Monday, February 23, 2015

Election of Grace - Week 55


This week we have had tons of snow. Last Monday right as P day was ending and we were going to head to the VC for shift, we got a callout saying to stay inside. So we stayed inside the apartment for the rest of the night and played Psychiatrist for 2 1/2 hours. 

The next day was still a snow day. It was done snowing but they still didn't want us to drive. So we did our studies and then walked to the VC for our shift. We had a dinner appointment that night that I didn't want to miss because it's with an awesome family so a senior sister at the VC gave us a ride to and from. Then we checked on some people living in our apartment building who are potential investigators and one of our wards recent converts had her grandma come to the door and say she's not interested in missionaries and she's catholic. Lovely. I don't think the elders should have baptized her, she's an adult but she's homeschooled at a fourth grade level and isn't very mature. Whatever. 

We also skyped our investigator, Lucy, at noon that day. She went on a five minute rant about how much she loves mormons and our doctrine is so clear and we are always so happy and that part of her just wants to give in and be a mormon. She's so cool. She's praying about a baptismal date now. 

Wednesday we had district meeting which was grand. Then after that we were on shift from 1pm to 9pm. We took our roommates shift so that they could teach Alba and Gio. Alba and Juan are no longer getting married so Alba can't get baptized :( but her son, Gio, is still going to get baptized since he's the only one keeping all Ten Commandments in that house and he's a cool kid and loves primary. Nothing too exciting happened on shift that day.

Thursday was exciting and interesting and frustrating all at the same time. We had training meeting that morning at the VC which was really really good. It was about "election of grace." Go look up "election" in the Bible Dictionary. After that, we helped to prepare for Chaplain day. While we were preparing, Sister Chapman told Sister Busath and I to come on the floor. I was slightly annoyed because I was about to learn to use an electric knife haha. Anyway we went on the floor and there were tons of Asian kids everywhere. They were all high school kids from Korea here for a school trip. They were also all Christian. Protestant or something. One of the volunteers spoke English and so he asked us to teach them about our church and then he translated. Gladly! So we played the Christus narration for them in Korean which they really enjoyed. Then we took them back to a wall with pictures of different prophets in the Bible and Book of Mormon leading up to Joseph Smith. We taught them the whole first lesson and recited the first vision to them. They were all very well behaved and attentive and asked great questions. We then took them around to another wall with pictures of our current prophet and twelve apostles below Christ and His. We played them President Monson's testimony of the Book of Mormon in Korean after explaining who he is. Partway through the video, a couple of them came up to us and asked if they could have a copy of the Book of Mormon and others were asking us questions in their broken English. We finished off by taking them into a small theater and showing them "Finding Faith in Christ" in Korean. When the movie was over, we came in and answered more questions and then we gave our four Book of Mormons and Joseph Smith testimony pamphlets, articles of faith, and Book of Mormon pass along cards on Korean for them. We finished by going outside and taking a picture with all of them. After that, a couple of the boys asked to take a picture with us. They were apparently behind us pretending to put their arms around us. As they ran off, they turned around and told us in English that we're pretty haha. I love Koreans! So I taught a group of 31 Koreans the restoration. Sister Busath and I were in such a good mood after that. 

At 12:45 we went and had lunch with the chaplains. Each companionship was assigned a chaplain with an accompanying senior missionary or couple. The plan was to enjoy a nice lunch with them and then go tour the facility and answer their questions and show them the temple model and family history. Essentially the whole reason they were there was to learn more about our church so they know how to help the LDS soldiers they are in charge of. Like they need to know how to find a priesthood holder to get a blessing for a wounded soldier and what that even means. Everything went according to plan but the senior couple we were with kind of ruined it for us and I think for the chaplain. Get ready for my rant. So first, we sit down and the wife of the senior elder doesn't show up for ten minutes. Then she sits there and scoops food onto her fork with her fingers, talks with her mouth full, and gets angry when we don't pass the salt and pepper to her quickly enough. Bad manners. Then we went out to give our chaplain his tour and the senior couple just went on and on and would not be quiet. They were totally overloading him with information that he doesn't really need to know and cut off Sister Busath and I multiple times even though we were the ones who's job it was to teach. It's their job to stand there quietly and observe. This went on the whole time and I was extremely annoyed and frustrated. The only part where they were quiet was when we were explaining the Book of Mormon. They know a lot about the organization of the church but not enough about the actual doctrine that backs it apparently. It's so much more important to know the gospel principles and doctrine as outlined in the scriptures and Preach my Gospel instead of all of the facts of how the church runs because in the end it's your testimony of the actual restored gospel doctrine that will save you. Old people in this church sometimes bug me. Not all of them. But I've noticed since being a missionary that some of them are very prideful and think they know it all. Some old people need to chill out endure to the end with love and humility, not pride and overbearance. K end of rant. Anyway, after the tour was over our chaplain left very quickly and seemed very drained as was Sister Busath and I. Our couple left to go butt into someone else's tour. It went ok but it could've gone a lot better and we didn't even get to everything we had planned because they kept talking.

