Monday, July 29, 2013

17 Month Mark

Hey Family,

Many exciting things have happened since last I wrote to you all. Breaking News:  I head butted a goat.  At the Burnetts.  Probably one of the best things I've done in the last 17 months.

My companion caused me realize that each day I talk about a different member of my family.  So one day I'll talk about Becca and then it will be my "I miss Becca Day". It changes each day-not consciously of course.  Yesterday I missed Cameron as I told Sister Hicken that he was maybe the best whistler in the family because he could whistle my classical piano pieces(which almost no one can do, especially the 20th century composers).  I missed Bethanie when I had a stroke of genius for all the things she and I will do when I get back.  I missed you all on the different days..(this is not trunky talk..I'm simply telling you how much I love you.  I'm not trunky because trunkiness is only for elephants.  hah!  Sister Martell wrote me a card the other day that had a big elephant on the front with those words.  Every missionary also must know that trunkiness never was happiness.)  

Well Jennifer is still progressing.  She was supposed to get baptized yesterday...but get this.  It's almost comical how many times this has happened to me on my mission.  The very day before someone is supposed to be baptized, they call or text us with some crazy off the wall reason why they can't get baptized.  It's ridiculous.  Another word for it is Satan.  Anyway.  She had to re-schedule the baptism because she went to the doctor the day before to get these shots in her spine to help with her fibromialgia(don't ask me how to spell that).  She apparently can't be submerged in water for at least 72 hours to make sure she doesn't get any infections due to the shots.  Of all things!  It sounds like something I could make up!  Anyway..pray for her to be able to be baptized this coming Sunday.

We have been seeing the result of our faith and the faith and diligence of the members. We made a new mission plan in our branch. The title of this plan is- The Glenwood Ward. President Palmer asked the members to ask for a few simple things in every prayer they offer. 1) Convert Baptisms 2) Reactivation of members. He stressed the importance of each member playing a part in reaching this goal. We have seen progress in the people we are teaching, found more people to teach, and have been seeing less active members return to church. The Lord will continue to bless this area according to our faith and diligence.

This week I gained a knowledge of the importance of diligence. It seems that this attribute has been highlighted in all of my scripture studies this week. Diligence is the key to being worthy to receive power and authority. And how important that is! I read accounts in the Book of Mormon from Nephi and Lehi, Enos, and Ammon who received power because they truly desired to help people gain faith unto repentance. We cannot be missionaries who are truly focused on our purpose and receive power unless our strongest desire is to serve God and bring people to repentance. Diligence in all things with unshaken faith in Christ will bring the results we desire- conversion. Not only in others, but in ourselves. Yesterday in church, President Palmer gave wonderful remarks about the Atonement. Specifically he discussed the nature of the Savior-that He wants to forgive! I think I sometimes act like He is reluctant and almost unwilling to forgive. This is not the case. He did not pay a great price to purchase a gift just to put it away on a shelf. The gift He has, He will gladly and readily give! His requirement is that we come to Him with a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Then we can obtain this wonderful gift of the fruit of His atonement. Forgiveness and progression. Diligence is a necessary part of this process. 

Sister Hicken and I have been reminded and taught about the importance of the Holy Ghost and the role he has in our missionary work. It is true that the spirit is the most important element in this work. On Saturday we went to one of our investigator's homes and knocked on the door. After I knocked, a strong feeling came over me that we needed to leave right then. I looked at Sister Hicken and she voiced the exact feeling that I had. I don't know why but we knew it was the Spirit that urged us to go. I drove away feeling grateful that the spirit guided us and I knew that Heavenly Father was mindful. We drove to Beth's house(another of our investigators). It was our second visit with her. We were surprised and happy to find out that she had been reading the book of Mormon and was already to 2 Nephi 9. She has been religious and close to Heavenly Father all her life. She is reading and praying. I can see in her face that the spirit is softening her heart. Moroni's promise is real-but for it to actually work we must follow everything that Moroni admonishes. We must have a sincere heart. I know that she does. I was grateful again for the role the Holy Ghost had in that lesson. Our hearts were changed by the end of it. I had a stronger desire to do what is right, a greater belief and faith in our loving God and His Son, and a stronger testimony of the importance of this work.

