Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Where Does All The Time Go

I feel like I have lots of thoughts today so sorry if this email is a mass mush of things....
Learning never ends! Not even at the end of your mission! I still feel like a new missionary. Often times I wonder if I've even changed at all because I still have SO MUCH to learn about the simplest truths that we teach every single day! It always amazes me how much the Lord continues to reveal to us. Learning really is an eternal thing. Just when we think we know something, the Lord humbles us and shows us that there is more to know.
On my mission I have found out that I love to learn, I love to seek knowledge. I love learning about what past Prophets and Apostles have said. They are so full of insight! I feel like I just can't get enough of the scriptures or Preach My Gospel. My companions tease me because I carry my PMG with me everywhere I go. But it's because just in case someone says something inspiring, or meaningful, I want to write it down so I don't forget it! The scriptures teach us the importance of keeping a record, so why not do it? I have to admit, I haven't been the best at keeping a journal my entire mission- but I have made it my goal to do all I can to at least write something down for the day to trigger memories.

Ok so last Thursday we had a pumpkin carving contest with all the sisters and senior couples. It was soooo much fun! Sister Jones and I teamed up and carved a baptism symbol into our pumpkin with M.I.M carved at the top. (Ya, that's when you know you've been a missionary too long.) The other sisters did some pretty funny stuff. It was a good time. I love serving at the Liberty Jail because you get so close to all the senior couples and the sisters you live with. Sister Ogletree and I are the "house party planners." And so every Saturday night, after planning, we've been gathering with all 8 sisters in the house and playing fun get to know you games and eating lots of junk food. It's been really cool to get to know the sisters on a different level and hear about their funny stories and experiences. Haha plus, Sister Ogletree is as fun as they come, and so she's always full of these creative, hilarious ideas to get to know the sisters. I love it. It doesn't get any better than this! I feel like I have made so many lifetime friends on the mish.

Yesterday we were able to teach our investigator Eric, that we found outside last week. He is just the nicest guy! We brought a member from our ward with us- and he was awesome! To be honest we were a little worried how it would go because when we studied for Eric, things did not go smoothly. Being in a trio has its difficulties. It can be hard to know how to balance a lesson with 3 people. But once again, the Lord worked through us and it was such a powerful lesson. As we taught him about prophets, I kept feeling like I really needed to ask him if he knew what the role of a prophet was, so I did. Turns out- he had no idea why they were so important and so we were able to explain to him that they are vital to Christ's true gospel. Maybe you're thinking that's really not that big of a deal- but I just had this "ah hah" moment because the spirit totally put that question into my mind. I hadn't even thought about asking that question as we prepared to teach Eric. It's just so evident to me that God loves Eric as an individual- so much so that he would inspire me to ask that question so we could teach him with more clarity. And another great thing that happened was the things our member shared about himself- we found out he was a convert to the church and he was able to share his own testimony of how he knew the Church was true. It was just.. the best! Members are so powerful. I don't think we, as members of the church, realize the great work that we have to proclaim the gospel. Missionaries are wonderful of course, but we can be so intimidating to people because of our name tag- but members bring a sense of reality to the lessons. They are meant to be there every single lesson so each investigator has an automatic friend and someone they can turn to outside of a missionary!
So I received great news in the mail the other day- thanks to my sweet Sister Graff and Sister Dodd's help- I will be flying back to Missouri on December 1 for Ola's baptism that night! I AM SOOOOO EXCITED! I was really worried I wasn't going to be able to attend his baptism but now I will be! It'll be weird to go back and not be a missionary, but I'm just happy that I'll still get to be there. We have worked so much with him and grown so close to him. He is just the greatest and has become such a good friend to all us sisters who have helped teach him and prepare him to be baptized. The fruits of being a missionary are splendid. Even though it takes many negative experiences to see the positive, it's always worth it, just like I said last week. I love this work! I know time is short, but I'm doing all I can to make every second count!
Love, Hermana Conrow :)       

