Monday, September 22, 2014

Achieving Zion

Sister Roy and new trainee Sister Jones
Hi Everyone,
One thing is for sure, it's been quite the week. At the beginning, many of our plans got changed around and a few appointments fell through. It’s also been quite the experience navigating through the crazy streets around here, since they curve around and some go on forever. Haha so maybe we got lost to a couple of appointments. :) We sure did a lot of walking! #theproblemsofnothavingasmartphone. Sister Jones has been a quick learner though so we're helping each other out. She sure has the Greenie fire and is one of the hardest workers I've ever met! It's been awesome to work with her and we're finding ways to laugh about the small things.

Here was something interesting that happened. On Tuesday when we came home, we stopped abruptly when we opened our door. Our furniture was turned upside down, knickknacks scattered, sheets of our beds--our apartment was torn apart. We were so nervous that it got broken into. It turned out that somehow the bug exterminators broke in when our apartment was locked, and did a follow up visit without notifying us. They just won't stop bugging us.

This week we met with Al once again at the rehab hospital he's been at to get better. His quote of the week: I asked him,"How do you feel?" His response: "With my hands..." Of course. That's Al for ya. He still wants to come closer to the Savior, and we are currently working on trying to bring church to him this upcoming Sunday, since we don't want to stop him from progressing when he wants to so bad. Fingers crossed and prayers sent that this will all work out!
Kyle and his family
Also...Kyle now has a baptism date! We were trying to extend one for a while and figure out what worked best for him, so it took some time. Nevertheless, he came bouncing in to the lesson we had with him this week, saying that he decided on October 11! He has progressed so much; as he has been a great example to me of how the Atonement can truly purify our hearts, change our desires, thoughts, actions, and course of life.
Also, do you remember Mark Dilaura? He was baptized last night over at the Arlington Ward, since that's where he lives. It was a special, sweet program and Mark was touched by all the support. In fact, all the missionaries who taught him attended and were part of the program. Oh, on a less important but interesting was the fun part...a mouse scurried across the floor during one of the talks. As Sister Burke from our ward played the piano, she was wincing the whole time as it decided to hang out by her. All the Elders seemed to get a good kick out of it as they observed it in the corner of the room. After the program the Elder who Elder Lefthand is training picked up the mouse and ran through the huddled crowd with it in his hands, making everyone depart like the Red Sea before he let it go outside. I'll tell you it was quite the show.
On Thursday, we had what I hate and dread to say may be the last Zone Conference I'll be attending here. It was wonderful, as it all focused on our mission focuses on working towards Zion-- how to achieve it wherever we are at with who we are with and how to work at it with our mission's 5 priorities (1. progressing investigators, 2. auxiliary leaders, 3.  members, 4. service, and 5. personal contacting.) President Packard also spoke on how we can devote our lives to the Lord. As we work towards exaltation, we can become new through His Atonement and the covenants we make. Each of us can be a "complete, holistic offering to God" as we give up our own will and put in everything we can as we live our normal lives to live as our Savior would desire us to.  Something he said that stood out to me was "I don't want consecrated missionaries. I want consecrated disciples of Jesus Christ who happen to be serving a mission." 
Another sweet moment this week was when we received a media referral for someone who actually lives outside of our area, but works full-time in Cambridge. Often times media referrals don't seem to lead to much as they are often referred by other people, but she seemed sincere with her desire to meet with us. When we called her, we had a conversation I'll never forget. She said it took her 33 years to take the courage to refer herself to the missionaries. Back when she was 21, she had a close Mormon friend who taught her a little bit more about the church and was a great example to her. This lady, Andrea, wanted to join, but her family was Jewish and refused for her to do so. As the years passed, the church remained in her mind. She had more deep questions that came as she matured during the years. At this point, she decided to contact us. She was telling how she is ready to be converted. She is so excited to change her life and to follow what she has known to be true.
The reason I share this story is because it shows how much impact the restored gospel of Jesus Christ can have on an individual we come in contact with, as it can ring great familiarity through the power of the Holy Ghost. It can be easy to feel discouraged if they turn it down once we've introduced what has changed our lives forever. However, the influence you can bring to them can lay the foundation of what can happen in the Lord's timing. I know this may sound cliché, but Andrea's experience gives evidence to how these miracles do happen. 
So, my request for my upcoming Birthday is for anybody reading this would simply be to pray for an opportunity to open up to introduce the gospel to an individual who has been on your heart, and then continually seek in prayer as to what the Lord would have you do next.
I hope you all have a wonderful week. Remember that your loving Heavenly Father and Savior never fail to notice even the smallest efforts you make to draw yourself and others closer to them.
With love,
Sister Roy