Other interesting facts:  
So you know how Hot Springs is the boyhood home of Bill Clinton?  Well little did I know that my investigator, Howard Hawthorn, went to school with the man!  haha!  I guess Bill Clinton came to visit Hot Springs once a while ago and was in some parade I think...anyway, Howard Hawthorn was standing on the corner of one of the streets, Bill Clinton sees him and nonchalantly says "Hey Howard." And Howard waves.  Haha!

The Heavens smiled down upon me on Wednesday of last week.  We had our training with President Petersen in Little Rock.  I had parked at the church in Hot Springs so we could carpool with the other sisters.  Well when we came back that evening, who should drive up but my favorite Brother Griffin!  He invited us to dinner.  I got to see Sister Griffin and their granddaughter Ali who I got so close to last year.  Ali couldn't stop hugging was a grand reunion.  And good catfish.  Can Bethanie also learn how to make hush puppies?  Because those are better even than fried ochre.   

I love you all. 

love sister wilde

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Last 2 Weeks

(most recent letter on top - sorry I'm a little late posting)

July 22,2013
Dear Family,

Life is getting painful!  Am I getting old or what? I find myself being annoyingly sentimental about everything...I can't leave the South!  The trees, the beautiful country side, seeing turtles making their way across the highways, the humidity, the yes ma'ams and no sirs, walking with Brother Bledsoe, doing missionary work with Sister Hawthorn all day, fried ochra....I done did my time and now I'm movin in with Sister Hawthorn so she can teach me how to be a hard working southern woman.  She has already scoped out some property for me to move to.  She will then teach me how to milk cows, garden, take care of chickens, can, and quilt.   I'm fixin' to go hide so that President Petersen can't find me. If that doesn't work maybe I'll just have Mom teach me.

Sister Bridgewater's old imitation of me keeps coming to my mind.  In her highest voice she would throw her arms up and say, "Everything is Wonderful!!!!"  As if I really sound like that!'s getting worse.  These people really are wonderful.  I keep telling my new companion that she came to the best area in the entire mission.  Because she did.  Someday she'll believe me!  haha.  Her name is Sister Hicken and she comes from Kamas Utah.  I said, "hey I know where that is!  My best friend's grandma lives in Kamas".  Yep, turns out Michelle's grandmother lives in her ward. :)  Small world eh?  Well Sister Hicken has been...culture shocked to say the least.  I realize how long I've been here because it doesn't phase me anymore that most people live very differently than they do in Utah.  She didn't tell me all this til last night, but that first night I brought her here from the mission home she didn't know if she was going to be able to make it here cause she hated it!  It didn't help that the whole time I'm floating on a cloud introducing her to everyone and saying things like "I have a feeling you're going to be here a long time Sister Hicken."  She'll get used to it.  But we both decided I'm not leaving.  

Another fun fact: I finally saw a girl I went to high school with.  I knew she was in the mission but I didn't see her til last week at transfer meeting.  McKenna Austin.  Cute girl.  Many new sisters continue to come to our mission.

We had a great week. Our days were filled with meaningful things and we are seeing progress in our area. Jennifer will be getting baptized this Sunday. I have learned in a new way what it means to seek learning by study and also by faith. As I've contemplated how to help our progressing investigators enter the waters of baptism, I felt the prompting of the Spirit to read the Book of Mormon searching for specific scriptures to share with them. This sounds like a simple task, one that we should always keep in mind as we study. Although it is simple, it has transformed my study and my teaching. Having searched the scriptures with that specific investigator in mind, I have found truths that I can't wait to share with them. When we teach to our investigator's needs, they are more willing to listen and accept the things we teach because it is personalized to them. We have seen great success in the past week from doing this. We applied our faith to action as we fasted and prayed for Jennifer to come to church. She wasn't sure if she could make it because it was supposed to rain yesterday. Due to health concerns, rain makes it hard for her to get up and get moving. We prayed that the rains would hold off so that she could come to church. The skies were clear yesterday morning and she and Nora made it to church. They had a wonderful time. Not even an hour after church was over it began to rain. We all knew Heavenly Father answered our prayers.