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Our Spirits

The tender mercies of the Lord are always over His work.
Seriously, just when I think things aren't going to look up, the Lord always has His way of showing me to keep the faith. Whether a member prepares a super good dessert, or someone is willing to listen to us- I take it as a precious miracle from above. With time dwindling far too quickly, I have felt myself being very reflective on the lessons that I have learned throughout my mission and the lessons I continue to learn. There is always something each and everyday that the spirit shows me I can improve on. It's wonderful- a little overwhelming sometimes, but I'm grateful. It just shows me how much the Savior loves me and desires for me to become even better.. After all- improvement and progression doesn't happen in one day, it's over a long period of learning and overcoming.
Something I have been thinking a lot about lately is the powerful spirit we have as missionaries. I think it's because many of the groups I have taken through the Liberty Jail this week have commented on my special spirit. I've really appreciated it because often times I wonder if I have a strong spirit about me as I share my testimony with each and every group. There truly is such a power and authority that is given to us as representatives of the Savior. I LOVE being able to wear his name on my shoulder. I know I say this often, but I have such a profound gratitude for His name to which I hold. A couple days ago I took this group of 3 business men through the jail- and at the end we were sharing our insights on the revelations that the prophet received- each one of the men had something interesting to offer to the conversation but something one of them said really stood out to me. He said, "Joseph Smith chose to give up his freedom.." And I've been thinking about that a lot because of course all of us have been given our agency, but ultimately the Lord gives us everything. Nothing we do is because of us. The only thing we have to give to the Lord is our will. So I believe that what that man was saying by that comment was that Joseph Smith chose to give his complete will over to the Lord. What a task that is. I have found on my mission that giving our will and trusting in the Lord isn't always an easy thing to do, BUT IT IS ALWAYS WORTH IT. Another man in that group said, "Isn't it interesting that one of the revelations the prophet received was about unrighteous dominion- and here he was, locked up in the most horrible prison man could imagine, under false charges by a man who had exercised unrighteous dominion." I bet that brought the Prophet a lot of peace and comfort knowing that whether in this life or the next, all will receive their just reward according to God. Needless to say, it was a really great presentation. In fact, all of the people I take through are wonderful, and they always seem to have such different perspectives on the situation. It's amazing. I know that the spirit works through them to teach me, even though they think they are there to learn from me. Ha it's funny though because one of the guys from that group asked me at the end how much time I had left, and when I mentioned a few weeks he said with his head down, "I am so sad for you... I will go home and continue to be sad for you." Haha.. I was like, "thank you?" No- I know it won't be easy leaving such a precious place with so many tender experiences, but I do know that I am called for the time allotted unto me and "we neither seek position nor resist release." So I will go and do the things which the Lord hath commanded me to do- which is continue to preach His gospel for 2 more weeks! :) I'll take it!
I love you all. Continue to read the Book of Mormon, pour out your heart to God, and go to church. I promise that as you do these things, you will have a greater measure of the spirit and find more happiness in your life than ever before because this work is TRUE AND EVERLASTING!
Love, Hermana Conrow :)       

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

It's Great To Be A Missionary In The M.I.M!

Sister Ogletree & me

Ahhh, I feel like I have so much that I want to talk about this week. So many exciting things have happened and just a lot of thoughts have been going through my head!


It was so awesome! She came on Saturday night with her choir, they're called- Saints Unified Voices- and they are amazing. Basically this group travels all around to different areas and different missions to share the African-American music, but also to testify boldly of the Restoration and how they came to know that it's true. It seriously is so powerful! I loved every minute of it, and Ola did too. He was singing along and clapping and just going to town. Haha. I was so happy to see him that happy. The whole audience was filled with missionaries, and investigators, and just people who had come to see and hear Gladys. Man, I loved how bold they were with their testimonies. 

Gladys's husband, William McDowell got up and shared how they met and then his personal conversion story, and something that he said really stuck with me. He said, "I had no problem with the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, I knew it was true, but I asked the Lord, why did you have to give the gospel to a white boy?" And he said that the Lord gave him this answer, "I didn't give the gospel to a white boy, I gave it to your brother." Ha boom! How awesome is that?! It's so true. 

Then Gladys talked all about how much she loves the missionaries, and she had all of us missionaries stand up so she could pay tribute to us. How cool is that?

