Monday, April 30, 2012

Honoring His Name

The other day I was speaking with our ward mission leader and he was telling Sister Stoker and I how on his mission he could not wear a name tag until the last 4 months of his mission because of the area where he served. He told us how because of that experience he really appreciated so much more being able to wear his name tag- which holds the name of Jesus Christ. His experience reminded me of a conversation I had with a young return missionary at the temple open house. This Return Missionary told me how the night he came home and was being released, he could literally feel that mantle of authority as a full-time missionary be removed from him. He said, "It was the hardest thing I've ever had to do- to hand over my name tag that I was so privileged to wear for 2 years." Man, that was so awful to hear, it kind of made me have anxiety to be honest. It made me want to run away and hide when the time comes for me to go home, but at the same time, it made me realize how blessed I am to represent Him, our Savior for these 18 months. How precious this time is that He has given me, but also how quickly it can go. We as missionaries must strive to always be anxiously engaged so that when the time comes for release, we can feel peace about the efforts and the work we have done for Him. I hope that I can strive to be more diligent and steadfast in all that I do. I know I'm not perfect, but I really want to do all I can to make every moment worth it.

So it's a sad, yet joyful day.. The Kansas City Temple Open House is now finished. It was the craziest 3 weeks of my life, but I loved every minute of it. I have met so many wonderful, and loving people that I will never forget. I cannot thank Heavenly Father enough for allowing me to be apart of this amazing experience. Last week, I ran into that same couple that introduced me to Warren. They hugged me and told me how thankful they were for the things that I had said to him. They said, "You'll never believe it, but Warren and the lady he brought with him are both taking the discussions again, only this time, more intently!" They were so excited, I was so excited, and hope that I'll be able to go to his baptism! They went on to say, "You have just been so perfect for all of the friends that we have brought with us to the temple open house.." That made me feel really good, because often as a missionary, it's really hard to see that I am making a difference in what I do out here in the big world. I heard a really neat story also from this same couple the other day. They told me about a lady (not of our faith) who had a prompting to drive to work a little earlier one morning for no reason. As she did so, there was a man who's car had broken down on the side of the road. She decided to pick him up, and as a result, this man was on his way to help out at the temple open house. He told her all about the temple and invited her to come and take a tour. Well, she did just that, and loved every minute of it. I was introduced to this lady by the very same couple who introduced me to Warren. Her name is Barb, and she was the sweetest thing. With almost tears in her eyes she said, "I just know that it was Heavenly Father who sent me here, I just know it. I loved the temple." She lives fairly close to the area that I serve in so I hope that maybe Sister Stoker and I will have the opportunity to possibly teach her! Ahh don't you just love it?! I do :) 

Ok another way cool, exciting story- Benedict, our investigator from Africa- is getting baptized this Friday!!!!! You have no idea how excited we are. Let me tell you how it all went down: So we met with Benedict early last week, and were feeling a little confused on where he was at and if he even wanted to be baptized because he hadn't been to church and we hadn't been able to get hold of him.. We had a member from our ward with us, and as we taught Benedict he started telling us how all last week he had been praying on his knees morning and night and kept getting the feeling that he just needed to dive into the church, and be baptized. He said, "I just want to know what I need to do to be baptized." Sister Stoker and I sat there with our eyes and mouths wide open. Haha. We said, "We'd love to help you with that!" So we continued to teach him and as we were trying to set a date, he said, "I would be baptized tonight if I could." Ha, it was so sweet! Later on in the week, we met with Benedict again to finish teaching him, and after many attempts at trying to set a good date, we finally picked one out that would work for him and the ward.. Well, after doing so, we realized we hadn't taught him about the Word of Wisdom and weren't sure if he was struggling with anything. As we started teaching it, we got to coffee and he told us that he was a pretty avid coffee drinker.. Sister Stoker and I looked at each other and didn't really know what to say.. we were so worried that we were going to have to tell him to change his date, but before we could say anything, he says this, "Well, for some reason these last 5 days I haven't drank any coffee at all, I don't know why, I just haven't needed it." Once again, our eyes and mouths were on the floor. Isn't that such a miracle?! The spirit had already been preparing him for our lesson. He committed to live the Word of Wisdom and realized that he had received a prompting from Heavenly Father. It just doesn't get any better than that! In addition to Benedict's baptism this Friday, our sweet Beth in the Branch will be getting baptized as well tomorrow! We are pleased as punch and couldn't be more thankful to a loving Heavenly Father who has given us this opportunity to be apart of so many amazing miracles! It's so great!

