Monday, February 22, 2016

Bear Hugs, Plumbs and Service

Amber's Teddy Bear

This week's fun things were that we had exchanges and zone conference! I went with Sister Nelson to Conway. It was fun because Sister Nelson is from American Fork and we had some mutual friends and some friends of friends and what not. She is awesome! It was weird going on exchanges with English, though. They have been trying to have Spanish Sister Training Leaders but it is hard because we are all spread out, so we are just under the English sisters for our zone. Conway was fun because they have two wards that are both really strong! We visited some people and tried to teach everyone but it was one of those days where we only were able to see two or three people for some reason.

Sister Nelson who is actually really pretty but looks like a crazy person in this picture.

BUT the Relief Society had an activity in the evening that was really fun. It was all about "when life gives you lemons..." the lemons being adversity or trials or whatever. We made home made lemon scrub and talked about the different cleaning powers of lemons. Also we somehow (I can't remember how) connected lemons to journaling. I think something about writing it all out when you have a hard time or something. I really liked what the lady said because I often am stressed out because I want to write all the good things that happen, all the bad things, all the fun, spiritual, boring, funny, etc., etc., but I just don't have time! She read 1 Nephi 6:3 "And it mattereth not to me that I am particular to give a full account of all the things of my father, for they cannot be written upon these plates, for I desire the room that I may write of the things of God." Nephi probably had a bunch of stuff he could have written, but he knew only to write the things of God, the things of most importance, and now we have that awesome record! It helped me feel really calm about trying to write down all of my experiences. Some things are okay to just be left in my head! (Sister Nelson and I talked about different ways of journaling. She is a big journal person but not in the same way I am. I have one journal that I write in every night. She has like a calendar that she writes a sentence about everyday, and a journal for tender mercies, one for like funny jokes, one for questions, one for just random stuff that needs to be written, one for lists, etc. It's cool because it doesn't matter how you keep your record, as long as you keep one!

Valentine's Day mustaches
We also talked about that fun thing where you just take a few minutes and write whatever comes out and you're not allowed to use the backspace button and it's fun to see what is in your brain.) Then we talked about like actually what to do when times get hard. There are a few different types of "lemons"-natural course of life, self-inflicted, caused by others, a growing/learning experience from God-and not all are solved the same way! Of course, if we are reading scriptures, praying daily, and going to church these lemons become much more soluble (I don't actually know if that's the right word to use there but it sounds right??). But also God expects us to use all of the resources we have, including General Conference talks, the Bishop, counseling, etc. Then we had all sorts of yummy lemon flavored treats and it was awesome. :)

Zone conference was way awesome, but you probably don't care about the detailed summary. At the beginning, President Wakolo said "don't deny the revelation you receive" which was cool because I often question if something is truly revelation or if I am just being distracted or whatever. President Wakolo is awesome. Then he ever so lovingly invited us to repent! The assistants instructed on the Holy Ghost and invited us to help our investigators recognize the Holy Ghost much earlier on in the teaching process. When they can recognize it they can receive answers much quicker.

Valentine Tatoos
I had a really neat experience these past few days. There is a less-active member from the Spanish branch who we try to see often, but she is NEVER home. We were driving to visit some other investigators and she happened to be home so of course we stopped. She had been cleaning out her house because there was a leak in the apartments and everyone's stuff got all messed up. Eventually we left and as we were getting in the car, she stopped us and asked if we knew anyone who needed food and started handing us boxes of cereal and some juice! She said she had too many boxes (they were honey bunches of oats with almonds :)) and wanted to give them to someone. It was so cool because here was this lady who has a young family, obviously they were not very well off and she was giving of her extra food because she knew someone else could benefit from it, even though she could have saved it for herself. Yesterday we went to a poor place in town and left a few of the boxes on people's doorsteps that we thought would need a little extra cereal for their family. Hermana Moore and I talked about it and we felt SO GOOD. I was shocked as I realized that if I were to have all of these extra boxes of cereal, I would just think "Sweet! More food storage!" I would not have been so quick to give it to others. I was impressed by her good example and I pray that she will receive blessings from being so willing to help others. I hope to follow her example more often and be quick to give. To give food, money, time, service, listening, etc.

Me being hilarious and doing my college/missionary girl face
Something I learned from President Wakolo is that whenever Christ says "Come, follow me" it's not "hey it would be a good idea if you did stuff kind of like I do or whatever" haha nope! It's very direct, it's a commandment to follow Him and be more like Him especially by giving of ourselves and all that we have back to the Lord by using our talents abilities and means to bless those around us. (There are so many scriptures that I love about service, charity, love, etc. But these are some of my favorites: (Mosiah 4:19) "For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?" (Alma 34:28-29)"And now behold, my beloved brethren, I say unto you, do not suppose that this is all; for after ye have done all these things, if ye turn away the needy, and the naked, and visit not the sick and afflicted, and impart of your substance, if ye have, to those who stand in need--I say unto you, if ye do not any of these things, behold, your prayer is vain, and availeth you nothing, and ye are as hypocrites who do deny the faith. Therefore, if ye do not remember to be charitable, ye are as dross, which the refiners do cast out, (it being of no worth) and is trodden under foot of men.")

