Dad’s Note: I am finally getting Lauren’s last three letters out. I, again, apologize for the delay. I have put the three letters in chronological order with the earliest first and the one that came this week at the bottom. Note that Lauren’s preparation is now on Monday’s so when you write your letters adjust accordingly. Lauren also found out that her return date will most likely be the first week of August.
Letter from December 31st.”… and a Happy New Year”
It was so wonderful to be able to talk to you on Christmas! Definitely the highlight of the day. I have the best family... in the world. I can't get over how blessed i am to have such amazing support and love all around me. i was so overwhelmed with the spirit of gratitude this Christmas, it truly was the most wonderful day.
I want to thank each of you who sent me gifts! holy cow, i am so thankful, and know that i loved everything that i received! everything fits (maybe not now after i have eaten all of the christmas candy! haha) and i am so grateful for the time put into each present. thank you thank you. i love you all so much. thanks for making my Christmas special!
This truly was one of the most beautiful, wonderful, amazing Christmas's i have ever had. The peace that filled my heart the entire season is indescribable. To know that i am here, serving the Lord has been the greatest gift. I am so thankful to be a missionary.
We had an absolutely incredible week.
We have been teaching this man named Bill for about 2 weeks now. We met him while we were over at a less active members home, and Bill came over because he had heard we were there and wanted to meet us. He is SO prepared, and the first time we met him he had so many "golden" questions, i couldn't wait to start teaching him.
well, this week we went on two exchanges, back to back, so i was absolutely exhausted ha. but they were amazing, and so miracle-packed. I was out of Ralston in a different area, but sister Hamilton was in Ralston and they set Bill for baptism! I had brought up baptism with him the first time we met, and he was excited but anxious about it. so on exchanges, sister hamilton and her companion for the night were able to have dinner with members and have Bill come, and then address concerns and set him. He is getting baptized February 8 :) so incredible. He came to church on Sunday, and while we were in gospel principles this is what he said:
"We are made in the image of God, so we naturally seek truth. There is a lot of falsehood in the world trying to pull people down, but the other day when i met these two sisters (sister hamilton and i) i felt Jesus. I know that this is Christ's church".
ah!!! isn't that incredible?! he is absolutely amazing, wants to learn, and has been diligently searching the Book of Mormon. He is a miracle.
That same night that Sister Hamilton and her companion for the night set Bill for baptism, i was serving in the Walnut Creek (i know.. funny..) branch with sister Whipple! She is my "grandbaby" in the mission (sister palmer trained her). We saw SOOOO many miracles, and were able to set one of their investigators for baptism as well! ha it was a miraculous night. This woman, named Kathy, she had been invited to a church activity, and was so blown away while there at how friendly everyone was. She couldnt get over it, and it sparked her interest. she came to church the next day, and loved it. So sister whipple and i went over while on exchanges to basically follow up with church, and see if we could start teaching her. Well, that visit ended up with her being set for baptism! ha it was awesome. missionary work is so fun!
I also was able to go on exchanges with another set of sisters who are serving out in Fremont, Nebraska. I got to go there for the day, and it was such a tender mercy.. it brought me back to serving in Glenwood. Such a small town, where the people are so humble and willing to talk about Christ. i loved it. we topped the weekend off with dairy queen soft serve dipped cones (thought of you dad). it was so humbling to see the Lord truly working through us, and leading us to people who are prepared. there ARE people out there who are prepared! it is our job to "beckon them" (1 Nephi 8)
One of the highlights of the week was receiving a package on Christmas from a woman named Cathy. Several weeks ago when sister Barton and i were companions, we saw Cathy raking her leaves outside her house. We had felt inspired to bring our service clothes that day, and when we saw her all by herself, we knew we needed to jump out and help. We did so, had a lot of fun, and then left her with our number. We never heard from her, so we went back a week or two later and brought her an invitation to the gingerbread festival. She was SO kind, and her heart had been softened. she told us that we could even come back and visit her/share a thought about Christ with her :) we were stoked. Well, transfers came, and life just got hectic ha. Come Christmas, i get a call from Sister Weston, saying that Sister Barton and i received a package that was sent to her home. I had NO idea who it could have come from, and was SHOCKED to see it was from Cathy! She send us a package of apples and pears and chocolate, just to thank us for helping her with her yard! it was SO sweet, and was such a testimony builder to me of how even a little service can go a long way. I am so grateful for the spirit, and how it can lead us to those who are being prepared, and those who are in need of the "master's touch".