 I honestly feel so special to be a missionary, it's just.. such a wonderful time of life. I am so grateful Heavenly Father has given me this time to serve. I feel so honored. I truly am doing the greatest work, and the Lord makes sure to let me know just that. 

I am so thankful to Gladys for all of her efforts in doing missionary work. She probably has no idea how many people and how many lives she touches with her service. This whole event that she puts on all over, with her choir, is all for free. It's her way of doing missionary work and I love it! What better way to testify than through music and a devotional. I seriously lucked out being able to be apart of this! I will never forget all the "amens!" and "uh huh you go girl's" that I heard while I was there. Everyone was singing along and just lovin' on Gladys. It was so great!

Next super exciting thing- Elder David S. Baxter of the first quorum of 70 presided at our stake conference this Sunday. And boy did he have some awesome things to say. He first talked about our testimonies, and how the whole purpose of a testimony is to invite the spirit. He said, "Our testimonies should be short, brief, and powerful. They should be full of doctrine and nothing else. They are not meant to be stories. They do not need to be long and drawn out. They simply are to testify of what we know is true." I loved how he put it, because that's exactly how I feel they should be as well. He said when the Bishops turn the time over to the members of the ward in testimony meetings he said, "They shouldn't say I now turn the time over to you for the remainder of the hour, but that I now turn the time over to the spirit." Everything that he talked about was so simple, and so bold. He talked about all of the wonderful things that our church has done because we love the Savior. And how we ARE a christian church, and those who question can simply look at the fruits of our church and then ask themselves again if we are christian. Man, I'm not really doing it justice how he said it, but it was powerful. Something he also talked a lot about was how we are too hard on ourselves and that we are doing better than we think we are. Haha, I felt like that was just for me. How did he know I needed to hear that. He also talked about the role of a husband and how he needs to tell his wife that he loves her everyday. Because he's from Scotland, he made this joke about how as a Scotsman he is stubborn. He said that he told his wife he loved her the day he married her, and if he changed his mind, he would let her know. Haha, it was pretty funny. It just made me realize how important it is to show love in every way. Verbally is not enough, actions must be involved. I truly believe that the greatest way to show love is by serving. 

Oh yes I forgot, the opening song for the meeting was We'll Bring the World His Truth (which is the song we sang for the Prophet, and I could hardly keep the tears from coming). Also, President Keyes spoke in that conference and he had all of us missionaries in the audience stand up and say the first vision with him. It was the neatest thing. The spirit was so powerful. Anyway, I could go on and on about the stake conference, it was so amazing. I'm really grateful that I was able to be apart of that meeting.

So something I've been working on before I return home is reading the Book of Mormon all the way through again. This past week I have been reading in Helaman about Nephi and how earnestly he tried teaching the wicked people, and no matter what he said or did they kept rejecting him. I couldn't help but relate to that. I'm sure Nephi was so discouraged and frustrated, yet he continued to trust in the Lord.

In Helaman 10:4-5 he says, " 4) Blessed art thou, Nephi, for those things which thou hast done; for I have beheld how thou hast with unwearyingness declared the word, which I have given unto thee, unto this people. And thou hast not feared them, and hast not sought thine own life, but hast sought my will, and to keep my commandments. 5) And now, because thou hast done this with such unwearyingness, behold, I will bless thee forever; and I will make thee mighty in word and in deed, in faith and in works; yea, even that all things shall be done unto thee according to thy word, for thou shalt not ask that which is contrary to my will.

I know that what the Lord says here is true. I know that if I continue being faithful and doing all I can to share His gospel, that none of my efforst will be wasted. Even to people like this lady we met the other day who kept telling us what we believed even though it's not even in our doctrine. All she wanted to do was argue and tell us how we were wrong. And all we wanted to do was show her how there is more truth that she can treasure and more happiness that awaits her. The gospel is simple and it is true. Those who want things to be complicated will not see the goodness of the gospel, and those who desire simplicity- will see the truth. I love being a missionary, even when its hard, even when it's discouraging. At least I know I represent the Savior, and who better than He to walk beside you.

Love, Hermana Conrow :)   

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Heroes

GENERAL CONFERENCE WAS THE BEST!!!!! Truly the Prophet and his apostles are some of my greatest heroes.