Well, I'm almost done with this novel- This Saturday all 240 of us missionaries will be traveling to Kansas City to sing We'll Bring The World His Truth for our beloved Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, Elder Holland, Elder Scott, and Elder Hallstrom!!!!!!!!!!! If that isn't exciting, then I don't know what is. It seriously gives me the chills just to think that I get to be apart of this, and that we will be able to be in the presence of the Prophet for Jesus Christ's church! And then on Sunday, we will be able to go to the KC Temple Dedication with 2 new recent converts! Ahh, I just love this mission, I love this Gospel, I love it! I know it is true! It is so worth the small sacrifice to serve Him. I promise! 
Love you all!

Love, Hermana Conrow :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

The Sunshine Patriot

Yesterday in church, one of the counselors in our Branch Presidency read a really neat poem about the summer soldier, and the sunshine patriot. He described the difference between the two, and what it basically came down to was this:

 A summer soldier does not endure well, talks the talk but won't walk the walk. A sunshine patriot is committed to the end and willing to sacrifice all he has for the betterment of others. He then said, "Ok turn the word patriot to christian.." and related it to the kind of saints that we need to become in this battle we call life. 
So this is the kind of missionary I want to become- The Sunshine Patriot, or Christian. Another thing he spoke about in his talk was where are we pitching our tents? Meaning, are our doors towards the Lord or towards the cares of this world? He went on to say, are you serving the Lord with gladness or with reluctance- such way of serving will determine the blessings we receive. Man, isn't that so cool?! I thought so. I love church. I learn so much- granted I'm going twice every Sunday, but hey, to each their own. Haha. 
Ok- the Temple Open House is going amazingly!

Kansas City Temple Open House
 Ah, I love it so much, I don't want it to end. This is our last week serving there. Last week I had some of the neatest experiences and talked to so many awesome people. One older guy in particular- Warren. Good ole' Warren came with some members to the open house and when he got to the cultural hall, the member he was with came and grabbed me and said, "I have a friend here that has never met a sister missionary, will you come and meet him?" Of course I said yes, and followed him over to his friend. Warren is from the Kansas City area and had been taught by missionaries many times, he's probably in his 60's or 70's and is just full of life and energy. He reminded me of a Montanan cowboy. Haha. I felt like I was back home. Anywho- so Warren and I got talking and became pretty good bud's. His friend, who belongs to the church, whispered to me that Warren had never been invited to be baptized (after I asked Warren what the hold up was if he loved the church so much). So after talking a bunch, I finally said, "Warren, I have a question for you...Will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the Priesthood Authority of God?" He was kind of quiet for a minute and then tried to go around the question. After talking some more and getting ready to say goodbye, I said, "Warren you never answered my question!" And he said, "Well.. ya see.... I'll have to think about it." Haha, and then the member that was with him looked at me and said, "Are you sure you can't come teach Warren?" I said, "I wish I could, but he's not in my area." Then the member said, "Oh alright, well when Warren gets baptized, I'll be sure to call your mission president for special permission for you to come to it." Haha, it was a pretty cool experience. Warren and I will be great friends for life, I'm sure. :)

 There were lots of other neat experiences that happened at the open house. I met an older couple, Al and Jane, who came right up to me and basically asked what they needed to do to be a Mormon so they could be sealed to each other. I talked with them for quite some time. They were pretty sad when I told them Branson, MO wasn't even in our mission (which is where they are from) but I pray and hope that they will get missionaries who teach them, who will love them and show them the way!  I was also able to introduce a film in Spanish for the first time, it was super nerve wracking, but fun! When I was in the cultural hall I got to talk to a lot of members from a Spanish branch in Nebraska too, that was way neat. They were very patient with my chopped up Spanish and were even trying to teach me too. Ahh I loved every minute of it!
So this last week in our area, we were finally able to meet a less active lady in our ward who has never been to church since she moved here. She has a 31 year old daughter who was in a horrible car accident when she was 17, and because of that accident is in a wheel chair, has stroke symptoms, and has not been able to speak or really communicate since. It was so sad, not only because of the daughter, but to see her mother and how hard it has been for her since the accident. Her daughter had a scholarship to Julliard, which she had received a week before the accident. Anywho, we talked to this lady for awhile, she told us the changes that have come into her life because of the accident and how her daughter would be able to speak today had her doctor done the usual tests to find the blood clot that caused her stroke. She said that the doctor thought she was going to die, and so he didn't see the necessity to run the normal tests. He didn't think it was going to do any good. But then, when she started to progress, the doctor got scared and tried correcting it with medication, but it was too late- she had already had the stroke that caused the permanent damage. Sister Stoker came up with a really good analogy from this experience that has put a little perspective on the importance of missionary work in my life. She said, "It's so important that we don't assume someone has gone too far from the gospel, because if we do, we might just lose them forever." There's a lot of spiritual rebuilding that needs to take place with this member, but we're grateful for the opportunity that we have to learn from this. We're going to try to go over there every week from now on and take her daughter on strolls in her chair and just spend some time with her and her mom. We're pretty excited!
Oh yes, one last neat thing- lately Sister Stoker and I have been fasting and praying that the ward members will be led to those people who are prepared, and then this morning we got a random text from a ward member saying that they had neighbors who are recently married, and are interested in our church. She said that she was going to take them to the temple open house this week and really wanted us to come by and meet them. If that isn't an answer to fasting and prayer, then I don't know what is. Man, I really love Heavenly Father. He is so awesome. There's just no one better. I know that the more we obey Him, the more desire that we will have to help and love others. I know that is true. This is great time to be serving Him. I love it! "Shall we not go on in so great a cause?" 
Love you all!
Love, Hermana Conrow      