I cannot believe that it is the end of 2013. It has been the best year of my life. i am so thankful to be on a mission, to be serving the Lord and His children. What a life.
2014 will be even better. Let's do this!
Anne, Happy 17th! i hope you got my card :) i love you, am SO proud of you, and i feel so blessed to have you as my sister!
All my love and more,
Letter from January 7, 2014 “Mormonism is the joy of my heart. It is my love, my jewel!”
Some fun Facts:
- it was -38 (including wind chill) yesterday. THANKFULLY i served at the trail center all day! tender mercy.
- yesterday morning our car wouldnt start because it was so cold! we had to call our mission "car guy" and he came out to jump it in - 11 degree weather. bless his soul.
- frost bite is a real thing.. who wouldve thought. you can get frost bite here in less than 15 minutes with any exposed skin outside. i am staying bundled up!
- If you throw boiling water up in the air when it is negative degree weather, it looks super awesome (see attached photos)
This week has been absolutely wonderful. The Lord is so good to me, i can hardly stand it. i am so thankful to be on a mission, even here in freezing cold Omaha. it is so great.
- we are teaching a woman named Deborah right now, who is so awesome! She lives in a lower end part of the ward, and she is just so humble and willing to learn. i love it. We have taught her a few times, and this last time we taught her we were able to set her for baptism! She is getting baptized on February 22. I just love the spirit so much... it was so cool, because going into the lesson sister Hamilton and i planned to only set her for baptism if the spirit was right. Well, the spirit was "right" and the words literally just came out of me. i was planning on saying something different, but right as i opened my mouth i was saying something totally different than what i intended to, and asked her to be baptized! ha it was so awesome. She is so willing to change her life, and come closer to Christ. I love her.
- Another one of our investigators, Bill, came to church again this week, but this time brought his wife! It was fast and testimony meeting, and they really felt the spirit as the testimonies were born. It was so neat because that morning Bill had called us to say he couldnt come to church because it was so cold. I was able to talk to him and challenged him to pray and ask God what He wanted him to do, and then to call us back. So, 20 minutes later we get a call from Bill who said "well, i am coming to church today. and my wife is coming with me". haha. the spirit is so awesome, and i am so grateful they came. what was even cooler was President Weston was the first person to bear his testimony, and as he was doing so he said "i just want to let all of you know that you made the right choice to come to church today, even though it is freezing outside and you probably wanted to stay home. The spirit has confirmed to me that the Lord is extremely pleased with your decision" !!! totally inspired and exactly what Bill needed to hear. Such a wonderful day.
- On Saturday i was able to attend Ty's baptism! She is the little girl i taught in my first area. the spirit was so amazing as i watched her less active (now active!) father, Troy, baptize her. I will never forget it. I cant get over how the gospel LITERALLY changes people. I didnt even recognize Troy.. he has become a new person, and i am so proud of him. It was a beautiful experience and i am so grateful i was able to attend.
This week is transfers... can you believe it? it is so crazy to think that another transfer has gone by. I am so grateful to be serving in Ralston with Sister Hamilton. it has been wonderful. a very difficult transfer with a lot of business and emotions ha, whatever that means, but we have been so blessed because of it. I love being here.
Since the trail center has been slow, i have had a ton of time to study! it is such an amazing blessing. Right now, along with the scriptures of course, i am studying and reading a book called "Did You Know?". it is all about different pioneer individuals and who they are, and what made them so important. i have absolutely LOVED every page and story and find myself day dreaming about the pioneers. i know.. it is so weird. ha. But i am so grateful for the legacy these people left us! here are a few of my favorite quotes of those i have studied about:
Heber C. Kimball:
"Mormonism is the pride of my heart. It is my love, my jewel."