I cannot believe that young men can now go at 18, and young women 19! That was just the craziest thing! I hope all of my little cousins getting close to that age are super excited, because I'm way excited for them! Part of me wishes I was 19 so I could go all over again! What a monumental change that will bless the entire world. I am so excited for all of the new missionaries that will now serve because of this.

I seriously loved every minute of General Conference. I felt like it was Christmas morning for me to hear from the Prophet and his Apostles. I felt like there were a lot of shout outs to my mission! President Monson talked about the jumbo tron that broke right before the cultural celebration, and then President Eyring spoke about the Liberty Jail as I was sitting in the very place listening to him bring it up, and then Elder Oaks told a story (from which he quoted from Elder Holland) about the cop who was in the home where the 5 kids were huddled on the floor. Well that man he was talking about is a guy in my ward! Brother Freestone- who is the man! Seriously. He and his wife are so amazing. I love them so much!

Here is a bit from Elder Hollands talk-
"Here is my third example: While participating in the dedication of the Kansas City Missouri Temple just a few months ago, Sister Holland and I were hosted by Brother Isaac Freestone, a police officer by profession and a wonderful high priest in the Liberty Missouri Stake. In our conversations he told us that late one evening he was called to investigate a complaint in a particularly rough part of the city. Over the roar of loud music and with the smell of marijuana in the air, he found one woman and several men drinking and profaning, all of them apparently totally oblivious of the five little children—aged about two through eight years of age—huddled together in one room, trying to sleep on a filthy floor with no bed, no mattress, no pillows, no anything. Brother Freestone looked in the kitchen cupboards and in the refrigerator to see if he could find a single can or carton or box of food of any kind—but he literally could find nothing. He said the dog barking in the backyard had more food than those children did.

In the mother’s bedroom he found a bare mattress, the only one in the house. He hunted until he found some sheets (if you could call them that), put them on the mattress, and tucked all five children into the makeshift bed. With tears in his eyes he then knelt down, offered a prayer to Heavenly Father for their protection, and said good night.

As he arose and walked toward the door, one of the children, about age six, jumped out of bed, ran to him, grabbed him by the hand, and pled, “Will you please adopt me?” With more tears in his eyes, he put the child back in bed, then found the stoned mother (the men had long since fled) and said to her: “I will be back tomorrow, and heaven help you if some changes are not evident by the time I walk in this door. And there will be more changes after that. You have my word on it.”

"If we don’t take gospel blessings to our communities and our countries, the simple fact of the matter is we will never have enough policemen—there will never be enough Isaac Freestones—to enforce moral behavior even if it were enforceable. And it isn’t."

That just tells you what kind of man Brother Freestone is. But yet, he is so humble and you would never know that Elder Holland had stayed in his home.

Anyway- back to conference! My particular favorites were from President Uchtdorf, Eyring, and Elder Bednar. And then I loved Elder Nelson's when he said, "Ask the missionaries.." Ola actually texted us after conference was over and said, "Ask the missionaries.." Haha, apparently he really liked that too! He's so great.

This week I have been thinking a lot about service, and how much I love to serve. It makes me sad when we go into some of our memeber's homes or investigators and they won't let us serve them.. It's like I have to beg them. Haha. In Independence many people were more than willing to accept service. I never realized how much I loved serving until I couldn't do it for someone almost everyday. I mean, of course there are the little things I try to do for those around me, and missionary service in general, but it's just not the same as being able to constantly serve the members. It makes me really grateful for the times when I do get to serve. Anyway.. random thoughts..

Well things are going spendidly in our little trio. I love Sis Ogletree- she is hilarious! It is a good thing we have Sis Jones to calm us down sometimes because we are always laughing. She is such a hard worker! And you'd never guess she is a new missionary. The 3 of us all get along so well. This time is slipping from my hands, and I cannot call it back. I want all of you to know how much I love this gospel. Not only do I have a testimony of its truthfulness, but I am converted to the Lord and His work, and I will continue to strive to be converted to it. I know that it is the little things that keep you on the straight and narrow path. How do people fall so easily? It is when they forget to do the small and simple things, as Alma has said. Church, Pray, Read. C.P.R. Those things are the breadth of life. I love the M.I.M. I am so thankful I still have a month to serve in this glorious place! I love you all!

