Monday, September 23, 2013

Onward, ever onward!

Well, this week has been... fun. :)
Bad news is, Shannon dropped us on monday. Good news is, she still loves us, and is happy to visit with us. She doesn't want to make any teaching appointments, because she is frustrated with her lack of progress, and says that God is not answering any of her prayers. I know she just needs faith! Getting her to that point requires action on her part, and when she understands that, things will change. If 6 years shows anything, she will get to a point where she's ready to try again. We won't give up on her, Heavenly Father cares too much for her to let us.
Greta and Clarea are both doing well. We were not able to meet with either of them this week, but we have appointments for this week, and we are excited for those. I'll keep you posted!

The biggest thing this week, was that we had zone training (this happens once a transfer period). It was incredible. All the training we received echoed the counsel and revelation we received at the mission tour. Both myself and Sister Call, who serves in the 2nd ward, got next to no sleep, because our minds were racing trying to figure out how to put everything we learned into action! The next day we were able to call a meeting as a district, and that is where things got really good. We said a prayer, and the spirit was SO strong. We sat around for about 3 hours, discussing ideas, and sharing insight, talking about how we get the work moving in Dubuque, because right now, it's like all 10 of us trying to do it ourselves, and it isn't working, at all! We made a plan of how to get started, and called a meeting with our bishops and ward mission leaders that evening to help them catch the vision we have. Then that night, we divided and conquered, each companionship visiting one or two ward council members to share this with them as well.
It was an incredible day, really. Miracles are about to happen in Dubuque, all we have to do is continue to work our hardest and get the members involved. We attended ward council yesterday, and they are already so excited. Bishop has even asked everyone to focus on this very thing, how to do missionary work, for 5th Sunday next week. We will be teaching a how-to on inviting people for part of it.
The spirit here is changing with the season, and I know Heavenly Father has a great miracle in store for us to help with. The days are hard, but I have never had so much joy and excitement about anything. Pray for us, and the missionaries in your ward! I love you all!

Sorry for the short e-mail!
Love, Sister Monroe
 I get so excited when the sun goes down every night, it is ALWAYS so gorgeous.
 I got a marshallese nametag. Now all I have to do is learn how to read it! :)
 Look what we found!!!!!
 I just loved this. The flowers are amazing here.
 These are called Chinese Lanterns, and they actually gave us a really good experience! We saw them in this lady's front yard, so we decided to knock on her door and ask what they were. (Missionaries-we take any opportunity to start a conversation!) The lady's name was Cindy, she was so nice to us, told us about these plants and said we should take some because they dry just like this, and look really cool. She told us she was catholic, and asked about what we do, how long we're out, how long we're in Dubuque, how much we get paid, etc. She told us how great we were for serving like this, and wished us luck. We said a prayer with her, and then she thanked us and gave us both hugs! It made my day.
Look, Fall is here!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

It's beginning to feel a lot like Fall!

Hi everybody!

One of the best things about this week is that, from the looks of it,  fall is setting in. I finally got to wear my raincoat this weekend. Normal people should not be excited about this, but I've never had to own one before, and I absolutely love the rain, so there you have it. Everyone says Iowa falls are so gorgeous, and I am very excited to see what's in store.

Well, I don't have too much to report about the Armstrongs, other than that Shannon loves us. We didn't get to have an actual lesson with them this week, but we did stop by a couple times to just visit with shannon and share a scripture. Both of those were great. She is always happy to see us, and chats our ears off, asks questions, and so forth. It is helpful, because she ends up telling us about her concerns often times, and that makes it easier to teach what she needs to hear. She and Aaron are both slacking on their "homework" as they call it. Pray that they will continue to read the Book of Mormon.

Greta is - well, Greta. She is doing good, but has a generally chaotic life. She is working very hard on the hill that we pulled all the weeds out of, and between that and trying to open up a "pure bible study" here in Dubuque, she doesn't have much down time. We were able to drop by and talk to her while she gardened, and share a scripture. Then yesterday, we finally had an actual lesson. We had a member meet us there (we try to get a member at every lesson we teach- it helps so much) and we talked about the gospel of Christ. It went well, but as expected with Greta, she has a lot to say and plenty of questions raised by things she hears from friends. She is honestly seeking to understand what we believe, but is sort of resistant to anything we teach besides what is in the bible. Pray for her heart to be softened, and that she will read and pray about the Book of Mormon. She has yet to pray about it, but it is so important that she does!