As I put my focus on Preach My Gospel, I am more committed and determined to help my investigators receive the ordinance of baptism. "What more can I do to help my investigator to be baptized?" What a wonderful question to ask myself daily. Just today my companion and I were studying in Preach My Gospel the words of President Eyring. He stated that we must declare the Lord's standards boldly and without apology. This is not a negative thing-because of the blessings the Lord has for us when we reach this standard. We are promised the guidance of the Holy Ghost and personal peace in our lives. I learned then that I am grateful for the times I have not experienced peace in my life, because I now understand the blessing that it is to receive it. What we wouldn't do to obtain these blessings! We must help others to do the same.

Let me tell you a story, and preface it with "Only in the South".  We were down in Murfreesboro yesterday with Bessie Burnett looking for a few members of our church that we have lost addresses for.  We saw a cop driving by and Sister Burnett flagged him down.  She asked about the family, he knew exactly who they were and where they lived.  As he began explaining it to her he said "I can just take you there, do you want to follow me?"  When does that ever happen??  He was so nice.  He took us right where we needed to be.

Well I've rambled for far too long.  Hope you have a great week.  I love you all.

love sister wilde

July 15,2013

My family,

Believe it or not, the transfer is coming to a close.  I am going to be training a new sister for 6 weeks..and she better be good because I then have to hand her my area.  I'll admit, I'm a little possessive.  But great things are happening in Glenwood.  The Holy Ghost truly is the most important element in this work, and really in our lives.  We must live in a way that we can hear the voice of the Lord through His spirit.  It brings meaning to our days.  We will find so much greater joy as we learn to be like Samuel and say, "Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth"(1 Sam 3:10).  I witnessed this last Monday, as a dear sister in the branch (Tammy) listened to the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  She was going to pick us up for dinner at her house.  About 15 minutes before she got to our apartment, she called and asked if we wanted to invite our investigator Jennifer and her daughter Nora to come with us.  Jennifer had had a hard day, and was happy to receive the invitation.  We had a wonderful evening of fellowship and spiritual growth.  I know that Tammy answered Jennifer's prayer that day.  A simple act of kindness, but it changed all of us for the better.  As we seek the Lord in prayer and through the scriptures, these promptings will come more often.  Our faith and ability to face trials will increase.

Have I told you about Jennifer yet?  She lives in our apartment complex.  We met her on our first day in Glenwood.  We began teaching her a few weeks ago, and she has progressed quickly.  It has been amazing to see the change in her in such a short period of time.  She is seeking the Lord.  She wants to have "bible study" with us every day and told us that she feels that God is pushing her towards baptism.  Last week during one of our lessons with her she said, "So..what changes do I need to make in order to become a member of your church?"  Music to a missionary's ears. :)  I'm not sure I've ever heard those words on my mission.  It's been a joy to teach her and see her countenance change.  I know that the gospel truly changes us-from the inside out.  I have personally seen her change.  The light of the spirit that comes into our eyes as we accept and follow Jesus Christ is real.  Nothing about the gospel is fake.  I hope that Jennifer will be baptized within the month.

