Monday, October 28, 2013

My own personal version of 2nd Nephi 4:17-33

Family, Friends and Summer Snow,
This week was life changing. We didn't see any miracles, nobody has gotten baptized, and no new investigators to fill you in on. What happened that was so life changing is actually super selfish, because it was things that I learned and revelation that I have received after 9 months of struggling. I will spare details, but this Wednesday we had interviews with the mission president. Those of you who know me very well know how hard of a time I have with the whole "love yourself" aspect of life. Ever sense I stepped onto the transfer van my first full day on being in the field back in Feb., this darkness had come into my life. Dang, that just sounded super sketch.... More like I felt sooo much dislike for myself and had feelings of inadequacy and stress than I have ever felt before in my life. I kept thinking that I was unworthy to be here. I talked to my trainer about this feeling and she told me that she went through these same things when she first got out into the field as well. She asked me if I felt the spirit working through me. OH YES. Never before had I felt such powerful love for people. Never before had I had thoughts come into my mind, and felt the spirit tell me concerns of people, and never before had I been able to so easily recognize this still small voice. I knew I had the Holy Ghost with me. I was at peace. But these feelings crept back in. I couldn't shake them off. These past couple of weeks they were the worst they have ever been. I was convinced I was a horrible person and that I needed to go home. I was convinced I was unsuccessful and wasting my time. Weellllll I did not hesitate to bring this up to President Baker. I told him everything I was feeling. Everything. He smiled at me and told me that Jesus Christ forgave me of my mistakes a long time ago and that I needed to learn to forgive myself. He promised me that I was worthy. He taught me a lot about how the process of sanctification and becoming purified works. The closer we get to Christ, the more we realize our imperfections. Satan tries to use this against us and make us think the we haven't repented completely, or that we will never be as good as we want to be. He promised me that I was a powerful missionary and told me many times that he commended me and that he wanted to take me around the mission to teach with him. Hahha, of course I just laughed awkwardly and didn't believe him. But the second I walked out of that interview with President Baker, those doubts were gone. Completely. I don't know why exactly I had to talk to him about it, I don't know why I have been letting Satan tell me I am not good enough, but that 30 minute interview changed my life entirely. I didn't realize how much it affected me until Thursday night hit.
I came down with a plague. I was up all night throwing up and such. It was horrible, worse than Lake Powell plagues! I had a lot of time to ponder what Pres Baker talked to me about. As I was praying and pondering, the Holy Ghost began to teach me a lesson that I needed to learn a long time ago.
It went something like this:
We need to stop being so hard on ourselves. When we bag on ourselves, Satan rejoices. We are hindering our progression. I have spent far to much time and energy criticizing myself and analyzing every little thing that is wrong with me, instead of focusing on and being grateful for the gifts, talents, and blessings that I do have. So what if I'm not the smartest, prettiest, funniest.  I am everything to God. Its time that we start seeing our divine potential, and not just seeing it but believing it. So stop being so hard on yourself. Stop hindering your progression. You have weaknesses? Good. That means you are human. Now turn them to God and with Him, they will become strengths.

This moment of divine rebuking was so loving. I was in tears as I sat alone in the living room. I felt so powerfully the love Heavenly Father has for not only me but for all of his children. I felt that he was proud of me. That he was with me this whole time, I just needed to get out of my dark cloud and reach up to Jesus Christ.

I know now, more powerfully than ever before that God is our loving Heavenly Father. That the gospel was given to us to learn how to come back to live with him again.
I have not had any more depressing thoughts, desires to quit, or even thoughts about the mistakes I made. They are completely washed away. I know that repentance is real. It is a gift. I am grateful for the chance and miracle it is to repent every single day!  And the opportunity I have to call others to repentance!

Speaking of which... we had an awesome lesson with our frat boy K about the law of chastity.  It was one of the most powerful lessons I have ever been in!

Also, L is really struggling right now. He didn't make his date and Sister Hymas and I are really bummed about it. He has a lot of doubts that he won't talk with us about, so we are relying completely on God to get L the strength he needs to starve his doubts.

