Monday, January 26, 2015

New Companion - Week 52

Dear family,

Last Wednesday was transfers! I now have a new companion! Her name is
Sister Busath. She is 22 and from California, about 45 minutes from
San Francisco, and this is her last transfer before she goes home. We
have both been training for the past three transfers and are worn out
so we are so happy to be together. It's fun having two older sisters
in the mission be companions. So we are working super hard this
transfer before she goes home and I go back to Chinese. There is
another companionship in Kensington as well. Sister Sundwall and her
trainee Sister Mateaki who is Samoan and from Provo. We aren't
splitting the area, we are just kind of splitting investigators. We
have alternating shifts at the VC so there's always someone in our
area which is nice.

Last Tuesday, the day before transfers, Sister Huddleston and I taught
a woman named Lucy. She's in her 20s and has a baby boy who was born
within days of Harrison last June. The elders found her while tracting
and then passed her info to us. We went and checked on her he week
before and answered some questions. She said she wants to learn
because she doesn't know any mormons and is curious. On Tuesday after
lunch with the Kearls (I hope you got that picture, mom and dad) we we
and met her at a Starbucks and answered more of her questions because
she has a lot. She pulled out her Book of Mormon we gave her and asked
us to mark some chapters she should read. She also downloaded it on
her Kindle. It went super well and by the end she looked at her cup of
coffee and said she should probably start giving it up. We didn't even
tell her to, she just decided on her own! She is so so cool and she
and her husband want to try coming to church one Sunday. We are
meeting with her at the VC tomorrow. I love her, she is amazing. God's
elect right here!

The next day was transfers which was grand. It snowed as transfers was
ending and it was beautiful. We were on shift that afternoon and then
that night Sister Busath and I went and checked on referrals and
potentials and knocked some doors. It ended up being a pretty
successful and fulfilling night.

Thursday was Mom's birthday!! Sister Busath and I went to the VC for
shift at 9am and did chats for 1 1/2 hours. We got a ton. I
love doing chats. Anti-Mormon stuff doesn't even bother me anymore.
I've heard it all. Joseph Smith had 40 wives and was a mason and blah
blah blah. Tell me something I don't know. Doing chat and having anti
people come on has really solidified my testimony. My testimony
doesn't stand on what the world has to say. I tell every single person
on there that the ONLY way to know its true is to read the Book of
Mormon and pray about it. The promise is real. We don't only get anti
chats, we get a lot of other good ones as well that range in topic.

That night we had Ward correlation and then we checked on some
referrals. One of the elders, Elder Hansen, went home on Wednesday.
Before going to the airport, he decided to knock one more house. They
guy who answered was interested so we stopped by on Thursday and we
have a return appointment for tomorrow night.

We taught Alba Friday night and she is as golden as she was when we
found her six months ago. She really has felt the spirit and is
converted. She's had friends try to tell her that she's wrong and that
the Book of Mormon is false but it doesn't even faze her. She just
bears testimony to them and prays for guidance on what to tell them.
She is going to talk to the bishop to get married to her bf and then
she and Gio are going to get baptized next month! I'm so happy! I'm so
glad I get to teach her even though I was gone for a few months in the
Chinese branch. The night we found her still stays in my memory as one
of my favorite nights.

Saturday we visited lots of people and had success with teaching a
former who I actually taught last time I was here and had to drop. At
3:30 we went on shift at the VC which was grand. Sister Busath and I
talked to a really nice lady who lives in Philadelphia and whose son
is serving a mission. She's the one who sent mom and dad the picture
of Sister Busath and I.

Sunday was grand. Sister Busath and I discovered a new fascination
that took up thirty minutes of our comp study. In the back of the hymn
book it has meters and it shows which hymns have which meter pattern.
The hymns that have the same meter pattern can be sung with each
other's tunes. For example hymns 2 and 3 can be interchanged as well
as Come Thou Fount with at least 10 other hymns. It's really amusing.
We develop weird fascinations. I read Institute manuals for fun and we
play games using and most of our conversations in the car
consist of church doctrine. I love it, you don't get this at home.

