Monday, August 26, 2013

"Only in Dubuque!"

Well, hi! A theme of this area is that we say "only in Dubuque," several times a day, because this city is SO characteristically random. Fun times. This week has been crazy, but good! Tuesday morning, we finished the marathon service project of pulling Greta's giant weeds. She was so so happy, and grateful. She is still surprised by our love and willingness to help. We had an appointment to teach her this week, but when we showed up she told us she hadn't realized how busy she'd be at the time. She is trying to get all her plants in the ground (where the weeds used to be) before it's too late for them to take root, and she needed to keep working. We told her it was alright, and rescheduled. We had arranged for a member to meet us there and teach with us, when she arrived, we told her that Greta had cancelled and why, and she said she wanted to stay and help her plant! Greta was so grateful and surprised. They had a good time from what we heard. I am so grateful for the members here. Greta was not ready to set a baptismal date when we invited her to, but the best thing- she came to sacrament meeting! This is HUGE everyone. It is a struggle to get investigators to church most of the time. She is awesome. We are so happy to be teaching her. She is still fervently trying to read the book of mormon, and is liking it so far. Please pray for her to gain a testimony. The Armstrongs are doing well. They are not making a ton of progress towards baptism, but they are doing a ton of growing in knowledge and understanding of the gospel. It is wonderful. They are both keeping commitments to read, which they have never ever done before. We were able to teach them at a member's home this week, and it went very well. The friendship and fellowship of the members is going to be huge for them, we are pretty sure. We are continually learning more about the marshallese members, and getting to know them better. It is so wonderful. They warm my heart. OH, and HUGE news. This last Saturday, we were all waiting on transfer doctrine. (They call you the week before transfers and tell you if you're going, staying, training, etc.) We thought for sure that at least one or two of the missionaries in our district would be going, and I was afraid I'd get called to train someone else after only six weeks of my own training - that happens a lot to sisters in our mission right now. But, finally at 10:15pm, we found out that we are ALL staying here. This is so crazy and practically unheard of. I love our district, and am so happy to be in Dubuque with all of them. Because of transfer week, we still e-mail today, but p-day is on wednesday, so I won't be able to write actual letters until then. I love you all! Thank you for all of the love and support! -Sister Monroe

Monday, August 19, 2013

Guess What?!?!!

We have seen miracles this week! That's right- not one, but multiple! Woohoo!!!!!!!!!! Okay, so the week has been amazing, obviously. There were a couple days that were remarkable: Tuesday, we had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders, Sis. Thompson, (AKA Mama T- because she has trained 7 sisters, and is amazing.) I was pretty nervous going into exchanges, but wow, I loved it! Mama T and I spent the day walking, and walking, and walking. We literally made about an eight mile loop. We didn't find any new investigators, but I learned SO much from spending that time with her. She goes home this friday, so she is at the very end of her mission, and had a ton of stories, strategies, insights, and wisdom to share. It was fantastic. Sis. Oman and Sis. Andersen took their car for the day, and they has a wonderful time too. And guess what miracle they experienced... remember how I talked about the member's neighbor, Greta who we pulled giant weeds for last saturday, and was curious? Well, they stopped by her house, got to know her better, taught the restoration, invited her to be baptized, and SHE ACCEPTED!!!!!!!!!!!! Hurrah for Israel! She doesn't have a baptismal date, but she is our 1st "new investigator" of the entire transfer, and my entire mission. She is so prepared, open, and such a blessing! We are finally able to see the fruit of all our labor. I am so incredibly grateful to Heavenly Father for putting us in her path- through members no less! Wow! You don't even know how great it is. I was already happy, and loved my mission, but this is a new experience, being able to teach someone, for their first time, and knowing that it is all in God's hands. It brings me so much joy. Pray for Greta! She is dyslexic, and is very excited to read the Book of Mormon, but needs some divine help if it is to be clear, and make sense. Please pray for heavenly father to bless her with clarity, understanding, and to feel that what she reads is true. We touched base with her yesterday, and she has already had questions answered in the first few pages. So, basically exchanges were amazing. Mama T and I got to teach the Armstrongs, they are doing well. Aaron didn't do his reading, but Shannon did, which is HUGE. She has never kept that commitment before, with any missionaries. Not only that, but she said. "I feel like I'm finally understanding." Hallelujah! Thank you for your prayers. They still have a really big problem with tithing. Pray for them in that aspect, please. They also are refusing to come to church until they decide to be baptized, which they won't do until they get over the while tithing issue, so that's the biggest thing right now. We need some serious divine help. This week, we said goodbye to Elder Peter from our district. The marshallese members, who I love more all the time, threw him a goodbye party, which was amazing. It was at a park right on the mississippi, and it was awesome. They told us that they will throw each of us a party just like it when we leave. It is a big deal, because they really love and appreciate us.At the end of the party, they sang a touching song, and lined up and put money in a pot for Eld. Peter, it was incredible. I was moved to tears. I have been able to get to know many of them this week, so it means even more to me. Well, I wish I had time to respond to everyone, but I don't, sorry! I appreciate all the e-mails, letters, prayers, and support. I will do my best to write back! Thank you so much!

So much love,
Sister Monroe

An Awesome Care Package sent by Ev! Such a fun surprise!
The Mississippi River! It's Beautiful!
Our Amazing District + our Sister Training Leader.
Elder Peter and I. He's so funny, I will miss him.
"Mama T." and I, I love her so much!
                Myself, Sis. Thompson, Sis. Andersen and Sis. Oman. And Last but not least...
                                            Another gorgeous Iowa sunset.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

All is Well!

