Monday, July 28, 2014

Best Punishment Ever - Week 26

Dear family,

I just got back from doing service. So for the Fourth of July,
President Cooke gave everyone a full p day but told us we had to be
home by 10:30pm. Unfortunately, 2/3 of the mission was late. Sister
Lewis and I were 10 minutes late. President Cooke personally called
each companionship that was late the next morning to let us know we
will not be receiving tickets to the Nationals baseball game in
August. We were disappointed but we knew that we were wrong by being
late. A week later President Cooke send out a massive email telling
everyone that those who were late can earn their tickets back by
sacrificing 3 hours of our p day to do service. They divided us in two
groups and we were lucky enough to be the morning group. We went to
this really cool place that has free furniture and clothes for people
in poverty. They also help them get jobs and education and it's really
incredible. There were 50 missionaries in my group and we all went in
this huge place and helped. The local community donates old furniture
and clothes and linens which they bring in in big trucks and organize
and store down stairs and then upstairs is the "show floor" where lots
of furniture and toys and linens are on display and people come
through and put stickers on what furniture they want and arrange
transportation for it and then the volunteers load it. A group of
about 8 of us organized the furniture upstairs to look good. We put
together matching dining room sets and living room sets (about as
matching as we could get them). There were constantly people coming
through and picking out things. It was so much fun, I loved it. Best
punishment ever. I want to do this all the time.

After, four of us sisters went to a Jewish restaurant. I finally ate a
crab cake. It was good but I don't think I'll be buying another one
anytime soon.

We've been doing lots of youth tours at the Visitors Center this week.
The youth come in at 9am and stay at the vc until 7pm ish and do
baptisms at the temple and a vc tour. Sister Lewis and I are only on
shift Sundays after church but because there's been so many youth they
keep on calling us in which I love. I love doing youth tours and being
with the youth. They're so much fun and I feel like I'm making a
difference in their lives. Teenage years are so crucial and is when
they either lose or gain their testimony so I take it as an amazing
opportunity to have this time to spend with them and help them to feel
the spirit. At the end of the day, they are supposed to write down on
little cards what the Holy Ghost taught them that day and we give them
to the senior missionary women who type them up and send them to their
stake. I usually don't read them but one day I did and I was amazed at
their testimonies. These teens are awesome, I love love love love love
love doing youth tours. So fun! Especially since I'm only 19 and
they're 14-18 so we connect better.

Friday was a cool day. After dinner with a member, we walked to our
car and there was a man sitting on the porch of a building listening
to music. I said hi to him then got in the car. I got the feeling I
should talk to him but I felt awkward because I was already in the car
but then I started to think of how happy this could make him and if I
don't talk to him he might not get the chance to hear about it and I
started feeling so guilty until I felt sick and cracked and said out
loud to Sister Lewis, "ok what card should we give this man outside?"
I got out the car and gave hima Visitors Center card and then a minute
later Sister Lewis jumped out and gave him a Book of Mormon and it was
really cool. When we got back in he car Sister Lewis said she had been
feeling like we should talk to him and right when she was about to
mention it I had asked which card to give him. I love revelation from
God, especially when the both of us get it for the same thing. It
happens all the time.

Another example happened later that night. Our appointment cancelled
and we didn't know what to do because it was 7 and prime proselyting
time. We prayed and we both just felt like there was someone we needed
to see but we couldn't think who. Sister Lewis mentioned how we could
go to one part of our area and then I said, "Gisselle!" And then
Sister Lewis said, "Gisselle!" and then we both started saying it over
and over like a bad rendition of "Enchanted." So we went to
Gisselle's. Gisselle is 17 and loves the Book of Mormon but we haven't
been able to meet with her yet. We went over and she wasn't home but
her mom was so we asked her mom if we could teach her a lesson
instead. Her mom said yes and we taught her the restoration and gave
her a Book of Mormon and it went super well and we now have a return
appointment tomorrow! It was so cool. On the spot restoration lessons
always put me in a good mood, it's so fun to teach. We then went to
Whole Foods afterwards and got ice cream to celebrate our divine