I am grateful to be a missionary. I am grateful that after 20 years of low self-confidence, with the help of my savior, my biggest weakness is finally becoming a strength.
Have an amazing week!!
Sister Snow

PS: We got yelled at by a woman that looked like Paula Dean. It was fun.

Road kill at our front door

ward member made these Moccasins for me

Chelsea enjoying view from Kittyhawk Memorial

Elders at Kittyhawk

helping hands

Monday, October 21, 2013

By your willingness to be obedient, to serve God, to follow and trust the spirit, and to LOVE His children-This is being a successful missionary

The Nasty

My view on our screen door every morning minus the screen

We are now twins- we dress alike

Waiting for the Elders to unlock the building (personally, I think she looks a little mischievous?)

A lovely sister made me moccasins, Cherokee style.

Another week gone! I cannot believe I am half way done.... What???? How did that even happen??!
Time really flies by when you are having fun and serving the Lord

Umm. I am getting more and more technologically challenged every single day. So sad. I don't know how I accidentally just sent that email but anyways..... This week went great! On Tuesday we got a phone call from the assistants to the president...  Sister H and I were freeeeeaking out. We looked over the calendar and saw that no big meetings were coming up so they MUST not be calling to ask us to give a training.. so we answered. Hahaha ,turns out they were looking at our key indicators from last week and called us to tell us they were so shocked and asked us for advise so they could tell the mission on how to get more member presents and how to find more investigators. I  was shocked the entire time. So that was a day brightener!  Of course the rest of the next couple of days consisted of the slowest, longest days so far:  people not showing up for appointments, cancellations, and rejection. But there must be opposition in all things!

We got to teach a less active family the restoration this week, and the father and I were in tears as we taught the first vision. Every SINGLE time I have taught the message of the restoration, the spirit fills the room and I have no doubts that Joseph saw what he saw. There is such power in this.  God loves all of his children and He is not going to let us live in darkness. I have learned very personally how important it is for our investigators to have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of  Mormon. For if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith really was a prophet, and if he was a prophet, then the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the one true church on the earth, with the full priesthood authority of God. It's that simple.  Of course that is one of the hardest things I have ever done.. helping people to get that testimony for them selves. K for example, We fasted and prayed so hard last week that he would be strong and live the word of wisdom. But at his girlfriend's sorority formal this weekend she wouldn't not drink with him so he gave into temptation. killller!!!!!!!! I was heartbroken. I don't know how Heavenly Father does it. I am just teaching a small little grain of sand in the beach of all of Gods children ( getting artsy with my analogies I know) and I get so sad and devastated when they fall into sin. God watches all of us do it, and He won't do anything to control us! Agency is the hardest thing to accept!!!! The more I serve the Lord the more I love him. I have not even a fraction of love for these people than he does, and here I am getting so sad when they stumble. My thoughts are directed towards my Father in Heaven and I remember how many times he has had patience for me, and I am sufficiently humbled and filled with energy to keep pushing myself. When I even have the thought "this is hard" cross into my mind I shake it off and remember what I have learned about what our Savior has done for all of us. Then I realize this is nothing in comparison. I can keep pushing harder. I can keep getting better.

Sorry for that tangent... So yes, K is struggling hard core. We realized that if he doesn't believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet, why would he believe that God would, through him, reveal the word or wisdom? We watched the restoration DVD with him on Saturday and he had so many concerns about Joseph Smith that we realized he had a lot of work to do! I am confident that once he gets that answer from God that the book of Mormon is true, then every other concern will disintegrate

We saw a less active woman who was smoking a cigarette in my face and then started seizing as we taught about honoring your baptismal covenants... that was fun.