We gained an investigator this week, the elders had been teaching her, but she lives in our area, so they handed her over to us! Her name is Clarea, she is a big, loud, hilarious, sweet, 51-year-old black lady. She lives in the ghetto of dubuque. (Not even kidding.) She really wants to learn, and get baptized. All we have to do is get her to church and help her quit smoking, and she'll be ready! We are very excited to be teaching her. She has such an honest, humble desire to follow Christ, and she actually WANTS to, which is not like our other investigators. We have great faith that she will progress!

Most exciting thing that happened this week, we spent pretty much all of Thursday in Iowa City for a mission tour! Elder Robert C. Gay of the 1st Quorum of the Seventy was here. They split our mission down the middle, one half came to hear him one day, and the other half the next day. It was fantastic! It was such a huge blessing to sit at the feet of an apostle, and hear what he had to teach us specifically. We learned a ton, and he was very interactive. He didn't just stand up and talk, he got us involved form the very beginning, and taught what we needed to hear. The things he hit hardest were the converting power of the Book of Mormon, and member involvement. Both are so crucial if we are to have any success in bringing souls to Christ. I cannot possibly nutshell all that he shared, but it was wonderful. We got to shake his hand, and also heard from President and Sister Jensen. I am so grateful and blessed to be here. This is by no means easy, but by all means the greatest thing I've ever done.

I love you all so much. Thank you for all the love and support!
-Sister Monroe
 Hooray for mail! This is an awesome package I got from Jen this week. Thank you, sweet cousin!
 Some of our members picked us up, stopped by subway, and we ate dinner up at eagle point park, overlooking the Mississippi river. I love it!
Eagle point park is all limestone architecture, I loved this little tunnel!

Monday, September 9, 2013

I Know that my Redeemer Lives!

So, hello all!
This week was great! Our lessons and plans were definitely not what we expected, but it was fantastic! Let me tell you about it:

The Armstrongs are doing well, but still just the same. We did make a lot of progress with Shannon this week though. They had cancelled because Aaron had to work late, and didn't text us back when we tried to re-schedule by text, so we dropped in that evening anyway. Haha. Aaron was asleep (they had also requested that he go in at 2 the next morning, so he came home and went straight to bed), but we had a really good visit with Shannon. She "admitted" to us that she is really struggling to believe in Christ. Hello- you cannot get an answer about the Restoration, church, tithing, or any of that without a testimony of Christ! No wonder she's been having a hard time receiving/ recognizing answers! The next night, we had a lesson just about that, we watched Finding Faith in Christ with them, and had am incredible discussion about faith, and how to gain it, how important it is, etc. Whether they recognized it or not, the Spirit was very present and strong during that visit. I am so grateful for that. They are having trouble keeping the commitment to read the Book of Mormon, so pray that they will. Tithing is still an issue, but they both need testimonies of other things first, so pray for increased faith!

Greta is doing well, we saw her a few times this week, but were only able to teach her once, and it was very interesting. We had planned to teach the plan of salvation, and she was so resistant. It was shocking because she is such an open person, and is very excited and interested in learning more about the gospel. The lesson was about to become bible bashing, and she told us we don't represent Christ, that we're just out to baptize as many as we can. Sounds like all hope is lost, right? Nope. My spirit was so furious as she told me that  didn't represent the Savior. I said a prayer and asked Heavenly Father to help me, and then proceeded to bear an incredibly powerful testimony. I don't even remember a lot of what I said, but I could feel the Savior there with me, and she felt it too. She still loves us, is grateful for our service, and wants to be taught, so all is well! It was/is a miracle. She has not read any of the Book of Mormon yet, so please pray that she will, and feel of it's truth. Pray for her to be open as we teach. She is such an incredible lady, and Satan is working so hard to stop her from progressing.