Monday, September 15, 2014

Forces Unite!

Time flies when you're immersed in the Lord's work. Before I knew it, Sister Scott was all packed up and we were driving to Weston for the Trainer's meeting, Forces Unite, then for Transfer Meeting. The meeting for the trainers was wonderful--so many of us from the same bunch that came out at the same time were training for our first time, including my MTC companion Sister Barney as well as Sister Patterson. There were 26 of us trainers, all for the 26 missionaries to come in...huge group! We were then going to have the Forces Unite Meeting, but 2 new missionaries got lost while at Boston Commons for the personal contacting experience. It took time to find them, so the meeting was then going to be after Transfer Meeting! It would have been torture!

So after shoving food down we all packed in the chapel. After opening exercises and getting settled, President Packard announced how there was a mishap in plans for Forces Unite, so they decided to do it RIGHT THEN! We just had to keep the noise and excitement down while in the chapel with no pictures being taken. It was a very sacred experience. President called on one new missionary at a time, having them stand up, telling a little bit about them and then about their trainer. He then announced who would be training them--it being revealed news to both of them. Each companion would run to each other (more of the Elders walked up), embracing in tight hugs or the typical "back pat hug" Elders do. One new missionary was introduced, then after a little bio, President called and said, "Elder, you will by trained by your very own cousin!" It was so cool since they are from Brazil and must have been raised together. 

Now, as a quick background story:

A couple weeks ago while at the T-stop in Somerville, a lady said, "Hello" to us. She was from Utah and just moved in for her job. She began telling about a Sister Jones who would come into the mission as was at that time in the MTC. She was in her home ward and told how she was blonde and darling. Since then, she Sister Jones, especially when I heard I would be training, remained at the back of my mind.

At transfer meeting, more companionships were put together and I was so anxious!! The Sister with very blonde hair somehow stood out. She was one of the last two to be assigned. As President called her to stand, tears welled up in my eyes, especially when he called her name--Sister Jones. He told a little bit about her then about myself.  As my name was called I was already on the edge of the bench. I couldn't help but let out "I knew it!" as I ran up to her and threw our arms around each other. It was a special moment right there at the front of the filled chapel.

My new companion Sister Jones

After Transfer Meeting there were a couple of other neat experiences:

With Susan who we met at CVS
 - A lady pulled me aside, telling me Sister Patterson was looking for me to take pictures. She barely looked familiar. When Sister Patterson found me to take them, she told me it was Susan--a CVS greeter we met back in Waltham who were hopeful to start teaching! She is preparing to be baptized!

- I also heard from an Elder in my past area that a new member with his PhD in something like Genetic Research moved into their ward. His job is solely working on the cure for Cystic Fibrosis...(drumroll)...maybe this is old news to you by now, but it was new news to me...THE MAGIC PILL WAS APPROVED BY THE FDA!!!

Since then, it's been a rough few days for the two of us, especially since Sister Jones has been pretty homesick and we both happened to catch a nasty cold, but I know we're going to go far together. I know I needed this experience to help me remember we were placed together for the Lord's purposes. Sister Jones is darling. She was definitely born a leader and has so much potential as a servant of the Lord. My baby is going to go far!

Yesterday in Sacrament meeting, one of the members of the ward shared a scripture as part of his talk that stood out to me:

 22 And he cometh to Bethsaida; and they bring a blind man unto him, and besought him to touch him.

 23 And he took the blind man by the hand, and led him out of the town; and when he had spit on his eyes, and put his hands upon him, he asked him if he saw ought.

 24 And he looked up, and said, I see men as trees, walking.

 25 After that he put his hands again upon his eyes, and made him look up: and he was restored, and saw every man clearly.

(Mark 8: 22-25)

There are often times where we are blind in our own sight, whether it pertains to seeing a situation clearly, how the Lord views us, or how He truly sees those around us. However, as we turn to the Savior, seeking His help, He requires us to look up. He can open our eyes and hearts to see what marvelous sights and wonders He desires us to see and understand.

I love you all so much. Seriously, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all of your prayers. They mean the world.


Sister Roy

Butterfly picture

Monday, September 8, 2014

I'm Going to be a Mom!!!!

I'm Going to be a new Mom!!!!

Yes, that's right; I'm going to be a mom for the first time!! :D To clarify, a brand new greenie will be arriving in the Massachusetts Boston Mission this week who I will train for my last two transfers here. I have no idea who she is yet, but will find out at the "Forces unite" meeting this Wednesday right before transfer meeting. It's a meeting where all the trainers and new missionaries gather in a room. Everybody introduces themselves and then President Packard calls out each new missionary one at a time and tells them who they are being trained by. I'm pretty excited! 

Quote by Sister Scott: "You're having a baby just like everybody else in this ward." ...Ha.

As for Sister Scott, she will be heading over to Scituate, Rhode Island, where three now four of my companions have served--Sister Gledhill, Sister Nielson, and Sister Harris, as she is there now.  That's right; Sister Scott will be companions with Sister Harris!!! It's a little crazy how much companionship's can switch around. 

As for other matters this week...

Wednesday: It was not cool.

"Benny, I'm being baked like a toasted cheeser; it's so hot in here!" --from the Sandlot.
The bug exterminators finally came over after we woke up earlier and headed to the Moore's for the morning, then we went about for the rest of the day. When we came home, it was HOT. They cranked up large heaters for the heat treatment to about 140 degrees!  It took some time to bring our apartment back to normal and cool it down. We are so glad it's DONE.

On Friday, our Zone had the best Zone Conference. No really, it was the best. Before Zone meeting, we gathered for a "Cinco De Septiembre" scone fiesta. One of the members had over 20 sombreros in her home, so she offered them to us. We all enjoyed a freshly made scone buffet while wearing them. During zone meeting, one of the trainings answered my prayers that morning on how to have more faith in finding. A few missionaries from our zone created a last-minute video as an intermission. One of the Elders is talented with film editing, so it was mind blowing. It was too great and really was funny. Sister Scott also did a musical number. It was hitting that she was being transferred but I tried to hold back tears because we were the only ones that knew since President Packard called the previous night to tell me I was training. T-Texts came in following Zone Meeting.
The downside of this week was that our investigator, Kunal, completely dropped us. We and his fellow shipper had a very difficult time getting a hold of him over the past few weeks. When he invited him to church, he gave a little bit of an abrupt response. I was pretty heartbroken.

However... the good news is that Kyle and his family are progressing so much. Kyle had his baptism interview yesterday. In the past while being taught, he didn't make it a couple of times, but he finally did! He was beaming the rest of the day. We're so happy for him and we're going to set a baptismal date soon.

Great things continue to happen here in Cambridge, which I am grateful for. Over the past couple of months, my Book of Mormon study has been focused on identifying the ways people were "Strengthened by the Lord" or "In the strength of the Lord" they were able to accomplish much more, in contrast to relying on their own talents and wits. I'll have to end this soon since President Packard extended a new challenge for us to highlight all references to the Lord's tender mercies shown throughout the Book of Mormon over the next 2 transfers. However, this study has reminded me how when we rely on the Lord for his strength, He never lets us down and everything ends up better in the long run.

Hope you have a great week. 

With love,
Sister Roy

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Baptism by the Ocean

Dearest loved ones, 

I sure hope I can describe as well as possible, how what happened this weekend had to be in the very top experiences of my mission.

Before I get to that (now I have you hanging! :) )  the rest of this week was so great! A few things:

Many of the missionaries here (more Sisters, to be exact) hit our "99" mark--that is, 99 days left. It's a tradition here in the MBM to go to a restaurant called "the Ninety-Nine" when we reach that point, so our Zone headed there for a good lunch. It was a lot of fun, but it was just plain weird we were at that point.

We've been slightly in touch with Krystal. She still wants to go to church and take part in another discussion, but is literally all over the world for her job as a flight attendant.

We will be having the bug exterminators coming out tomorrow morning--it was the earliest time they could get, and it usually takes them longer to find an open day. As for now, they instructed us to make "bug-islands".
Bug Island - complete
Our beds are still encompassed by duct tape taped to the legs for the bed bugs to stick to, which we set up after vacuuming the bed area and washing our sheets. Sorry for the gross details...we're just glad this is almost over!

Sister Scott and I are focusing more on visiting with more members and are still striving to work together with our Auxiliary leaders. We are still teaching Kyle. Kunal has been out of town so hopefully we'll teach him later this week. Mark is now being taught by just the Moore's and the Elders in Arlington, since he lives in those ward boundaries and lives close to that church. We sure miss teaching him, but his baptism date is still set for September 19th.

On Labor Day, we went to the temple with a recent convert who just moved into our ward. Later Sister Scott and I explored Boston Commons and the Boston Gardens, with a little bit of the freedom trail. I uploaded many pictures you can see. :)

Ok, now back to what I was talking about before...

I am bewildered, stunned, and immensely grateful. This Labor Day weekend one of the happiest, most fulfilling series of days on my mission, and I mean that with all my heart.

Although I may have failed to mention it in my past letters, I was thrilled to attend Chris's baptism back in Plymouth. I would be back in Plymouth, where I would see Sister Harris again (she was coming from Scituate, Rhode Island), many branch members, and most importantly, Chris be baptized on his Birthday, being reborn right by the ocean. Needless to say, I had been looking forward to this day.

It must have been one of the most beautiful days of the summer--bright and sunny, in the low 70s with a gentle breeze. We drove to Plymouth with the Moore's, as more trees came into view as they were already changing colors. They dropped us off at Grey's beach while they grabbed lunch. As soon as we approached the beach, I was so happy I honestly didn't know what to do with myself. There was Chris in his white jumpsuit, with is dad who traveled from Georgia (who sounds like he lives in Josh's mission.) His Aunt was there as well. There were the Sister Missionaries (Sister Miller was Sister Scott's previous companion), as well as Beth and Amy who have been helping him along with his conversion. It was so great to see them! Sister Harris then came! Of course, we took some more pictures.

Chris with his Dad and Aunt

Sister Scott with three of her companions
Afterwards, we headed to the church for the program portion (the Moore's and Sister Scott were in awe at how the church used to be a grocery store.) It felt so good to be back! Honestly, I was fighting back tears as more members arrived. Many hugs were exchanged and we were all excited to see each other. The baptism program was beautifully done. The Relief Society room was packed, with everyone wearing the coordinated colors blue and white. The talks were given by Brother and Sister Hovey. Chris, his family, and Chris's roommate Danny Capella (who was inactive, which led to us meeting Chris when we knew we should find out who he was) were all front and center. There was true Zion there in that room between everyone, as there was great peace and Christlike love felt. The Intermediate song was When I am Baptized, and when we all sang Chris's favorite hymn How Great Thou Art in closing, his tears triggered the rest of ours.

What a beautiful moment, especially as Chris couldn't stop, as he tried to get words out about how grateful he was. Once Brother Germinaro said, "It's not over yet," we all filed out to drive to the beach.