We saw so much opposition this week. Really it was a tough one... L has a date for the 26 of October but told us on Friday that he is not ready because he doesn't want to get baptized "half-heartedly." He told us he doesn't want to make a covenant with God while he still has the desire to break the word of wisdom. He wants to be perfect, he doesn't want to fall away after making such a big life changing commitment. We told him that he needs to keep praying about it and that Satan wants us to feel like we aren't ready, that we aren't worthy, that we aren't good enough. We went over repentance and the gift of the atonement. We have been doing everything we can to help him reach his date. We have seen or talked to him every single day this past week... We've talked to our district about it, the bishop, and we all feel L is ready. He has been living the word of wisdom for 2 weeks now!!!!!! this is huge for him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! please keep him in your prayers this week. Satan is really after him. He has been coming to church more regularly than a lot of the active members!! L is golden!! He just doesn't see it!
So lesson learned this week... be humble. Even though you might be having a lot of "success,"  there must be an opposition in all things. You are not measured by the number of lessons you teach, but by your heart. By your willingness to be obedient, to serve God, to follow and trust the spirit and the LOVE his children. This is being a successful missionary. Not having the highest numbers in the mission.
I love this gospel so much. I know that this is the best and most important work we all could be engaged in. Work through the tough times and God will bless you with peace, satisfaction, and miracles!!!!
He is waiting with his arms stretched forth for us to come unto Him
Have an amazing week!!!
sister snow

Monday, October 14, 2013

Choose Happy, Choose Christ (9 months outs, 9 more to go!) an Oh, and I rebuked the President, accidentally

This week was crayyy. It was the best week in terms of key indicators that I have ever had. It has taken me 6 months to realize this, but the zone I am in struggles with finding people and teaching. Every week the numbers are very low, getting 3 member presents a week is seen as normal. Not for us. We are PUSHING ourselves to the point of exhaustion every single day. We finish planning and by that time it's about 9:30 and I feel like its 3 am. I am always tired. It's great!!!  Being in the south has really been an eye opening experience for me.
I ate collards for the first time on Monday. I don't even know what they are really... some kinda sour vegetable? People here are weird.
On Tuesday we had exchanges with sister Tarwater and Sister Wylie. For the first time I want with Sista Wylie... it was weird. I'm obsessed with that girl. She's seriously one of my favorite people ever. Anyways!! I went with sister Tarwater... she is 32 years old and is from Arizona. I felt like I was a child, and my hyperness and clutsiness didn't help the situation, but hey. It was great. Sister Hymas was scared to have to take over her side of the area, but I told her she was ready to do this, and she did an amazing job with Sister Wylie. Sister Tarwater and I went to teach Jeanne Simmons. She told us that she prayed about the Book of Mormon and the "answer she received was displeasing in our favor..." what is with people here praying and getting an answer that the Book of Mormon is false????????????? This is the second time this has happened!! Obviously we didn't do a very good job explaining real intent and asking with faith and an open heart... so we focused on that with Jeanne. Her countenance softened as we testified and especially as we all read the Book of Mormon together. There is always such an amazing spirit that enters the room as we read the words of Christ from the Book of Mormon. That book softens hearts. I have seen it every single day for the past almost 9 months.
 We went tracting and found 3 new souls. Two already had Book of Mormons which was super rare. Bob, Barbara, and Justin.
We dropped by a family who is becoming less active and we shared a scripture on the door step about repentance and setting Christ as our foundation (Helaman 5 :11-12) The husband wasn't home but as we taught briefly about the love of God and the mercy of Christ she started tearing up. The spirit was very strong. She invited us over for dinner next week! score. just kidding.
We also met the mother of a less active woman who only speaks spanish apparently. The only thing I knew how to say was El Libro De Mormon, Bano and por favor. So that came in handy :) Sister Hymas and Sister Wylie got to teach Luke and Kyle. They focused on the importance of making sacrifices and how the blessings do come when we live the commandents. They shared 2 nephi 2 :27 and basically told him that all the choices that he makes will either lead to liberty and eternal life or capitivity and hell. We taught Kyle again on Thursday. Kyle is struggling with the word of wisdom, and this weekend he was going on a trip to his girlfriends college sororiety formal dance... he told us that it is impossible to not drink there. Oh we told him it was possible. We helped him practice telling his girlfriend that he wasn't going to drink, why he wasn't going to do it, and asking her to not drink with him.  Like I have said, everytime we teach Kyle he surprises me. We asked him why he wasnt going to drink and he said because he's been reading the Book of Mormon and studying it's words and God has told us that drinking is not good. Then we asked if he believed that was true and he said yes. I started tearing up. Kyle was so nervous to tell his girlfriend. We told him to commit before hand that he wasn't going to drink so that he didnt have to make a decision in times of temptation. We read with him the scripture in Corinthians that says we can not be tempted about that which we can handle. What a great promise. God knows we can overcome it, we just have to make the choice ourselves. Do we want liberty and eternal life or death and captivity? ITS THAT SIMPLE

