Monday, October 13, 2014

Ecuador and Sprained Ankles

E-mail 22 September 2014

Hello hello!

Well, unfortunately there isn't much to report this week. A few hours after e-mailing last week, we were at the church playing volleyball and Sister Place came down on her ankle wrong, so we ended up being grounded for most of the week since we don't have a full-time car. BUT the cool thing about this all was that it taught us a lot of patience and humility (both which are things that each of us had prayed for- never, NEVER pray for patience and humility, especially at the same time), and we are also just as good of friends if not better than we were before! It must be an inspired companionship if two sisters can spend a week inside and not kill each other! Haha, but really I do love Sister Place. She's great!

We had an investigator come to church! His name is Jose and he's great! Hopefully he will continue to progress.
I've got to give a shout out to Rachel who just got her mission call! She's going to the Ecuador Guayaquil South Mission, Spanish speaking in December!!! Woot, woot! I love you, Rachel!
So, we have a Seventy, Elder Perkins coming to our mission. We're having a conference with him on Wednesday, so I'll make sure to write you all about that. I love you guys!
Sister Ruth

Special Olympics

E-mail 15 September 2014

Hello, hello!!

Well, there isn't too much to say about this week, other than it was fantastic!!! It's kinda funny how a slow week as far as lessons go can be amazing when you have opportunities to give service. 

On Saturday, we spent the day in Indy taking pictures at the Special Olympics. It was absolutely amazing! The Spirit was incredibly strong there! There were kids and adults alike playing baseball and Corn Hole (bean bag toss) and then they got awards and medals. All of them were so smiley and just happy to be alive! Definitely my favorite memory so far of serving in Fishers!

Although we didn't get to teach a ton of lessons, we did have two really great lessons with Renee and Jose! They are fabulous people! Hopefully they will be at church next Sunday. When we saw Jose we got to bring a high school senior. Apparently she had really been having a hard time deciding on if she wanted to serve a mission or not and now she is super excited to serve! She was absolutely glowing at church this Sunday. 

Next Sunday Sister Place will be singing in church. I love it when she sings! She has been singing for eons and she is classically trained. If any of you know me, then you know I love opera and classical music! Let's just say I totally abuse her talents! ;) 

Anywho, I hope you all are doing well and staying warm! It's been pretty chilly here! At this rate, we may end up having snow sometime this month! And apparently winter is supposed to be worse than it was last year. O_o We'll have to see what happens! 

I love you all!

Smile!

Sister Ruth

Missionary Blues

E-mail from 25 August 2014

Hello all!

Well, the last four and a half weeks have been very interesting.  Since I haven't written much for a while, I figured now is the time to esplain some things! :)

Last transfer I got moved from Mishawaka to Fishers. There is a HUGE difference between these two areas in financial achievement, size of homes, technology, attitude, etc. Needless to say, Fishers is an incredibly privileged area and unfortunately I have a deeply rooted prejudice against the privileged. So this fact mixed with being forced to leave my greenie halfway through her training was just... awful. 

Since the moment I came out, I wanted to be a trainer and I prayed that I would have that opportunity. Both President and I felt very strongly I needed to train early on in my mission, but I've been struggling incredibly with severe depression since before I got in the field which prevented me from earlier training opportunities. It is a huge reason as to why I am no longer training and a few weeks ago it got to the point that I gave up and stopped working. I took off my badge and pretty much chose not to be a missionary for a few days. I was done. 

I felt like a failure. A complete and utter failure because everything that I had wanted since I was set apart crumbled. I wasn't best friends with either of my trainers. I had virtually no contact with the missionaries I came out with. My first true convert to the gospel had gone inactive. I didn't get to participate in the baptism for one of my dear friends who is no longer living in Indiana. Everything terrible and negative that has ever happened in my life and in particular on my mission hit me full force and mentally I collapsed from the weight. 

Calls to President Cleveland, Sister Steadman (our Mission Nurse), and LDS Family Services were useless. Their advice was incredible and loving, but I was so far gone that it couldn't penetrate. I didn't want to hear it. I didn't want to feel anything because I was tired of hurting. 

But finally, after weeks of feeling this way, I finally saw a spark of light. It began with a letter from a missionary serving in another mission. They expressed to me many of the same feelings that I have had throughout my mission and shared their experiences with overcoming it. They explained that as a missionary, we change. Because we have an extra portion of the Spirit and we are living the Gospel in everything that we do, we see ourselves with different eyes- Heaven's eyes, so to speak. We are given a deeper understanding of how truly gross sin and transgression is in the sight of God. We become more sensitive emotionally and spiritually to everything around us. We understand more completely the worth of souls in the sight of God, including our own.

