Monday, September 22, 2014

Smooth sailing and becoming an orphan

One of our investigators is getting baptized this Saturday! His name is Larry (name has been changed). He is so incredibly prepared! Mom you told me that somewhere in my mission was a little "John Carter" who was being prepared to receive the Gospel.  (My dad was searching for truth at a young age and because a few obedient young men faithfully followed the Lord and served missions my dad found the Gospel and it completely changed his and my families life.) This young man is one of those. He started being taught less than 12 weeks ago. A few weeks ago Sister Harper and I knelt down and prayed about a baptismal date to extend to him. The date that we both felt right about was September 27th. We then extended the invitation for him to pray about that date also, and he got back to us saying that he felt right about it too. He is the nicest young man who comes from a very broken family. He soaks up every ounce of information that is shared with him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ in lessons, in church, and through observation of the members of the church. He is a miracle, and loves the Savior.
I keep freaking out at the realization that he is actually getting baptized. There have been no complications whatsoever, just smooth sailing. That is unheard of when teaching investigators. There is always some sort of hurdle to overcome, but not with him. He basically lives the gospel in every way, he just isn't baptized yet. I pray that all will work out for him in this quest nothing will come in the way of him finding the Joy of the Gospel.

Another significant approaching date is the 23rd where two of our other beloved investigators Mike and Olivia will officially be smoke free. Last fast Sunday we invited them to fast and pray about a date that they could choose to put down cigarettes once and for all. They did, and they chose the 23rd. Their family is incredible. Their oldest three kids have been baptized and they will be following shortly. They have had to overcome so many obstacles and have done it! All because they have developed faith in Christ.
Sister Harper and I had fun putting together a quit smoking kit for them this week. They LOVED it! Their reaction was adorable like it was Christmas or something. They were both so touched and kept saying, "where do you people come from!?"
"who does this?!"
"This is so awesome!"
It was the VERY least we could do to help them, but they were so touched! It was like they had won the lottery. Mike told us if he could hug us he would! It was so sweet!
We see their family almost every single day. between new member lessons, investigator lessons, family home evening and eating with them they feel like my second home! I love them so much! You would have no idea the changes they have had to make because of the love they have in their hearts and spirit of God that is so strongly with them. We call them dry Mormons. They just have a few things to work through first, the biggest being smoking. But considering how much they were smoking before and how much they are now they are well on their way.

Sister Alba's Birthday party was last night. We had fun singing, laughing, and eating (in my case looking at) cake and ice cream. There was a recent convert there too of about a month and a week named Thomas who always hangs out with the missionaries. We love him! He is so awesome. He has had no support from his family at all but now holds the priesthood and plans to serve a mission as soon as he can.  We took Larry to the Institute to meet some of the people his age and he recognized Thomas immediately. They share a class together and have been talking a lot. Thomas was able to share his testimony to him of the priesthood and the temple which really touched Larry. Last night Larry told us that he wants Thomas to baptize him. So when we saw Thomas and broke the news to him he was so excited!

Converts are POWERFUL missionaries. Mike and Olivia aren't even baptized yet and are constantly sharing the gospel too as well as fellowshipping our other investigators. I love these people! I love them so much!

Sister Harper and I did a musical number on Sunday. It was the most stressful thing of my life and I am so glad that it is over with, but it was also special to be able to help others to worship the Savior through music. After sacrament meeting we got asked to share it again in Relief Society. SCARY! But it ended up being better the second time because this time I could relax more and feel the spirit. We played "Savior Redeemer of My Soul." I played the violin, Sister Harper sang, and our Relief Society president played the piano for us. That was the first time picking up the violin for almost 2 years and it scared me half to death. It brought up A LOT of different emotions, but I was grateful to have been able to share a talent with others in a spirit of worship. It was no great performance by any means, but it conveyed a spiritual message which is the most important part.

We are going to the temple on Wednesday. I'm so excited! It has been waaaaay too long since the last time, and I feel well over due for a temple visit. I am excited.

Oh yeah, we had a Canada Party!! It was awesome! Everyone loved it! They especially loved the Poutine! Elder Taylor couldn't believe his eyes at all the delicious goodness that didn't exist in the US. Everyone loves his accent. He gets teased all the time. Elder Prince helped make the Poutine and claimed the rest of the Ketchup chips after the party. I couldn't have anything except soda and french fries, but it was fun sharing it with everyone.

Moment of the week:
Definitely saying goodbye to my trainer for the last time. I am about to become an orphan. Mommaless and poppaless. My sister is even dead. She sadly had to go home because of health problems. I feel so alone in this world . Just me, ma daughter and ma son.
My Trainer (I call her my momma) Sister Van Wie

P.S. I went to the Chiropractor last week and am going again today. His name is Doctor Ambridge and he is really cool because he specializes in Neuroscience, and Gluten allergies. Without doing any major tests he can diagnose people to be allergic to Gluten or not and is wrong about 2% of the time. So he told me that I am most definitely allergic to Gluten and that almost every gluten allergy is coupled with another allergy, usually dairy... I can't wait to get tested to find out for sure... But Basically my destiny involves being gluten and dairy free.

Until next week.
Love, Sister Carter

Monday, September 15, 2014

A 40 day fast and the beach!

Well... It was another great week! Buuut I forgot my notes at home soooo I will have to try to use my memory which isn't usually very reliable.

Last P-day both Santa Rosa zones went to the beach. That was fun... LOTS of missionaries.
An Awesome army of missionaries serving the Santa Rosa Area

My beautiful companion and I at the beach where I feel most at home in the world.

Elder Taylor ( with the Canada shirt) being his same ole Goofy self!

Okay so for the last 2 weeks I have being getting hurt over and over again in the strangest ways.
It all started when I got a bee sting on my foot. Two p-days ago the zone all went to the park to play soccer and I thought it would be a great idea to play without shoes... Bad Idea. Before we even started I stepped on a bee. For the next few days my foot swelled up and got SUPER itchy. Then I started to get this weird migraine that came out of no where. I don't get head aches. Ever. And this one lasted a few days. Finally I called the mission nurse she said it sounded like I either needed to start wearing my glasses or up my prescription if I have already been wearing them. I decided to stop avoiding them and wear them for a few days straight to see if that helped... It did. My migraine disappeared. Now I just look like a nerd all the time. Then we were running in the morning and I tripped on the raised part of the sidewalk. I felt like I was 5 years old again with a big ol' scrape on my knee because I tripped. Our 9 year old investigator also scraped her knee and was able to sympathize with me. Take note that she is 9 and I am 21. Anyway it is in a dumb stop where it keeps ripping open over and over again and not healing. Then I got this super weird pain in my chest that hurt really really bad Sister Harper made me call the mission nurse to make sure I wasn't having a heart attack or something... I wasn't... She said it was some sort of really weird muscle cold. Then I woke up with a kink in my neck so bad that I couldn't move my head to the right at all and looked like a freak all day. which brings we to this morning. I woke up with a weird pain in my back that felt like a knot or something. It was perfectly manageable and no big deal until I went to lift my arm at the grocery store to take something off the shelf and the pain shot at me making it very uncomfortable for me to even be typing right now. I can't breath deep, I can't lift my arms very much, I can't move my head, turn my body, It hurts to sit, stand, and lay down... So yeah... I have an appointment with a chiropractor this afternoon. Woe is me.
Sister Harper and I think I should probably get life insurance... Or live in a bubble.

Aside from my misfortune, there have actually been miracles! Sister Harper and I started a 40 day purification fast where we wrote all of the things on a piece of paper that we want to purify ourselves from (remove from our lives for now like thinking about our futures, worrying about school etc.) as missionaries. Sister Buckner and I were going to do it but never got around to it, Sister Harper was ALL for it though. It has been a lot of work but rewarding. We started it with a 2 meal fast, and we are now on day 5 of the purification part. It's a challenge but we have seen little tender mercies come out of it and the spirit has been able to follow us more closely.  It seems like as soon as we decided to stop doing or thinking about certain things suddenly they are everywhere and inescapable without prayer. Prayer has definitely been my friend.

Sister Harper and I finally burned our list of things that we want to cleans ourselves of. We started our 40 day fast from then.

My favorite miracle this week was going to teach our 11 year old investigator. Her parents don't speak English and we have tried to get her to communicate to them for us but it hasn't been very good. We brought a member with us to the next lesson who speaks Spanish so she could talk to the parents for us. When we got to the door her mother answered and was less than happy to see us. Apparently she found out we were Mormon and not Catholic when she saw the Book of Mormon her daughter had. She told us that her daughter was no longer allowed to meet with us and that she wants her to be involved in the Catholic church. We were so sad. We got the idea to ask the member to communicate the idea of giving us a chance to share the same message with her that we have been sharing with her daughter to see what it is that we have been teaching and then to make her decision after. Somehow her heart softened and she said yes. We are so excited! Now her and her mom can learn together with the Spanish missionaries.

Well, time for me to go. Have a great week.

Sister Carter

Monday, September 8, 2014

Creative Teaching Moments

Moment of the week:
We were at a dinner appointment with a less active member of the ward. She invited a whole bunch of her friends to the dinner as well. One of them was also a less active member who brought her partner to dinner as well. The partner was hilarious. She gets the biggest kick out of "Jesus People" and loved that we were out serving a mission. Before we ate I was asked to say the prayer and ask a blessing on the food. When I finished the prayer everyone said amen except for this lady. She brings her hands together like a cheerleader and shoots them up and out proclaiming, "Yaaaaay, God!" I about died laughing.

We just started teaching an 11 year old girl who has so much energy it's exhausting! Her mind jumps from place to place with questions about everything you could possibly think of. Sister Harper and I have so much fun with her though. Sadly her parents don't speak any English so we will have to hand her and the family off to the Spanish speaking missionaries. That is be hard for her though because she is super attached to us.

