Monday, August 25, 2014

God Still Matters - Week 30

Dear family,

This might be a shorter email. I can't think of much to write.

I went on exchanges with Sister Johnson last Wednesday. It was really
fun. It's interesting because I'm only a transfer younger than she was
when she got me. We had dinner with a member, taught Pulla, and then
we ran and got frozen yogurt before heading home. When we were
companions I was still new and she's definitely seen me at my very
worst, more than any of my other companions. But now I'm an older
missionary and I'm definitely a lot better than I was so it was cool
to see the change.

Meredith came to church and we had a couple lessons with her and she
is still solid. We are having another lesson with her tonight. Pulla
didn't come to church again so that's lame. Alba is still doing great
and is having some contractions. She's due September 17th which is
exciting. Hopefully we'll be able to meet with her Wednesday if she
doesn't have her baby yet.

The Visitors Center is fun. There were a ton of people on chat. It's
interesting because we are always told not to believe everything we
see on the internet but people see all this anti stuff about Joseph
Smith and automatically believe that it's true. It's really not about
Joseph Smith though, it's about Jesus Christ and His church. Back in
the Bible, the majority of the people rejected and hated the prophets
and wouldn't follow God so why would it be any different today. Joseph
Smith was called as a prophet to restore God's church so of course
he's gonna have enemies. It's not enough that they killed him, they're
still trying to discredit him over a hundred years later. Why do these
people care about Joseph Smith and this church? Why do so many people
protest and write books against a church that teaches its people to
love God and love others and that families are the most important
thing? Because this is the truth and the truth will always be opposed.
A lot of these people are so illogical and don't use their brains. It
almost hurts me to talk to them because they're so lame. I'm so glad
you're spending your Friday night trying to argue with a sister
missionary and tell her that her church isn't true. Get a life. Or a
Book of Mormon and read it. That's really the only way to know. That's
what we tell everyone. If you really want to know, just read the book
and pray about it. How is that hard? It's so simple but people won't
do it. People say that religious people or even Mormons are
close-minded but more often than not it's the other way around. I have
no problem visiting and learning about other churches and beliefs and
reading their religious text but as soon as we ask someone to try ours
they act like we're the plague and we must be false because this
internet website says so instead of turning to the source of all
knowledge which is God.

Anyway, the Visitors Center is great. Just usual business, nothing
major happening.

1 Nephi 19:7,9 The things of God which are most important are seen as
things that don't even matter any more. God still matters. His
commandments and laws still matter. God still loves us. Christ's
atonement is still in effect. Yet everyone today seems to think it
doesn't matter anymore. What is happening to the world? Exactly what
the prophets testified would happen in the scriptures. Although the
world's morals may decline and change, God's will not. I'd rather
stick with His ways than the worlds because God's way is the only way
to truly be happy no matter what anyone may say. I can think of only a
few times I've been as happy in my life as I am here doing God's work.
I'm constantly tired and it isn't the most fun thing ever, but I'm so

I love you all.

Sister Black

District meeting board. I drew the Capitol building.
Taking a secret nap at the Visitors Center. Can you see me?

I found a Japanese name tag.

And then a bunch of pictures from DC last week. The security guy is
DQQKY. He's currently investigating the church. He said he missed
church last Sunday and then God sent him His gang the next day.

 Then inside the Capitol and trying to be cute with Book of Mormons.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Danica - Week 29


Today Sister Lewis and I went into DC with four other sisters. We
called Senator Lee's office and scheduled a tour of the Capitol so we
got a personalized tour of the US Capitol building by one of his
interns. It was so cool, I loved it. There's so much history there.
There are still spots on one of the stair cases from when a reporter
shot a congressman and he bled all over the marble stairs. There's
also still bullet holes in some of the older pillars from previous
attacks and just random stuff like that that make it so much cooler.
We got to stand on the balcony where presidents are impeached and in
the different rooms where important acts were passed. There was one
room that was small and had a stained glass window with George
Washington and the words, "in God we trust" and a scripture in psalms.
There were two benches with a Bible on each one. Apparently that room
is where congressmen go to pray a lot. It's ironic how people are
trying to get rid of God and in lots of schools they can't recite the
Declaration of Independence because it says "God" but in the nation's
Capitol they still rely on God. Tons of cool stuff. It's so ornate and
beautiful there. So that was super fun.

