn't know much family
history. Right before, we taught Dee and in her closing prayer she
prayed about our family history class and it was so sweet so by the
time we went to the library to start the class I wasn't as nervous. We
gave them a basic overview of the difference between genealogy and
family history and then showed them how to make a familysearch account
and how to start finding and adding people. It's a three week course
so we'll teach them more next week.

On Saturday we had mission conference with the DC South and Baltimore
missions at the stake center right next to the temple. Elder M.
Russell Ballard came and spoke to is which was super good. I took a
ton of notes. It was nice having an apostle speak directly to
missionaries of a certain area and give us direct guidance and advice.
General Conference is awesome but I liked having him give a talk and
receive revelation specifically for us. I think we all really enjoyed
it. Also, apparently he's the one who sealed President and Sister
Cooke. Pretty cool. He went a little over time and he knew that he was
stressing a couple of the other general authorities there with him out
but he said "the best thing about being a General Authority is that
you have general authority." He was pretty funny.

I've discovered that I have a hard time sitting still lately. During
church and a Visitors Center vent last night I was so restless and
fidgety. Even as a mature, all mighty missionary and disciple of The
Lord Jesus Christ, I still get bored during church and meetings.

Investigators are doing well (some of them). Brother Velasquez met
with the bishop and is going to work to receive the priesthood so he
can baptize Leticia and Abby hopefully on June 22nd. Dee is recovering
from surgery and will be getting baptized next month after she
recovers. She's already Mormon anyway, she just hasn't been dunked
(said Sister Cooke to her). Tina is home from the hospital but she's
being elusive and still has problems that make her difficult to teach
so we decided that if we still can't contact her this week we'll drop
her for now. Candy might be moving soon which is sad and she doesn't
want to come to church anymore. Super. We weren't able to meet with
Laura because she was sick. We have a lot more people that we're
teaching but those are the main ones. We're gonna invite another
investigator to be baptized when we see him tonight so hopefully that
goes well.

That's about it. Or about all I feel like typing/tapping on this iPad.
I love you all and hope you have a great week! Read Romans 8:35-39.


Sister Black

P.S. I made a list the other night of why being a missionary is better
than real life. Feel free to share:

No stress about work
No stress about school
No homework
8 hours of sleep every day
Car given to you
Phone given to you
iPad given to you
Debit card with food money given to you
No rent, utilities, insurance, bills, gas
We have a purpose
No relationship/dating problems
No family fights or problems
Free meals with members
Constant BFF
More emails from friends and parents than texts I get in a week (which
means 3 haha)
Everyone from home automatically loves you and thinks you're the bomb dot com
Get more mail than usual
Scheduled time for meals every day
Broken cars and houses are fixed or replaced for you
Bed time is before 11 every night
Plenty of interaction with other people your age
Sweet senior couples spoil you
Given time to exercise every day
Pay $400 a month to have ALL expenses paid for
Members buy things for you
You grow in the process
Turns you into a hot RM

Pictures: last zone meeting serious and funny (3 of the missionaries
were transferred), quick 30 second to 3 minute gesture drawings of
Sister Johnson while she was trying to pack, and lightning from one of
the crazy thunderstorms we've been getting lately (lots of flash

Monday, May 12, 2014

Religious People Are The Happiest - Week 15

Dear family,

It was great to talk to Mom, Hannah, and Emma yesterday! I've really
missed you guys. Emma is sounding older. I'm sad I didn't get to see
Dad or Ashley.. well there's always Christmas.

"Night of Music and Inspiration" last night at the Visitors Center was great. Look for the videos on Facebook. My song was interesting. I sang alto since the other sisters couldn't hit the low notes and it sounded monotone. We should've just cut it out and have me sing the second soprano and the other two the soprano part. Oh well. Hopefully the spirit was still there. I love being able to preform at the Visitors Center. Maybe I wasn't the best singer in high school but I got called to a mission where I get to sing in front of people a lot which I love.

I love the Velasquez family. We have been seeing them a lot. They feed us really good Hispanic food. It's fun to teach them because they're all at different points in their learning but they're all so nice and polite. We are going to teach them tonight and make it more of a family home evening style lesson. I'm excited, they are so sweet.

Dee is having surgery today. We'll go see her tomorrow and see how her recovery is going. Everyone pray for her!

We have a lot of people that we are teaching. It seems like it came
out of no where but we have about 12 people we are actively teaching
plus our less active and active families we visit. Some are
progressing more than others. Candy is still struggling but there's
not much more we can do for her other than love her and continue to
teach her. We can't make people read or pray. She believes in God but she's still mad at Him. Laura read 9 verses in the Book of Mormon by herself which is exciting. We watched the hour long Joseph Smith movie with Paula at her house which she really enjoyed. Tina just got out of the hospital so we're gonna try to see her tomorrow. Our days are becoming a lot shorter because there's too many people to see and too much to get done.

We got permission to see Cinderella Jr. at the middle school in
Poolesville since Dee directed it. Three kids from the ward were in it too. It was sooooo cute! I was so happy. One girl from the ward, Eve, was one of the step sisters and she was hysterical. Cinderella was the smallest girl but the prince was still shorter than her. I loved it. The people in Poolesville are so friendly. They are all talkative and involved. There are about 20 churches in this town with only 5,000 residents. They are all very active in their churches and with their children's schools and service. You can see how it has really made a difference because I've never been in such a friendly small town. People say they don't need religion to be good, which is true, but the friendliest people I've talked to here are people who aren't only part of a religion but really live it and don't think of God only on Sundays. Being religious affects people for the better a lot more than we sometimes realize.

