Monday, February 24, 2014

A blustery week in Cedar Falls

So, this week has been interesting. Definitely full of highs and lows.
The snow and ice that has been building for months had a few days to melt this week, and I was pretty excited, but it was short-lived! We then had a pretty good storm that left half an inch of ice hiding under about 6 inches of snow. Not too fun when you don't have the option of bundling up and staying in for a week while the effects of the storm disappear! We were grounded during the storm, and one other time this week, but other than that it was bundle up, say a prayer, and try not to slip on the ice that's everywhere. So far, so good. But, it's not supposed to get above like 15 degrees this whole week, so snow and ice piles everywhere for a while!

With the combination of the weather, Zone training meeting, and sickness, we did not do a ton of teaching this week, and it seemed like every time we had a day full of promising appointments- it fell through for one reason or another. It has been frustrating, but we are still seeing plenty of miracles!
Hannah is doing amazing. We met with her a couple times, and she came to church again this week, where she was able to meet the handful of young single adults (We only have about 8, 3 of which are active). She went to their Family home evening last night, and has plans to go to another activity with them, and institute this week. We are so excited for her! We have already grown so close. She doesn't want either of us to leave, ever. Haha. If only it worked that way! Luckily we've got at least another month here together!
We also met this incredible young lady, Corinne this week. She is here from Orem selling satellite, along with 7 college-aged guys, who she manages. She is a convert, and has a really incredible story. The short version is that she was recently re-activated, and working toward receiving her endowments with her bishop there, and hopes to get to Nauvoo here in a couple weeks. She is so glad there are sisters here, and we just love her. We are excited to be working with her as well!

Tyler was unfortunately anti-ed via the internet, to the point that he said he'd press charges if we texted him anymore. I don't even think you can do that, but whatever. It's really sad to see satan get a hold of people and turn them away, but we know that eventually, he will remember the experience he had and wonder what he gave up.

Julie is doing well. She was sick yesterday and didn't make it to church, but is otherwise great. We are just praying for her that she will be able to continually abstain from smoking.
Angie is great as well. We haven't gotten out to see her in about a week and a half, and when we called her the other day she said she missed us, and asked where on earth we had been! She is hilarious and always jokes that we have nothing to do but teach her. :)
Mick will be getting back into town after 3 straight weeks of work travel. none of which he was able to attend church. From our interactions with in though, he is doing well. We'll be glad to have him back in town though. We worry about him often. I take comfort in the knowledge that Heavenly Father is working with each of these precious children, and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.

We've had a lot of tender mercies this week among the craziness. I know the Lord is aware of me, and He gives me little reminders of it every day! For those I am sure grateful.
Thank you for all your love and support. It means a lot! I am absolutely loving my mission- I never want to stop teaching people the Gospel!

Love, Sister Monroe
 We've decided to start getting cupcakes every p-day. We have the cutest little
cupcakery here, and it's right by the library where we do our e-mailing!

 Sister Sumsion thought that these irregular pears were so funny. :)

 We did the COOLEST service project EVER on Friday. We helped at the local nature reserve, tapping all of their maple trees! They are collecting the sap to make syrup for the MAPLE SYRUP FESTIVAL that they have every year. SO much fun!!! This is me tapping in a spile! It was awesome, you can hear the sound change when you hit the center of the tree.

 Getting the maple from the tree.

My comp!

Oh, and we wore snow shoes to walk around on the 10 inches
that have collected there. It was awesome!

These are the head honchos of the nature reserve, specializing in maple syrup making. They gave us a really funny tour of the "sugar shack" and explained how they make it. They were such characters. 

We finished up cleaning our old super crappy apartment. Sumpsh was really
proud of this magic eraser when she was done with the stove. So gross.

Tender mercy! I spotted this big, gorgeous owl on our way out to church.
He's on the top of the fence on the right side. He took flight just after
I got a couple pictures. I was so excited- I've never spotted a real live owl before!

We built a fort to finish our weekly planning in last night.
Sometimes, you just have to! :) Sidenote- you can kind of tell, but I curled
my hair for church, with a straightener, and it worked really well!

Monday, February 17, 2014

A Baptism!