Happenings in the branch:  
Me and Sister Jager had the great opportunity to speak in church yesterday.  Our joy couldn't be contained...  It was our great luck that the stake president showed up to our meeting that day. haha.  Okay it wasn't that bad.  Well he came and spoke and afterward interviewed Brother and Sister Bledsoe for their temple recommends.  After church, Brother Bledsoe walked up to me and with tears in his eyes showed me his temple recommend.  He did it!  My joy really couldn't be contained then.  They will leave in about a week and a half for San Diego.
I threw Sister Jager a surprise birthday party.  The wonderful ladies in the branch made her a cake with her name on it and everything.  We all had cake and ice cream after church yesterday.  I guess she's never had a birthday party I was happy to be there for her first one. :)
Our recent convert Adam(who got baptized last week) received the priesthood and was ordained to the office of a teacher.

We had a marvelous experience this week with our investigator Alice. Her son married a member of the church and then became a member. He referred her to us. As we talked, I was amazed and touched as she shared her experiences. She has gone to many different churches, but none of them have ever felt right to her. She said she felt the spirit might be pushing her towards our church. She has been reading the Book of Mormon before we ever got to her. As I listened to her experiences, I was amazed and honored to be able to witness the Lord fulfilling His promise to lead us to the elect. Alice is the elect! She knows what the Holy Ghost feels like. She has been close to God her whole life, but she knows something is missing. She shared with us her concerns. With tears in her eyes she told us of the prayer she offers to Heavenly Father every day- "what church should I go to? What is your will for me?" This is real intent. I promised her that as she continued to read the Book of Mormon, pray, and come to church that God would answer her prayer. She will know it is right. The most touching thing she said was a comment she made about her son. She said that she saw a peace come into his life when he married his wife. I know she can also have this peace. 

Sorry for the short letter today.  We are going out to lunch with Fred and Jane. :)  I'll get a new companion on wednesday.  I hope you all are well.  I miss you more and more each day and pray the Lord will bless you as you do much good for His children.

love sister wilde

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Happy 4th of July!


My heart is full.  I have learned so much.  The difficulties of this transfer remain...I keep thinking it will get easier, but it hasn't gotten easier.  I think I'm finally getting used to the fact that it's not going to get easier, but I've just got to figure out how to make it through.  What has changed is the way I read the scriptures, the way I pray, and the way I work.  I realize I'm making this sound very ideal and like I've totally got this..well that's not true either. haha.  It's a struggle!  But seriously I am reading the scriptures more and in a better way. As I pray, I know I am having a conversation with my Father in Heaven.  It just feels different.  Do you want to know how long I have needed this to happen?  The Lord answered my prayers in an unexpected way.  President Petersen came out with this challenge a while ago for us to memorize two scriptures for each principle in the lessons in PMG and do every personal and companionship study idea in the whole book.  When we complete it, we receive this cool iron rod thing and a liahona.  Well I started to memorize scriptures a couple transfers ago, but then I got Satan bombed.  I know, I know, that's the time that I need to memorize scriptures the most.  But I didn't.  Well I was talking to some elders in my district the other day, and they inspired me to pick it back up again.  Now here's the challenge.  I only have one transfer to do it.  That's 84 scriptures and 209 activities .  But I'm sick of not finishing stuff, so I'm going to do it.

Another way my prayers have been answered:  President called me this last week and invited me to the mission council.  This is a meeting for the zone leaders and sister trainer leaders from all over the mission.  It was unexpected because I've never been to one of these meetings before.  I got really excited though because I knew Sister Tumanuvao would be there.  One of the hardest things about being transferred to Glenwood is that I can't see her anymore.  When I told her that I would be attending she said, "I just got teary eyed. The Lord answered my prayer. I prayed that we would be able to see each other one more time before I go home".  I cannot express the love I have for Sister Tumanuvao.  Something President Petersen has taught me is the nature of eternal things. I have reflected this past week upon the most sacred and deep feelings of love I have experienced on my mission. They are so precious to me. They are feelings that Satan cannot take away from me, no matter how much he tries to deceive. Sister Tumanuvao gave me a sweet letter and a picture we had taken together. As I pondered upon the love I have for her, the Lord taught me something so profound. I have been praying my whole mission to understand the atonement in some way, to know my Savior Jesus Christ. Something clicked for me- I now feel and understand more than ever why I am here. Charity is the pure love of Christ. I never imagined that Heavenly Father could teach me about His son in this way-to bless me with such a love for her. This is what the atonement of Jesus Christ is. All along I had been praying to understand and what I didn't realize is that He answered me by helping my love for others to grow. It is now overflowing. I have been blessed to be able to feel and exhibit that love. I know it is real and I know it comes from him. This is what I have been praying for. I know His love is real because I couldn't have this love on my own. I want to do everything in my power for Sister Tumanuvao, my family, and my dear investigators and converts to be able to give them what they need. Christ has this love for every person. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." I am here to help people gain eternal life-which is to know of this pure and all consuming love. That evening I had one of the most powerful revelatory experiences I've had in my life. 

