Monday, July 29, 2013

First Full Week in the Field!

So, I am doing well, and I love Iowa. I love my mission, and this work. I am going to be honest and say that this week was pretty tough. It had good parts though! We taught the Armstrongs on Monday, Tuesday, and Friday. They are doing well. We have them reading a chapter on their own before each appointment, which is basically a miracle in itself, since Shannon has never read it herself before. We also feel it was a good idea to have them read together, so that way they will actually do it, and learn and experience it together. Their biggest hold back currently is tithing. They always jokingly tell us they are "too poor to be mormons." We told them to have faith, and that as they learn the other principles of the gospel to be true, tithing will seem like less of a sacrifice. Over all, they are making great progress. I know that we are teaching by the spirit, and because of that, they are learning by it, which is all we can hope for. Thank you so much for praying for them. Shannon is receptive and loves us, I know the prayers have helped with that. The main reason that this week has been difficult is because we spend SO much time finding, with very little success, and it is very hard not to feel useless or discouraged. We are pushing through though. Wednesday was definitely the hardest day of the week. I woke up feeling disheartened to say the least, but said a prayer and started the day as positively as I could. I was doing alright, but when we sang a hymn to start companion study, I couldn't hold it together and just started crying. Sis. Oman is so sweet, and was feeling it too. We talked about how we were feeling and moved on. Then, for lunch I had leftovers, which were fine the day before, but within 15 minutes I was feeling terrible. I lost my lunch, and feared that the nausea wouldn't let up. I felt so guilty for not being able to leave, but I knew if we did, I would be sharing much more than the gospel on someone's doorstep. Haha. We stayed in for an hour and watched the Testaments. Luckily, after one more sprint to the bathroom, my nausea subsided. The Elders in our district are wonderful, and met us at the church before our appointment with the bishop to give us both blessings. I am so grateful for worthy priesthood holders, it was just what I needed to hear. Thursday was much better. We have district lunch and district meeting every Thursday. We meet together, talk about our goals, our investigators, and give each other advice. It is so nice.
Friday and Saturday we had a "called to serve" youth missionary with us. It's a cool program they've done here for years. They have youth volunteer, set them apart, give them temporary tags, and send them somewhere in the mission that they live in. Ours was Sis. Keller, who was so very sweet. She is 17, and wants to serve a mission. She showed up during comp. study and was just our extra companion for two days. She stayed somewhere else at night though. I loved having her. I find so much joy and comfort in my scriptures, I am truly grateful for the time I get to study them each day. I am growing and learning through these trials, and I know this is all for my good. I know that The Lord is teaching us something, and that in time, He will bless us for our diligence. We share our car with the Elders, so we are without it this week. Please pray that we will be able to get around! We have a list of members who say they'll help, so that's good. I love all of you so much. I feel and appreciate everyone's prayers and support each day. -Sister Monroe
My trainer Sister Oman
We stuck a Book of Mormon in the "free library" while we were finding.
Corn and sunshine. There's a whole lot of both of those here!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Leaving MTC and Hello Iowa!