What a wonderful, tiring, snowy, miraculous week. Missions are crazy busy.
I am soo so low on e-mail time, but let me tell you all about a couple of this weeks miracles!
1. Sister Sumsion and I found out we are staying together in Cedar Falls for 6 more weeks! We are both just in heaven. Also, I don't know if you noticed, but transfers were on thursday. We are both very happy about. By the end of this transfer I'll have been out 9 months, and in Cedar Falls for 6. SOOOO crazy!!!! I can't even believe it sometimes.
2. We moved out of our apartment, into a wonderful, clean, spacious new one a week earlier than we had expected to. We called to see if we could come see it, and she told us it was clean, empty and ready for us. We picked up the keys 15 minutes later, and the elders and ward mission leader were able to help us move the next day. Such a huge tender mercy. It is so nice to be somewhere that we can feel safe, clean, and have the spirit all the time. So my address for the next 6 weeks is:
2207 Thunder Ridge Blvd, Apt. 7B  Cedar Falls, IA 50613.
3. Julie got baptized!!!!! It was a stressful road, but it has been such a beautiful thing to see the gospel take effect in her life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to help her come to Christ.
4. Julie brought non member family and friends to her baptism. One of them is named Tyler, he is like an "adopted son" to her. He was touched by the spirit while the elders were teaching the restoration, and upon being invited to learn more afterward, he said yes. Then he asked them about Priesthood authority. They recapped that part of the restoration, invited him to be baptized, and to read the book of mormon, all of which he accepted! They got his info, and he lives in OUR AREA. so amazing. He came to Julie's confirmation and stayed for all three hours of church. We are so excited to teach him.
5. Hannah came to church! We love her so much, and had a really incredible lesson this week on Patriarchal blessings. We were prompted to set a date for her to work towards getting hers, which she is praying about. She has been reading the Book of Mormon every day on her own, like, a lot. She enjoyed church, and we see her again tomorrow. I have grown to love her so much already, and she love s us too. We are excited to see her growing in the gospel!
6. I have had a cold all week. I know- this is not a miracle. What is, is that colds usually hit me like a freight train and knock me on my bum for weeks. This is literally the mildest one I've ever had. I know it is a blessing for my diligent work.

Well, that's about all the miracles I can think of off hand. Sister Sumsion and I are feeling like this transfer is going to be one of change and miracles and happiness. I am excited to see what Heavenly Father has in store for Cedar Falls!

Thank you for all the love this week. I sure appreciate it. :)
-Sister Monroe
 This is "Spam Musebi" the elders made for us last p-day. Elder Aiasau went home thursday, and had raved about this for weeks. He had to make it for us before he left! It was actually pretty good!

 She was really excited to see our new apartment.

  I love my family. This is a sweet package I got from Jen this week! 

 And one my aunt Vauna. Thank you so much!

 Julie's baptism!

I got one from Abby too! :)

Monday, February 10, 2014

A week full of miracles!

Hey! So, sometimes a week starts out slow, and it gets interesting, and then in one day, a ton of your prayers are answered, and it's beautiful.
I have been out a full 7 months last monday, can you believe it??
Everyone is doing well here.

Julie is a rockstar and I love her. Sometimes we don't hear from her for like 24 hours, and we freak out and think the worst, but we keep being wrong, which is wonderful. It happened twice this week, both times ending with a phone call from her where she tells us she is doing great, that she's reading and praying, not smoking, can't wait for her baptism , and that she loves us so much. Yesterday, she came to church, and brought her best friend with her. He decided that from the few short interactions he's had with us, and what Julie's told him, he wants to join our church too! So cool! Anyway, we attended julie's ward with her, and it was great. That ward is really excited for her, and has already reached out and loved her so much. Her baptismal interview was after church, and she is ready! She will be baptized this Saturday at 1pm. :)

This last week the elders from Julie's ward (Waterloo elders) met and taught the first lesson with their bishop to a sweet, Liberian lady, Teta. They then figured out that she is in our area! She came to the Waterloo ward yesterday, and upon being introduced to us, said that she wanted to become a member of our church today, and wants us to help her become one as soon as possible. Talk about being prepared to receive the gospel! We meet with her tomorrow to teach the Plan of Salvation and extend a baptismal date!

Hannah is doing great. We were able to see her on Tuesday, and teach her a lesson on the Book of Mormon, and she's been reading! We also had her over to a member's home, the Larson's on Friday for a lesson and shakes. They were so nice to her, and we had a great lesson. She was not ready for church yesterday she said, but Sister Larson invited her to the Relief Society activity on Tuesday and she said she'd come! We have already developed a great friendship with her, and are praying to see her come back to full activity in the church.