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Power Of The Spirit

Kansas City Temple

Hello everyone!
Sorry, my time is short. The temple open house is going swell. It's keeping us on our feet and super busy!
Our sweet Beth is getting baptized May 1st! We are so so so excited for her. She'll be able to go to the temple dedication!
Saturday I had a man ask me why we would spend millions of dollars on building a temple instead of giving that money to the poor and saving them from poverty...
My reply was this:
 "That money comes from members of the church and that building is completely paid for. We have many programs to help those all over the world with such poverty. And besides, we need more than to save temporally, we must save spiritually as well and it is inside those sacred walls of the temple that those saving ordinances of salvation take place." He was pretty speechless after that. And I was too. I had never thought of it that way before and I knew it was the spirit of the Lord speaking through me. It was a very neat, and special experience and I will never forget that. I love the temple. I know without a doubt that it is the House of the Lord. I am so grateful to my Heavenly Father who knows me and loves me and answers the pleading prayers of a simple sister in the big Missouri Independence Mission. 
I love you all. 
La iglesia de jesucristo es verdadero.
Love, Hermana Conrow :)  

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Holy Temple

Wow- this has been the most amazing, busy, stressful, wonderful, week of my mission! So many awesome things have happened I don't even know where to start!
Ok, first off- Ace's baptism on Tuesday was just.... so perfect! Most of the branch came and supported him and he loved it. Ace truly was just so prepared by the Lord and he was so happy to be making this commitment to Christ. We're really, really happy and proud of him for his diligence and grateful for the strength he will be to the branch now. He plans to serve a mission next year and is going to save up this summer to be able to go. What a testimony!
Wednesday great! After our district meeting that day, we booked it over to the temple in Kansas City and met at the stake center across the temple! All the sisters from the mission were there (it's the first time we've all been together in a year). Ahh I loved seeing all my sisters. I've grown so close to so many of them through this past year. After our hello's (and girly squeals) President Keyes spoke to us about our role in the Temple Open House and then prepared us for Elder Walker of the Seventy to come and speak to us. Shortly after President Keyes spoke, Elder Walker came in (after just getting off the airplane) and he was so awesome! He didn't talk to us for too long, but when he did, he promised us that because of this temple open house, more people will be baptized, less active members will return, part member families will be sealed, and there will be a greater abundance of the spirit in this area. How awesome is that?!!! He shared a few neat stories of people that came back into the church after being part of a temple open house. Once he finished, he opened it up for us to ask any question we wanted and then directed President Keyes to give all of us sisters our own personal tour through the temple. Words cannot describe the joy that I have had this week. As we walked into the doors of the temple an overwhelming spirit flooded me and I couldn't help but feel such an extreme amount of love from Heavenly Father. We went from room to room in silence and in awe at the beauty of all the paintings and the artwork. The final room we walked to was the Celestial room. The minute I set foot into that glorious room, I couldn't keep the tears back. Honestly, I cannot even begin to describe how magnificent it was. The chandeliers were so incredibly beautiful, and I just felt like I was in Heaven. It was in that moment that I was reassured that this is where I'm supposed to be, that all the hard times were worth it. I was called here for a purpose, and I felt so honored and blessed Heavenly Father allowed me, out of so many, to be there in that very moment. I love this temple. It will forever be apart of me now. When we walked into the sealing room, my heart was full, and I thought about my first convert, Tina, that is going to be sealed in this very temple in August with her sweet husband. If that isn't worth all the trials and tears of a mission, then I don't know what is! I really don't. After leaving the temple, all the sisters gathered and we got to take a picture together. 