On Saturday we went to a less active woman's apartment to teach her a
lesson. She let us inside her apartment and as we walked inside she
told us that something was there and to be careful not to scare it. I
didn't catch what that something was and assumed it was a cat. We went
into her living room and there, sitting on her windowsill above the
couch and looking out the window like a cat, was a huge iguana. It was
just roaming the house and would climb the sofas like a normal pet.
This lady was showing us some earrings she had made when I saw
something move out of the corner of my eye. I looked and there was a
bearded dragon scampering along the carpet. She has 3 bearded dragons,
an iguana, and a cat that just wander the house like common house pets
(her cat was normal of course, but it was soooo beautiful!). She let
us hold the bearded dragon and take pictures. When we started our
lesson I has a bearded dragon on my shoulder, the cat on the sofa, and
the iguana on the windowsill. I hope they felt the spirit.

Our investigators are doing pretty well. A couple not so good lessons
this week but they're making progress towards baptism which is good.
Some missions are physically draining and some are spiritually
draining. This one is spiritually draining. For missionaries, we live
a good life here with our cars and iPads. Even the K house isn't too
bad even though every floor has a different and distinct, weird smell.
We aren't out in the hot sun walking or biking and getting burned and
dirty all day, but it's hard being missionaries out in DC and the
surrounding areas. The people here are tough and hard hearted and
trying to find new people to teach is draining. But missionaries come
away from here knowing the doctrine extremely well and being able to
solidly defend ourselves and our beliefs and Christ's church. Every
mission is hard but some may be more physically or spiritually harder
than others but it's what that person needs and also who they need to
teach. I'm glad I'm here. I think it would for me be easier to be in
South America where there are hundreds of baptisms every week but I
needed to be here where it's harder to get baptisms because that is
how I'm growing. For other people, going to South America where they
get tons of baptisms but have to clear sting rays out of the muddy
water to do it is where they are growing the most. I'm glad I'm here.
I'm learning to deal with people in a whole new way and is really
preparing me for the future when I have a family and career.

Proverbs 3:11-12. God gives us trials and burdens to help us become
better. He loves us so he wants us to grow to our potential. None of
us would be the person we are today without our trials. I know I
definitely wouldn't be. Not all trials are caused by God, some are
caused by others, but we learn and grow so much from them. I hate
trails but I'm grateful for them because they have made me who I am.

Sister Black

P.S. The Nats game is this Saturday!!!!!!

Tracting with the temple in the background is the best.
Iguana and two of the bearded dragons.

Crab cake

Doing service I talked about in my last email.

Monday, July 21, 2014

This Gospel Is Joy - Week 25


Monday, July 14, 2014

A Mormon Without Horns - Week 24

Dear family,

This week was grand.  We taught a lot of people and put two on baptism
date. We also were able to teach 7 less active or new convert lessons
which is more than we usually do in two weeks so that was good.

I started a new blog. You can find it at I wasn't sure how appropriate the
name is but it's original and eye catching and will get more peoples
attention than "Charity Never Faileth" or "Come Unto Me." It's gonna
have some good stuff on there. So go read it!

One of our investigators finally came to church yesterday! I was at
one of the doors passing out programs but as soon as he and his two
kids came in I abandoned the programs and ran to their side and showed
them their nice seat up front before they knew what was happening.
Sister Lewis and I were dying, we (she) have been teaching them for
months now. Also, I hate it when we have lessons on eternal marriage
in relief society because the women just complain about how hard it is
to be married and laugh about their stupid husbands but say it's worth
it because at least it's eternal. Way to get me excited.. is marriage
really that bad?

Last night a girl named Amber brought her friend to the Visitors
Center for a lesson. Amber is 18 and is waiting for her mission call.
Before we met them there Amber texted us and asked if we could bring
her friend food since she hasn't eaten and is hungry. So we ran to our
apartment and microwaved some top ramen and she ate it outside the vc
while we talked to her about the gospel. Now she's our new
investigator and we have a return appointment.

