Monday, January 30, 2012

Middle Eastern Joys!....

Ah man, this last week has just been..... really long. I'll be honest. Ha ha, but- it's been full of spiritual experiences that I have loved!
So first off, I stinkin' love Sister Edwards. She is hi-larious!!!!! Every morning I am dying laughing at all her funny comments. I feel like I'm living at home. It's so great. Wouldn't have it any other way. I don't have a whole lot of time to write this week because a member is waiting for us because we don't have a car. So really quick, I will share with you a really interesting experience that I had with a girl named, Medea. (Straight from Pakistan)
So we go over to this part member family's home and Medea is there and can hardly speak any English. She was super hesitant to speak English with us at all. She was embarrassed that she couldn't speak well and so I tried telling her I knew how she felt because I was trying to learn Spanish and couldn't say anything. After that she opened up to us so it was really neat. She even showed us her Curran, or however you spell that, and did the whole ritual and everything. For a brief moment, I wondered if I was back in the middle east. Ha ha, needless to say, she really loved talking with us, and supposedly we were the first people she had talked to since she had moved from Pakistan last year. Her husband is a convert from the Muslim faith, and hasn't come too often, so we told Medea that we would come over every week and teach her English. Man, I've never heard anyone say such a cute thank you in my life. Ha she was just thrilled to pieces that we were so willing to help her. While we were there she offered us her Pakistani food, and so we graciously accepted. However, my stomach did not graciously accept it that night, let's just say... Ha ha. Hopefully, while we teach her English, we can also teach her about her Savior, Jesus Christ. (And my stomach will become a little stronger).
Well, I'm super super super excited about the temple. Everyday we get a little bit closer to the open house. Sister Stoker is still a killer missionary and she teaches me something new everyday. We have the best chats every night, and somehow everything we talk about the night before, always seems to come up in questions from lessons we have the next day. The spirit is a glorious thing. I'm working really hard on my Spanish. I still have a lot of work to do but I love it. The branch we serve in part time is amazing. Their branch President is my hero, as well as the Bishop of the other ward we serve in. Gosh, I just love it here, and I love being a missionary. I know this is the Lord's work, because if it wasn't, I wouldn't be here. And that is my testimony to you! Fight the good fight!
Love, Hermana Conrow :)

Monday, January 23, 2012

Hello Platte Citaaayyy!

Oh my gosh, I LOVE MY NEW AREA!!!! It is just the greatest thing in this whole world.

Platte City is in Missouri and it's 20 min from the Kansas City Temple- which is going to be dedicated on May 6th. And the temple open house is the first of April, so I will totally get to be there and answer people's questions that come through the open house. How stinkin' awesome is that?! I seriously cannot wait. It was Sister Jone's first area, so we just swapped places. She's now in Indy training a sister from Samoa, and I'm here in Platte City doing the full pros business. When President told Sister Jones and I that I was opening Platte City back up for sisters we were both stoked out of our minds. She talked about Platte City all the time, so I knew it had to be great.  

So my new companion is Sister Stoker from Henderson, NV and she's been out about year. We both got double transferred into our area and we have part time car with the Elders here. We double cover a ward and a branch, so similar to my last area. It's craziness. We are living with members and they are seriously so much fun. It's the first time they've ever had missionaries living in their house so they've been really good and gracious to us. I guess Bishop called them last Sunday and said, "Hey, Sisters are coming this Thursday, would you be willing to house them?" Ha ha, poor things. Didn't get much of a notice. So they are totally awesome, and Bro. Edwards sacrificed his office room so we could have a bedroom. Platte City is the bomb though, for reals. It's country side but not. All of the people here are so friendly and nice, I feel like I am back in Bigfork. My ward is amazing. So missionary minded. I honestly don't think I've ever seen a ward that is so focused on helping the missionaries. However, I do miss the Polynesians. It's super weird not to see any Polynesian brothers or sisters. I'm back in polyangi land.  

Saturday Bishop gave us a warm welcome and asked to speak in church the next day. Ha ha, gotta love the mission. So get this- after Sister Stoker and I spoke in church, we got like 3 referrals from the members. Ha ha, it blew me out of the water. And then, everyone kept coming up to me and telling me how much I looked like Sister Jones. It was pretty funny, we got that all the time in Independence. I miss her, but being here I feel like I still have a part of her with me. PLUS- Sister Stoker is whipping me into shape and teaching me how to do the whole full pros thing. She's awesome, such a hard worker and a great example of what a missionary should be like. 

Funny story- Friday morning (our first day in PC- great initials BTW ;) S. Stoker gets out of the shower, comes back to the bedroom and says "Oh, by the way, there's no hot water." Ha ha, so I get in there thinking, "Oh, there will be some more hot water I'm sure." Ha ya right!!! That was the coldest shower I've ever taken. Ha ha, it woke me right up! I don't think I've ever prayed in the shower before until now. Ha ha. Oh the joys of living with members. The next day Sister Edwards says to us, "I'm sorry if the water was cold yesterday, was it?" And I said, "Let's just say, I definitely wasn't tired anymore after my shower." Ha ha. Saturday morning we were careless and completely unfamiliar with the area of course. So we decided we'd do the whole missionary thing and go walking. We bundled up and braved the 15 degree cold- sorta. Ha ha, we walked a good 6 hours up and down hills with our clunky boots on and runny noses. We were able to get to know a few members, but no new investigators....yet. I'm finally gonna have some muscle in my legs. Ha ha. After sitting so much for 8 months, my poor legs are sorer than sore. Ha ha, all is well in Zion though, I love it! 

Oh my goodness- I totally forgot the best news of all this past week- Before I left Independence, I met with one of my recent converts, Tina. She's just the greatest. She is married and her and her husband have the cutest little poly baby Marie, I love her. Anyway, they came to the Visitors Center and so Sister Jones and I took her through God's Plan, and at the end we were just both in tears because Tina had been going through a lot the last couple of days and was struggling. Well after we talked about what was going on, we brought up the temple and how this summer she can be sealed to her family. Sami (her husband) says to me, "Sister Conrow, we're really going to miss you but we have one more favor to ask of you before you leave.... August 24th Tina is going to go through the Kansas City Temple and we are going to be sealed as a family. We want you to be there. Will you be there?" Man, tears just stared running down my face. I honestly don't think I've ever been happier in my life. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. At that very moment, in between the sobs, I knew that I was supposed to teach her and to be here. I knew that this is what makes all the hard times worth it- seeing families become eternal. It was the greatest going away present I ever could have received. I love them so much, and I feel soooo blessed to be apart of their lives. If that was all I was able to do in Independence, it was totally worth it. Anyway- later that night, the Olamaleva's came in (my old ward mission leader from Indy) and Tina and Sami came back. We all got around the Christus and they sang me songs and we all prayed together. We took tons of pics and Tina & Sami made a recording for me and thanked me. It was just soooo great. I honestly couldn't stop smiling and crying. I love them, and I will miss them, but I know I'll see them soon- in the KANSAS CITY TEMPLE!!! 

I love being a missionary, I love serving here. Life couldn't get any better. I don't care if I have to walk all day in the freezing cold and get blisters on my feet- it's worth it. The experiences and love are all worth it, I promise. I love this Gospel, I love my Heavenly Father, He is the man! I love you all! This is His work, truly it is! 

Love, Hermana Conrow :)

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

So long, farewell, to Independence Zone! :(

Well everyone, the dreaded news came...
I am getting booted out of Independence :(
I know it's just part of mission life, but when you spend almost 8 months in one area it's kind of hard to say goodbye. Sunday I wore my homemade beaded lei (one of the members made for me, and its turquoise;) to church. It was great! I love, love, love the ward that I have been so blessed to serve in for so long. I had my last Sunday dinner with my fav family, the Kettlewells, they've been like a second family to me and have fed me about 24 meals we figured since I've been serving here. Ha ha, how crazy is that?!

I'm not sure well I'll be shipped off to just yet, all I know is that odds are, it'll be Kansas. Other missionaries tell me that Independence has a totally different feel than anywhere else you serve, so it'll be interesting to see how I feel wherever I end up. I hope that I have the opportunity to serve in a Spanish area to really learn the language. I'm really, really going to miss my companion, Sister Jones. She truly has become my best-est friend and I love her guts. We are sisters forever, as cheesy as that sounds. We've just gone through so much together, and laughed so much- I'm grateful for the time the Lord gave us to serve together. We hope that one day we'll be able to serve together again- ha maybe! 
This past week has been an interesting one. The Lord has really been trying to teach me patience. Sister Jones and I have been teaching this "almost homeless" couple in our area. The wife is just the sweetest thing you've ever met. So patient and loving and willing to do the Lord's will. Her husband on the other hand has been trying all of our patience. It's been hard to get a word in edge wise when we teach them because he's so focused on his temporal needs and that's all he can talk about. Whereas his wife truly wants to know more about the gospel and just very spiritually focused. The first lesson was impossible. Our member team up was so great and so patient, picked them up, and then after our appointment got them food, and helped them with a lot of their basic needs. That to me, was a huge example of what the Savior would do. I just love this sister in our ward. She's awesome! We couldn't have done that lesson without her. This couple came to church, which we were pretty excited about, and we hope and pray that the husband will humble himself and see that when we put our trust in the Lord and keep his commandments he will ALWAYS bless and prosper us, we just have to put him first, nothing else! 
After we met with this couple, I found this quote and I really like it 
It has been my motto as of late:
"Often the deep valleys of our present will be understood only by looking back on them from the mountains of our future experience. Often we can't see the Lord's hand in our lives until long after trials have passed. Often the most difficult times of our lives are essential building blocks that form the foundation of our character and pave the way to future opportunity, understanding, and happiness." -Elder Deiter F. Uchtdorf (love him!)  
Don't get me wrong, this past week hasn't been awful and horribly trying- I just really liked that quote and it helped me put things in perspective. We can't control everything, nor should we. All things should be left to the Lord, as hard as that is to accept sometimes. I'm learning that we need to be happy with where we are, because if we're not, we'll never be happy. I feel like this past week my thoughts have gone to home a little bit and I've thought, "why, why can't I be there for that, or why this?" And then I remember that my time is NOW. My time is HERE, and there is no where else would I rather be.  I'm learning that if we want to become someone, or something, we consistently try to be that person we want to become each day.
Yesterday I had a lot of time to reflect on my past time here in Independence. I wondered if what I had done was what I was supposed to do. I wondered if I had made a difference in any one's life here. And then- our member came to the Visitor Center to drop off dinner. Unfortunately, I was on the phone and missed talking to her, but she came and gave me a hug and said goodbye really quick. Well, after she left, we went downstairs to eat- and by our food was this card addressed to me. I opened it up and read, and I just started to cry. This note was from this member who dropped off our dinner. She told me how when I would get up to bear my testimony in sacrament meeting, she was touched, and that I always seemed to say the things that she needed to hear at that time. I never expected to get a letter from her just because I never got to see her often and we hadn't ever really conversed a lot, just the occasional, "Hi, how are you?" and a hug here and there. She went on to say a lot of other very sweet things, but it was then that I knew I had done what I needed to do here. My heart was so full of love and gratitude, and I couldn't help but feel so happy that I was here serving the Lord. Ahhh
This time in my mission is bitter/sweet. My heart is heavy to be leaving my sweet Independence, and my ward, and my lovely companion. I feel as though a chunk of my heart is being torn out and being placed in this area. However, I am also excited for the unknown, excited to get to know a new companion, to serve in a new area, and to be out full proselyting. I know it's going to be a huge change in my mission- but that just means the Lord loves me enough to allow me to grow, and I know that I'll love wherever I go because it's where I was called to go before I even got here! How great is that?! Next time I write you, I will be somewhere else- so crazy to think. That also means all the mail you send me will take a little longer to get to me because I won't be living so close to the mission office. Ha ha, bummer! 
I love all of you! I love this gospel. I wish time would slow down, seeing as next transfer puts me at my halfway mark in the mission field. I can hardly believe it myself. I feel like I really am on this slippery slope of time and there's nothing I can do to stop it, only enjoy the ride and pick up all that I can for when I come to a stop, aka, reality. Ha ha. Don't give up, don't look back, serve gladly, and be happy! If you want something, go out and get it. Faith without works is dead. There is no time for excuses. Don't live with regrets. This is His work, and His glory! 
Signing off from Independence, Missouri-
Love, Hermana Conrow   

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Freely you have received...

"Freely you have received and our Heavenly Father will expect you freely to share with His other sons and daughters these glorious truths. We will attain our exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom only on the condition that we share with our Father's children the blessings of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and observe the commandments that will enrich our lives here and hereafter." - President George Albert Smith
Holy powerful right?! This is one of my most favorite quotes this week. I read it the other day and it just hit me like, "Woah! That is so true, we have freely been given this gospel and it is our responsibility as members and missionaries to give it freely, no questions asked." I know that what President Smith has said is so true! It is our duty to spread the Gospel to all those who need it. If we didn't, we wouldn't be the true church here on the Earth. This quote just makes me think, "well I better increase my testimony so I have enough faith to fulfill that responsibility more fully." Anyway- I just really liked that quote and wanted to share it with all of you. 
This week has been full of ups and downs, but it's been so great.
First off- TAIRAH AND JARED came to the Visitor Center on Saturday. I was wiggin' out. I was sitting there reading my scrips and I look over to the door and see this dark-haired girl coming up to the door and I think,"Oh, she kind of looks like Tairah," and turn back to my reading. Then I look up again and it IS Tairah. Ha ha. I couldn't believe my eyes. I ran up to the door and gave her and all the boys the biggest hugs. I was a little hesitant, however, because I wasn't sure about the rules of seeing my family. I thought I better call President Keyes, but then again, I had no idea there were coming and what was I supposed to do? Shut my eyes and run away? Ha ha, so I just did what I thought was best, I took them on a tour! Ha ha, probably my most awkward tour I've given yet (sorry guys) but I honestly had no idea how to act as a missionary and as a sister. Hopefully it wasn't too boring for them. I had so much fun seeing them- I thought I would be all sad when they left, but I tried not to let myself get too "homesicky" or away from the work, so I surprisingly did just fine. It made me so happy to see how bright all of them looked, and it just made me so happy to see how awesome of parents Tairah and Jared are. I couldn't ask for a better family. I feel so lucky and blessed! Love you guys! Thanks for coming in and making my whole day!
My sister Tairah and me!
Next- a couple weeks ago Sister Jones and I got a call from a man who said we had stopped by his house a couple months ago and had given him a card with our information on it. He told us he wanted to learn more and asked if we could come teach him. Ha ha, I thought, "When does this ever happen as a missionary?!" So we finally set up a time to go see him, and when we pulled up to his house I knew exactly who this man was and I distinctly remembered giving him our card when I was with Sister Loo after he told us he was sick and didn't want us to come in. I remember feeling so disappointed that we couldn't teach him and I thought, "I wonder if he'll actually use this card." O ye of little faith I am, he totally used it and called us, and how lucky am I that I got to be the one who gave him the card, and the one to see that he called and wanted to learn more! So we get to his house and he is just the nicest man ever. He's this big, African-American guy who was just a big teddy bear. He has a 15 yr old son with muscular dystrophy and lost his wife in 2007. He has a heart of gold. We taught him about the Restoration of the Gospel and he loved it, he said he felt so good and was so excited to read the Book of Mormon. He told us he couldn't wait to come to church and that he would be there every Sunday. It was so awesome! He committed to be baptized and couldn't wait for us to meet his son (who was at school at the time). After the lesson was over, we started leaving and he gave our team up the biggest hug and as I extended my hand for him to shake he leans in and tries to give me a hug. Ha ha, I said, "ohhhh sorry I can't hug you as a missionary, but you can give our team up a hug for the both of us." Ha ha, he was so sweet and genuine.
We met with him again on Saturday and took him on a church tour (well Sister Jones and another sister did because I had the flu) Anyway- Sister Jones told me it was pretty awesome and that he loved being inside the church and couldn't get over how good he felt. He set a baptismal date for Feb 4th and couldn't wait! We were both so happy and just felt so blessed that the Lord had put him in our path right after all of our past investigators had dropped us. He never skips a beat that Heavenly Father of ours.
Sunday, Sister Jones and I went to our other ward that we cover, 5th branch (all the singles) and decided we better show our face a little more. We're only partially covering so we're really only supposed to be there when they have investigators for us to teach, but we really wanted them to know how much we loved them and how excited we are to be serving in that ward as well, even if it's only for a little bit of our time. They are all so great, they are all so loving and just have so much to offer. Because there aren't very many of them, they're all super close and are working hard to bring people closer to the Gospel. On Sunday they had what's called "Break the Fast" dinner and so we ate with them, and got to talk to them for a bit, and they're so funny! We just love 'em to death! Hopefully, with this new investigator we're teaching today from the Branch we'll have more of an opportunity to get closer to them. 
Well all, I think that's it for my stories today. I'm still trying to learn Spanish, and roll my R's. I really struggle with that one. I'm still learning how to be a missionary, everyday I feel like a newbie, I swear I hardly know anything still. Ha ha. Probably a good thing, keeps me humble! I love this work, I feel so blessed, and so thankful to my Heavenly Father for the experiences He allows me to be apart of each day. I love you all, and thanks again for all your letters of love and support, sorry if I haven't been the best at writing back! Go forth and fight the good fight! 
Love, Hermana Conrow  
P.S.- sorry for the lack of pics, for some reason my card/adaptor won't work on the computers we use to upload photos anymore... Maybe one day I'll be able to figure it out!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hola Hermanos y Hermanas...

Hola familia! CRAZY NEWS! I am now an HERMANA misionera.