Love, Hermana Conrow  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Tremendous Trio

That's right, transfers came and went and I am now in a tremendous trio! Seriously.

My new companions are Sister Ogletree from Dallas, TX (yes, thee Ogletree- sister to Brandon Ogletree -who is famous on the BYU football team) and Sister Jones again! (yes, my sweet little Jonesie that I served with last winter!) Honestly, I love it to death. I was very worried about being in a trio with Sister Jones and a new missionary, Sister Ogletree, but things are working out splendidly! Our house is quite the full house! We have 3 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms with 8 sisters in total living there! But somehow, we have managed and the Lord has provided us a way to all live together in harmony. Haha. It's been so fun having a new missionary around- I forgot how exciting every little detail of missionary work is when you're fresh from the MTC. It has really helped me a lot to remember those feelings, but also to keep going with only 5 weeks left in the field. It's amazing how after we've been out for awhile we can get stuck into a little routine or slack off a little bit.. But with Sister Jones whippin' me into shape again, and Sister Ogletree having me help her memorize the lessons and history, I'm learning all over again, and it's great!

The Lord truly does work in mysterious ways... I feel like with the companions I have now, I am being reminded of what I need to be better at, and I feel as though he's refining me just a little bit more, so I can be that much more polished when I return home. Even though I still feel like I'm in the middle of my mission, I know that time is running short and the Lord expects me to finish strong- which I will. It's also amazing to me how much Satan works on you when you are getting close to the end. He makes you feel like, "You can't do this, you're tired, what's 6 weeks anyway? You don't need to do that, it doesn't matter...." and la-dee-daa... But I will NOT let him win! I want to show my Heavenly Father that I am committed to His work, and that I will not let up or give in, or slow down. I know that as we are obedient, even when it's hard, we are ALWAYS blessed and our testimony is strengthened in the Savior.

This week, before Sister Graff went home, Ola took us and some members out to dinner. It was so much fun! After we finished eating he said, "Everyone, I have something to tell you.." and then he looked at Sister Graff and said, "No Sister Graff, I am not going to say what you think I am going to say- I am NOT getting married.." hahaha. Then he said, "I have decided on December 1st of this year, that is when I will be baptized." Ahh it was like music to our ears.. We have been working with him all transfer to set a date with him, and not because he hasn't wanted to, his schedule of being a NICU Dr has not allowed him to. Anywho, needless to say it was a glorious evening! After he told us the date, I was a little sad that I wouldn't be there, but then he said, "Sisters I want you to be there, you have changed my life and have helped me so much..." and I said, "I will certainly try, but I do not know if my finances will allow it." Then he and our member both looked at me and said, "Sister, do not worry- we will do whatever we can to help you get out here." So now, Sister Graff, Sister Dodd, and I are all planning on somehow flying out to Missouri in December for his baptism. I wouldn't miss it for the world. This man is amazing and I feel so honored to be apart of his conversion story. It was a great ending to Sister Graff's mission, we agreed. Ola was sure to tell her that he did not want her to leave feeling like she did not accomplish something in this area. (Which I think was something we both needed to hear because we have been a little discouraged with the lack of receptive people.) Ola, is just the man! He is so genuine, humble and kind. Something that is common in our friends from Africa. They have such big hearts. I am so excited for him, and excited to continue to work with him.

Time to say goodbye

The rest of this past week was spent saying goodbye to my best friend Sister Graff, picking up my new companions, making things fit into our tiny home, and teaching our current investigators.. I might add that one perk of having Sister Ogletree as our companion is that all the men in our ward who love BYU football, and especially Brandon Ogletree, have made sure their wives have signed up to feed us! Sunday we had a full dinner calendar for the month! Haha, yay for having a somewhat famous companion- who is exceptionally great herself! I'm really excited for this new and last transfer ahead. I know the Lord has great things in store for us- Shoal Creek Valley better be ready!

I love you all very much!

Love, Hermana Conrow :)     

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