I taught a Chinese woman at the vc yesterday. I only said a few things
in Chinese to her. I don't like to let Chinese people know how much I
actually know because then they'll start talking to me in fast Chinese
then I get nervous and freak out and don't catch anything they say. I
speak a lot better than I hear.

One of our investigators (now a "former") fulfilled a prophesy at our
lesson this week. We've been teaching her for a while but won't do
anything unless God tells her to and doesn't understand the concept of
faith or receiving a witness only after the trial of our faith. She
basically quoted 2 Nephi 29 and held her Bible up in the air above her
head and said, "I have a Bible and I don't need anything else!" I love
God's retort in that chapter in the  Book of Mormon to people who say
that. He basically calls them fools and then pretty much says, "I'm
the God of the whole universe and you're trying to confine my power
and love to Jerusalem? I created all men and I bring my word forth to
all men, not just those in Jerusalem." You tell them. We're not
teaching her anymore since she's not keeping commitments.

Sister Lewis and I were talking about how it's days like those when we
miss being at BYU where everyone shares our beliefs and no one is
trying to Bible bash us. It's frustrating sometimes to teach these
people. We teach others our beliefs and invite them to then read and
pray to ask God and find out for themselves. The ones who read, pray,
and go to church are the ones who receive an answer but those who
don't do one or more of those things never do. We're not here to
convince people, we're here to teach and to invite them to do those
things to receive an answer. I don't get why some people just
absolutely refuse to even open the book. If someone  gave me a free
book, regardless of if it's the Qur'an or Dante's Inferno or Harry
Potter, I'd read it and not be so close-minded. But that's just me.

We went to the temple on Friday and I finished doing the work for 5 of
my ancestors (except for sealings). I've never done my ancestors work
let alone do it all the way through so it was way cool.

More online proselyting problems. This guy added me. I don't know
where he's from but he's Hispanic and his English is pretty funny.
I've been trying to teach him the gospel and every day he's been
progressively telling me more and more that I'm an angel and pretty
and that he loves me. Finally one day this past week I got on, and he
had sent me a couple pictures:

I started laughing super hard when I saw it. I told him I don't think
I'm the right person to be teaching him and asked if I could send
missionaries. He just keeps saying he loves me so I'll be deleting him
shortly. First a Nigerian asks me to marry him now this haha.

Not much else happened this week. The train outside our apartment
comes and blows its whistle while I'm sleeping every night. I got a
slushi maker for $6. I never knew I needed it until I bought it. It's
amazing. I also found a "From Cumorah's Hill" cd for 99 cents at a
church store. I've been playing it over and over again in the car and
annoying Sister Lewis. Also, Sister Lewis is the easiest companion
I've had so far. I love her.

That was my week! Read Galatians 5:22-23. It talks about fruits of the
spirit. If you feel that while reading the scriptures, praying, going
to church, doing service, being with family, etc. then that's the Holy
Ghost you're feeling. (:

I love you all!

Love, Sister Black

Monday, July 7, 2014

Goat Stew - Week 23

Dear family,

The Fourth of July was so so fun! At 9am we went to the ward
breakfast. We brought our investigator, Pulla, and his two kids. Then
we came home and took a nap then went to the city at 2:30. Every year,
they have the "folk life festival" where they have two countries set
up a bunch of booths and displays and performance about their culture
on the Washington mall. This year it was China and Kenya. It was super
cool and I got to use a bit of my Chinese. Not a lot, but it made me
happy. China was closer to the Washington monument and Kenya was
closer to the capital. We wandered around for a few hours and are some
Chinese food and bought some souvenirs. I got a shirt that says China
and I think the character � on it. I don't read Chinese cursive very
well. Ironically, it was made in Honduras. I also got zebra chopsticks
and a bracelet made in Kenya. Some of the stuff there was pretty
expensive but it was super cool.