We also begin to understand how terribly weak and incapable we are and that, my dear friends, is uncomfortable.

We humans love comfort, but this is not a comfortable Gospel and it is not a comfortable call to be a missionary. People will reject you. They will cuss at you, threaten you, interrogate you, bash on everything you believe and hold dear. Particularly as a sister, they will tell you that you are oppressed and taking part of society that has no appreciation for women and is unfair and unequal in its treatment and opportunities. It does not matter how prepared you are. Your heart will break as a missionary on a daily basis, because of the words and actions that will surround you. 

It hurts to be a missionary. 

But God knew that these things would happen, and more than that- they are necessary. A broken heart leads us to our Savior and that is what I was lacking. I realized very recently that I do not know my Savior. I have been preaching things that I profess to believe, but I have no hope in. I believe that hope and comfort and miracles can come to others, but I do not believe it for myself, or at least I didn't for a very long time. That, in part, is why everything began to crumble about me. My heart had to be broken in order for me to find my Savior and to experience the things that I have been called to preach. 

My heart still hurts. I'm afraid to have so much responsibility for the salvation of souls resting upon my shoulders, but I do have a little more confidence in the ability and power of my Lord. I know that God called me to serve in this capacity and He would not have done so if I was incapable. I have felt the despair and anguish that comes from transgression and rejecting God and being utterly and completely alone, and I have no desire for my brothers and sisters to experience that same pain if they can avoid it. 

In some small way, I've come to understand the feelings that the sons of Mosiah felt as they pleaded with their father to go into the "mission field". Mosiah 28: 3-4 reads:
3 ... the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble.

 4 And thus did the Spirit of the Lord work upon them, for they were the very vilest of sinners. And the Lord saw fit in his infinite mercy to spare them; nevertheless they suffered much anguish of soul because of their iniquities, suffering much and fearing that they should be cast off forever.

I profess in no way that I am like these great missionaries, but I do have hope that through me God might work some mighty miracle that will soften the hearts of those in Indiana. And not only do I hope that their hearts will be softened, but that mine might be as well. 

In the close of their letter, my friend reminded me, "Be patient... With God and especially in yourself. Take one step at a time and let faith move your feet until one day soon, you can dance again. You can do this." 

God will never ask something of you that you cannot accomplish. 
 
I love you all and I hope you all can rely on the Lord more effectively than I have. Remember, "Whom the Lord calls He qualifies."

Sister Ruth

Fishers

Well, I got transferred to Fishers which is a lot of fun, but has been a very dead area for a very long time. BUT that's why me and my companion are here. We've decided we are going to light a match under the members here and get them excited about the gospel. Fishers is a very well-off area and the members are very complacent and comfortable with how things are. They aren't looking for changes and that just doesn't cut it for missionary work. My companion, Sister Place is awesome! Very sarcastic and a Star Wars nut, so we get along very well. Between both of us, we are overflowing with sass and drive to get this place back on its feet. It's going to take quite the effort, but no one promised missionary work would be easy, right?
 
I don't know if I'll be able to get to Nora's baptism this week, but we are trying to find a member. Either way, it's going to happen! Nora is getting baptized!!! She is so amazing and so strong. Unfortunately she's been going through a hard time because her parents seemed supportive at first and now they have pretty much turned against her. Nothing we didn't expect, but still really disappointing and hard on her. She's still being strong, though from what I've heard and I think she will still follow through. She knows this is true and where she needs to be. No matter what, Heavenly Father will help her do  what she needs to.
Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week. I love you tons!
Sister Ruth

Family History

E-mail 28 July 2014

Hey, you'uns!
Well, it's offical: Sister Ruth is getting transferred! But, it's all good cause Sister Evans is going to tear up Mishawaka with her new companion! The hardest part about leaving will definitely be missing Nora's baptism in August. Hopefully I'll be close enough that I can swing a ride back, but we'll have to see. Either way, NORA's getting BAPTIZED!!!
This week... The theme of this week has been sitting. That's pretty much all we've done! :/

