Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Another Chapter Has Begun!

Yes it is true- I have been transferred...

Platte City 1st ward, and 2nd Branch- I will never, ever forget you. I love you with all my heart.

Brother and Sister Edwards- you are sunshine to my soul and I promise I will write! You have become family and will always be family to me :)
I will never be the same because of that area.
Well...I am now serving in the Independence 3rd ward with Sister Sibbett from Hawaii!
It really is so weird to be back in the Visitor's Center. I feel like I just left.. There are all new sisters and a different feel, but it's still the gospel and I know it's true so I can be happy :)
Haha, change is always hard though. Originally when we got transfer calls I was supposed to be going to the Raytown ward in Independence to be in a trio companionship with Sister Minall and Sister Coplan, but then a new sister that was coming from the MTC ended up getting sick the night before she left, and went home, so they moved me to 3rd ward and moved Sis Sibbett's companion, Sis Touli, out to Wichita the next day after we already had transfer calls. So, it was kind of a shock for all of us.

BUT- I love Sis Sibbett, she's been out about 5 months and is on fire- so we are going to work, work, and work some more! 3rd ward is great so far! There is a lot of diversity in this ward. Many of the members are from the Dominican, so I will definitely be needing my Spanish now. Haha. We have a lot of former investigators that only speak Spanish so I really have to step it up and practice, practice, practice. I'm scared to death, but now I think I understand why Heavenly Father switched me over to Spanish. Juntos podemos, con Padre Celestial que es. Haha.

Well, I don't have too many exciting stories at that moment. I've just been adjusting to the area again and being around all the sisters. I feel like I'm a new missionary all over again. It really is overwhelming coming from a full proselyting area back to an area where there are lots of missionaries around you! But, as I got here, I realized that within those 3 short transfers out in Platte City, I changed, I changed a lot. And it was so relieving to know that all of my efforts to change and become better were working! Granted, I still have lots more to change and do, but I was grateful to Heavenly Father for allowing me to have this new area so I could see just how much I was changing.

Yesterday we had our zone conference, and it was amazing. President Keyes honestly is so inspired and is such a loving and caring leader. I know that he truly is called of God to be my mission president at this time. He talked to us about the things that we needed to do to maintain that spirituality that we felt during the temple open house. He called this the:

4 Cornerstones to Spirituality-

1) Obedience- he said that when we are being disobedient, no matter how hard we try to do the other 3 things, it won't make a difference. When we are disobedient as missionaries, we are breaking covenants. 
2) Prayer- how true that is. Prayer is the passport to peace and a refuge for safety. It is the way that we communicate with our Heavenly Father. He also promised us that every single time we pray and ask for strength, Heavenly Father will ALWAYS answer that prayer. No questions asked.
3) Scripture study- President said that if we want answers to our prayers, than we need to study! It's how Heavenly Father talks back. He said, "I promise that as you prayerfully study, you will have more meaningful prayers, and you will gain a deeper testimony of the gospel."
4) Partaking of the Sacrament worthily- he talked about how truly important this is for us, and how when we go to church and partake of the bread and water, our minds need to be centered on the atonement, and we should be thinking about how we can be strengthened through Christ.
I know these are things that we all know we should do, but the way that he put everything just made sense. Ah, I just love this mission. I love how Heavenly Father always knows what we need, where we need to be, and who we need to be with. Time flies too fast, and I really want to be better. I want to leave this mission a million times better than how I was before I came. I'm thankful for the opportunity that I have now to be serving in Indy 3rd ward, and I'm excited to get to use what little Spanish I do know, more fully. The Gospel is true. I promise, if any of you are struggling, that if you just apply the 4 cornerstones to spirituality in your life, you will be happy, and you will know what you need to do with the decisions you have to make in your life. Doubt not, fear not, in every way acknowledge Him!

Love, Hermana Conrow

"The way we do anything, is how we'll do everything."

Monday, May 21, 2012

Give It All You Got!

You all must forgive me for not writing a mass email last week.. I didn't have a ton of things to say and time was short- but I have repented of my ways and here I am. Haha ;)

Well this week has been great, just as all the other past weeks of my mission. I feel like I have had so many different thoughts lately that I don't even know where to start. So I'll just start with Friday, May 18.. 

As my mom would say, "It was the best day of her life when I came into the world.." Haha jk mom, I really don't know what you would say. Yes Friday was my birthday and boy was it a good one. I woke up thinking, "Ok, what are we doing today, who do we have to see? What do I need to study?" And then suddenly I remembered I was born on this day, but I'm a missionary and missionaries don't celebrate their birthdays. Haha so I just went upstairs for some breakfast and Sis Edwards had made cinnamon rolls for me and got me a turqoise watch (which I'm wearing right now, I love it) Sis Stoker even sneakily had Sis Edwards get me some earrings. It was pretty sweet. I thought my day was made at that point.. I was wrong. Before lunch we helped Sister Edwards clean up because she was having a scrapbooking party. She's all, "I don't know why I do this to myself, make myself so busy when I have to make your birthday dinner tonight too.. " and I was thinking, "Ya, I don't know why you do either?" Haha. Well, before her scrapbooking party people came over, I went downstairs to take a little nap during lunch time. 10 min later, Sis Edwards comes downstairs and says, "Can you please come upstairs and meet my friends?" And so I was like, "ok I'll be up in a minute," and she said, "well.. can you come up now and say the prayer?" 

So I said Ok and started coming up the stairs when I turned around and saw that many people from our ward were there standing by the staircase. They all yelled, "SURPRISE!" Haha, I was totally tricked. I had NO idea that Sis Edwards was planning a surpirse birthday party lunch thing for me. S Edwards kept laughing and saying how I helped clean and bake for my own surprise party. Haha, it ended up being really fun and I felt extremely loved that so many sisters in the ward would show up and support me on my little ole' birthday. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better day! When we went out for the day we even found a new investigator who is pretty awesome! He has a 10 year old daughter and he really wants to get back into church. That was the best birthday present, finding someone that the Lord had prepared to hear the gospel. That night, when we got home for dinner, Sis Edwards made a scrumdidliumptious dinner and cheesecake for dessert :) my fav. I had letters and a package from my mom awaiting me. It was a joyous day to behad. I never thought having a birthday in the mission field could be so fun, and rewarding! 

having fun
Saturday, we went over to one of our investigators house to help her do some yard work. (Service is the best excuse to wear some regular clothing. I love it!) Haha. So I was mowing the lawn and I had put the car keys over the top of my tshirt.. Well somehow while I was mowing the lawn, I dropped the keys and when we were ready to go, I had no idea where I could have dropped them. It was a pretty big yard. So the search was on, and I felt like we were looking forever. Finally, I stepped into her garage and said a little pleading prayer to Heavenly Father. I knew He had to help us find the keys because we had an appointment we had to get to, and it was the mission's car and so the spare keys were all the way in Independence. I kept looking and still no sign of the keys... I told myself not to freak out, but to just stay calm and the spirit would tell me where I had dropped them.. Well, right after that thought, sure enough, there they were by the edge of the lawn by some trees. I was so relieved and so grateful to Heavenly Father for helping me to stay calm enough that the spirit could guide me. I know that's such a simple story, but it was a really big lesson/testimony for me on the power of prayer through our trials, even the tiniest ones. Heavenly Father is so aware of us as his children and He knows our stresses. I know that whenever we need an answer to something, if we just wait patiently and stay calm, all will be well, and He will answer us- but we have to be sure that we don't just sit around waiting for the answer! We must go and do! This is the only way we will qualify for those answers. I know that is true. Faith without works is dead. 

Yesterday was a very special day for me. Not only did our cute little family of 4 that we started teaching last week all come to church dressed and ready to go, but we were able to go to the Liberty Jail where they hold a President's Devotional every 3rd Sunday for all the recent converts in the area. Sister Stoker and I went with Beth and her boyfriend BJ, and met Benedict and his girls there too. When Benedict got up to share his testimony he talked about how dark his days were when he was a child in Africa and how by meeting with us and learning about the Gospel he felt light again, and that he knew without a doubt that Joseph Smith was a prophet and did Restore Christ's gospel. He said, "When I heard about all the persecution that the prophet went through, and that he died because of what he taught and testified to be true, I knew there had to be something more to this religion. I knew that it was more than just another church. I knew that it was something that I needed to hear about and be apart of." It was a very tender experience for me. Then Beth went up and shared her sweet testimony too and I couldn't help but get choked up. I sat there listening to our recent converts and felt so grateful, so honored, and so humbled that the Lord had allowed me to be involved in His great work. I know I have said this before, but I felt like a proud parent listening to my children share their testimonies of the Restoration of the Gospel, knowing that I had helped them to build their foundation on the Savior. It makes everything worth it, everything- How did I get to be so blessed?

After the devotional, we came home with Beth and she stepped inside for a moment and we started talking about her plans for the future. She started to tell us how grateful she was for the gospel but also how hard it was for her sometimes to get over past mistakes she had made, feeling like maybe she wasn't completely worthy of all the blessings she's been receiving. Sister Stoker looked to me as if to say, "Go ahead, tell her.." So I began to share with Beth that there have been many times I have felt that way, especially on my mission, and how there have been many times when I have remembered past mistakes and felt like I wasn't good enough. I told her that a good friend told me, "Whenever a bad thought of a past sin comes into your head, you say 'thank you Satan for helping me to remember that I am not that person anymore and that I am better than that..." We read her some scriptures about how the not only forgives us of our sins, but he remembers them no more. Truly, what a blessing that is and a testament of the power of the Atonement in our lives. I love Beth so much and if all I did was come out here to meet her and help her along her path, than my mission would be complete. She is a far greater example to me than I ever could be to her.    

Something that I have been thinking about a lot is, where are my priorities and my focus? I want to be sure that I am focusing all that I can on this work and making sure that I make every moment count. I would hate to stand before the Lord one day and have to tell him that I wasted this precious year and a half that He has given me. Granted, I am not perfect, but I just want to be and do the best I can. I know that there are many other missionaries who are far beyond me and where I'm at, but I've come to realize that we all learn and grown at different rates and levels, and Heavenly Father knows that. He just wants us to do the best WE can, and we will be judged accordingly. I read a talk this morning by Elder Oaks that talked all about focus and priorities. He gave a quote that went something like this, "“Three things never come back—the spent arrow, the spoken word, and the lost opportunity. We cannot recycle or save the time allotted to us each day. With time, we have only one opportunity for choice, and then it is gone forever." How true that is. Never take time for granted. Use it up all you can.

Well, tis true, transfers are this week. :( I love this area so much. I really do not want to leave, nor do I want to leave my beloved companion Sister Stoker. We have been such a good team and have had so much fun and made so many memories. I feel as though she has really helped me to define myself and become a better daughter of God. She is, in my eyes, the missionary we all aspire to be. I love her guts, and will be sad to say goodbye. However, I know that with change comes new memories and more blessings so I am excited to see where the Lord would have me go next. Who knows- maybe I will actually go to an area where my little spanish I do know will be challenged. The Lord has a way of keeping us humble right? Haha, well I love you all so much and thank you for all the letters and packages. They mean the world to me. Shout out to my awesome mom for hers! And to the Sevier's too. Thank you soooooooooooooooo much! Love you all!

Love, Hermana Conrow
(p.s. if you're writing me, send it to the mission office, I don't know where I'll be come thursday!)