Hello everyone!
I am in Iowa!!! Woohoo! It is beautiful here. Hot, but beautiful. Haha.
We left the MTC at 4AM on Wednesday morning to get to our 7:30 am flight in salt lake nice and early. We had an hour layover in Denver, then landed in Iowa about 1pm, I think. president and Sister Jensen were there to greet us, and were so kind and loving. We gathered all of our luggage, took pictures, and drove to the mission home. At the mission home we had some training, dinner, testimony meeting, and interviews. We slept there and got up early to get ready for and drive to transfer meeting in Iowa city. Transfer meeting was awesome.
Everyone is so happy to meet their companions and get reassigned, and president Jensen kept making jokes about taking longer to add to the suspense. As companionship's were read off, it warmed my heart as the members of my mtc district were paired up with their trainers. My MTC district was divinely organized. I will miss each one of them so much. I was assigned to train with Sister Oman, who just finished her training in Cedar Falls, she's only been out three months. We are very different people, she loves cats, sci-fi books, and doesn't wear make-up. Nevertheless, we get along great. She is very sweet, I know the Lord has called her to be my trainer, and I love her for that. Oh yeah, we have been assigned to OPEN A NEW AREA, Dubuque 1st West. This is exciting, but both a blessing and a curse. We have an empty area book, and lots of souls to find. We are serving in the Dubuque 1st ward (it's the northern one, mom) , which we share with a tri-panionship of elders. We serve the West area while they serve the east, downtown near the river. We live with some amazing members, the Reynolds family. They have six kids, two dogs, and a cat. Quite the family we've inherited. They even made us a nice dinner our first night, featuring delicious locally grown sweet corn! :) They are the best. We have a nice big room, full beds with bedding (I won't be using my bedding until next transfer, Haha.) and a walk-in closet. We are seriously spoiled. They actually left for a 3-week vacation the day after we came, so we currently have the house to ourselves, which is nice, so we can get settled in and adjusted. We have a teaching appointment tonight with the Armstong family. They have been investigating since '08, and the wife, Shannon, has always been the one reason they don't all get baptized. She is super sweet, but refuses to read the Book or Mormon for herself, so she doesn't have her own testimony. She is very open though, and I think things are about to change for her. Shannon has had 3 miscarriages in the last year, the most recent being 16 weeks along with a girl. She was crushed, because she has 3 boys and they are just trying for one more baby. Basically, she has been mad at God the last few months, and hasn't let anyone in. She did let us in when we dropped by the other day though, to tell us she didn't want us to come back. But, then we talked to her for a half hour about her trials and faith and trusting in god, and she invited us back. We left her a chapter to read in Mosiah, and she said she would. Please pray for her heart to be softened. She is in a very rough place, but she's definitely humbled, and we are the first pair of Sisters to teach her, which has already made a difference. I think she's ready, she just has to read the book!!!
Oh, and mom- I got the bedding and greeen package. I loved it. :) I love you all so much. I will be writing physical letters! Thank you for everyone's support.

Friday, July 12, 2013

MTC - Week 2

Now for this week! Hooray! I am still so so loving it here. I have honestly learned so incredibly much, it's insane! I have been so appreciative to get everyone's letters and e-mails. When I got here, I didn't receive anyone's dear elder's until the very end of last p-day, because our D.L. had the wrong combo for our mailbox and couldn't access our mail for three days. I was dying! But man oh man, do I love all of you. I see Hermana Pennock every day. We are constantly crossing paths and we always stop and chat for a minute. I'm so glad we are here at the same time. This week has been so packed with spiritual experiences. I can't possibly tell you all of them, but I'll tell you about the most amazing ones. So, there are two types of "investigators" we teach. We have what are called progressing investigators, who are just our teachers role-playing investigators that they taught on their missions. Then we have TRC investigators, who are volunteers that the MTC provides for us to teach. Many are members, and many are converts who let us teach them and re-live their conversion experience, once in a blue moon, they are actual investigators, but it is extremely rare. In any case, they never tell us what our is. We just teach as if they are real investigators, and the reality and spirit of it is incredible. Our Progressing investigator is Kristine (played by our teacher sister Lyon) I cannot explain enough that when she takes off her name-tag and we teach her, the spirit, revelation, emotions and experience are all so real. Kristine is married to a less-active member and they have a 5-year old daughter. She has always been Lutheran, but her home teacher referred her when he said she had mentioned not being fulfilled by her church. Our first visit was awesome. We taught her about eternal families, temple sealing, and how proper priesthood authority is so important. We had planned to extend just an invitation to church, but as I bore my testimony at the end of the lesson, (yes mom, I talked about Monica's sealing), the spirit told me to invite her to be baptized. And... SHE ACCEPTED! You cannot imagine the joy and excitement in that room. We were able to teach her again a couple days later, and taught the restoration and gave her a Book of Mormon. The spirit and experience of this lesson were even more amazing than the first. Kristine expressed after we expressed our testimonies and asked her how she felt, that she knew that this book would teach and testify to her everything that she would need to know to feel ready for baptism. By the end of the lesson, we had all cried for being touched so strongly by the spirit. Sister Paul and I genuinely love Kristine so much, and she loves loves loves us. After the amazing second lesson, we returned to our classroom. A minute later, Sis. Lyon came in and said "OH MY GOSH, Sisters! I swore I wouldn't cry, and look what you did!" She told us what amazing teachers we are, and we just talked for a minute about our experience, why it went so well, and whatnot. Holy cow, loved ones, I cannot tell you how much these teaching experiences have made me a better teacher, and enriched my confidence, and testimony of the work. I'll have to write about our other investigator another time. But here's another amazing thing that happened this week: another one of our teachers (I adore all three of them) Sis. Smith, ended a lesson about revelation through prayer by inviting us to kneel down there in the classroom and have our own sacred grove experience. As I finished my conversation with Heavenly Father, these words came through my mind clear as day, "A marvelous work is about to come forth from you, and the angels of your ancestors will shout your name from the very corners of heaven and earth for eternity." Obviously, I was astonished. I wrote it down so I'd never forget, and cried and thanked my Heavenly Father. I love this gospel so much. I love, understand, and get more excited to go out and preach it each and every day I am here. Mom, tell Dad I am going to write him a physical letter. OH, and... I get to call home from the airport. I'm not sure when, so just be home on Wednesday morning. I will call by noon or one! Thank you for everything! Love, Sis. Monroe

