iPads!

February 17, 2014

 

Dearest darlingest Momsie and Popsicle.

And everyone else.

 

No big deal but I’m just emailing you all today from my brand new fancy iPad mini! Don’t we have the best mission president ever? I mean, look what he got us for our Valentines Day gift!!

 

Needless to say, this week has been a little different, as we’ve been trying to adjust to this new way of doing missionary work. But pretty sure we’ll all be having a lot less back problems. Instead of bringing 4 Book of Mormons (2 in each language), 17 pamphlets, 43 pass-along cards, our planner, 12 pens, our own Spanish scriptures, and our own English scriptures “just in case”…we just bring our cute little iPad. My bus contacting exchange day with Hermana Hafen was at least 36 times more fun, just for that reason alone. Plus I love Hermana Hafen and we just have a blast no matter what we do.

 

But yeah the exchange. One of the best parts about the mission is you get to meet some of your best friends. Maybe it’s because nobody can really understand missionary life unless you’ve lived it. Or currently are living it. Aka nobody gets us…except us. Anyways. Hermana Hafen is one of those people I just know I was supposed to meet. Probably a long time ago because guess what she’s from St. George too. (Lex she went to lava ridge…remember her?) I had the privilege of meeting her towards the beginning of my mission and we just hit it off. I now look forward so much to exchanges with her because it’s like hanging out with a BFF back at home. Only we work way harder than I ever did back at home. Normally exchanges only last 24 hours but president has been encouraging longer exchanges. So this one was 48 hours.

 

We rode the bus and talked to everyone and walked around town…it was seriously so fun!! We met some amazing people. We decided last second to stay on the bus one more stop. As we got off, another woman got off with her daughter right in front of us. We gave her a plan of salvation pamphlet and started talking to her about the trials she’s had in her life. She’s been through A LOT. But she believes Christ carried her through it. Then she says, “I’ve been this way my whole life. I tried to fight it for a long time. I tried to live a normal life. But I couldn’t anymore. But my partner I’m with now just loves my daughter and things are better.” …..partner….tried to fight it…..rainbow bracelet on her wrist….oh. Gotcha. But Hermana Hafen and I didn’t even bat an eye. Just kept on teaching her about how God loves her and is so aware of her. We got her phone number and invited her to church. Before we parted ways she said, “I get good vibes from you girls. And I never get good vibes from people like you. I’ll definitely be calling you.” It’s so cool to meet the people Heavenly Father has in store for us. We never know quite who we’ll see when we step out of the house in the morning but the people that He puts in our path are incredible. Everyone has a story.

 

This week has flown by. I don’t know if it’s the iPads or the exchange or just the fact that I’m almost down to only 6 months left in the mission, but time is on fast forward. I’m 5 days behind on my journal. And weeks behind on my other journals. Oops. I just don’t want this to end.

 

The other day we watched The Testaments with Rosie and Gledin and their sister and brother in law who live with them. I’ve seen that movie seriously so many times. But this time there was something different. This time I really put myself in the place of the believers in that time. Especially in that end part where the Savior comes and heals the father’s eyes. And how he just looked so happy to see Christ right there standing in front of him..he was just overwhelmed with joy. And I thought to myself, “What will that feel like for me? After everything He has done for me, how could I possibly express that gratitude and love for Him?” I look up and Hermana Finlayson was tearing up beside me. Jose and Yamileth were hooked to the screen. Rosie and Gledin too. The room was silent for what seemed like forever after the movie ended. The spirit was thick. We testified of the Book of Mormon and I could feel with everything in me that the things I was saying were true. I love being able to tell people what I know and then feel it in my heart so strongly. As Jeffrey R. Holland says, “your first convert should be yourself on your mission.”

 

I just wanted to thank you guys for being so incredible and supportive. I have the strongest missionary support group ever. I truly am so blessed and I do not take any of it for granted.

 

I love you all so much!!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

XOXO

Happy Valentine's Day! xoxo

Happy Valentine’s Day! xoxo

 

Valentine's Day!

Valentine’s Day!

 

MY DISJOINTED EMAIL HOME

February 10, 2014

 

I’ve been trying to gather and organize my thoughts into something coherent. But, it hasn’t been working. So I’m just going to write and it’s going to be a mess, but I’m a missionary and these are my emails home not a well-composed blog.

 

Enrique’s birthday party was last night. That old man is one of my favorite people on the planet. It was one of those nights when I just had to pause. Look at my surroundings — Sitting on the doorstep of a fancy trailer park full of Mexicans at night, the moon and stars shining bright, the humid air blowing in my face and turning my hair into a frizzy mess, Enrique belting his soul out on his karaoke machine to my left, with a huge plate full of rice, some part of a grilled chicken, chile picante, and corn tortillas on my lap. — And take it all in. Moments like that don’t come back. And we don’t stop to enjoy them enough. I’m trying to do more of that. Stopping to smell the roses…or something like that.

