Hello from Omaha!
The snow is stuck on the ground and the temperature is 2 degrees today!! It is wonderful being a missionary.
- Danville 2nd youth! i loved the package, and laughed really hard watching all the "mormon message" skits. how i love you all. Thanks for your strong examples to me :)
- Family: i wish i would have filmed myself listening to "Don't save it all for Christmas Day". i don't think i have ever enjoyed that song more than the first time i listened to it this week. haha. thank you Dad for sending all of those cd's! it has made such a fun difference! and thank you for the hand/feet warmers, gloves, slippers, socks, protein powder... all of it. it was such a fun surprise!
What a humbling week. I am exhausted haha but so happy. I love when the Lord humbles us because it reminds us of who is really in charge. I am so grateful to be His servant, and to be able to witness miracles each day through His guiding hand.
- ah. this one is so cool. So Sister Hamilton and i went on exchanges several weeks ago (before we were companions) and we met this couple, Michael and Jessica. I hope you remember them. Michael was a member of the church and his wife is super religious and awesome. well, we had set up a return appointment with them, but it fell through. super bummed... anyway, fast forward to this week. Sister Hamilton and I were praying to know who we should visit, and we both remembered Michael and Jessica, who we had met when we were together! so, we decided that we should go try them again. not going to lie, i was super nervous for some reason. I guess because i had gotten so excited about them before and then had it fall through. But, we prayed, found strength and faith, and knocked on their door. and guess what? we saw a miracle. Jessica talked to us for a good 20 minutes about how she has been thinking a lot about us, and how she really wants to meet with us! we were able to bear testimony and help her feel the spirit, and then set up a return appointment for this week! It was also so awesome because Michael came into the rooom, and he said "wait, you two are together again? i thought that was just for the day?" we then told him about transfers and how sister Hamilton is now my companion, and instantly he goes "well that is no coincidence!" ha. even HE recognizes the hand of the Lord. it was wonderful, and such an answer to prayer!
- We had a lesson with mr. Akwani this week, a referral from an old mission president who served in Omaha. Akwani is from Nigeria, and has a really strong religious background. but it was so neat to talk to him about the book of mormon, the prophet joseph smith, and to see his countenance change and to accept joseph as a prophet. We brought sister weston with us on a team up and it made all the difference. He is so prepared, and i love him so much. It was a miracle even just to meet with him, and i know that he truly is the elect... i can't wait to see him progress.
- On Friday we had a leadership council for all of the STL's and zone leaders in the mission. it was incredible. i feel so blessed to be able to serve alongside so many amazing people who have so much faith.. it strengthens mine.
Saturday was my first day doing exchanges with the sisters! ah i was so nervous. ha. i have been on plenty of exchanges, but i was so nervous for this one. i wanted it to be a great experience for the sister i was with, along with a learning experience for me. I prayed my guts out that it would go well, and sure enough, it did!
we saw so many miracles...
- we had lunch with a member of the ward, and while we were there Michaela (who we have been teaching but who has kind of been dodging us the past week) called the member to tell her she got a new car and wanting to show it to her. so, the member, who is SO awesome, invited Michaela to eat lunch with us right then. Michaela agreed, and came and ate lunch with us. it was an amazing experience, and i will never forget this member bearing her testimony so boldly to Michaela about the blessings of the gospel... it was earth shattering. ha. i was so proud of the member for being 1. so willing to invite her friend into her home to meet with us and 2. to be unashamed of bearing her testimony, with no sugar coat, of why she is a member of the church. it was so cool, and exactly what Michaela needed to get her fire burning again.
- We had a really neat lesson with a family in our ward, the Kaisers. We do service for Sister Kaiser quite a bit, who is active, but her husband is not. We have tried to set up times to come visit their whole family but it has never worked out until on exchanges! we were able to have a really great lesson about the plan of salvation with their entire family, and we invited brother kaiser to share his testimony... it was amazing to see the light come back to him as he professed of his belief in Christ and how he knows that this is His church. This truly IS HIS church, and the spirit was so strong confirming that to me as brother kaiser spoke. it was a miracle.
- we ate dinner at the alldredge family's house. i love them. they have 8 kids all under the age of 12. they are one of my favorite families i have met on my mission... haha attached is a photo of them literally "climbing on the walls".
Sister Hamilton and i spoke in church on Sunday! we literally had no time to prepare talks until sunday morning before church, so it was kind of hectic. But it was such a testimony builder for me that when we are doing what the Lord wants and what He has asked, everything else falls into place. The spirit was so strong as we spoke, the congregation was silent. It was one of the most powerful experiences of the spirit speaking through me that i have ever had. We spoke on how to become more Christ-like, focusing on chapter 6 in preach my gospel. i know that as we develop christlike attributes, we truly will be made perfect "IN Him" (Moroni 10:32).
- mormon.org chat is miraculous. refer all of your friends there. ha. we were chatting with this man named Bruno, who was from Cameroon! We were testifying to Him about the authority to baptize residing in this church (talking about John the Baptist baptizing Christ..) and he types out:
"Wooh! how i wish i could see you facially. You speak well."
haha. i love the spirit.