Monday, May 7, 2012

No Tongue Can Tell

What a silly girl I was this time last year. I had NO IDEA what my mission held in store for me when I opened my call. I am sad to admit that I was disappointed in my call, not realizing that it's not about where you go, it's about the people you go to. Don't ever be disappointed in a mission call! I promise you, wherever the Lord calls you, is where you are meant to be, regardless of that place! I wish so badly I could go back to last February and start over, knowing what I know now- the choices I made then would be completely different if I were able to make them again today. But I guess that's how life goes right? You live and you learn and you move on. How grateful I am to my Heavenly Father. He knows me better than anyone on this Earth, including myself. I love my mission with all my heart, and if all I did was come here to experience this temple open house and that's it, I would be satisfied for the eternities.. Words cannot even express the feelings that I have had this past week. I honestly don't even know what to say that will bring justice to my experiences that I have been so blessed to be apart of.
Sweet Beth was baptized on Tuesday. I love her so much. The baptism was so amazing, and so spiritual. I just don't know what else to say to that. You just had to be there. 
Benedict was baptized on Friday- we had a tender experience with him a couple days before he was baptized.. As we were teaching his last lesson, we got to the end and asked him if he had anymore questions... he then looked at us with tears in his eyes and said, "I'm ready. I'm ready to do this." Needless to say, his baptism was a very spiritual experience, and I know without a doubt that both him and Beth were prepared and ready to make the covenants that they made this past week. 
Saturday was the cultural celebration. Ahh, I just keep getting frustrated because I don't know how to express to all of you how special this experience was to me.. It's hard to even type about it without crying.. All 240 of us missionaries got to the Marriott Hotel across the street from the event center. We gathered in a large room and sang "We'll Bring the World His Truth" in preparation for the event. The power and the spirit that existed among all of us was almost palpable.. I don't think there was a dry eye in the room. God was with us. There is no other way to describe the feeling I had as we sang those words. President Keyes bore a sweet testimony to us, and when he spoke, I felt as though angels from Heaven were gathered in that room echoing his words into my heart that what he was saying truly was from Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. In was in that moment that I KNEW I had made a choice that will forever change the outcome of my future and will forever bless my life. When we all walked over to the event center, it was a beautiful sight to see... there is power in number. Ha ha. Elder Deschler, who is the area seventy here, told President Keyes that he wanted to make sure all of the missionaries had a seat in the center, that he didn't want us to have to stand.. And so when we got there they had seating just for us. As we sat there patiently, the crowd arose, and in walked President Monson- our beloved Prophet. Oh, how I love him, and will always strive to follow him. I know he represents our Savior here on this Earth. 

The Cultural Celebration was amazing.. there were 3100 youth from all over that participated. It was so exciting to watch as a missionary! Our time to come on wasn't until the end- and so on Que, we booked it down to the bottom of the stage, and waited for our turn to enter on. Like rushing water, all 240 missionaries marched onto the middle of the stage. I wanted to cry when I looked around me to see the entire audience standing and applauding us as we walked on, not to mention the youth kneeling to us and clapping, like we were royalty....but then, when we turned to where the Prophet was sitting, he was standing and applauding us and smiling. I couldn't help but feel an outpouring of the spirit then, and wanted to cry, but President Keyes told us to resist because we had to sing ha ha. It was a very special experience for me that I will never, ever forget. Temples truly are meant to bring us together. 
Yesterday was the KC Temple Dedication. Sister Stoker and I were able to attend all 3 sessions of it, and boy was it worth it! All 4 of our recent converts were able to go to the dedication. We made all of them white handkerchiefs with their names embroidered onto them. I felt like a proud parent that was watching my children with great admiration, as I knew that what our recent converts were being apart of would change their lives. My life has been changed just since this past week. I have a renewed dedication to the Lord. I honestly don't know how else to express how I felt yesterday. 

OK- so one more neat story- last night as we were driving home from Kansas City, we received a voicemail from President Keyes. He expressed his love for us and then told us about a story he heard after the celebration. He said that the men who were in the satellite truck, broadcasting the celebration, were watching as all of us missionaries came on stage. He said that the men in that truck began to cry and were weeping so badly that they had a hard time doing what they were supposed to be doing to keep the broadcast going. Sister Stoker and I were both in tears and couldn't help but feel overwhelming gratitude and love for the Savior and for His work. I had no idea the impact that we had as walked onto that stage. No idea. President also told us that he is meeting with the temple president today to work out a policy for all of us missionaries to be able to go to the temple. We have a temple here now! A DEDICATED TEMPLE! Ahhh I just love it! President also told us that next month we will all be getting a copy of the celebration to have. Isn't that so awesome?!!!! I cannot think of anything better right now. I honestly don't know how to tell all of you how I feel. I have such a fire within me right now that I want to shout from the rooftops! Ha ha as cheesy as that sounds.... Boy, do I love this gospel, with all my heart. I am so, so, so, so, thankful for all the blessings and opportunities my God has given me. I love Him. I love my Savior, I know He lives. Joseph Smith truly did restore His gospel to earth in these last days. Thomas S. Monson is Christ's living prophet here on the earth today. I love you all! WE HAVE A TEMPLE NOW! 
Love, Hermana Conrow :) :) :) 

Made by Lena