 

Our date sets kind of fell off the face of the earth this week. But it didn’t kill me like it used to. I’ve ridden this rollercoaster enough times now to know that the drop comes after the upside-down loop, and the AAAaaaAAAaaaAAAaaa is right before we hit the end. Everything is going to be okay and we’ll go out and find some more elect. And the numbers always balance out. Nobody at sacrament? It’s okay we found 5 new investigators. Heavenly Father is blessing us so much.

 

It was week 1 of Project Purification. Project Don’tsingworldlysongsinyourhead. It’s hard when we can’t listen to good music to block it out…but the mental discipline is a good skill to learn. And we discovered conference talks in the church library so we “borrowed” those and have enjoyed extending our personal study to every second we have in the car. Because 1 hour in the morning isn’t enough.

 

We went to the hospital 3 times to see Enrique. This consisted of singing hymns [his favorite is “Cantan Santos Angeles”–Angels We Have Heard on High. especially the GloooOOOooooOOOooooOOria part. He belts that one. We got some funny looks from nurses passing by], teaching the first lesson to Eva and Silvia [his daughters], and doing wall sits with Eva. That family has my heart. If I’m in Florida just for them…well. Worth it.

 

I celebrated/lamented my 11-month mark. I don’t want this to end.

 

President is having us park the cars once a week for a full day. We’re kind of over biking so we decided to walk. Bad idea. But it led to some miracles, including seeing Armando, a man who we met on the bus last week. He had already read the first pamphlet and begged us for a second. And another guy we contacted that day came to church yesterday. And we walked all the way home from Radio [30 minute bike trip]….barefoot. Because our shoes hurt so bad. But that just made the bottoms of my feet kill. We learned our lesson. Bus=good. Walking=bad. But hey, you have to have a couple stories like that to tell grandkids right? When I was a missionary…..

 

It was a solid week. So much happened. As always.

We get iPads this week. Real life my friends. Our mission is 1 of 30..in the WORLD. #stoked

Here goes another week.

Love you all!

Hermana Lewis

xoxo

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NO MORE MUSIC

I wonder how many missionaries are reporting home on this subject. I guess it’s kind of old news now. But Monday night we got a shocker.

 

So music is like my crutch. Always has been. Before the mission I was always listening to music. I woke up to music, went to sleep to music, studied to music, worked out to music, blasted music in the car, spent my free time looking up more music……you get the picture. I had a soundtrack to my life. Coming on the mission I knew that my music would be a challenge to give up. Luckily, I’ve got an uncle with loads of mission-worthy tunes. He hooked me up.

The MTC was hard. 6 weeks music -free [besides devotionals] and I had just come from Babylon. Better believe I kept on humming those worldly songs. It was a challenge to not let my mind go there…I didn’t have anything to replace them and well. Hymns weren’t cutting it.

But then I made it out to the field. Music was what defined each of my areas. Jenny Phillips and Jesus Adrean Romero bring me back to the backcountry roads of Wauchula with Hermanas Larsen, Carson, and Ashby. Music was what helped me through my lowest of lows in Tampa. Hearing “Jesus, Precious Jesus” or “I Will Rest in You” took me back to driving through rainstorms at night and feeling comforted when the work seemed nothing short of hopeless.

Music was how I felt the Spirit. I’ve had more than one occasion where “Abide with Me, tis Eventide” has brought me to tears or a song by Marshall McDonald helped me remember my gratitude for my Savior and what He has done for me.

 

A couple months ago, another Hermana told me she gave up writing her boy back at home for the last 9 months of her mission as a sacrifice to the Lord. I wanted to do that too. Give up something that was truly difficult for me. I have been praying and pondering for a couple months now, but no ideas were coming. Well Monday night we got a text from Elder Williams announcing that ALL music is banned in our mission. All of it. No more listening to music in the car, in the morning getting ready, at night before bed, nothing. Minus church meetings obviously. Pure silence. My heart sunk. “I cannot do this,” I thought, “it’s too drastic. Too much.” I was upset and confused. President are you serious? This cannot be real life.

 

But it was.

 

No more finding peace and comfort in Mindy Gledhill. No more getting pumped up to “I Hope They Call Me on a Mission”. No more dispelling the awkward silences when companionship times are rough. I couldn’t handle it. I broke down. 7 months with no music? This is literally going to kill me. The Spirit tried to comfort me: You can sing more. Maybe your voice will get better. You can memorize Spanish hymns now. It was no use. I was not having it. The STLs called us and explained it was because someone was sent home this weekend and his disobedience started with music. That didn’t help. I was not happy.

 

I couldn’t sleep that night for a solid three hours. My mind was having this battle: Am I going to just take this? How can I possibly do this? Why is President doing this to us?

But then I got this thought, “You asked for this.” And I remembered my prayer to find a sacrifice. Well here it is. And then I thought, “My attitude about this is completely in my control. Hermana Finlayson is fine. Why can’t I be fine, too? Disobedience is not an option. It’s just not. So that leaves me with two choices: Obey happily or obey grudgingly. The scripture came to mind about Alma’s people, “they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord.” Am I really going to let this affect me? Ruin the end of my mission? Or am I going to learn and grow from it?