It is true- I am going to become a Spanish speaking sista! Pres switched me over last week, so this will be an interesting next 10 months in the mission field trying to teach myself espanol. I am definitely going to need the Lord's help on this one. I had a great new years! I did miss banging pots and pans at the stroke of midnight, but 10:30 sure felt good as I laid in bed! Ha ha. 

So much has happened this past week, it's insane. All but one of our investigadores we were working with dropped off the face of the earth. It was kind of a bummer, but I know that there is a reason to everything, and that the Lord will always place others in our path for us to teach. It's so great, isn't it?! Sister Jones and I are really learning to rely on the ward for help, and also learning to rely on our tracting/finding abilities when it comes to teaching! That's the missionary life for ya! 

Last night I had the coolest experience at the Visitors Center. Ah, I just love serving there, I'm really, really, really going to miss it when I have to leave, which I know is going to happen soon. So last night two ladies came in and I was up for a tour. They were both from a safe house where domestic violence victims stay. One was a member of the church, and the other was not. So I took them through God's Plan, and the spirit was so powerful! At the end I started teaching these ladies about the love that our Heavenly Father has for them and read from Mosiah 24, where the Lord helps Alma's people with their burdens by strengthening them so they can carry them through. I love that! He strengthens them as if those burdens aren't even there. It doesn't say he removes them completely, but he helps them to have the faith needed to get through all that these people are struggling with. I'm so grateful for that! Because if he did just remove everything, what would we ever learn?! Nothing. Anyway, so we started talking about that, and about the Savior and how through his Atonement we can overcome anything. Sometimes it's hard to see that when we're in the moment, but I promise you that every trial will pass, and we will look back and be grateful for the lessons we learned. So after that, I took them to the Christus statue, and they both were just in tears as all of us sisters sang "Be Still My Soul" from the hymn book. They loved it, and I just loved them. The minute they walked in the door I just knew I was going to connect with them because I felt so much love for them, even though I had never even met them. Anywho- so after all of us sisters sang for them, these two ladies started talking to me about their trials and how the one who wasn't a member of the church wrote a song a long time ago, after both her parents died when she was young, and then she sang it to me and signed it (because she knew sign language). It was the most beautiful, heart felt song I had ever heard. I couldn't believe she had written it. I felt like it was truly from the Lord, he gave her that song as a tender mercy to help her remember he was always there. It was so awesome! By the end of that tour, I couldn't help but feel so much gratitude and love for these ladies, what a blessing it was to meet them and to be edified and strengthened from their experiences. So great. 

Me and Jean Ann, new convert!
Earlier this week Sister Jones and I were also able to meet with one of our recent converts who is just so awesome. We talked all about temples and how soon she will be able to go through the temple and be sealed to her husband and daughter (and her baby on the way!) It was such a powerful lesson and so spiritual for me. It really made me think about temples and how wonderful they are. Our temple here in Missouri will be done in a couple of months! I cannot wait to go through that! Anyway- her and her husband decided to set a date to work towards for when they will be able to be sealed. They decided sometimes around July or August. When they said that, I wanted to jump for joy because I will be able to go to their sealing!!!!!! AHHH, it's so cool to be there from the beginning of someones conversion and to see them come together as a family! How awesome right?! That's why the gospel is just so great! 

So another cool story, after we had that appointment with our recent convert, they wanted to take us out to lunch. So we went to Dairy Queen and as we were sitting there, these 2 non-members that Sister Jones and I had taken through the Visitors Center a couple weeks ago walked in! I think I may have written about them but I can't remember. Anyway, when we met them at the Visitors Center they told us they really wanted to come to church, but never came. So when we saw them at Dairy Queen we went up and talked to the son, and turns out he was going back to school in Maine very soon, so we were able to get his information to send to missionaries in Maine to go teach him, and then he told us that his mom still really wanted to come to church. Man, that just never happens! Such a tender mercy from the Lord. There are no such things as coincidences. 

Well everyone, I really best be going, but I hope that with this new year here that all of you will take the opportunity to set some spiritual goals. Think about where you are in your life and where you want to go. I can promise you that with the Lord's help you can go anywhere! Set goals to read the entire Book of Mormon, or to pray day and night. I promise you as a representative of Jesus Christ that you will see an added measure of the spirit in your home and feel God's love more abundantly as you do so. The gospel is here to make us happy, not to tie us down! It's so awesome! Drink every bit of it! I know this is Christ's true church and that the work I am called to do is of God. I am sad that time is going by so fast, but I'm happy I still have 10 months to work hard and to learn Spanish as well!! Ha ha, I love you all! 
Love, Hermana Conrow :)  

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