Alba is doing well. We have had some great lessons with her and she's
awesome. Meredith came to church yesterday and she was so cute and
happy. She told people that she's getting baptized in 4 weeks! Pulla
didn't come to church again because he's been feeling sick and he's
struggling so his baptism is going to be pushed back. I was feeling
pretty down the other night because I've had so many people on baptism
date but none of them have been baptized and I felt like I wasn't
making a difference. It's not about the numbers but it's hard when it
seems like all my work is amounting to nothing. Hopefully Pulla and
Meredith will actually make it to baptism.

We are now at the Visitors Center six days a week on four hour shifts.
It's been going well. A guy from Afghanistan came in yesterday and
Sister Lewis and I spent an hour teaching him about the temple and
then the restoration. He had a lot of questions. After we showed him a
two three minute clips from Elder Bednar and Elder Holland from last
General Conference he was very quiet and then Sister Lewis and I each
bore our testimonies. We gave him a Book of Mormon and he gave us his
contact info so we can send missionaries to him. He lives in DC now
not Afghanistan. He ended up staying for two more hours and by the end
he seemed totally comfortable there. He was feeling the Holy Ghost
even if he didn't realize it. There are a lot of cool teaching
experiences and miracles that happen at the Visitors Center.

Sister missionaries were transferred completely out of a ward and the
members were really sad. The sisters were super close to a recent
convert older couple so they decided to play a joke on the new elders.
One was an AP and his companion is brand new. The recent convert
family invited the elders over for dinner and made them eat spaghetti
and salad with their hands and acted like it was completely normal.
They filmed it and gave it to the sisters so now the video of these
two elders awkwardly eating with their hands has circulated around the
sisters. It's super funny.

I have a new nickname. Danica. We park across the street from our
apartment at an apartment complex where all the temple missionaries
live. One of the temple missionaries secretly watches us as we pull in
at night. Apparently I pull in very quickly so he gave me the nickname
Danica after the race car driver Danica Patrick. I have no clue who
this missionary is but he was telling one of the Visitors Center
senior missionaries about it and said it was a sister with black curly
hair. Now I feel weird parking at night knowing that he's watching me
from somewhere.

Olivia Newhouse came into the vc on Friday. We were on the lacrosse
team together in high school (she was one of the few girls I still
liked by the end of the season) and she's serving in the Baltimore
mission. So that was way cool to see her, I was so happy.

An Elder from the Ranches ward came into the Visitors Center on Friday
as well. His name is Elder Turpin and he's in the Baltimore mission.
He goes home tomorrow so he must've left on his mission a couple weeks
before we moved there. Cool stuff.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY (Hannah) Rebecca!!!!!!!! :D I hope you enjoy your present.

Read John 7:17. We met a police officer at the Capitol today who has
been going to church for a while now but isn't baptized yet. He said
he didn't go to church yesterday so God sent him a gang (there were
six of us missionaries). He was super cool and Sister Lewis gave him
this scripture to read and pray about. Sometimes we need to act in
faith and do God's will before He will reveal more of His doctrine to
us or before we will understand completely. We will always be blessed
and receive further knowledge for doing God's will.

Love you all!

Sister Black

First two: dancing around in the rain last Tuesday during a crazy rain storm.


Some of the Visitors Center sisters saying goodbye to Sister Galbraith
in the middle.

Golf cart ride with our favorite temple security guard, M.D. Todd.
He's the best.

Drawing I worked on during meal times this week of Sister Lewis and I
at the Nats game.

Sister (Olivia) Newhouse and I.

Me in front of the Capitol. Plenty more pictures of today to come in the future.