That night we went around checking on people. The four of us share one
car so it makes things a bit tricky and interesting. Sister Busath and
I went to see a less active who was very polite but told us he has no
interest in coming back to church. In the prayer before we visited him
I asked God for something to happen to make our time there worth
while. As we were about to get into the car after talking to him we
heard a woman calling out. We went to see who it was and she was
calling for her cat. We talked for a minute and invited her to the VC
and then we asked her her religious background. She told us she was
baptized mormon. WHAT. Her whole family left the church years ago.
What are the odds that right as we are by her house she opens the door
to call for her cat so we can talk to her and she turns out to be a
member of our church? Crazy. I love seeing how involved God is in the
work. We are going to try to visit her again. It was so cool.

And that is it. I'm so happy to be with Sister Busath. We work so well
together and she's teaching me a lot. At first back in October I
thought that I would be Chinese for the rest of my mission and then I
thought I would be training for six transfers straight if not for the
rest of my mission. But now I'm back English for a bit and I'm not
training this transfer and I'm the junior companion again which I
didn't think would happen again. I'm so happy. This is going to be the
best transfer. It's baptism transfer!

I love you all and hope you have a good week!

"Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come;
and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of
great joy unto this generation"(
D&C 31:3).

Love, Sister Black

Monday, January 19, 2015

Temple Model - Week 51

Dear family,

There's not really much to talk about this week.

We spent a lot of time checking on referrals which was super fun. We
had about 40 referrals and we are down to only ten who we haven't been
able to contact.

We taught a few lessons. We taught Meles who bible bashed the whole
time which was exciting. We also taught Alba and her son at the VC
about temples and family history. It was a really cool lesson and the
spirit was so strong. Alba and her bf are hopefully going to get
married soon so she can get baptized. We had some other lessons
planned this week but they all cancelled. Figures. About half of our
lessons always cancel.

Elder and sister Eyring left this week. During our training meeting on
Friday morning they played the guitar and violin and sang a few songs
for us. I'm really going to miss them a lot. They flew home on
Saturday and the new director came Friday night. They are Elder and
Sister Fouler. I haven't really met them yet. I said hi but I haven't
talked to them. They seem nice.

It's nice teaching at the VC with the temple model. Lots of people
come in every day because they see the temple off the beltway. Before,
we would show them a tiny model and four pictures and they would be
disinterested and leave. But now we have the model which they love and
they are super interested and stay longer. It's great.

Sunday night was Why I Believe. Cameron came and she loved it. The
talks really touched her and she was crying. The closing song,
"Israel, Israel God is Calling" is to the same tune of a song she used
to sing to herself when she was a young struggling mom. God is so
aware of her and that night was for her.

I am staying in Kensington and so is Sister Sundwall. Sister
Huddleston is leaving. It's been hard training her this past transfer
and she needs someone new. I explained to her how I've felt on
Saturday night and I think she felt bad for the first time because she
was always being a grump and telling everyone whenever she was upset
with Sister Sundwall or me and I told her it made me sad. I was nice
because I really don't have any hard feelings towards her, I was just
being honest with her. I'm glad she's getting transferred. I love her
and hope someone else has fun training her. She'll be a great
missionary one day once she gets over some stuff.

And that was this week. We were at the VC a lot and checking on
referrals. Also, one day when we were checking on referrals there was
a van for some singing group called Nahom. We got out a Book of Mormon
and highlighted the verse about when Ishmael died and was buried at
Nahom in the first book of Nephi and put it under his windshield
wipers with our phone number and church address. We thought it was

Abraham 3:22-23 22 "Now the Lord had shown unto me, Abraham, the
intelligences that were organized before the world was; and among all
these there were many of the noble and great ones;
"And God saw these souls that they were good, and he stood in the
midst of them, and he said: These I will make my rulers; for he stood
among those that were spirits, and he saw that they were good; and he
said unto me: Abraham, thou art one of them; thou wast chosen before
thou wast born"(Abraham 3:22-23).

Don't forget that you are all noble spirit sons and daughters of God
and that you have amazing potential. Love you all!

Sister Black

Monday, January 12, 2015

I Play the Piano for a Prophet - Week 50

Dear family,

This was a really weird but amazing week.