When it turned to evening, we met up with the ASL sisters. A woman ran
up to us and told us that her daughter is currently serving in
Santiago, Chile. She said that she has a good spot close to the
monument to watch fireworks. So we followed her and sat with her.
While she watched our stuff, we ran to get dinner. Sister Lewis and I
decided to be adventurous and we went to Kenya and got some goat stew.
Not my favorite. And not my normal Independence Day meal. But it was
interesting. When the sun finally set, we got to watch the fireworks!
It was so surreal being there, it was like I was living another life.
We had to leave to get home before they ended since we had to be in by
10:30. We headed towards the metro and so did tons of other people. It
was so crowded and crazy and each stop took forever. But it was a
really fun day and I'm glad I got to see the fireworks. A year ago I
never would've imagined that I'd be watching fireworks in Washington,
D.C. I know that Tyler was there somewhere but I didn't see him and
didn't have time to search him out. It's weird that my cousin is so
close but I can't see him. We've messaged on Facebook but we're both
really busy so it will be a miracle if we can ever find a time to meet.

Although the 4th was fun, I was ready to get back to work. I felt a
little weird the whole day because I was just in P day clothes having
fun and not really doing missionary work. Now I'm starting to
understand why new RMs struggle with coming home.

Also, President Eyring's brother, who is the president of the
Visitors Center, shared my picture of Sister Lewis and me teaching the
Kenyan guy about the Book of Mormon on Facebook. Score! A lot of you
guys are already doing it, but when I post something could you all
"like" it so that it stays high up in the news feed so more people
will see it? That would be helpful and help the cause.

We had two investigators at church yesterday! And a couple guys that
we gave Book of Mormons to at metro bus stops this past week have
texted us asking to learn more. And a guy Sister Lewis met at cvs a
couple weeks ago came to church for the last thirty minutes then met
us at the vc for a restoration lesson. Also, yesterday at the vc a
couple came in who weren't members and I was able to teach them for 30
minutes about the church and get their email to stay in contact with
them. They were so nice and polite and interested.

Monday night we had dinner with a family and the mom is really good at
making cupcakes. She made Maryland crab cup cakes. So I technically
had my first Maryland crab! She took a picture of Sister Lewis and I
with our cup cakes and posted it on her blog. I think it's or something along the lines of that.
I'll attach the picture.

The shirts mom sent me are super cute, thanks so much!! I'm wearing
the blue one today. They are perfect.

I think that's about it. I love my companion, area, and investigators.
I'm happy but not it's not a big outward happiness like I expected.
It's like this deep, inner contentment and happiness with bursts of
outward happiness as exciting things happen like really good lessons
or having investigators at church. I can tell my body is stressed but
I don't really feel stressed because I'm too busy being a missionary.
It's the best. I have spiritually grown so much on my mission, I love
it. Before I could not tell you where anything is in the Book of
Mormon but now I'm like, "oh you want to know about why Adam and Eve
were important well let's turn to 2 Nephi 2" or "If you want to know
where you go when you die you can read Alma 40." It's fun gaining all
this spiritual knowledge. Now I can't imagine how I was planning on
living my life without it. I don't really know if I'm more mature. I
like to think I am... But I am a pretty immature person when it comes
to poking my sisters/companions and making weird sounds and singing
mission parodies to songs. I guess I can't have it all.

I finished reading the Book of Mormon again on Saturday. So read
Moroni 10:32-33 if you will. And 34 if you're feeling ambitious. I
love the book of Moroni. He's basically rambling and writing the last
few things that he finds important because he knows that any day he's
going to die so it's his final testimony and it tells a lot about him.
What a beast.


Sister Black

P.S. I have more pictures of the fourth but they're on my camera.
Actually I have a ton of pictures throughout my mission on my camera
that I haven't shown you because I'm too lazy to upload them to the
computer. So be excited for those either in a month or two or a year.