SO, here's the e-mail I sent you the 1st week. I sent it to your wrong e-mail!

Hey Mom, and everyone! My first few days have been amazing. I never thought it was possible to fit so much learning and spiritual growth into each day. It's unlike anything I've ever experienced before. The "MTC spirit" that everyone talks about is a real, almost palpable thing. I absolutely love it here. The day I checked in was insane. We went from dropping my luggage off, to getting a new key because mine wouldn't work, then back to my room, then got my books, and Hermana Pennock dropped me off at class. This is where I met my companion, more about her in a minute. After class, we had a welcome meeting, then dinner (at 4pm, not my favorite time to eat), then the "new missionary experience" which is when they gathered us into rooms of about 200 missionaries each, and had us teach ACTUAL INVESTIGATORS. It was awesome. Then we met our branch presidency and zone leaders, which seemed to go on forever. (That meeting would usually be on Thursday, but they moved it for the 4th celebration.) We had a quick tour and then finally got back to our rooms at like 10pm. We are usually scheduled to be back by 9. My favorite part of the first day was having my name tag put on. I still get so excited every time I catch a glimpse of it. I know I was meant for this work. Cool stuff: in our welcome meeting, we sang "We'll Bring the world His Truth" but where you sing "And we will be the lord's missionaries" they had replaced the words on the screen with "we are now the lord's missionaries." My heart swelled with joy, and so did my eyes. :) I'm tearing up just thinking about it. A cool quote that had the same effect on me was something the MTC Pres. said, "Many of you are here fulfilling divine prophecy." I know that I am. Yesterday was great. It was filled with a ton of class and workshops as usual, and at 7:30, we started our "Independence Day celebration." At that meeting, we sang like 8 or 10 Patriotic hymns, heard a musical number by fellow missionaries, listened to a speaker, watched that movie, 17 miracles, and then they sent us outside, gave us ice cream bars, and let us watch the stadium of fire. It was awesome. My companion and I left early though, (I know, I know) because this was the second night in a row they kept us up past our bedtime, and we were exhausted! It was a wonderful day, nonetheless. So, Fridays are P-day for my district and zone. I have 60 mins for e-mail each P-day, and a ton of time to write actual letters, because the provo temple is closed for 6 weeks. The time they would have us go on p-days will be free time to do whatever you want/need to do. We had laundry time at 6:30 am, so that's all done. Hooray! My companion's name is Sister Paul. We are getting along swimmingly so far! She is 20, from orange grove, CA, and we are fairly similar in personality, but she is more softspoken. Our zone is made up of 3 companionship's going to Indiana and 7 going to Des Moines. I know three of the girls from our facebook group! Our district, who we have class with everyday is half of us, and let me tell you, we are quite the bunch. We have a lot of fun (when appropriate, of course.) Classroom instruction is so fulfilling, and I am learning so much about how to teach, and how to be a better missionary. I'm not sure what else to tell, there is so much going on! I guess the most important thing is that I am safe, super happy, and I love it here. Also, thanks for your package mom, I am definitely sharing! I am truly so grateful for everyone's love and support in my journey. Getting here was bittersweet, but there is no where else I'd rather be. This thing is being ridiculous and I have to go to study time, so I will have to send pictures next week. Sorry! Love, Sister Monroe