Tuesday morning we woke up at 6:30am to a freezing, dark apartment. It
was snowing outside and our power was out. The temperature was
dropping so we roughed it out in our beds during studies. Eventually
we dragged ourselves out of bed to eat lunch and then we got the call
saying that we could then drive our cars. We went to the church so I
could practice the piano and we basked in the 60 degree heat. We then
accidentally locked the keys in the church on our way out and
miraculously there was a man shoveling snow in the parking lot who had
a key. After that we spent the next 3 hours driving around in the snow
and checking on referrals. We didn't want to go back to our apartment
because it was freezing so we went out to eat that night at a mall
cafeteria. Then we spent another 2 hours checking on referrals. When
we got back to our apartment, the power had just turned on a couple
hours before. The power was out for at least nine hours. Before we
left the house, we briefly opened up the fridge and it was starting to
reek. We were all very sad since we had just bought food the day
before. I was especially lamenting my pasta salad that I had labored
over the day before that would surely now be doomed to the garbage
can. I said the prayer before we left the apartment that afternoon and
I pleaded with God to please spare our food, especially my pasta
salad. When we returned that night after nine hours of no power, we
opened up the fridge and the stench was gone. Sister Sundwall daringly
smelled and then sipped her milk and it was completely fine. It was
truly a miracle. "Ask and ye shall receive." Also, snow here is so
funny. School was cancelled and people were afraid to go outside and
the beltway was apparently a nightmare with everyone and their dog
getting in car accidents. Come on, people.

Wednesday morning we had a training meeting at the VC. Mark Lusvardi,
who is in charge of visitors centers around the world, came to give us
a training on our new temple model. We then got a sneak peek of what
they had been installing for the past few days. It is absolutely
beautiful! It is an exact replica of the beautiful DC temple. The
spires reach to nine feet tall and the glass that encases it goes to
about ten feet. The front of the temple is cut out so that you can see
the inside layout of the temple. They made it by using a 3D scanner to
scan different rooms of the temple. They then took that information to
a 3D printer and printed everything in 3D plastic. Next they had
artists come in and paint it and then glue everything inside. The
detail is incredible. They even got the paintings on the wall and the
chandeliers. I love it.

After the training meeting, Meredith, my recent convert who was
baptized back in September, came to the VC to watch "Meet the Mormons"
with us. If any of you haven't seen it, go and see it this week.
That's your homework. You can go see it for free at Legacy Theater and
you will love it. It's a documentary and it's so cool and funny and
touching. Then each of you write a one paragraph report and send it to
me. The best paragraph gets a prize. (: (: (:  Anyway, that was fun.
After that, Sister Lewis came on exchanges with Sister Sundwall and I
while Sister Huddleston went with another sister. It was so fun! The
Kensington sisters back together! We went out to eat and then we
taught our investigators Alba and Juan. They haven't been coming to
church in the past few weeks which has affected their spirituality a
ton so we had a "come to Jesus" talk with them and read the Book of
Mormon and whatnot. It was really good and they are awesome and ready
and willing to do better.

Thursday was Specialized Training for new missionaries. I went with
Sister Huddleston and there were six other companionships there. We
talked a lot about dealing with stress which I remember was super
helpful for me when I was new and was still a much needed reminder
while training. Training Sister Huddleston hasn't been the easiest
experience... We then played our games that we always play. I won back
when I was being trained. Sister Huddleston and I got second place.
The only thing I cared about though is that we beat the elders when we
shot nerf guns at the first vision.

That night we taught a referral named Meles who is from Iritia (idk
how to spell I've never heard of it) which is in West Africa. We had
taught him last Monday. We planned on teaching him the Plan of
Salvation but he had issues with believing that we lived with God
before so we spent most of the lesson discussing that. After that we
had a meeting with our Ward mission leader. Fun stuff.

Friday was great. From 9am to 3:30pm we were at the mission home. All
of the sisters came in our pajamas and no makeup and we had breakfast
and relaxed and did stuff that I'm not allowed to tell anyone we did
since the elders will get jealous. Ask me in six months. We deserved
it though! The elders got Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve
night, and New Year's Day night off while all of us sisters worked at
the VC until 10pm every night and got 810 referrals, 400 of which are
in our mission. We worked super hard and we were tired so we deserve a

After that we went over to have dinner with a family in our Ward. The
mom's family converted when she was five and the dad converted when he
was nineteen and he served a mission and then they were married in the
San Diego temple. However they soon went less active and they had four
kids and none of them got baptized. Two years ago the missionaries
started teaching them and the parents were reactivated and three of
the four children got baptized. It's an incredible success story. All
of the children got baptized except for one boy who is a twin and is
currently 14. He wants to be a sniper when he is older and he doesn't
see how that would work with being a member of the church. A couple
months ago he talked with a guy who is a member and used to be in the
military and probably sniped people and whatnot. After that he
realized he could be a member and that it would help him so now he is
on track to be baptized which is super cool and you can tell his dad
is so happy and proud. He doesn't want to be baptized until Memorial
Day because he wants it to be a patriotic holiday which is fine. We
taught him and it went well. He's a cool kid.

Saturday was a crazy day. At 1pm all of the missionaries gathered in
the main theater of the VC and President Henry B. Eyring of the First
Presidency came and spoke to all of us. Before he spoke, we arrived
early to practice a song. I forgot the sheet music in the car so I
grabbed Sister Huddleston and we went outside and she stood by the
door and watched me as I ran in my pencil skirt to the car to grab it.
As I was jogging, a car pulled up and the door opened and President
Eyring came out. I slowed down by this point and didn't know what to
do as I was ten feet away from him. He looked at me and said hello and
I said hello back and then I scurried inside. President Eyring said hi
to me. (: (: (:

His talk to us was so amazing. There is no doubt that he has a strong,
powerful relationship with God. He was talking a bit about President
Monson and he was saying how sometimes President Monson will ask if
something was done and someone will try to lie and say that they
didn't do it. President Eyring then said, "Don't try that withy a
prophet of God." Hahaha because he always knows everything.

That night we had to be to the VC by 5:45pm. About 500 invited guests
arrived and I had the responsibility of ushering so I showed everyone
to their seats. There was catering upstairs and people from Salt Lake
were all over the place taking pictures and videos and making sure
everything was going smoothly. At 7:30 the program started. All of the
sisters sat on stage by the piano. Elder Eyring, the director of the
VC and President Eyring's little brother, conducted the meeting.

To start off the meeting, the sisters sang, "Where Can I Turn for
Peace" while I played the piano. I was maybe ten feet away from
President Eyring the whole night and I played the piano for him and
all of the stake presidents and bishops and a senator and religious
leaders of other local religious faiths. Oh my gosh was I nervous. But
it went well. It was such a beautiful arrangement of the song. So that
was my moment of fame. My companion, Sister Sundwall, sang a solo at
the beginning of it.

The meeting went very well. President Eyring was so bold and so loving
and funny and human. He testified powerfully of temples and eternal
families and even at one point turned around and addressed us sister
missionaries for a minute. He truly is a prophet of God. It was so
cool. I can't believe I was able to be part of that. Also I'm so
thankful for all of the piano lessons throughout the years. I've
always loved playing the piano so it's not like I hated them but still
I'm even more grateful that I was well prepared to play the piano.
Also, the story is on mormon news room and there are two pictures of
me on there haha. One of which my knees are totally showing... Oops. I
promise I obey mission rules.

Sunday we had church and Juan and Alba finally came! After church we
went to the VC and rehearsed for Night of Music and Inspiration. All
of the sisters sang "Go, Tell it on the Mountain" accompanied by
Sister Cooke and also "Where Can I Turn for Peace' again. I also
accompanied Sister Eyring and Elder Fuller on "Through Heaven's Eyes"
which was super fun to do. Elder and Sister Eyring gave their
departing testimonies since they leave this Saturday. I am so sad that
they are leaving. I love these two people, they are incredible. I told
them not to go anywhere in July because they need to be at my
homecoming. At the end, President and Sister Cooke gave their tribute
to them and then all of the missionaries stood and sang the mission
song for them. They can't leave :(

And that's been my week. It was a very unique and crazy week. I love
serving in this awesome mission with all of these amazing people. It's
such a blessing to be here. I am so glad I decided to serve a mission.
There were time when I questioned my decision but I have grown so much
and I've been able to teach hundreds of people about the good news of
the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. I have served with people who
have touched my life and changed me for the better. I have
participated in such fun events at the VC including Festival of
Lights, Ambassador and Diplomat Nights, plenty of concerts, Nights of
Music and Inspiration, President Eyring, and so many spiritual
teaching opportunities. This is the best. I still have my bad and good
days and I am still an imperfect missionary who could improve in so
many aspects, but I am grateful to be here. I can't believe it's
January. Time is ticking. But I'm excited to spend these last months
serving the Lord in the capital established by His hand and at His
temple visitors center.

"And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and
whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and
whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in
heaven"(Matthew 16:19).


Sister Black