Family History Activity
Fun story: I was on exchanges with Sister Nelson this week and she has had quite the unique mission. A lot of her companions have been sick and she has too, she has had the opportunity to work in the mission office and she stayed in the mission home for a few days for various reasons. I asked her what it was like to stay in the mission home - I think it would be pretty intimidating because you would do studies and eat and stuff with the Wakolo's! And she said it was a P-day so that would be scary because like, what on earth do you do for p-day by yourself or whatever. Anyway she said she was super nervous to go stay there for a few days but that first night, a Sunday night, she was there for their weekly family devotional where they just discuss what happened at church and the stuff they learn. So she was sitting in the living room with Sister Wakolo and Jasmine (their daughter who is Emma's age) and for some reason it was really cold so they had a bunch of blankets. Sister Wakolo was starting to get a little bit frustrated as they were waiting for President to be finished with whatever he was doing and join them for family devotional. She called out "President??" trying to figure out where he was. He came around the corner shoveling in in a fork-full of brownies straight out of  the pan, "What?" Hahaha she said after that her nerves were totally calmed. The Wakolo's are spiritual giants but also just normal people who shovel brownies into their mouths after a hard day! She also said that Sister Wakolo then said "well aren't you going to offer some to everyone else?" he quickly repented and offered a bite to Sister Nelson and his family. The Wakolo's are so goofy and funny and I love them! At the zone conference, Sister Wakolo came and ate lunch with Hermana Moore and I and she shared some really neat experiences with her family and the temple and I am just so grateful to be under their
care! :)

I feel like I never talk about the people we are working with/teaching and that's because I never know what to say! I don't want to say something confidential but I don't want to NOT say something! And it's hard to adequately write down spiritual experiences sometimes. But here's just a few of the people we are teaching right now.

Bobby and Erika: They are the dream team I love them so much! Brother Plumb (watch out because this will make you want to do missionary work) was at Kroger and he recognized Bobby and the spirit prompted him to go talk to him. He had the courage to and he ended up giving him a Book of Mormon and reading over it with them the next few days! He called us and we set up a time for us all to go over to their house and teach the Restoration lesson, and they both accepted a date for baptism. When I was on exchanges, Sister Moore and Sister Mendicino taught them a little bit more again. Then we went over the next day to read with them and they read the first two chapters with us. THEN we went to the Plumbs house and it turns out they had read like ten chapters that night after we left, and we taught the Plan of Salvation and it was awesome!!
Brother Plumb, the awesome member missionary (and very distant relative).

The Spirit was so strong and it testified to me again of the truthfulness of the things we teach. Erika told us she was thinking about not coming for some reason but she just pushed the feelings aside and came and asked a bunch of questions and we helped her answer them and she felt so much better after and told us she was grateful that she came and listened. We went over to their house the next day and just listened to the story of how they met each other and all their funny relationship stories. I wish I could wrap them up and bring them home with me they are so funny! Bobby is a super chill guy who loves running and has his head on straight. Erika is also super chill (haha I feel like I'm in 10th grade when I say chill) and she loves to sing all sorts of stuff and she loves the Bible and she likes doing hair and make-up and being really funny. Anyway we have another lesson with them tonight and it's just so fun!

And we have Breanna who is preparing for baptism! She is the sweetest little girl. Her parents are starting to come back to church and we have loved getting to know them. They also have two other little kids that just melt my heart, haha! But they are learning so much and Breanna is sweet and shy but man she knows her stuff! She will be baptized soon. :)

Making a glitter banner for Amber's girls
There is a Hispanic family we have been teaching, one of their names is Margarita and I'm 100% unsure what her husband's name is so yeah IDK but they are really sweet. We have been teaching them for a little while now. It's funny because we will go with a lesson prepared and during the whole thing they seem uninterested and very firm in their ways, but every time they ask us to come back within like 3 days. So we do! Haha they are really sweet and they have a son who is very kind and helps us when our Spanish is not so great.

Vanessa is a girlfriend of one of the members who is preparing to leave for a mission - so that's really fun! She is so stinkin cute. We have been getting to be pretty good friends with them, they are so fun! She said she was interested in learning more about our church (especially since that's what her boyfriend will be doing for the next two years.) So we taught her the Restoration. It was a really hard lesson because we didn't have time to study that morning because of church (really though, treasuring up is a big deal) and it was a little bit scattered but it all came together at the end with the help of the Holy Ghost and a God who is very loving! She was excited to start reading the Book of Mormon and pray and to learn about the Plan of Salvation next time.

There are a lot more people but now I am starting to think this email needs to come to an end at some point! I love Russellville and the members, investigators, and EVERYONE here!! :) Really, it's awesome. And I am sad because we think Hermana Moore will be leaving this next transfer so I need to learn all that I can from her before she goes! But the people here are great and the gospel is great. My testimony of prayer continues to be strengthened as I pray for help for me and those around me and I see the miracles-small and large-that happen every day! Even the smallest change of heart can result in the biggest miracles.

The Bible and the Book of Mormon together hold the fullness of the gospel and I am so grateful for this knowledge that I have. I am only 19 years old and for some reason God has called me here to share the small but strong testimony I have of His gospel and I am so grateful to be serving here in Arkansas.

Much love,
Hermana Macfarlane

(Also yesterday at dinner we were talking about accents and whatever and I actually think I can't really hear the accent very well anymore unless it's really strong or I really listen for it. But the y'all thing is real, and yes I say y'all and yes I'll probably be that annoying missionary who comes back saying y'all thinking I "can't break the habit" but really it's just a convenient way to say less words and get the point across. They do give directions using landmarks and say "hang a left after the big tree" and stuff. They also say "I made" for grades instead of "I got." (Example: "I made a 90%/I made an "A"/I didn't make a "B") It's actually really funny. I still can't get over how often it is acceptable to drive on people's grass and how people don't really use their front doors and people say have a bless'd day and bless his heart. I LOVE ARKANSAS.)

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