One mighty miracle I saw this week is the change that has taken place in our investigator Alan. He is a man Sister Gladden and I taught last year when I was in the area. He wasn't very interested at that time. When we came back to visit him this year, we started talking to him about the Book of Mormon. His wife is a returning member, and has been discussing with him about the Book of Mormon. It is especially interesting to him because he is Native American. In our lesson with him this week, his comments were evidence of the change that is working in him-a change wrought by the Spirit of the Lord. He said that since we had been visiting him, he began to pray more, and truly desire to know God. We felt inspired to share with him the story of Aaron teaching the father of King Lamoni. This story came alive as we helped Alan liken the scriptures to himself. At the end of the lesson, he had a stronger desire to pray and read. He wept at the pains of the sins he had committed and the fact that he was living far away from God. He wept for his loved ones that had passed away. I never realized how much love I had for Alan and his wife Linda until I came back to Glenwood. So badly I want for him to know the reality of repentance and that through the gospel, his life can change. So badly I want for him to experience the pure love Christ can give him.

This fourth of July was way better than last year, luckily.  I had a great day.  The best part of the day was when I met this lady named Virginia at a bbq.  We were talking about how we are missionaries and how I'm from Utah and all that stuff, and she said that she remembered a couple from Utah that came to Glenwood a few years ago.  Sister Hawthorn helped her remember that it was the Roundys.  The spirit touched me as I listened to her talk about how wonderful the Roundys were, how Sister Roundy taught her ways to fold napkins, and Brother Roundy fixed roofs for people.  I felt so happy to see the powerful effect they had upon the people here.  Virginia said "well I'm not mormon, but I really loved that couple.  I wanted them to come to my house and to be my friend".  Sister Hawthorn said that many people still remember the Roundys for what they did and who they were.  Her eyes filled with tears as she expressed her love for them and how they helped her and Howard.  What a wonderful experience.  I'm grateful for the example that the Roundy family has been to me throughout my life.  Uncle Kelly's parents have truly blessed generations by their faithful service.  Sister Hawthorn said she was coming to Utah this Christmas because her daughter lives in Payson.  I invited her to come visit my family and to meet Elder and Sister Roundy's son, my uncle Kelly.  :)  I am SO stoked.  She loved the idea.  Can we set two more places at our dinner table around Christmas time? :)

I love you all.  Have a wonderful week.

love sister wilde

Monday, July 8, 2013

Last Week

( Sorry I was out of town, here is Sis. Wilde's letter from last week)

Dear Family,

What a week!  Things have been picking up in Glenwood, but not without our blood, sweat and my tears.  Sister Jager never cries.  Well, she didn't, until I softened her up.  I think I have begun to rub off on her because she cried when she was telling me about the movie "Touched by an Angel".  She said, "Oh no, what is happening to me?"  And I just laughed an evil laugh.