Luke is doing VERY well. The other sisters talked about forgiving yourself. Luke feels like he is  on "the bad shelf" and that he can't get off. He loves his beer and is really struggling quitting. We saw him on Saturday, at the ward fish fry and he was the happiest I have ever seen him. He was socializing with everybody, looking around to help anybody out. Yes, we had a ward fish fry. So much fish and fried food. Gross. Have you ever heard of hush puppies? Well they are all the rage here.

We saw Liz and told her she wasn't keeping her commitments so we were going to stop seeing her. I felt like I was breaking up with someone. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do! She knows that the Book of Mormon is true, but she won't do anything expect tell us about her health problems. We told her when she was ready to come to church to give us a call. I never want to give up on someone! but there comes a point where you have to move on and spend your time with people who are ready to make God the focus of their life and who are prepared to be baptized, and hopefully in the near future Liz will have a wake up call and change.
We taught a group of young girls at the fish fry. We went on a hike with them and taught them about trails and why trails are important and related that to the commandments. 3 of the girls we were with are the daughters of a less active woman. One of the little girls name is Ashley. She's about 9 years old and she's this spunky black girl that always tries to get us to duggie. I don't know if I spelled that right?? But anyways, she asked to hold me hand as we were walking and then at the end of the night she gave me a big hug and asked "Miss Snow, when can I get baptized?" I almost cried. It was the cutest thing I have ever heard! I told her she needed to talk to her momma about it but the thing she needs to do is come to church, read her scriptures and say her prayers. Little children have such a desire to do what is right. We went over to their house after the fish fry and did a real life version of Lehi's vision. We got Sister Robinson's fiance who is this ex gang member and drug dealer to help me hold the iron rod and try to get the girls to follow the straight and narrow path. We invited them all to church, Sister Robinson just got surgery so she said she probably wouldn't make it but Derrick would drop off the girls.
Sunday was  huge disappointment when they didn't show up. We are teaching a couple named Josh and Elena. Josh is a former investigator and his wife Elena just got out of jail. They both have a sketchy past and are trying to change there lives. We taught them on Wednesday and saw them at the fish try on Saturday!! Elena told us she had read up to 1 nephi 5!!
I love you all so much! I know that the only way to be happy is when we follow the commandments of God and when we help other people. I know that putting our faith in God and his timing and aligning our will towards His is essential!  I am grateful for the gospel that continues to change me every single day.
Oh! funny story, kind of... I accidentally rebuked President Baker....he called us during personal study a couple mornings ago and I thought I pressed ignore as it was ringing. I looked at Sister Hymas and made an ugly face (of course) and said "this is sacred time. We don't answer the phone " all sarcastically and stupid and then I hear super loud on speaker "  I know this is sacred time but this was the only time I could call you..." hahhahaha I am so dumb.

Hope everyone has an amazing week!! I love you all!
Choose happy, choose Christ :)
sister snow

Monday, October 7, 2013

I might be on youtube!