Monday, August 11, 2014

Rinse and Repeat - Week 28

Dear family,

Last Wednesday was transfers. Sister Lewis and I are still together on
Kensington but now we're in the Visitors Center 6 days a week, about
25 hours a week. They put elders back in our area so now we have a
trio of elders as well! We were so excited. It took a huge load off of
us. We met Wednesday evening with them and decided how to split the
area and gave them investigators and less actives to teach and check

Funny story. So we taught our new investigator a few weeks ago. She
had gone to the Visitors Center and requested to have missionaries
teach her. We taught her which was fine but then she couldn't meet
again until last Wednesday. She is in the elders area now so we needed
to pass her to them. We had the brilliant idea of having all five of
us teach her so they could get to know each other. She came into the
vc later on Wednesday night after our meeting with the elders. We went
into a room and we had a prayer and we had a lesson prepared for her.
She spent over an hour telling us how dead people speak to her and ask
her to do things, she's married but she made eye contact with a guy at
work and now she's knows he's the one she's supposed to be with and
she realized that sex shouldn't be part of relationships, marijuana
and alcohol should be allowed because they're natural but tobacco
shouldn't be because it isn't natural (?), God made us evolve from
apes, God isn't one person but is the combined subconsciousness of
everyone and once we die we become part of it. I had to bite my cheek
sometimes to keep from grinning. The best part is that one of the
elders, Elder Williams, is brand new so this was his very first lesson
with an investigator. His face was priceless. Welcome to the mission.
We showed her the Joseph Smith movie and then the elders took it from

This transfer is different not only because we have elders now but
because we are in a different district now. We were really bummed
about it. Our district was the best (aka the baptizing district. True
story.) and now we're in a district with a bunch of Spanish
missionaries. We had our last district meeting last Tuesday. It was
really fun but sad. I have never felt so much love for so many people
outside of my family and have felt the same love returned. This is a
huge part of why I love being a missionary. All of my friends are
here, not at home. I never had this with anyone at home. Elder
Stevenson is a talented artist and also wants to major in animation at
BYU. He was in our district and drew a picture of us. It's so cute, I
love it. Then we reenacted it.

Saturday lunch with one of our recent converts. Let's call him Mike.
He is one of the weirdest, most awkward people I've ever met. I don't
know what it is about him but as a rule we sisters try to keep our
distance. He gives us random gifts and has been known to stalk other
sister missionaries before. He has been taking the lessons for years
and was finally baptized in May. When he was bearing his testimony at
his baptism he said he was ready to take upon himself the name of
Christ, Joseph Smith, and Brigham Young. Yeah. I hesitate to write
more but there's some background info.  He discovered the missionary
meal calendar a couple months ago and has been trying to schedule
dinner with us but we told him he needs to find another female to do
it with since he's a single male and we can't be alone with him. He
finally got a really nice older African woman in our ward to host us.
We weren't looking forward to it but we went. We arrived at 2pm and he
wasn't there so we talked to the lady, Patience, for a while. About
twenty minutes later he called and said he's gonna be late. We decided
to start without him since Sister Lewis and I had to leave at 3 to get
to our shift at the Visitors Center. We finished and he didn't arrive
until exactly 3 when we were done eating and had to leave. He brought
a bag of cakes he bought and gave each of us one then we left.
Patience was so annoyed. He had been trying so hard for months to
schedule a meal with us and when he finally got one he didn't show up.
That's Mike for you.