Thank you for your prayers, thank you for your love. Isn't it the most wonderful time of the year? i am so grateful to have a Savior. I am so thankful for the sacrifice of the pioneers... it has hit me so hard the past few weeks, i think just because of how cold it is here. they were the most incredible people. for example: the missionaries have been warned to dress super warm because you can get frost bite in this weather just being outside for 30 minutes. now think about the pioneers who had to LIVE outside for MONTHS! ahhhh! i am so amazed by them.
One of my favorite pioneers, Amy Porter, said
"The Lord knows my heart, and all that i have is His"
i feel the same way.
love you! have a wonderful week!
Letter Received 12/16/13 ("Come, let us adore Him"):
Because of exchanges this week, we switched our p-day to monday!
We have had such an amazing week. Right when you think you don't have the energy to keep going, the Lord gives you a miracle or two to spark that "flame of faith". He is the only reason that i am able to be out here, and i am so grateful for His love.. i felt it so strongly this week.
- the Neal's! i got your package but haven't opened it yet... i am so excited. you did not need to send me anything, but it made my day to see your name on a package. how fun. i love you guys.
So many great things went on this week, and i am so thankful to be a missionary!
We had the privilege of going to the Temple this last Friday, and it was exactly what i needed. I love the Temple. so much. This may sound bad, but it is the only place/time that we get to take our name tags off and (selfishly) get to feel the spirit that dwells there while being ourselves. in the temple i am Lauren.. It is so wonderful. I want to share a sacred experience i had:
I went to the temple with a lot of questions in mind, looking for answers that i feel i desperately needed. One of those questions was whether or not i have been a successful missionary... That may be a silly question, because even i feel very happy with my missionary work. But it has been weighing on my mind a lot, especially since i hit my half way mark. I really felt like i needed an answer from the Lord, a recognition that He truly was proud of the service i have rendered and the person i am becoming.
As i sat in the Celestial room, i prayed fervently for an answer, but nothing came. So i prayed harder, and still.. nothing. I instantly thought that maybe THAT was my answer, and that my work actually wasn't acceptable! ha looking back on it now, i know that Heavenly Father would never do that.. but at the time i definitely was feeling kind of frustrated and anxious to feel of God's overwhelming approval. It was time to leave, and i continued to search my heart/brain for any sort of revelation... with no travail.
Sister Hamilton and i decided to stop by the Trail Center to pick up some things before heading out to Ralston... "unusually" (no coincidence) we went through the back door of the Trail Center, through where all the gingerbread houses are. I realized while down there that i hadnt taken any pictures of my favorite ones, so i grabbed my camera and decided to snap a few pictures before heading upstairs. Well, while i was taking a picture of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir gingerbread house (see attached photo), i feel someone close to me and here them say "isn't this one awesome?" i turn to look who said that, and by my total surprise, it was Troy.
When i served in Rockbrook, my first area, Sister Whittaker and i worked our tails off trying to get Troy back to church, and his daughter, Ty to be baptized. I love them so much, and it was such a miracle to see Troy! Well. While catching up with him, he begins to tell me how he has been meeting with the bishop, has been attending church, and how he will be baptizing Ty on January 4th, and how he has been praying to have an opportunity to tell me! ah i am crying even just typing this because that is SUCH a miracle and it was a literal, physical answer to my prayer. Ty getting baptized is exactly what i needed. the Lord is so good.
I know that God lives. I KNOW that He is aware of EVERY one of His children. He cares so much about us, that He answers our prayers. I am so grateful that He is patient with me. It was a great testimony builder for me of a few things:
1. The Lord answers our prayers in His time. I was wanting an answer IN the temple, RIGHT then... but little did i know He was going to answer my prayer just 5 minutes later. there is no reason to be impatient with the Lord, because His timing is perfect.
2. Our Heavenly Father knows the thoughts and intents of our hearts. He knows us better than we know ourselves. He knows exactly what we need to be happy, hopeful, and He has provided the way for us to be so.
What a wonderful moment.
Sunday we saw so many miracles as well. We were able to have 6 less active members at church, along with one of our investigators, Walt. It was truly a beautiful day, and i know the Lord has been blessing us so much.
While in gospel principles, one of our less actives, Terri, raised her hand and started telling the whole class how "grateful she was for the sister missionaries" and told the class how after we left her house this week, she realized that she and her husband were not setting the best example for their son. So, to fix one of the problems they have been having, they decided to cut out all music/videos that contained bad language or scenes, and they made a "cuss jar", where every time they swear they have to put a dollar in. It was such a sweet tender mercy to see how the spirit has been working in her life... our lesson this week with her was on faith, but that is what the spirit told her she needed to change. i love it.
We found 4 new investigators this week. ha. so fun.
Walt: i love that man so much. he is progressing a ton, and i cannot wait till that guy is baptized. ha he has made me study more than any one yet on my mission, so i am grateful to be working with him. we are teaching him this week about the word of wisdom, so i am praying with all my heart he is willing to finally stop smoking. i know that through the Lord's help, he will.
I love this work. i love being in Omaha, even when it is so cold outside and i feel like my toes are getting "the black" like the pioneers ha. But i am so thankful for the spirit, which truly keeps my spirit warm every day.
I adore my Savior. i know that this is the best time of the year because He lives.
All my love!
Pictures from December 10th letter: