Sunday, July 27, 2014

The trial of my Faith

Last transfer was the hardest transfer of my mission... This transfer it has gotten better, a LOT better... Here's what happened:

I LOVED Davis. I learned so much in Davis. I constantly was facing investigators and people on the street who were into anti-mormon literature who questioned and challenged my beliefs ALL THE TIME! I loved it because I would go home, write down all the questions people would throw at me, SEARCH the scriptures with prayer, and learn so much about the truthfulness of the Gospel. I Understood that not all of my questions would be able to be answered right away, but I was so full of faith that one day I would be able to understand. Well, then I got transferred. I no longer had investigators questioning me and a reason to go find the answers. I felt like I was stuck with a pile of questions that kept getting bigger and bigger the more into my studies I got.  A missionary went home because he went apostate 2 transfers ago. I knew this missionary... I served with him for 2 transfers. It started to make me reflect on others who I have known who have left the church and why that happened. It made me so sad. Then I heard word that some of our investigators dropped the missionaries in Davis due to all this negative stuff. I was so sad. I became determined once and for all to put a stop to anti-mormon stuff in my mind and find the answers to all of my questions right away. I didn't like that people I knew around me were falling away from the truth because of it. The more I focused on it, the more frustrated I became. Then one day I was reading in the Book of Mormon and came across something that I read that didn't make sense to me so I began to search the scriptures to find the answers and just got more and more frustrated by the minute because I was NOT finding anything. I became so exasperated and discouraged and the horrifying thought crossed my mind that maybe it's not true. That was the last straw! I broke down! For several days I was a spiritual a mess. I have never doubted anything about the church, especially not the Book of Mormon, and suddenly the thing that has brought me incredible joy and happiness was being questioned and I felt like my world was crumbling. While reading the Book of Mormon I told God how I was feeling. I felt like the father from the New Testament who brought his son to the Lord asking him to heal his son but not knowing how it was possible. I felt like I had belief but it was weak. Basically my prayers sounded like "Lord I believe, help thou mine unbelief"  I told Heavenly Father that my testimony was really being tried and I wanted to believe. I told him that I couldn't be telling people that the book of Mormon was true unless I actually knew it was true. I was so overwhelmed. I waited for an answer and the answer I got was just be patient. Keep on going, just be patient. So I kept on going.
We had been given the challenge to read the Book of Mormon as a mission in 90 days. I started in Davis, and from the feeling I got I just needed to keep pushing along and keep reading. My 90 day challenge was set to end on July 30th but this week we had zone conference and I really wanted to finish reading before zone conference. 4 days before zone conference I was at the beginning of 3 Nephi. I am a pretty slow reader so I determined that It wasn't going to happen. Then I found out that all the other sisters were about to finish for zone conference too. I can be kind of competitive so I decided I was going to push through, and finish it. Meanwhile I still had the question is the Book of Mormon really true weighing heavily on my mind. Finally the night before, at 10:30 I finished it! I didn't feel any different so I decided I needed to take on "Moroni's Challenge" in Moroni 10:3-5 and ask God if it was true. I knelt down and prayed looking to receive an answer. Well I did. The answer I got was you will get an answer tomorrow at zone conference. Very Funny Heavenly Father
The next morning I felt ready to take in every bit of inspired information that President and Sister Alba had to share. I listened very intently. In the schedule Sister Alba was assigned to speak first. Coincidentally she spoke all about the Book of Mormon. All the way through the things she taught us I felt very uplifted and very inspired. It all made sense to me and was all beautiful. Then at the very end, she shared with us a few things that I can't even remember. All I know is it hit me SO profoundly, so hard that I knew it was true with my whole soul. I knew the Book of Mormon was true! I knew that it was the word of God, and I knew that if I kept reading it and held to it that I wouldn't have to fear falling away like others that I love. My answer was yes, it is true.

I know that God answers prayers. I know that the Book of Mormon is God's word, and I know that this is his church. I know that by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things. This trial of my faith has only driven my roots deeper, there is no question in my mind what is true and again I am feeling confident in that knowledge.

Sister Carter

PS. Lots of funny things happened this week, so I'll have to tell you about them next week.

A Week of Service

Greenies are my FAVORITE! I love them! And I also love that I am not one anymore! They bring a freshness to the field. We only got 1 new one in our zone. Sister Buckner and I keep having to refrain from giving him a great big hug and telling him its all going to be okay, and mothering him to death. Sometimes when we get new greenies they look like scared little dogs in the corner of the room with their tails between their legs. They are precious! Those first few days and weeks are terrifying! But also awesome. The new greenies name is Elder Coursey from Southern Kentucky and hack a wicked accent! We made him cookies with "Welcome to Eureka" written on them in green, and got into their apartment and decorated his desk with green sticky notes.