The Moore's, Sister Scott and I, and Caitlyn Zeller (I continued to get a kick out of her bold comments) all drove together, following the precession line of cars, which included Brother Berry riding his Harley Davidson in his white shirt and shorts. Ha-ha it was great!
Brother Berry, headed over to the baptism on his Harley...nbd!
 When we arrived at the beach, more pictures were taken. When it came time for Chris to enter the water, he, Brother Cornwall, who was baptizing him, as well as Brother Berry and Eli Hovey entered. 

We all couldn't help but marvel. The spirit entered in even more powerfully as the water rose higher up to them, their white suits standing out. Nobody filmed or took pictures at this point. We listened carefully as Brother Cornwall performed the ordinance. Chris was submerged and brought back up. Cameras and smart phones were whipped out, as his paparazzi took pictures, as Chris's dad put it, a fan must have been blowing behind them. We closed with a prayer once things got settled down again. Chris changed in the tent Sister Zeller brought. The rest of us headed to the pavilion where dessert was provided.

me, Chris, and Sister Harris (my old companion who helped me teach Chris)

When Chris returned, we all sang "Happy Birthday" to him. We all enjoyed ourselves, wrote notes for Chris and took more pictures. As Chris said, "There was no better way to be reborn" on his Birthday. After the crowd dwindled, it was hard to say goodbye. The Moore's said they wanted to move to Plymouth; they and Sister Scott could most definitely see how the Plymouth Branch is one-of-a-kind. The joy felt that day was so wonderful, exhausting, and fulfilling. I was reminded how hard Sister Harris and I worked when we found Chris. It led to miracles, and they've only begun. The next day, he was confirmed, and then on Monday-- only 2 days after his baptism-- he went to the temple with his grandfather's name. (I was able to see him be baptized for him at the mission's recent convert temple baptism day on Labor Day.) His family had a great time at the baptism and was very supportive. In addition, his roommate Danny is now active in the church, and I found out while talking to Chris and the Sisters yesterday that he is now preparing to receive his own endowment. I was reminded how much joy hard work can bring. I feel more motivated to continue on here in Cambridge--to trust in the Lord and not give up.

It truly has been a wonderful week. I have once again been reminded our Heavenly Father's love for us as he hopes for us to look for the simple pleasures and blessings He provides. He desires for us to be happy, as we find great joy and satisfaction. I hope you can all find what He places in your life that brings the greatest joy, as the gospel of Jesus Christ most certainly helps us do so.

Life is truly beautiful.

With love,
Sister Roy

Here are some other pictures from this week:

Plymouth Rock

With Sister Scott and Sister Moore at Plymouth Rock

Going up the longest escalator I've ever been on

Monday, August 25, 2014

Don't Let the Bed Bugs Bite

Matching shirt day!
You know that phrase, "Good night, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite?" It's now our companionship motto. Yikes! Remember that experience about the "fleas" that I was telling you about? Well, they weren't fleas. By the time both Sister Scott was wearing bug spray to bed and I started to get bites, we finally had a bug inspector come to our apartment. He looked around, and lifted up our mattresses. Nothing. Then he lifted up my box spring...surely enough A BED BUG WAS THERE!!! So gross!!! I never thought I'd see this happen, nevertheless, I've never known what they look like. We are in the works of getting this worked out between the missionary over all the apartments and our landlord (who is being pretty stubborn about taking care of this sooner than later.) So, Sister Scott and I are becoming champs at wearing bug spray to bed. Such is the life!

Well...other than that, it's been a pretty good week! We had a mind-blowing experience happen--it was definitely a mission highlight! We continued to have more teaching appointments, which is always a good thing.

The rest of the week went pretty well. We had another lesson with our investigator Kyle, as we reviewed the Restoration. His family is working on some personal matters, but it's wonderful to see them grow closer through the work they are putting in as they are centering their lives on the gospel more. We provided a chart for chores to help around the home and a chart for spiritual matters, including family home evening, scripture study, and prayer. Our deal for them is that once they complete it for a month, we're going to provide an ice cream sundae party for the family. We also taught Kunal again. He's taking the lessons a little bit slower now since he's very busy as he works at MIT, so we're not sure about his baptism date being at the end of September, but at least he still wants to learn and we're still teaching him.