Monday we had interviews, which always takes longer than planned. Tuesday, we had Preparation Day so that wasn't too bad, but it threw off our service and proselyting schedule. Wednesday, specialized training in Fishers and that's about a 3 hour drive one way. Not only that, but after a 3 hour drive down, we got to sit from 10-5 for the trainings. Then... 3 hours back and another hour for correlation with our WML. Yup.... That was lots of fun! (Actually, the trainings and correlation totally were! but man was I sore for days!)
This Saturday our stake held a Family History Fair and it was a blast! There was different trainings and presentations from RootTech at their convention in SLC. It went from 10-2, so we got to talk to some non-members from the community and learn a little bit more about the services available for more successful genealogy. My favorite presentation- and don't judge!- was from Jo Ann Cummings of the South Bend Chapter of the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution).  I've always heard about the DAR as being a snobby society for pedigree nutsos and maybe down South that's what they are, but up here it's all about doing service in the community and having access to the DAR's library. That library... It's massive!  I'm going. Period. I don't know when or how, but whether or not I'm ever a DAR member, I wanna use that library! Haha, goals for the future!
The turn out for the fair was incredible! About 117 and many of them were non-members! We and all the other missionaries in the surrounding area were there and got to meet some people, so hopefully this will help cultivate more interest for the church!
Sunday was the best day ever! We had some great talks in church, but we got to have dinner with the Smith family and Nora came as well as Sister Smith's mom who is taking the discussions in South Bend. We talked about the different ways in which we serve in the church and had a great discussion about it. Let me tell you, no matter what the lesson is, if the Spirit is there and there is great fellowship for those who are learning, it's always a blast. I was pretty much on cloud nine when I left, even though nothing particularly miraculous happened. It was just a really great, cheerful and Spirit led meeting.
 Well, I gotz ta go, soooo I'll talk to you'uns next week!
Love you!

Sister Ruth

Baptism!

Cups

E-mail from 7 July 2014

Hi all! What an interesting week in Mishawaka!

First off, Monday night we had an incredible storm! There was a tornado warning, the sirens were going off, crazy lightning. It was epic :) And funny because let's face it, Sister Evans and I were freaking out for a few minutes before we realized we just needed to chill out and we'd be fine.
No tornadoes touched down or anything, which is kinda lame (but a good thing too!), but there was a lot of damage from the wind. One street up from us virtually everyone had some sort of damage in their yards from their trees breaking or falling over, but luckily nothing too severe.
Wednesday we went on exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders and so I spent the day in South Bend. They have a fantastic lady that is getting baptized this weekend. She honestly is a Bible Scholar and so in tune with the Spirit! She knows her stuff and is so opinionated and steady- she is going to be one fantastic missionary and Gospel Doctrine teacher!

One of our investigators heard about this lady's baptism and before we had a chance to ask, she asked us if she could go to it and see what it was like! Of course we said yes! We can't wait to take her. I think it will really help her feel the Spirit and understand why baptism is so important.
Our schedules got a little thrown off with the 4th, so instead of having a full Preparation Day last Monday, we had it on Friday. Well, let me just tell you all the things we got to do:

First, we went to Notre Dame. Notre Dame is gorgeous!!! There are so many trees there and the buildings are beautiful. We walked around the book store for a bit and then we went to see the Basilica, got lots of pictures along the way. I didn't take any inside (out of respect), but it was stunning! The frescoes on the ceiling were fascinating and there were statues and icons everywhere. It was probably three times bigger than the Cathedral of the Madeline, maybe bigger. Needless to say I was a happy duck!

After that we went to see "Touch Down Jesus", the burning bush, and Moses- who has horns by the way, so he must be a Mormon! ;) 

After Notre Dame, we headed to a luau that was put on by a member from the South Bend ward. Well, this wasn't just a little get together for some church members. Oh no. It was like a community event! They had a car show, a professional DJ/radio host person, professional dancers, huge amounts of food and fireworks! Yeah, it was crazy. Needless to say we were only there for a little bit because the music got a little not so appropriate.
We ended up at the church for the rest of the evening and played games, age pixie stix and I learned how to lay Cups! It was a very fun day!
As good as the 4th was though, the highlights of the week were two of our lessons. The first lesson we had with a man that has been going from church to church for years. He has this whole schedule of three or four different churches and services that he goes to every week. Well, we watched the Restoration DVD with him this week and the Spirit was very strong. He's very open to the idea of Joseph Smith and he committed to really put forth the effort to read the Book of Mormon and to find out if it was true. That was the first highlight.

The second highlight was our lesson with the girl that is coming to the baptism this weekend. Earlier in the week we met with her and her family had given her some anti stuff from the church her sister has been going to. She asked us about it, but honestly she wasn't all that concerned about it. She has a much deeper question concerning why there are so many churches and why they can't all just be one since we all believe in Christ. We tried to explain, but we think there is something else that she is trying to ask and doesn't know how, so she got pretty emotional and then we got emotional because we want to help her so much. A few days later we had another lesson with her in a members home. It was amazing! We shared the Restoration DVD with her and she seemed to like it a lot because she's a visual learner, but also she has a lot of similar questions to Joseph Smith. She opened up a lot afterward about some of the things she wants in her life and the member we were with was so great! She extended a lot of help and support to her. It seems like things may really be turning up. It's a slow process, but we think she will be able to learn to the truth for herself soon.
Well, I hope you all had a great week!
Talk to you later!

Sister Ruth