"When i went into the water of baptism i made a covenant i would forsake the world with all that pertains to it, and cleave unto the Lord God with all my heart all my days. This is the covenant that i made, to turn away from the world. That is the covenant you made, or the one you should have made. Now, will you fulfill it?"
"What did Jesus come to teach? To teach men how to be happy. He came to teach men how to provide for themselves in this world and in the world to come. He taught them the true science of human happiness"
I love this gospel! i am so grateful for it!
Love you all! make it a great week :)
Letter from today, January 13, 2014 “Hallelujah”
Hallelujah i am still in Ralston with Sister Hamilton! such a blessing. This is my 4th transfer in Ralston, and i absolutely love it so much. i am so grateful to have this transfer to start harvesting what we have been sowing for the past 4 1/2 months! it is so fun as well to be able to start a transfer off running... literally sprinting. we have seen SOOOO many miracles this last week, the Lord has been so good to us. but then again, what's new? He is always so good.
I have so much to say. so many miracles.
1. I went on exchanges this week with the spanish speaking sisters here in Omaha. haha. talk about the most humbling exchange/experience i have ever had. I was in Omaha with Hermana Kennion, and the day felt like i was down in mexico! not one word of english was spoken in any lesson, haha so i literally had to rely on the spirit like no other. But it was so amazing, and thank goodness i took 3 years of spanish so i could kind of pick up some words, because i was able to flip to scriptures while Hma Kennion was teaching, and then have the investigator read a scripture to go along with what she was teaching. ha i had to have total confidence and trust that the spirit was guiding me to scriptures to do with the lesson, and it totally worked. The spirit does not have a language. it can speak to everyone, even if we cant communicate with our words. it was so fun.
2. One of the less active members we have been working with since i got into the area a few months ago FINALLY came to church on sunday! it was so awesome! she stayed for all three hours, and absolutely loved it. The ward enveloped her with love, and she has made it a goal to continue coming because her work schedule changed. such a miracle. It is a perfect example of how when we study behavior, most likely our behavior wont change. But when we study and apply the doctrine of the gospel, our behavior changes. It has changed her, and now she is wanting to come to church. love it.
3. Man alive so many people to catch up on. here is a one liner for each of them:
- Walt: he is not getting baptized on the 23rd. such a bummer.. he is still progressing but cant stop smoking. his goal now is to stop smoking on the 23rd so he can get baptized after that. pray for him, he is my favorite person. i love him.
- Bill: still set for baptism on February 8th.. hopefully we can baptize him sooner. has to stop smoking as well, but i totally think he can do it. He has come to church the past 3 weeks, and is SO prepared to be a member of the church. he throws out words like "atonement" and "gospel" and wanting to "align his will with God" all the time. so cool. so miraculous.
- Deborah: the woman we set for baptism last week. well, we went over this week and found out she is in the hospital. we havent been able to see her since, but she is still set for baptism on february 8th as well.
- Debbie: AHH this is SO COOL. so there is this woman named debbie that we met several months ago. she is a former investigator, and is so solid. she knows the church is true, but is scared to tell her husband she wants to be baptized. well a couple of days ago we had about 30 minutes left till we needed to be home for the night, so we prayed to know where we should go. Debbie popped into my head. Sister Hamilton hadnt met her yet, so we went over there. before we even reached the door Debbie opened it and let us right in! we have been having such a hard time contacting her that it was a total miracle. we were able to teach her about the restoration, and rekindle her fire to want to learn. we were able to set her for baptism on March 8th, so that is the plan! she is SO awesome and totally prepared. i love the spirit so much.
Angela and Jonathan: Angela and Jonathan are not related at all, but i put them together because their story is about the same! they both live with members of our ward, and we have talked to them many times but never have taught them. well, this week we were able to set up appointments with both of them to actually teach them! 2 new investigators, and they are so amazing.
didnt i tell you the Lord has been so good to us? and seriously that is only a FEW highlights of the week. i am so eternally grateful to be serving a mission. it is so FUN!! i am so grateful to be
here in Nebraska. it has been warmer the past few days which has been a God-send. ha.
the church is true. the Book of Mormon is the word of God. i am so thankful to be able to read it every day.
all my love and more!