We had a really crazy experience/miracle on Saturday. Our ward had a temple trip, and Sister Dunigan (who Sister Boone and I miraculously found and activated) would be going to do an endowment session for the first time in years. In addition, Mick and Angie would be going to do baptisms! Sister Sumsion hasn't been to the temple yet, and wanted to go, and I thought just maybe President would approve me to go without it counting as one of my 3 trips since It would be to accompany Sister Dunigan. Last week, I called and told him the story of meeting her, and he granted me a free temple trip, and approved us to go! So crazy- this doesn't happen very often. Well, mick and Angie both ended up not being able to go because of work and family emergencies (all is well though.) But, we got a ride set up and were ready to go. Saturday morning we headed off in a car with Bishop, Sister Dunigan, her visiting teacher, and a couple others who didn't have rides. We got maybe 20 minutes down the road and got in an accident due to snow on the road. It wasn't bad- just scary. Only the bumper on bishop's car was damaged, and the other two drivers were 100% fine. It was a miracle that it was so minor. Nonetheless, our trip to Nauvoo was foiled, and we were all so disappointed. Not to mention- shaken up.

Sister Sumsion and I had both been seeking revelation and felt like we would receive it at the temple, and had prayed and prayed about if it was the right time to go. We felt like it was. We still don't know why Heavenly Father stopped us- and everyone else in the car who needed to go so desperately- from going, but I am absolutely confident that it was all in His hands. We both got Priesthood blessings yesterday, and are doing wonderful.

I know that Heavenly Father loves me so much, and that He is aware of me, and us, and our trials, as well as our joys. He is blessing me every single day, and even though sometimes hardship has to precede the miracles and blessings, they always come. Sometimes they're obvious and easy to see, sometimes we have to search for them. This week they have been absolutely clear, and I know that I, and we, are being blessed both spiritually and temporally for how hard we work and how much we trust in The Lord. Another huge blessing has been Sister Sumsion. She is amazing, and kind. We love each other so much, and have been helping each other through these trials- as most of ours, old and new, are the same! We are here together, at this time for a reason. Being a missionary is incredible.

Thank you for all your prayers and love- I truly feel them each day. I love you all so much!
-Sister Alex Monroe

Monday, February 3, 2014

Exchanges, and other stuff...

This week was a little crazy! But, of course, I love it that way.

Julie is doing great. She had a minor setback with smoking this week due to a stressful family emergency, but she quit again a day later and is doing amazing. We were talking to her on the phone Saturday about her baptism and how we want to introduce her to people in her ward, and she kept telling us how excited she was and how she knows that the Lord is helping her. She said (about not smoking) "I know I'm gonna make it, because I have faith. I just want it to be the 15th already!"
Her faith in the Savior gives me added perspective, and I am so overjoyed to see how far she has come. We just pray at this point that she will be able to stay clean and get adjusted to her ward before her baptism. So far, so good.

We were able to see Hannah again, the miracle less active I told you about, and we taught the restoration. We spent most of the time talking about how much Heavenly Father knows and loves us, because she struggles to see that. It was an incredible lesson though, and we are so glad to have met her. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get a hold of her since then. Pray that we will. We already love her so much, and she needs the Gospel in her life.

We had exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders on Thursday and Friday. (This happens once a transfer.) Exchanges are known to bring miracles, and more than anything this time, they brought revelation which I am still mulling over, and learning from. I was able to spend the exchange with Sister Egbert, who I love. We met on Facebook before our mission, and were in the same MTC district. She will likely transfer out of the area in a couple of weeks, so we treasured the time together, because this is probably the closest we'll get to being companions. Over the course of the exchange, we talked a lot about how our own fears and insecurities can get in the way of the spirit guiding us, but that we can lay those things on the altar of sacrifice and move forward. I have grown so much through my mission, but learning to give all of my weaknesses to my Savior is a life long process. I am so grateful to know that I can do it though, that is knowledge that I would be lost without. I know that using the atonement of Christ to become perfect and rely on the spirit to guide and comfort us is something that is so important to teach our investigators. I know that because I'm currently experiencing it, I'll be a more capable teacher.

We were grounded a couple of times this week, but not hardly as much as the last few weeks, so that is nice. It has been cold, but I am doing great. The work moves forward!

I so appreciate all the prayers- know that I feel and need them.
Love, Sister Monroe
 We road-tripped to an outlying town in our area on exchanges, it was so fun.

 I just love her!

 Sisters Sumsion, Cannon, and Egbert. They are all so silly. :)

 We love exchanges- and self-timer photos!

An adorable valentines day package. Thanks mom! :)