I got to go on exchanges this week with a sweet sister named Sister Jardine.  We did a 48 hour exchange rather than the normal 24 hour ones.  It was so nice to be with her.  She reminded me a lot of Becca in the way she spoke and the feeling I got from her.  It felt just like home.  I got to show her around and introduce her to my precious Glenwood friends.  We went to Sister Farlene's funeral which I got the opportunity to play at, went to lunch with the Bledsoes, passed by a camel farm on the way to contact a referral, got chocolate milk shakes :), taught some great lessons, and felt the spirit.  This is what life is all about! haha.  It was fun.  Felt sorta like a vacation.

This week we began to teach Adam Crow(14yrs) who is the son of a man in the branch.  For some reason he hasn't been baptized yet but wants to be baptized before he goes back to Montana to be with his mom.  He is getting baptized this sunday.  It's been a great experience to teach him, especially with the help of his dad and step mom who have great testimonies.  Yesterday we taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  We talked about the marvelous gift of the Holy Ghost- how blessed we are to know of and receive this comforter to truly walk with us and bring things to our remembrance.  One of the many things President Palmer has taught me is this: "The Holy Ghost sounds like remembering".  This sanctifying power is available to us when we are baptized.  We asked Adam why he wanted to be baptized.  Being the thoughtful person he is, he was quiet for a minute.  He didn't say much, but I felt the spirit powerfully.  Tears filled his eyes as he said "I've been wanting to be baptized for..."  He didn't even finish his sentence.  It is for moments like these that we work and strive to be diligent.  I felt the joy that comes into a person's life when they truly and deeply feel the spirit.  There is nothing sweeter!

The people in this branch have changed my life.  They are examples of the kind of person I want to be.  I had some wonderful experiences with them this week.  First let me tell you about LouElla Hawthorn.  Do you remember when I told you that Sister Boston from Bartlett was the Southern version of Aunt Denise?  Well, so is Sister Hawthorn.  If you want to learn the value of hard work, talk to one of these three ladies.  Sister Hawthorn is always going.  All the time!  She has a 200x300 ft garden that she tends to each day-complete with radishes, cucumbers, squash, zucchini, green beans, new potatoes, green onions, sweet potatoes, egg plant and more.  Every Thursday she picks us up and takes us to the appointments with non-members she scheduled for us.  She supplies most of our referrals and new investigators :).   Then she takes us out to lunch, gives us things from her garden, and drops us off.  What an amazing person she is.  The reason she does this?  She has a burning testimony of the gospel and the light it brings to her life.  As we expressed our gratitude to her she said, "Do you know how much my spirit soars when I'm with the missionaries?".  Each day I feel that I gain so much more from these people than I could ever give.  

On Saturday we had our branch social in the park.  It was wonderful!  There were more non-members there than our own members!  Sister Burnett and her sister Opal invited a lot of their friends from the singin's they go to at different churches around the county.  The best part was when one of the visitors brought out his guitar and we all sang some gospel songs.  I'm learning them!  I wish I already knew them all.  I had a ball.  I made friends with them easily because that's the kind of people they are.  Brother Bledsoe requested "our song" (the one we performed at his baptism) "In the Garden".  I just loved the whole thing.  The next day at church President Palmer asked if I had a good time with the singing.  I said, "It's one of my favorite things!".  He said it looked like I was having fun. Also our new investigator Jennifer came with her daughter Nora.  Teaching her has been going very well.

After the picnic, it was about 8:50.  Sister Jager asked me if there was any place I felt we should go.  I thought of this white house I felt prompted to go to 4 weeks ago.  So we went.  We knocked and were immediately invited in and welcomed in such a warm way!  We met a wonderful family- Brenda and Rick, their daughter and grand kids.  They go to the cowboy church here in town. :)  I've really been wanting to meet someone who goes to cowboy church!  Rick added us on facebook, the little grand kids sang songs for us, we prayed with them, and they said we could come back to see them.  We were so happy.  On the way home Sister Jager said, "It's that 9:00 magic, I'm tellin ya".  True.  

I know I'm giving you too much information...but I wanted to capture some great moments I had this week. 

All my love,

   sister wilde