Hi Mom, Dad, Family and Friends! Well, most exciting thing first, (No baptismal dates yest, don't get too crazy!) The Armstrongs are doing GREAT. We were able to drop in on them last monday for a short visit, and taught them two more times this week. Our lesson on Wednesday was wonderful. We want to help them have firm testimonies of the prophet Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, so we watched the Restoration with them, and talked about the prophet. We also read from the introduction page to the Book of Mormon about the promise that when you gain a testimony of it, you know Joseph was a prophet, etc. and vice versa. It was amazing, the spirit was so strong! It was a miracle, because as many times as they've been taught the restoration, they didn't understand it like this. They knew practically nothing about Joseph Smith, like if he was an actual, documented, living person! Crazy, right? We were able to make so much progress, and answer a few difficult questions with such ease. I know they are prepared NOW, and that Heavenly Father is working through Sister Oman and I in a way he hasn't quite been able to with other missionaries. We met with them once more, and talked about how to receive answers and revelation through studying the Book of Mormon, and our next appointment is tomorrow! They are so incredible. I truly love them as the Savior does, and I see their potential to become an incredible, steadfast, eternal family. The next most exciting thing (this one's mostly funny) that happened was when we visited an elderly sister from our ward, Sister Orton. She lives sort of far, and it meant a ton to her that we came to see her. When we walked in, we were greeted by not one, or two, but four cats. It smelled like straight up litter box in there. Anyway, we were having a lovely visit, and in the middle of our message about prayer, she got up and was like, "would you like a slice of watermelon?" she was already in the kitchen by the time we could answer. She brought us some big slices on plates, and we ate while she told us about her family, and health, and cats. Haha. She was so sweet. we finished our message, and said a prayer and then she asked if we'd each like an ear of sweet corn to cook for lunch this week. That stuff is delicious, so we said sure, and she comes back with an ear of corn, and a plate of rice krispy treats for each of us! It was so great. We could tell she was just so happy to have company. She saw us out, and then waited on her porch until we drove by on our way out. It was truly a sweet experience, even though I had to cough for about ten minutes afterward to stop feeling like their was cat hair in my throat. I am just so grateful to be in this ward! The members love us so much, and I know they just need a little pushing to get involved in the work. Oh, fun fact: as part of training, I was senior companion this week, which meant that I made decisions, lead companion study, and got to drive! I loved that part. :) I love my mission more each day. Each week has a brand new, even harder challenge, but it is all worth it. I am grateful to be here, and I know it is where the Lord has sent me. I wouldn't trade how much I've learned and grown for anything. I love you all. I say it every week, but I feel the prayers and support of my loved ones all the time! Thank you so much. -Sis. Monroe
Picture 1- Everything is So green, I love it. Picture 2- This is what you eat when your dinner appointment cancels 15 minutes from when you're supposed to be there, and it's fast sunday. Fun times! Haha! Picture 3- They have these EVERYWHERE. You'll be walking through a neighborhood and, oops, the sidewalk just ends. So random, and so unnecessary. Only in Dubuque. Picture 4- Sis. Oman and I in front of the cornfield two minutes from our house. We love it here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Second Week in Dubuque

Hello loved ones! First of all, the Armstrongs were out of town this whole week, so my heart has been hurting. We are planning to meet with them tonight, so I will have an update next week! This week without a car went surprisingly alright. The members here are a great help, just about the only thing they don't do is give us people to teach, but we're working on it! An enormous blessing this week (and always) has been our senior couple, Elder and Sister Thomas. They are serving here in Dubuque for an entire 12-moth mission, and they are awesome. They are always willing to pick us up, give us advice, feed us. They are like our mission grandparents, are super funny, and I love them so much. President and Sister Jensen drove out to Dubuque on Tuesday for interviews, and oh my, was it wonderful. They are incredible. We each had private interviews with them individually. Everything that I needed to hear was said. President told me how wonderfully we were doing, and that he knows we are working as hard as we can each day. He told me that he can see our obedience, diligence, and spirit, and that we are NOT to worry about numbers, only that we are guided by the spirit and do our best each day. He promised that we would be blessed as we continue on. The spirit truly testifies to me of his calling as my mission president each time I am with him. It is amazing how well he knows us, without even knowing us! Sis. Jensen is also incredible. She is so kind and loving, and a mother to me as I am far away from home. It was a wonderful experience, and a wonderful day. Something I have completely left out, because I haven't had anything to share about it until now, is that about half of Dubuque is made up of Marshallese people. They also make up half of our ward. They are an incredibly interesting, rich-cultured people. I hadn't gotten a taste of that until we went to a marshallese party saturday night at the church. They throw these HUGE parties when their kids turn one year old. The party we went to was for 3 babies turning one, so it was 3 times as awesome. The party started at five, but was only americans until 7, because of what is well-known as "marshallese time." I kid you not, they show up 1-2 hours late to just about everything. It's kind of hilarious. Anyway, it was a super fun night! There was a TON, and I mean TON of food, extremely loud marshallese music, dancing, gift-giving, and so much love. They gave each of us women flower clips for our hair, and we all got in line to shake the babies' hands, as per tradition. I was thoroughly uplifted and entertained. The party was definitely a highlight of the week. Well, time is winding down, but I want to thank everyone so much for the prayer and love and support. I am truly supported by them each day. I feel my family and friend's love always, especially in tough times. We were truly blessed this week, not how we wanted, but definitely how we needed. I know it's thanks in part to all of you. I feel my Savior and Heavenly Father more each day. They are the reason I am still smiling, walking, and working each day. I have never felt this way in all my life, and I can't imagine how great my joy will be even greater as I progress through the rest of my mission, and see the fruits of my labor. Blessings to all of you! I love you, and so does our Savior. :) -Sister Monroe