It has been a very good week for me. last week, I began studying the New Testament in addition to my Book of Mormon study every day, and I love it.
I feel closer to my savior each day. This gospel is such a blessing. I cannot believe how much I took it for granted my whole life. I cannot thank my Heavenly Father enough for this privilege to personally testify of Christ each day. If you want to have an incredible study, read Matthew 12, and Mormon 7 one after the other, and write down what you learn about the Savior and His gospel. Sorry- I know- missionary mentality, but seriously, it is amazing!

I love you all! Keep praying for me. I don't know what it would be like if you didn't!  Also, please pray for me to sleep well if you would. I can count on one hand the nights I have slept a full, restful, 8 hours since I left. Have a great week, and write a missionary!
- Sister Monroe

Some pics from the week:
 We got ice cream a couple p-days ago in honor of my favorite cousin's birthday.
That's you, Jennifer! :)
 Sister Whipple and I - we love each other. We met on Facebook before we came out, and were in separate mtc zones, but are serving in the same district. She is so funny!
 I made Sis. Oman and I breakfast yesterday (Sunday)
 We got really tired/bored walking yesterday, and the best way to remedy that is a spontaneous, ridiculous picture! :)
They have hibiscus' everywhere here! Apparently they grow really well in the humidity, just like Hawaii. Isn't this purple one gorgeous?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Happy Labor Day!

It was such a fun labor day here in Dubuque! Since we didn't have to e-mail, or grocery shop, we had so much time. The other ward sisters decided to host a picnic at their place, and we all brought food. Our whole district spent the afternoon together eating, playing uno (We played by the Thomas's rules, I'll have to teach everybody when I get home, it was so fun!) and we ended the afternoon playing volleyball at the park. It was like an actual holiday! That never happens on the mission!

So, I don't have a ton to report, but the Armstrongs are doing well. They had us over for dinner this week, and it was great. We made them this reading/commitment chart where they earn stickers for commitments, and it has been working wonders. It sounds silly, but we're getting buzz in our district and zone for thinking of it. This week they finally earned 6 stars, so as promised on the chart, I made them baked goods. :) It worked out great because I provided dessert for our meal together. We have been focusing on faith with them, and most appointments, we simply read and discuss the book of mormon with them . It has been going very well, and I think they are making progress. The next step is to get them to set a baptismal date, they've refused twice before. So pray for that, and that they'll come to church!

Greta is doing well too. She has been reading, and "likes the book." She cancelled two teaching appointments on us this week, but for legitimate reasons, so basically it's satan placing stumbling blocks in her way. We have ran into her twice and have an appointment with her tomorrow, which she called us to confirm this morning, so it's looking great! Pray that she will be receptive to what we teach. The Plan of Salvation is a gift, and we really want her to understand what it means for her.

We did have a couple miracles this week! There are two less active, older sisters who we have been trying very hard to get in contact with since we got here, and on Tuesday, we saw BOTH of them. So crazy! We called one of them in the morning, Sis. Dietrich, and she usually needs you to schedule a week in advance, or just says no, but she told us to come over right then. We did, and it was wonderful. We had a very nice visit with her, and she welcomed us to come back another time. Even her visiting teacher can hardly ever see her, so this is huge. The other one, Sis. Santos, is someone whose apartment we've dropped by 6 times since we got here, and she never answers the phone to buzz us in. We even had an appointment once and she was a no show. That evening, we dropped by, she picked up, and buzzed us in. We were slightly shocked because we're so used to no response. We had a lovely visit with her as well. That day was such a blessing. We know Heavenly Father provided us with those experiences.

The weather here has gotten so nice in the last 48 hours. It has been not very humid, breezy, and no hotter than about 74 degrees. It made being out yesterday so enjoyable. I felt for a moment like I was back in San Diego where the weather is perfect. I have officially fallen in love with this place. This is where Heavenly Father wants me, and he blesses me with strength each day. I know as I continue to work, we will see the fruit of our labor and our investigators will progress.

Thank you everyone for all the prayers of love and support. I so appreciate it. Feed some missionaries this week for me! ;)

Sister Monroe
P.S. Empty mailboxes make for sad missionaries. Send some love!

I Love the clouds here! This was such a beautiful Labor day!

 Our district labor day lunch, we had so much fun. We are such a family!