Good afternoon loved ones!!
This week I learned a lot about pushing through and looking up in times of stress and disappointment. Luckily it was lifted with the AMAZING sessions of general conference!! How amazing is it that we got to listen to the words of God spoken through our prophet and general authorities???!! It seriously felt like Christmas morning as we drove to the church on Saturday morning. The talks were all so inspired, and each one lifted me and provided me with a lot of personal revelation. Every single question I had written down that I wanted to be answered was answered. I know that God is so mindful of all of his children. ( Alma 26:37)
Earlier this week we met a woman named Tyra. She was a referral given to us by a member in our ward who just moved in. She told us that Miss T told her she was looking for a church and then when Sister C told her that she was LDS, Miss T said she was as well. whhaaaat? So when we met Miss T on Wednesday we weren't really sure what to expect. Miss T is this huge llady who is a nanny. I felt like I was back in Norfolk. Miss T told us how she became introduced to the gospel and how she came to know that this church was true. She then told us about many problems that came up immediately following her baptism. She got fired because she was a Mormon, then the bishop let her move into their home, then the bishops wife started thinking she was a liar and her boss called Miss T a liar and the bishop didn't trust her. Her story didn't really make a lot of sense, but we did our best to not develop judgements about her. We talked to her about the church being true but the people aren't and that they are still people and make mistakes. We invited her to general conference and she came in right before President Uchtdorf gave his AMAZING talk. My jaw literally dropped as he spoke directly to her. All of his concerns he addressed were concerns of hers that she had tearfully expressed to us on Wednesday. She told us on Wednesday that she wanted to get her records removed from the church. After conference she met bishop Mahr and told us that she wants to come back. She set up an appointment with us as well. THE CHURCH IS SO TRUE.  My testimony of God's love for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF US was strengthened so much. Heavenly Father knew when Miss T would be listening. What she needed to hear. 

What did Heavenly Father provide for us to hear at general conference?

We started off the week on Preparation day going on a Ferry ride! It was hilarious. We aren't allowed to go on any boat rides as missionaries, which is hard for me because this entire area revolves around water sports, boat rides, yacht making, and fishing! So naturally our zone leaders call us on Sunday night asking if we wanted to come with them and some other elders in our district to go ride a ferry. Of course we said yes. Sister Hymas and I were so excited to ride this source of public transportation. Funny story... so you all are aware of how well of a driver I am.... And also how attentive I am... NOT. So I was driving us onto the ferry and I didn't pay attention to the countless workers telling me I was going on the wrong side. Once I pulled up to the spot I needed to park, one of the employees told me to back up and go on the other side. As a normal person, this isn't so bad. But one of the rules we follow diligently is that the other missionary has to get out of the car and "back me out" by standing behind the car and directing me. hahahahahahaha so Sister Hymas had to get out of the car in front of 6 elders, 2 school buses full of high schoolers (taking videos on their iPhones), and a of couple random cars.  I might be on youtube.

This week we taught Jeanne Simmons again. Yes, family, I am teaching the lead singer of KISS!!!!!!!! actually she is a baptist woman missionary who is very challenging to teach.We taught her the plan of salvation last week... My biggest fear of going on a mission was getting sent to the South and having to teach bible bashers and get destroyed by them. I have been very fortunate and have had peaceful, spiritual discussions with investigators who love their bible. J really has a desire to know truth, and we taught her the restoration with her friend who is a member of the branch in Currituck Present. J had a lot of different ideas of what certain gospel doctrines are, but she told us that she will read and pray about the book of mormon. I know that she felt the spirit.
The rest of the week got a lot slower, but I have learned so powerfully the importance of HARD WORK. How can you be lazy when there is so much to do! I can't remember the exact words or who said it on Saturdays conference session, but don't look back, there is so much work we still have to do. Whether we are missionaries called to serve in some strange new land, or faithful latter day saints working hard every day to represent their Savior, we have so much work to do. This life is so short and we cannot afford to waste any time.
I am so grateful for my Savior. For the reality of what the Atonement can do for all of us, not just some of his children. Christ is there for us all, no matter what. He has felt it. I know that all we have to do is let him in. Give him our weaknesses, our fears, our doubts. He will make them strengths through the power and mercy of his infinite atonement.
Have an amazing week!! Thank you all so much for your prayers and letters. You are a strength to me every single day.
Have a blessed day!!
sister snow