Alba came to church for the first time yesterday! Super exciting. The
meetings were rough though. The first speaker was a woman who spoke
about marriage. Slightly awkward since last week we discussed with
Alba that she needs to divorce her husband and marry her boyfriend in
order to get baptized. The beginning was good as she quoted the Family
Proclamation. But then she started going on about how men and women
think differently and then she gave lots of examples of how she and
her husband think differently and all these things he's done and he's
always in the wrong because he's a man and men don't think straight.
People were laughing but it was awkward, especially since he was
speaking next so he sat up there on the stand as she talked about the
stupid thing he did last week with ordering flowers. Finally he got up
to speak and it was on family history. He spent a long time talking
about how to do it with technology and when he finally got the
spiritual side of it, he looked at the clock and realized he was ten
minutes over so he skipped it. Ugh. Then in Sunday school it was all
about priesthood organization so she spent an hour learning about
deacons, teachers, priests, elders, Melchizedek, and Aaron. It was a
great lesson but rough for someone who didn't even know what the
priesthood was a couple weeks ago. Then in relief society it was about
marriage sealings and covenants where once again Jesus wasn't even
mentioned. Why can't we just have lessons on the Plan of Salvation or
the gospel of Jesus Christ or the atonement? I had no clue what the
gospel of Jesus Christ was or why our church was so different and
special until I came on my mission and someone finally explained it to
me. All those lessons about the temple and making lists of the
qualities I want in my future husband and gratitude did nothing to
teach me more about the gospel or prepare me for my mission. I don't
understand why we spend so much time talking about deep or obscure
doctrine yet we barely know the basics. No wonder so many people are
going astray, they don't understand the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our
basic message is this: Through a modern prophet, God has restored
knowledge about the plan of salvation, which is centered on Christ’s
Atonement and fulfilled by living the first principles and ordinances
of the gospel. We need to focus more on Jesus Christ and then branch
out from there. Sometimes Jesus gets lost in all of the information.
Also, I wish people at church would notice that we have investigators
so maybe we shouldn't mentions polygamy and if you see someone sitting
with the missionaries, go up and talk to them instead of ignoring
them. I was just so incredibly annoyed at people yesterday at church.
We know this is the true church that Jesus Christ restored so can we
act like it a little more? #smh

That's about everything that I feel like writing about. Thank you Cari
for the letter. Also Grandma Carol and Hannah for yours a couple weeks
ago. I'm feeling the love. <3

3 Nephi 27:19-21. The doctrine of Christ is to have faith, repent, be
baptized, receive the gift of the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end.
This is how we access the atonement of Jesus Christ and return to live
with Him. We need to continually do these things. Always have faith,
always repent, take the sacrament to renew your baptismal covenants,
always be worthy to have the Holy Ghost with you, rinse, and repeat.

Sister Black

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Nats Game - Week 27

Dear family,

Last Saturday was the Nats game!!! We travelled as districts on the
metro to get there and then we all bought expensive hats and took
pictures. It was the nationals vs. the Phillies and the Nats won 11-0. It was so much fun. The game started at 7 and ended at 10:18. We didn't get home until about 12:10am ish. It was so fun to be there with the rest of our mission. President and Sister Cooke were so proud to be there with their missionaries from the "best mission in the history of life" as they call it. It was kind of weird being there with all these people and listening to music and screaming and doing the wave and just having fun on a Saturday night instead of out proselyting. Also, I saw Kiersten Rossi there. She's a missionary in the DC south mission and she's been out for around 2 months. We used to be best friends in elementary school and had sleep overs all the time, but we haven't seen each other since we were 11. Who would've guessed that the two best friends that substitute teachers used to think were sisters would reunite at a Nats game in Washington, D.C. as missionaries? Crazy. We only talked for about five minutes but it was cool seeing her again. I still picture her in my head as a ten year old haha.

I really enjoyed the game but I'll be honest, being there made me
realize how much I love being a missionary. I was so proud to be there with so many missionaries who I have grown to really love and respect. My district is so close and I have never felt so much closeness and love for so many people. In high school I felt like I didn't really fit in and I had a hard time making friends but here, I fit right in and we're all just a huge family that loves each other. There was lots of music and dancing and ads which was fun, but why would I want to go back to that world when I can be a missionary giving my time for a higher purpose serving the God I love and meeting incredible people? Last night as I was laying in bed, I thought about how I have 11 months left and for the first time on my mission, I felt sick about it. This is going by too fast. I don't want it to end because this is the most amazing and fulfilling thing I've ever done and once it's done it's over. I only have so many months left and then I'll never be a young sister missionary again. I never thought I'd get to this point where I really do love my mission more than home, but I do. This mission has changed my life and I have never felt so happy and close to God. It's incredible.