The battle was still raging as I finally started drifting off to sleep. The idea of completely taking out something that had been so much part of my life for 7 months was daunting. And then another thought right before I was out: “Are you really going to rely on music more than you rely on me?” I woke up 3 times that night…it was not a peaceful time for me. But the next morning, woke up with one clear thought in my mind: Lovest thou me more than these? 

 

That’s really what it came down to. Do I love the Lord more than I love music? I wanted to say yes.

 

Getting ready that morning was the most silence I’ve ever felt in my life. I felt the absence of my music. So I sang hymns. In Spanish. I didn’t know all the words, my voice was cracking, but it dispelled the negative feelings. It was even worse on the drive up. So. Silent.

In Zone meeting President had a couple missionaries go up and talk, unannounced. One of them talked about his experiences in high school wrestling and how his coach asked him “What do you want?” “To win the state championship.” “Okay, at what cost?” At what cost am I willing to be the missionary Heavenly Father wants? What am I willing to sacrifice for Him?

And then came the firm resolution: Whatever it takes, for the next 7 months, I am His. Wholly and completely. If this is my sacrifice, it’s an easy one to make. A constant reminder of what I’m doing out here and why I’m doing it. My heart is completely surrendered. I cannot do this without the Lord’s help. I need Him on my side. Or rather, I need to be on His side.

 

So no more music. I can handle that. I can do it happily. For my Lord and Savior, there’s no other way. I am a missionary and representative of Jesus Christ. And for the next 7 months…and the rest of my life… I am His.

 

 

 

I promise the no music thing isn’t as bad as it sounds. I’m still alive. Hermana Fin and I talk more than ever. We’ve seen miracles from our willing obedience.

I still love being a missionary.

But good luck getting the headphones out of my ears when I get home.

Just kidding.    … kinda.

 

Love you all!

Love,

Hermana Lewis

XOXO

Lunch to celebrate 3 months with Hermana Finlayson

Lunch to celebrate 3 months with Hermana Finlayson

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Mini General Conference

January 27, 2014
MINI GENERAL CONFERENCE

We basically just had our own little mini General Conference this weekend. It was innnncredible. And worth the miles. We’re back to bike week. But that’s okay because it’s what President wants anyways!

He’s been encouraging us to stop using our cars and bike/walk. Be with the people. Talk to everyone. And it works. We’ve seen a lot of success from it. Including one day with 7 lessons, 2 new investigators, and a couple solid referrals. The mission is constantly changing and improving. We are truly seeing miracles out here!

 

Back to General Conference. We took a big road trip up to Brandon [3 hours away] to go to an optional training meeting with Elder Kopischke. We decided it wasn’t optional. It was absolutely incredible. He talked about how it’s by our obedience that we receive any miracle at all, so if we want more success we need to “Find more rules. And obey them.” Elder Thompson was also there, and he talked about his mission in Paris, and how much we need to be willing to endure to get the miracles He has in store for us. He even brought out his old school missionary planner, which he keeps in his jacket pocket always. It’s so amazing to see the impact a mission has had on these General Authorities. Elder Kopischke said “Everything I am and the way I approach things, I can trace back to my mission. And it’s been 40 years.” This mission really does prepare us for the rest of our lives.

 

Then we had Stake Conference Adult Session up in Bonita, and the hit HARD on hastening the Work. It’s never been so apparent to me that NOW is the time. The Lord is expecting more of us. This is our duty: to preach the gospel and invite everyone to come unto Christ and be perfected in Him. And it’s not just straight missionary work. It’s temple work. It’s being a friend. It’s teaching your children. It’s reaching out to less active members. It’s reaching out to active members. Home teaching. Visiting teaching. All of it. No one is too busy or important to not fulfill these expectations!

 

Then yesterday we had a Stake Conference Broadcast with Elder Russell M. Nelson, Sister McConkie, Elder Kopischke, and Elder Gay. I’m telling you it was GenConf all over again. I loved hearing Elder Nelson speak. He said, “A large church and a large man have something in common: they both need a strong heart. [If Elder Uchtdorf can talk about airplanes, I can talk about hearts…hahaha]” But he talked about how all the fibers and muscles need to work together. Members need to work with missionaries need to work with investigators need to work with everyone…and that’s how we’ll find have success! It was such a cool experience to hear that broadcast.

 

Anyways, it was a great week. Miracles happened, we were happy, and we’re ready to keep working hard.

Love you all!

Hermana Lewis.

xoxo

 

PS: I got to see Hermana Larsen up at the conference. It was such a relief to see her again! and….Hermana Newbill is back in my zone! I missed her so much!!! It’s such a blessing to be able to hug the life out of my sweet companions…you never realize quite what you have til it’s gone. I love them a lot.

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President and Sister Cusick... they are amazing!

President and Sister Cusick… they are amazing!

A senior mission couple took us to lunch! So fun!

A senior mission couple took us to lunch! So fun!