That evening we had dinner with a really sweet member. At 7 we met a lady at the family history center and taught her how to do family history. Then at 8 we had Ward correlation.

Friday evening we had dinner with a member who used to be a diplomat and lived in different countries as a result. People here in DC have such interesting lives. Like it's totally normal to meet people who work in the White House or who are interns for senators or who are in the secret service and it's no big deal. The night before, Sister Busath was telling our roommates and me about how her dad one day made lamb for dinner and she ended up getting super sick from it. Well we went to this sweet lady's house and she had prepared lamb! She's African (: When she left the room, Sister Busath scooped most of her lamb on my plate while I parried the blow by giving her half of my rice since I had too much. She only ate two bites of lamb but for the rest of the night she was having stomach problems haha. 

Saturday was a snow day. I took a nap during lunch and woke up to a blizzard outside and a callout telling us not to drive. So we stayed inside and went up to a senior couple's apartment to use their wifi while we updated our big area map. Then at 6 that night, all eight sisters living here went over to a senior sisters apartment and had Navajo tacos and she told us the story about her husband who died 17 years ago. It's such a cool story.

Yesterday was technically a snow day too even though it didn't snow and by the afternoon the streets were cleared. We went to only an hour of church for sacrament meeting since the rest was cancelled which doesn't make sense to me but oh well. We then checked on some potentials. We were able to finally meet and teach a woman who was a referral from Festival of Lights. We gave her a Book of Mormon and answered her questions and set up a return appointment for a week from Thursday. Too bad neither of us will be there :( We told her it will be new sisters. We had dinner at an older couples house that night. I really like them, they're good old members. Then we went to the VC to meet with a less active man but he ended up canceling. 

By this point all of the snow that had melted in the 50 degree sunny weather was starting to turn to ice on the streets as the temperature dropped again so we just grabbed a couple movies from the VC and went home an hour early since President Cooke didn't want us out driving in the first place. We made popcorn in our microwave which ended up being a mess since we didn't have a cover and then we watched Pioneer Miracle and a documentary on the presidents of the church. 

A pipe in our complex busted yesterday so we didn't have water or heat all day. Now our water is back on but it's cold and still no heat. I tried to wash my hair under the faucet but the water was so cold that I got brain freeze so Sister Busath had to heat up water and pour it in my hair to get the soap out. We're roughing it haha.

Tomorrow everyone is getting new iPads and we won't be using Facebook anymore. This could be anywhere from two months until the end of my mission. I'm not really that bummed except for that was the only way I have communicated with people I am teaching or previously was. Oh well. I'm glad we aren't using Facebook anymore, it's too distracting. My mission is a pilot mission so they're are essentially using us to determine what they should do regarding iPads and online proselyting for other missions. Two members of the Seventy are coming to speak to us tomorrow about it. So exciting. So yeah. I'll probably give my Facebook info to mom to accept friend requests and whatnot and that will be it! No more social media for me hopefully until this summer! 

The Bible dictionary says "An 'election of grace' spoken of in D&C 84:98–102 and Rom. 11:1–5 has reference to one’s situation in mortality; that is, being born at a time, at a place, and in circumstances where one will come in favorable contact with the gospel. This election took place in the premortal existence." We all received blessings before leaving the premortal life. Some of us were set apart to be born into the gospel and some of us were set apart to an election of grace to come into favorable contact with the church. How do people come into favorable contact? Visitors centers and being invited by member friends to activities and missionary work! Cool, right?

"O, my beloved brethren, give ear to my words. Remember the greatness of the Holy One of Israel. Do not say that I have spoken hard things against you; for if ye do, ye will revile against the truth; for I have spoken the words of your Maker. I know that the words of truth are hard against all uncleanness; but the righteous fear them not, for they love the truth and are not shaken"(2 Nephi 9:40). Don't revile against those who speak God's word. 

Love you all.

Sister Black

Monday, February 16, 2015

Hot, Sticky Syrup - Week 55

Dear family,

This week was really interesting and memorable.

Last Tuesday was had zone training and Sister Busath and I gave a
workshop on extending sincere baptismal invitations. The secret is to
not blink so that you end up tearing up. Just kidding. We then had a
training from Salt Lake at the VC. The new VC director, Elder Fowler,
was a mission president and is an emeritus member of the Seventy so
he's very down to business on missionary work at the VC. I love it.

Wednesday we had shift at the VC and then just checked on people all
night. A returning member family answered the door when we visited and
the mom let us in and she talked to us for an hour and a half. We
barely got any words in. She was super nice though and it was freezing
outside so we were glad to be out of the cold.

Thursday was funny. That morning we were at the VC and we did chats for an hour and a half. We chatted with people from
England, Slovenia, and Canada. Later as we headed down for lunch, one
of the senior couples, Sister Gillespie, gave us some frozen waffles
that were in the senior couples' kitchen. We went down to the sisters
lounge and I decided that waffles sounded better then the rice cakes I
brought. I popped a couple in the toaster and then went to see if
there was any syrup in the fridge. There was a bottle with a little
bit left so I got it out and put it in the microwave to warm it up and
help the syrup come out easier. Instead of putting it in for 10
seconds, I accidentally put it in for a minute. 37 seconds in I
realized my mistake and I quickly opened up the microwave door. The
bottle had inflated a bit and the syrup inside was boiling and it was
making a high pitched noise. Alarmed, I quickly closed the microwave
and backed away. Five seconds later there was a
"pppeeeeeeeefffff...BOOM." Sister Lewis and another sister, Sister
Wathen, all jumped in alarm and freaked out as Sister Busath and I
busted up laughing. I opened up the microwave to find that the cap of
the bottle had blown off and the walls and ceiling and floor of the
microwave was covered in hot, sticky syrup. I spent the rest of lunch
cleaning it up. It was really funny. For a couple days after, sisters
that didn't know would open up the microwave and ask why it smelled
like syrup.

To make that day better, as soon as lunch was over I went upstairs
with Sister Busath and Sister Lewis. As we came up stairs, we saw that
the Coach from Meet the Mormons and his wife were there! He's the head
coach of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland. We kind of stared
in awe and then I ran to the bathroom to wash my hands since they were
still sticky and syrupy. Right before they left, Sisters Lewis and
Wathen asked if they could get a picture with them and I took it. Then
another two sisters asked for a picture and I took it. Then Elder and
Sister Gillespie wanted a picture so I took it. Then a random member
came inside and saw them and wanted a picture so I took it. By the
time all the pictures were taken, I didn't want to be annoying and ask
for one so I didn't even get one haha. But I got to talk to them a bit
and his wife was super nice and told me she really liked my necklace
(the Liahona that Hannah gave to me) and the coach shook my hand so it
was fine.

On Friday we had training meeting at the VC. So to get from the k
house to the VC, you need to turn left but there's a sign that says no
turning left during certain hours which is dumb so we always have to
drive to the next intersection, do a U turn, and then come back and
turn right. The senior couples usually ignore that rule. On the way to
training, we drove past one of the senior couples, the Crandalls, who
got pulled over. We were all laughing about it at training meeting. We
also found out during training meeting that Elder and Sister White who
are supposed to leave in July are extending their mission until
December which is when their son gets home from his mission in Ghana.
Everyone is super excited. It doesn't affect me because I'll be gone
by then but I'm still super happy they are staying.

After shift that day we had interviews with President Cooke. I'm for
sure going back to Chinese next transfer! So like in 2 1/2 weeks. It's
going to be hard but this time I know what I'm doing and my Chinese is
a lot better and I'm ready to get to work. It's been nice being
English again so I'm bracing myself for it to get hard again haha.
It's ok, I can do it!

Saturday was Valentine's Day! Last Valentine's Day I was at the MTC
and thought it was weird. This Valentine's Day was very weird. But in
a good way. That morning we were on shift at the VC. We were only
there for an hour and then we went with the VC trainers, Sister Lewis
and Sister Chapman, to a funeral in Potomac. It was for a man named
Chris Brewer. For 30 years he dressed up as Santa Claus and greeted
people at the VC during Festival of Lights. He had kidney cancer and
so wasn't able to do it the last couple of years and then he died on
Sunday the 8th. They asked to have some sisters come to represent the
VC and sing for him. So we went and sang "O My Father." It was a
really beautiful service. He's a convert so there were lots of non
member family and friends there which was nice. Pouring the reception
after, they had his 100+ books on Abraham, the Civil War, and church
doctrine out for everyone to go through and take which was really
cool. When I die, I want people to take my books. I took a couples on
the bible since I've been fascinated with it lately. If I wasn't a
missionary then I would've grabbed one about Abraham Lincoln.

After shift at 4, we visited Sister Bean. Just to refresh your memory,
she's the one with the iguana that roams her apartment and also the
bearded dragons who roam as well. She also has a cat and a tarantula.
The tarantula is caged, thank goodness. We spent an hour with her and
another member, Veda (from Jamaica mon), searching her entire
apartment with flashlights because her two bearded dragons have been
missing for weeks. We unfortunately had no luck. I wish we would've
found them but I was also nervous that I would be the one to find them
haha. After, she ordered pizza for us which was sweet.

After that, it started snowing and then our next appointment
cancelled. We then got a call out from the assistants to President
Cooke that we all need to go inside because of the snow. We went
inside at 7:15 and spent the next two hours finishing up weekly

The next day, we were told not to leave the house except to go to
church if it wasn't cancelled. Even then we could only attend
sacrament meeting then go straight home. So we did studies in the
morning, went to an hour of church, then came home. We spent over an
hour updating referrals online at the Gillespie's apartment so we
could use their wifi while she made cookies for us. Then at 4, the
eight sisters that live in the k house all went to the Crandall's and
we had soup and salad and brownies. After that, we checked on a couple
potential investigators who live in our building. Then the eight of us
all migrated up to the Whites' and had a gospel discussion for an hour
which was fun. I learned some pretty cool things.

And that was my crazy week. Happy Valentine's Day! And thank you
Grandma and Grandpa and Mom for the package!

"Happy moments, praise God.
Difficult moments, seek God.
Quiet moments, worship God.
Painful moments, trust God.
Every moment, thank God."

That was printed on the back of Chris Brewer's program.


Sister Black

Monday, February 9, 2015

Nightgown! - Week 54

Dear family,

This week was good.

We were able to teach some investigators and less active and recent
converts which all went well. Probably the most is exciting is that
Alba is on date to be baptized!!!! Sister Lewis and I found Alba and
started teaching her back in July and she was golden but she had to
get divorced from her husband and marry her boyfriend and it has just
been a long process. I taught her until I left in September and then I
was able to teach her again when I came back in December. She and her
boyfriend are going to get married on February 20th and then Alba and
her 10 year old son, Gio, are going to get baptized on February 28th!!
I am so excited!! And I get to attend her wedding!! It's so amazing.
After she is baptized I will send a nice big email all about her
because it is such a cool story. She is amazing and I love her. Her
boyfriend is super supportive and comes to church but wants to receive
his own answer before being baptized which is great. We don't want to
baptize anyone who isn't ready. Yay Alba and Gio! (: (:

On Friday night we finished a lesson with a less active member at
8:15pm and we are supposed to be out proselyting until 8:30 before
heading home unless we are teaching a lesson then we just need to be
home by 9:30. After the lesson we drove really quickly to a referral's
house. We got there right at 8:30 so we ignored our watches and ran to
the door. The woman, named Margarete, answered the door and let us in.
She is from Brazil and is here with her husband and she speaks
Portuguese and very limited English since she's only been here seven
months. We gave her a Portuguese Book of Mormon and that we
specifically brought and we taught her about the Book of Mormon in
very simple, broken English. She was so sweet and receptive and even
after we were done teaching she had us stay longer just to talk. She
is super sweet. No wonder Brazil has over a million members. There are
some Portuguese speakers in the Ward so we are going to start bringing
them to future lessons with her.