 Teaching her on the weekend was so funny! We could NOT get her to pay attention to what we had to share with her. She got it fixed in her mind that she wanted to pretend to be me and that I was going to pretend to be her. Sister Harper and I thought about it for a second and concluded that it might actually work. so we went for it. We taught her all about prophets and dispensations in a way where she felt like she was teaching with Sister Harper and I was learning. It was awesome!!! Sister Harper was able to say all the right things and I was able to ask all the right questions to get her little brain moving and absorbing the things we were teaching. By the end of it she understood the role of prophets better than any kid I have taught on my mission so far. It's funny how often we have to work and think outside of the box in order to help people learn about the gospel. In this case it worked! Heavenly Father helped us so much!!

Sad news:
Our mission is taking a break from Facebook. I'm so sad because over the last couple of months the work on Facebook for me has exploded as I know it has for other missionaries as well. I hope we will be back on before I end up going home. I have a baptismal date set with a guy in Burundi Africa and I worry he will get lost in the shuffle of trying to transition him to the missionaries there if there even are any...
But on the bright side I have a whole extra hour to work in our area in Santa Rosa. And hour is a precious amount of time and lots can get done.

I love it here! I love love love it! We are teaching some AWESOME people that I want the whole world to know about. There is a whole family that has and continues to change their life because of their recently developed faith in Christ and His atonement. It's incredible! They are set to be baptized next month and what to be part of missionary work and go to the temple to be sealed as a family.

Word got to me that 2 investigators that I taught in Davis have finally been baptized. Jacob and Jenita. After I left they ended up needing more time but have progressed so much and have finally made the covenant of baptism! Next step, the temple! I am so happy for them! their stories are incredible.

Two huge packages came in the mail for me today! They were full of Canadian goodies that I get to use for our Canada party! I'm so excited! It's going to be fun!

The Elder's got hold of my Ipad again..

All my love,
Sister Carter

PS. If you have sent me a letter and haven't received one back, don't worry, one will come. I've gotten really behind on responding, but it'll happen so keep them coming they make me so happy! 

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Miracles of Planning

There are miracles on every corner over here, and it is all because of planning. We have discovered that if we want to teach more lessons, we need to plan for more lessons. If we want to talk to more people, we need to plan to talk to more people. As we have planned for these things that Lord has literally paved ways for us to find the people who are ready. The other day Sister Harper and I made a goal to contact at least 20 people, to teach at least 3 lessons, and to invite at least 1 person to baptism. One of the standards of excellence to hit the 20-3-1 every day. Well, for so long my companions and I have mostly hoped to be able to get it if we just worked hard enough. sometimes we would, but it was more of a rare occasion. This transfer as we have planned ways to accomplish that goal every day, and we have been able to reach it day after day. What is incredible is that often times our lessons have fallen through but somehow the lord prepares other people to place in our path knowing that we have planned to reach our goals.

The other night it was about 8:30 in the evening and we were still about 10 contacts and 1 lesson short of reaching our goal. Sister Harper was so excited and said, "We can do it! We have to get the 20 3 1 today!" I was so grateful for her faith and enthusiasm so off we went in search of more people to talk to and someone to teach. We knocked on one door and we got nothing. Then we knocked on the next door and an adorable young mom answered the door with a baby in her arms. as we got talking we asked if she wouldn't mind us sharing a quick message with her in her home. She surprisingly said yes and welcomed us in. As we were sitting with her in her living room we asked if she has prayed before. She answered by saying, "Actually, it's so weird that you are here because my husband is in jail and I have been thinking about how I can get closer to God and then you showed up." She knew it wasn't a coincidence. She had no idea how to pray so we were able to teach her how. It was a miracle. We taught a lesson, picked up a new investigator, were able to get the rest of our contacts in and got to our apartment in time. It was so cool how the Lord was able to use us to teach one of His precious daughters because we were willing to do what it took to reach our goals.

The funny part of the whole lesson with her was that she was absolutely golden. She asked every perfect question you could possibly ask and sister Harper and I felt like we felt flat on our faces trying to get the right words out. It was one of those moments where if the Church wasn't true then the missionaries would have ruined it a long time ago. We laughed and laughed the whole way home and were so grateful that Heavenly Father was able to use what he could of us. She set a returned appointment with us to go back and see her tonight. I'm so excited!

This is probably the last time I will see my trainer, Sister Van Wie.
She has about 4 weeks left. I LOVE HER dearly!

Moment of the week:
Okay this was actually several weeks ago but I was laughing about it last night and decided I had to record it.

It was fast Sunday and I was sitting in sacrament meeting with Sister Buckner up in Eureka. All I could think about was how hungry I was I couldn't even pay attention to the talk. So I write a note to Sister Buckner, "My stomach feels like it's eating itself." She wrote something on it and passed it back with a scripture on it. 3 Nephi 13:16

16 Moreover, when ye fast be not as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance, for they disfigure their faces that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.

Sister Buckner is such a funny missionary and had such a way of putting me back in my place when I need it.

Well, love you all!
Sister Carter 

Gotta love living in wine country!