Remember that miracle I mentioned? Here it goes! Sister Scott and I originally planned to head to our dinner appointment a little early once weekly planning would be done to do a stop by at a less active's on the way.  However, since it was a little far away we decided to continue planning instead. Later on the way to the members' home (the Swans) we hopped from station to station, switching lines for the train. On the last train while standing, a lady noticed our tags and asked where our church was located. When we told her, she was so excited! She has wanted so badly to go to a church again since she has been craving spiritual strength as she travels a lot as a flight attendant. When we got of the same T stop as we continued to talk, we saw how truly grateful she was. This was a missionary's dream moment! Sister Scott and I walked along both sides of her, wanting to pinch ourselves to see if this was actually happening! We found out the lady's name was Krystal. She kept throwing her hands up in relief, exclaiming how we were an answer to her prayer that day to send a church her way!

As Sister Scott and I tried to maintain our giddiness, we told her where the church was as we gave her our card. Krystal promised she would come this Sunday if she didn't get called in for a flight for work. We asked if she'd be alright if the members nearby (the Swans) gave her a ride, which she accepted! Sister Scott geniously then mentioned how we were actually headed to a dinner at their place and asked if she'd like to come, which she agreed to! She had a quick errand to do beforehand, so as we waited, we decided to change our dinner lesson plan to the Restoration. We called the Swans, asking if Krystal could come to dinner--yes again! It was a solid plan!

The three of us had dinner with the Swans as Krystal told more about her life. The best comparison I can give for Krystal is Princess Tiana from the Disney Movie "Princess and the Frog." She is very bubbly and dramatic in a sweet, fun way. She has an open heart and moves forward with her ambitions and what she knows is right. She shared about her family, her life as a flight attendant, and her wedding plans for next year to a man she knew back from middle school. We could see Krystal's faith and courage as she is willing to do whatever the Lord would have her do.

When the time came when Brother Swan mentioned we usually do a lesson after dinner, we asked Krystal if we could teach her the basis of what we teach for our church. She openly agreed to be taught it. The lesson flowed so smoothly as we used the pamphlet, opened the scriptures, asked her questions and bore testimony. Krystal listened carefully to everything as the feeling in the Swans' apartment was unbelievable. She's had her foundation built by going to her church and studying the Bible, but she's intrigued with it all. She gratefully accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon at the end. She described how God gives her answers and how she acts on them which led to us reading Moroni 10: 3-5. She wanted to pray to know if what we taught is true and if the Book of Mormon is true. She wanted to attend church, and the Swans offered to drive her, but unfortunately she did get called in for work at the last minute. The good news, however, is that we heard from her again and are planning on teaching her again this week. :) I am stunned--absolutely bewildered with this experience. There was absolutely no coincidence how it all worked out. The Lord led every step required to meet her right there and then on that part of the train. I sure wonder where this is all going to lead but it's definitely been one of the neatest experiences here in the mission.

I want you to know that the Lord continues to pour out his tender mercies every week. Some are more evident than others, but there are simple ones that can be shown as well. The tender mercies and simple pleasures carry us each day. Over here, it's been the cooler summer weather this time of season, when passerby's actually smile back when you smile and say hello (even better when they accept a pass-along card). It's in the feeling after a good workout in the mornings, having the spirit direct and carry words while teaching, and seeing less actives come to church more frequently.

Another tender mercy was having the sweet experience of laughing to tears with a member in the lesson in Relief Society from some things that happened in the lesson (we received weird looks from everyone else who just didn't understand the good time we were having). That's when I realized how much I a good laugh for a while. I encourage you to continue to look for the Lord's tender mercies in your lives.

I love you all so much as I pray for you daily. I still cannot believe how quickly the mission is passing by (I don't even recognize many of the missionaries here--Sister Scott and I are getting old!)

With love,

Sister Roy

Fun Fact:  There are flower carts at about every T Stop.  Sometimes we'll see a young man on the train carrying flowers for someone. :)