I gave another talk yesterday. This time I didn't get to choose the topic which I am grateful for because the bishop gave me a topic that was completely inspired. I REALLY needed it. It's funny how the Lord answered my prayer by telling the bishop to give me the assignment to speak in sacrament meeting that was supposed to go to a member of the ward. Thanks Heavenly Father, your funny. He gave me an answer by putting me to work.

We did TONS of service this week! One lady that we have no idea who she was called us and demanded us to help her move the next morning -_-  It was the day of transfers too so most of the missionaries up here were down in Santa Rosa. We managed to round up some missionaries to help her move though and got her out of her apartment in time. I love doing work like that, and I love helping people, but I don't love when they demand it of us. There is a good way to ask for help, and a not-so-good way to ask for help and she nailed the not-so-good. But when you serve you just can't help but love those you serve. So glad we were able to help!

The forest that we go exercising every morning in right beside a zoo, so whenever we are there it feels like we are in Jurassic park and are going to get swooped up by a pterodactyl. Just thought someone might appreciate that piece of information.

We also did a lot of house cleaning, and on Saturday Sister Buckner and I decided to go try out service tracting! it was awesome! After a lot of declines we met one elderly lady who needed help weeding in her back yard. But she would NOT allow us to help her unless she paid us. Finally we convinced her that all we needed was a root beer and we would be happy. :) It worked! We got our root beers and went to work. I loved talking to her, she told us all about her sad experiences in her life but she has been SO positive about everything. Her husband left her and her children after 63 years of marriage for another woman. She is very lonely, but very positive about life. I was inspired by the light that she has within her. She invited us to come back to teach her about the gospel. YAY SERVICE!
One of my Sisters best friends who is serving in France... Just thought I'd liven up his day. Wish I was there to see the look on his face!

Moment of the week: One of our investigators invited us over to dinner. Well we got there, and dinner wasn't made and she was a bit overwhelmed, so Sister Buckner and I helped her out by grabbing all of the ingredients and compiling it into what we called a macaroni casserole! That was my first time making a casserole and it even tasted good! Go team!

Sister Carter

Lunchtime miracles and Staying in Eureka

I'm obsessed with Tajin.. I put it on everything

Oops I accidentally put on the wrong tag

One of the families in our ward got robbed this week. Literally a whole crew of people loaded up car after car of stuff, wiped their house clean of anything worth money, and took off while they were out of town. It was horrific. After police inspections and everything, we went over there to help them clean all surfaces of what was left in their home. They are an incredible family with so much faith. 2 days after they were robbed they invited us over for dinner so that they could invite the spirit and an uplifting message into their home. They were so positive about the whole situation and were able to laugh and giggle about it. But it broke my heart as we shared our message with them. Both of them cried. 2 of their 3 hard drives were stolen (one was with them thankfully), and with that went all pictures and memories of their 4 years of marriage and new born baby. Everything was gone, I mean everything! Anyway, I love them. They are working through this trial very gracefully and are amazing examples to me of strength.
Our Zone

This week, it felt like everyone and everything around us was falling apart and Sister Buckner and I have been called to somehow carry all of their burdens and be strong. Actually, correction, we help them invite Christ into their lives to carry their burdens for them. But with that comes a love that makes you ache to help them.
My favorite miracle this week was during one of our lunch hours. We NEVER spend our lunch hours at the church, but for some strange reason we decided to go and hang out there for the remainder of our lunch hour. The weirder part was that we decided to hang out on the side of the church that we are NEVER at. We sat and downloaded Mormon messages and watched "I'm a Mormon" videos and as we did the phone on the wall in front of us started ringing. We let it ring and ring with no intentions of answering the phone. Then on the very last ring I thought, what in the world am I doing?! I jumped up ran and grabbed it after it rang the last time and on the other end was the sweetest most broken lady needing help and her last resort was to turn to the Mormon church for help. She was precious and sobbed over the phone to us. We scheduled an appointment with her and have fallen in love with her. She grew up in and out of foster homes. Two of the families that she lived in were Mormon families. She had developed a few friends as a youth with some of the girls in the church and has since lost contact with all of them. She remembered them though and felt to call the church's phone number out of the phone book. Hoping for something. Then we answered. She is not in our area, but we invited the elders over for a lesson with us to give her a priesthood blessing which she happily accepted. After word she told us that she felt inside that everything was going to be okay in the end. Then we handed her off to the Elders.
We have had a few people describe this empty hole inside of them that they have needed to try to fill and haven't known how to fill it. One man told us he has all that he needs and his life is great and blessed, he even attends a local church, but he doesn't feel happy. It was powerful to be able to promise these individuals that what we have is what they are missing... And what it is, is the Atonement of Christ that is only available through the fullness of the gospel that has been restored to the earth.