My next miracle of the week is Beth. Dear, sweet Beth. We taught her Wednesday night for the first time, and when I saw her, I looked at her and thought, "I know you from somewhere." I don't know why she looked so familiar to me, but I just felt like I knew her. Beth works with a guy in the branch and has always been seeking for a church she could go to. So when we got there we chatted for a little bit and then started to teach her. I don't know if it was just from my experience in the temple or what, but I could not stop crying as we taught her...well Beth couldn't either. The spirit was so powerful and it was probably one of my most spiritual lessons I have ever taught in the mission. Seriously, I loved every minute of it and Beth happily accepted the invitation to be baptized and is going to be baptized in a few weeks! How exciting is that?! I love this Branch, they are so great! 
Thursday was our very first day working at the temple open house. Unfortunately, we didn't get to do a whole lot because it was the press day, so we kind of just sat there. Saturday was the insane day. It was so busy. From 12-5 I didn't sit down once! As Sisters, we get to introduce the short film everyone watches when they come into the chapel, and then when they return from their temple tour, we greet them in the cultural hall and ask them about their experience going through. It was pretty awesome. While I manned the film station, Elder Walker stood close to me and was directing all the volunteers on what to do... while he was standing there, he looked at me and said, "I'm going to watch some of these missionaries to make sure their introductions are brief so we can get these people moving along." 2 minutes later, I stepped into the room to introduce the film to a group of people, and there was Elder Walker standing outside my door. Yes, that wasn't nerve wracking. Haha. Luckily, he gave me a thumbs up when I finished. Before he left he came right up to me, shook my hand, and said, "Thank you so much for all you do, we really appreciate it." I know it was really simple, but it made me feel good that he would take the time to do that. 
This weekend the Edwards had a lot of family in town and so that was a party. We got to go to dinner with them on Friday night. Sunday was such an awesome Easter Sunday. Church was so spiritual and Beth came, which made it even better. The Easter Bunny even paid Sister Stoker and I a visit. Haha, I laughed and told Sister Edwards that "the Easter bunny didn't even visit me when I was a kid, how did he find me here." It was pretty fun. I love the Edwards, I honestly do not know what I will do with myself when the time comes for me to be transferred. I'm hoping I'll be here til the end of summer, but of course I'll go wherever the Lord needs me. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to be here in this mission and to be part of this great work. I love the temple. I cannot wait for the dedication the first weekend in May. President Monson will be coming to dedicate it, along with Elder Holland and Elder Hallstrom. How cool huh?! This next transfer is going to be so, so, so busy, so if I'm slow to write any of you back, I'm sorry, but the Lord must come first! I know this is Christ's true church. It truly is. I promise you that making it to the temple is worth it! Do not ever settle for anything less than a temple marriage. The covenants made there are sacred and everlasting. The temple is the House of the Lord and will always be. I love you all! 
Love, Hermana Conrow :)
(no, my Spanish is not good enough to do Spanish tours, but I'm working on it!)    

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Fever!

Seriously, it was like one, big, fat spiritual feast! Ahh, I just loved it so very much! I felt like so many of the questions that I had prior to conference were answered. I feel like I can now take on the next 6 months of my mission knowing how I can do better, be better, and love more!
Sorry, this will be extremely short, but here's the big news! 

We have a baptism tomorrow. Ace is 19 and is just a great example to me of knowing the scriptures and having a strong relationship to the Lord. He is so prepared to be baptized and to take upon himself the name of Christ. Man, isn't that so great, to represent Christ? I love it.
The rest of this week will be filled with meetings for the temple! It's going to be craziness, but I cannot wait!
I love my Heavenly Father, I love Jesus Christ, I love the Holy Ghost, I love President Thomas S. Monson, I love the apostles and general authorities, I love this church, I love my mission president, I love this mission, I love this area, I love these people, I love my family, I love the scriptures, and I love my companion! This is a great and a marvelous work. I know it is true. 
Yo se que La Iglesia De Jesucristo De Los Santos De Los Ultimos Dias es verdadero. It truly is! 
Love, Hermana Conrow :)  

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