Before we taught Margarete, we visited Sister Bean. She is the one
with the giant iguana and the bearded dragons who roam her apartment.
She also has a tarantula. Thankfully it isn't allowed to roam the
apartment. She's a very sweet, funny lady. I like her a lot. She was
wearing a night gown and I made a comment of how I've always wanted a
night gown and almost asked for one for Christmas but forgot. At the
end of the lesson, she went into her room and then came out with a bag
of four night gowns that she never wears anymore and gave them to me.
I was so super happy and excited. When we got home, each of us four
sisters picked one out to have. I love my night gown, it's so cozy.

Sunday night was Night of Music and Inspiration. My companion, Sister
Busath, was in charge of it. We spent a lot of time during shift at
the VC working on it. The theme was "God is Love." It ended up being a
really great performance. I accompanied four sisters singing "God is
Love" to the tune of "For the Beauty of the Earth." For the very last
song, Sister Hermosillo and I sang, "O, My Father" to the tune of
"Come Thou Fount." We were all about switching tunes. I was really
happy to sing since I don't really get to as much since I play the
piano and even if I do sing it's in big groups so it was nice for me
to just sing my heart out and Sister Hermosillo to harmonize. I loved
the theme of God is Love. I have had my doubts about Joseph Smith and
even Jesus Christ just like everyone else. People who think that we
are brainwashed are sorely mistaken. I have read anti stuff about
Joseph Smith and get it thrown at me all the time and I have had
struggles with the concept of Jesus Christ and His atonement. But I
have always had a testimony of God. I know He is my Father and that He
loves me. I have had countless answers to prayer. If you want a list
then email me and I will literally write a list of every single answer
to prayer that I can remember I've received throughout my life. Maybe
part of the reason is just because I have always had a really close
bond with my parents and so I love and understand the idea that I have
Heavenly Parents too. Also, my faith grows with every answer to
prayer. He has helped me through everything and get me to where I am
today. I love God.

Today we had our zone activity. It was a murder mystery. We had
everyone come and acted like it was a talent show but while the first
elder was doing his talent he got shot and killed. There were 12 of us
involved including me who were on stage and could have been the
murderer and so for the rest of the activity while everyone ate they
questioned us to find out who the murderer was, how he/she got a gun,
etc. My role was to be bipolar and I knew that a sister had a code to
a gun safe and she gave it to another sister who gave it to an elder
who killed the elder because he was going to tell on them for going to
a Super Bowl party that they weren't supposed to go to. However, no
one believed me when I tried to tell them because I was bi polar. I
would give people super obvious hints as I sat at their table talking
to them and they would just be like "she's crazy" and ask if I had
taken my medication. I think me and the other actors had the most fun
because we were just acting out and one minute I would be screaming at
someone and the next being sweet and it was super funny. I thoroughly
enjoyed being bipolar for a morning. No one ended up guessing right
but it was still fun. After that, we went home and sister Busath and I
slept for over 3 hours, shopped, and now we are emailing real fast
before P day ends. It's been a good day.

"For behold, it is as easy to give heed to the word of Christ, which
will point to you a straight course to eternal bliss, as it was for
our fathers to give heed to this compass, which would point unto them
a straight course to the promised land.

And now I say, is there not a type in this thing? For just as surely
as this director did bring our fathers, by following its course, to
the promised land, shall the words of Christ, if we follow their
course, carry us beyond this vale of sorrow into a far better land of

"O my son, do not let us be slothful because of the easiness of the
way; for so was it with our fathers; for so was it prepared for them,
that if they would look they might live; even so it is with us. The
way is prepared, and if we will look we may live forever.

"And now, my son, see that ye take care of these sacred things, yea,
see that ye look to God and live. Go unto this people and declare the
word, and be sober. My son, farewell"(Alma 37:44-47).

Stew over that scripture for a while. It's a good one. Let's all be obedient!

Have a happy Valentine's Day!

Love, Sister Black