Is it possible to still feel the spirit when you have to go to the bathroom so bad that it feels like you are carrying around a swimming pool of water inside of you?
Sister Buckner and I were VERY far way from an accessible bathroom and were on a mission to find a specific person in our area book. We knocked on door after door looking for this person and were determined to find her! Sister Buckner and I have been trying to drink about 3 bottles of water every day and this particular day we drank all three of them right before our quest. Well we didn't find her but we found a different guy who was awesome. Some how we were able to hold ourselves upright, bare our testimonies to him, feel the spirit and get his contact information to be able to come back and teach him. Success! We even made it to a bathroom without any embarrassing experiences... Win for everyone!

Transfer calls came! I am staying in Eureka :)
Sad news. The temple trip got postponed to next transfer :(
Hopefully I will be here :/

The fourth of July was MAGICAL! All four of us piled onto the windowsill with popcorn and shared our dreams, goals and desires, while listening to the sound of fireworks all around us. We even got to see the occasional firework above all of the houses and trees. It was so fun! Then we fell asleep to the sound of fireworks all around us.

I got told I look like Elizabeth Smart yesterday... Never gotten that one before.

We knocked on one of the sketchiest looking houses I have probably ever seen in my life just to see what would happen. Haha maybe that was a stupid idea, but the girl we talked to was LEGIT!!! Yay miracles!

Sister Carter

Sunday, July 6, 2014

A beautiful Baptism

She did it! Next step, the temple! I am so excited for her!
It was the perfect 11 month mark gift.
The day before her baptism we met at her home to go over a few things with her. Before leaving, we closed with a prayer. As we prayed I felt the most beautiful peaceful warm feeling wash over me. The spirit touched my heart so strongly. After finishing the prayer Sister Buckner had a smile on her face, and Lai said, "Wow, I have never felt the spirit that strong ever before!" It was so wonderful that we were all able to share that experience together. Heavenly father sure loves Lai.

Trying to take a picture a preschooler!! lol

Almost there

YAY we did it!! Such a beautiful little family!!

At the baptism Sister Buckner and I got to do the missionary moment. In our mission we always have a missionary moment while we wait for those that got baptized to dry off and get changed. During the moment we share about the Saviors earthly ministry and atonement, the great apostasy, and the restoration. Then we invite all who have not already been baptized to learn more about the restored gospel and to be baptized. It can be a very powerful moment. Most of the people who came had small children and they were all very loud throughout almost the whole meeting. Finally we got up to speak and as soon as we did, the children were all quiet. There was a noticeable feeling as we testified. As soon as we finished, the noise started up again. It was a miracle.

We had another beautiful experience with the spirit as we taught one of our less active members. As we shared with her a message about the Book of Mormon, she was beaming the whole time. We promised her that the spirit would come into her life in great abundance as she begins to read the Book of Mormon. She smiled and said, "I already feel it now. I feel it in my heart." The feelings of the Holy Ghost are so special. I will treasure those moments forever.

This week was full of all sorts of interesting moments to say the least, but also lost of great moments:

-The Elders got a hold of my iPad. When I finally got it back the next day it was FULL of pictures of them with the American flag, and all sorts of videos of the national anthem and them singing in their car. Here are just a few of the lovely pictures left for my viewing pleasure after I got my Ipad back.

-In district meeting I tried to get everyone to sing "Oh Canada" but they all rebelled, pulled out their American Flag and sang their anthem instead.

I'll never win in this Country.... one little ole Canadian girl amongst all these patriots.

-Brother and Sister Witte are two of my favorite members in the ward here. Sister Witte always seams to have perfect timing on when I need a pick-me-up without her ever knowing it either. She fed us three times this week and one of those times she hijacked us without us knowing where we were going, took us over to HSU (Humboldt State University), gave us a tour of the campus, and drove us through all the back roads where she grew up and a child. It was so fun! The campus is GORGEOUS! People joke about HSU standing for Hills, Stairs, and Umbrellas... Well it's true! I swear the university is planted on the side of a mountain. But it is beautiful!

-The Elders set an alarm for 2:00 Am on my iPad, and then 3:30 AM on our phone without us knowing until they went off... Lets just say they are going to die.

-We picked up a new investigator who has all sorts of sketchy experiences with religion. I hope we are able to help bring peace to their life.

-While running through Sequoia Park there were TONS of ripe berries that we feasted on. Our morning exercise was maybe a little bit counter productive. Then Sister Buckner noticed a little pathway that lead us down a small set of rustic stairs and onto a cute little bridge that over looked a small waterfall. I felt like I was in fairy land.

Moment of the Week:
Last P-day Sister Whiteley told me she would pay me 5 bucks if I wrote her brother a letter for her so that she wouldn't have to do it. I was ALL for it!

Sister Carter