On the metro there and back we divided and conquered and talked to
people and gave out Book of Mormons and pass along cards. Sister Lewis and I gave out a Book of Mormon and then I also gave out a few
Visitors Center cards on the metro. It was fun to see the other
missionaries in action, teaching and testifying and giving out Book of Mormons. We role play a lot but it's not super often that we actually see each other in these actual situations. We don't just hand out Book of Mormons and cards to everyone. We try to start a conversation with someone first and eventually bring it to the gospel since we can't just go around preaching on the gospel and quite frankly everyone would hate us if we did. There were a couple guys outside the stadium who were holding signs and speaking through a mega phone about Jesus and how we're going to hell unless we repent. Not surprisingly, no one took them seriously. Missionaries teach people one by one just like Jesus did. Of course there are times when we speak and teach to multiple people, but we really do try to focus on the one. Not walk around with signs and tell people they're going to hell. Because the fact of the matter is that at least 99% of people probably aren't going to "hell", they're going to a kingdom of glory (aka heaven). But if they want to get into the highest one then they need to be baptized and all that. I just hate when people think that God will just toss anyone to hell because they didn't believe in Him or didn't know about Him. That's not how a loving Heavenly Father would ever treat His children.

Our investigators are... I don't know. Good and frustrating. None of
our baptismal dates came to church yesterday. We've been teaching
Pulla and his two kids. They are on baptism date. The French elders in our district came and gave him a blessing on Tuesday. The problem is that Pulla is like in his 60s maybe and has a hard time disciplining his 9 year old twins. He didn't come to church because they wouldn't wake up and they didn't come to a baptism because the kids didn't want to go even though Pulla really wanted to. He's been through a ton of hard stuff but he needs to step up and really be their dad.

We've been teaching a woman named Alba. She's the one whose daughter
is Gisselle. She's loving the lessons and is really wanting to change. But unfortunately she might not get baptized for a while because of some commandment issues that she'll need to take care of first. It's similar to problems they have in South America with undivorced couples.. I hate divorce (shocking) so it's weird for me to be telling someone they need to.. Idk. Whatever. The spirit will tell me what to do.

Our two other b dates are Meredith and Kidist. Meredith is golden and is out of town until next week. Kidist told us she realized that
anyone can baptize her and authority doesn't matter. Umm no. That was a fun lesson. It ended well but now she won't return our calls. :/

Sister Lewis and I are still going to be together next transfer. This Wednesday is transfers. We decided we need to be better. Our area is currently leading the mission with baptismal dates and President Cooke always goes on about how great we are and how proud he is of us, but we honestly aren't being as good as we should be and the b dates aren't super solid. We don't want to let President down but we're just feeling bad. We're excited and determined to really do better this transfer.

I've been out for over six months and I'm still the newest English
sister. All the sisters who came with or after me are Spanish and ASL. We're finally getting new English sisters this week so I won't be the youngest anymore. (:

Alma 36:17-21 "And it came to pass that as I was thus racked with
torment, while I was harrowed up by the memory of my many sins,
behold, I remembered also to have heard my father prophesy unto the
people concerning the coming of one Jesus Christ, a Son of God, to
atone for the sins of the world.

Now, as my mind caught hold upon this thought, I cried within my
heart: O Jesus, thou Son of God, have mercy on me, who am in the gall of bitterness, and am encircled about by the everlasting chains of death.

And now, behold, when I thought this, I could remember my pains no
more; yea, I was harrowed up by the memory of my sins no more.

And oh, what joy, and what marvelous light I did behold; yea, my soul was filled with joy as exceeding as was my pain!

Yea, I say unto you, my son, that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains. Yea, and again I say unto you, my son, that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy."

Love you all (:

Sister Black