This week is transfers and I'll be in my third transfer and finally
allowed to drive. Sister Johnson is leaving and we're really sad. I've learned so much from her. She feels really attached to this area because she's the one who opened it the transfer before I came. I can't picture myself with anyone else but I know that whoever it is is supposed to be with me and the people here too. It's all inspired. President Cooke prays and prays and rearranges things around until he feels good about where everyone is being transferred to. Sometimes he wakes up in the middle of the night and has to change something. I know it's really inspired of God which is comforting. My only concern is that our family history class is starting this Thursday, the day after transfers. I'll have a day to teach my new companion family history but I'll probably end up doing most of the helping and teaching. So that will be fun.

I hope Mason is doing well. I fasted for him on Sunday. Feel free to
ask God for some of my missionary blessings for him. That's probably
not how it works but it's worth a shot.

That was my week. I love hearing from you all and hope you're doing
well. Read Alma 24:14. I just found it today and I love it. God loves us (: thank goodness haha.


Sister Black

Sister Hansen and I graduating from the Visitors Center new sister training. 

At the musical.


Dee on stage at the end of the show.

Last Sunday with Sister Johnson. Dee is so sad :(

Me, Sister Johnson, Sister Britton and son, Brother Britton (ward
mission leader), Elder Raasveld, and Elder Jensen. Elder Raasveld is
being transferred too :(  Their son randomly yelled out "Sister
Black!" during sacrament meeting on Sunday haha.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Homesick - Week 14

Dear family,

Mason looks so cute! Oh man I'm so jealous. Why is everyone having
babies when I leave?

We had a zone activity today. We played capture the flag and
volleyball and had a barbecue at a park. It was super fun. Each zone
does an activity once a transfer. It's fun to get out and play and
interact with the other missionaries every once in a while.

Our family history class at the Poolesville library is starting up on
the 15th. We finally got the room reserved so we printed off fliers
and went around to businesses around Poolesville to advertise. It was
weird, we felt like we were trying to start a business.

The rain was crazy on Wednesday. We had tons of flash floods. The road
we usually take to the temple and Visitors Center was literally a
river. It was kind of cool but freaky.

Friday I felt more homesick than I've ever felt on my mission and I
realized that I won't be able to see you guys or hug you for over a
year. The fun thing about being on a mission is that we don't have
time to lay in bed and cry so basically we have a couple minutes in
the bathroom and then we need to pull ourselves together and go out
and teach. It's a bit rough but Sister Johnson was totally
understanding and very nice.

Saturday was crazy. We were at the Visitors Center for shift until
3:30. Then the Velasquez came at 4 and we watched the Joseph Smith
movie and invited Leticia to be baptized which she accepted! Then at 6
we went to a members house for dinner. Right after that we drove to
the Velasquez to see them again. They fed us more food and we taught
their son, Francisco. The next day at church I talked to their 8 year
old daughter, Abby, and she wants to be baptized too. So exciting! At
the end of Saturday night, they fed us cake. Then they sent us home
with left overs. We were so sick and full and grateful that the next
day was fast Sunday. I could tell I was destroying my body as I kept
on eating all the food they gave me. It's so hard with foreigners
because they always want to feed you! It was such good food though.

Last night was fun. We had family home evening at the mission home and
brought Dee Turner. A lot of other missionaries and their
investigators came. We had a lesson and then we played Book of Mormon
charades and had dessert. Dee seemed to really enjoy it. She was
talking to President Cooke and begged him not to transfer Sister
Johnson. He didn't seem too sure, I think he might transfer her :( Dee
was gushing over us to him and also telling him the huge difference
she's seen in me the past two weeks and how I've changed so much from
the scared, unsure missionary I was at the beginning. Sister Johnson
and President Cooke said they've really seen it too. You'll have to
let me know if you see it on Sunday. I feel like I've changed a lot.

I think I pulled my hamstring haha. It's been hurting all week and it
makes running a little uncomfortable. Hopefully I don't do something
else this week.

Oh cool thing happened on Saturday! Elder Robert Thompson, a guy who
graduate from high school with me at Viewmont, came into the Visitors
Center! We stared at each other as he walked in and shook hands and
then I played a movie and testified to his investigators. He's in the
Baltimore mission. It was so nice to see someone from home. Even if I
wasn't really good friends with him.

I hope you're all doing well! Thanks for the love and prayers, it's
working! I pray for you all too! Also, thank you grandma and grandpa
for the cd! We didn't have any CDs in the new car that we were given
after the accident so it was so nice to have music!

Instead of a scripture read this quote I found: “When you can dump a
load of bricks on a corner lot, and let me watch them arrange
themselves into a house--when you can empty a handful of springs and
wheels and screws on my desk, and let me see them gather themselves
into a watch--it will [then] be easier for me to believe that all
these thousands of worlds could have been created, balanced, and set
in motion in their several orbits, all without any designing
intelligence at all.
"Moreover, if there is no intelligence in the universe, then the
universe created something greater than itself--for it created you and
me” (Bruce Barton in E. Ernest Bramwell, comp. Old Testament Lessons
[1934 seminary course], 4).

I've been reading the bible lately and I'm learning so much! Of course
I've known the stories but I've never really read them all through.
It's kind of weird, but it helps to use the seminary student manuals
with it too.

I love you all!!! I'll talk to you on Sunday!

Love, Sister Black

Dee photo bombing at FHE. She said it's her first photo bomb.

Ammon and king Lamoni and the queen from the Book of Mormon passed out
on the floor at FHE.