Monday, January 27, 2014

A Day out In Concord

Hey everyone,

Sister Patterson and mine's adventure in Concord was great!  Louisa May Alcott's home was darling. Although it's been so long since I've seen Little Women, it was still a treat to take a tour (they didn't let us take pictures though.) Certain parts were renovated, but there were still original pieces decorating and adding that extra special touch including May's artwork, the desk by the window where Louisa wrote both parts of Little Women, Mr. Alcott's study room and more. Overall, it was a neat tour. :)
Louisa May Alcott's Orchard home

After Louisa May Alcott's home, we met up with the Elders again to check out the Concord museum. 
Although we had to brisk through it since it was about to close, we saw some cool sights as the museum takes you through Concord's history. They even had one of the two lanterns Paul Revere signaled from the belfry when "the British were coming." There was Ralph Waldo Emerson's study, more about the Transcendentalists who tried to reform society through literature, tea china, guns, furniture, and more.
We didn't have much time to see anything else, but we are planning on touring around some more next Monday.


Paul Revere's lantern

Ralph Waldo Emerson's study

President Packard also left another scripture from inspiration that had me reading it a few times to get the full essence of it. Alma 13:27 was a verse I never before paid much attention to. When President Packard handed over his scriptures for me to read outloud, "I wish from the inmost part of my heart, yea with great anxiety even unto pain, that ye would hearken unto my words and cast off your sins, and not procrastinate the day of your repentance." I first thought, Oh no! What's president asking me to repent of?! Am I giving him pain because of it? Haha! :)
But as we studied the verse, he had me take a different look at 'anxiety' since we often associate that in a medical perspective, so I decided to look at it as 'great desire.' As President went deeper, he emphasized the phrase even unto pain. At this point, I understood what he meant. I recounted my experience to him a few weeks back--when I felt literal pain--physical pain--to bring souls unto Christ. Yet, during that very difficult and trying day, I learned I could feel a sense of what Alma described here. I could somewhat relate to Alma through that experience, and I could  relate to his great desire. At this point, I became more grateful for hardships, how I could personally relate to the scriptures, and for my mission president's wise counsel.
Well, what I thought was a 10 minute interview turned into a 45 minute one! It was all good though and I left feeling more encouraged and uplifted.
Sister Patterson and I began teaching another family closeby to us--the mom hasn't been to church in a long time and a strong desire to come back, and her husband is very open and interested. And oh my darlingity, I should also mention their kids are adorable. We are also scheduled to begin teaching another young girl from the same town Pam, Jose, and the two kids being baptized are from. I'm not kidding--it's a town where everyone knows each other and everything about each other and what's going on in their lives. Haha we must be one by one teaching all the youth in that town. Who's knows what's in store there!
Anne Marie
 I've also been thinking of a so-strange-it-ends-up-being-funny story to tell from the mission--well, I now have one to tell! We were at a lesson for Anne Marie, and just as we reached the climax part of the lesson, somehow it went completely off topic. Since Anne Marie loves yoga, she began talking more about how yoga has helped her. Before we knew it, she got on the ground and began doing yoga! She even had me sit next to her and sit up straight with legs criss-crossed. I quickly stood up and Sister Patterson and I were frantically thinking of ways to pop in a "ninja question" to bring it back on topic. At the end of the lesson, Sister Patterson straight up said she never was able to finish what she had to say since she was cut off. The lesson ended up concluding well and beautifully, but I'll have to say, I've never been present in the lesson where it was paused to do yoga. Haha Anne Marie is awesome. :)

Well there's not much else that happened this week. Sister Patterson and I are still doing our best and making the most of what may be the last couple of weeks in this area (but who knows.)
With love,
-Sister Roy

President Packard's Letter to the Missionaries

This is President Packard's most recent letter to the mission...

Dear Elders and Sisters,

In Jacob’s first sermon recorded in the Book of Mormon, he announced that he had been “consecrated by my brother Nephi, unto whom ye look as a king or a protector, and on whom ye depend for safety…” (2 Nephi 6:2). When Nephi died, Jacob again described Nephi as a protector, stating that the people “loved Nephi exceedingly, he having been a great protector for them, having wielded the sword of Laban in their defense, and having labored in all his days for their welfare.” (Jacob 1:10). Nephi as the great protector – it sounds right, doesn’t it?

Like Nephi, we are the protectors of the people we serve. The people we serve are young in the gospel, and they are vulnerable on all fronts. The adversary knows that fledgling faith will grow, so he focuses particular attention on those who are either new to the Gospel or are recently returning. Those with young faith will face many challenges including outside pressure from family and friends, anti-Mormon literature, personal insecurities about whether they can keep their covenants, and destructive habits that are difficult to break. You are their protectors, figuratively wielding the Sword of Laban in their defense!

Because you see yourselves as their protectors, you will make sure that they are not left to fight the adversary alone. Of course, you will share you testimony and you will teach them the Gospel, but your people are the most vulnerable when you are not with them. Thus, you will make sure you have frequent contact, you will warn them that negative family pressure and anti-Mormon literature will most likely come their way, and you will help them learn how to deal with these challenges ahead of time. You will help them find productive ways to serve in the Church, you will help them prepare to do temple work for their own family members, you will prepare the ward members to give them a wonderful experience at church, and you will help them have daily experiences with the Book of Mormon. Finally, you will advocate for them with the ward leaders and will make sure that your people have support and friendship from other members of the Church.

Nephi loved his people so much, he said: “For I pray continually for them by day, and mine eyes water my pillow by night, because of them; and I cry unto my God in faith, and I know that he will hear my cry.” (2 Nephi 33:3). As you protect your investigators and less-actives, they will love you exceedingly just as the people loved Nephi, and you will reciprocate that love just as Nephi loved them.

We pray that the Lord will protect you as you protect his children with fledgling faith.


President and Sister Packard

Monday, January 20, 2014

Small and Simple Things

Hey :)

Sister Patterson and I are doing very well--still working hard and doing our best, and yes, it is only possible through our Heavenly Father's help. I've seen even more this week how He plays a great influence in every aspect of this great work--in many ways which we cannot even see. We can only do our best to help each person each step of the way, but it all comes down to the Lord helping them. I hope I was able to clarify that last week, but I don't think I did. :/

Church yesterday--wow. Just wow. Sister Patterson and I sat down for Sacrament meeting, and sweet sugar! One by one--there came less actives we've been working hard with for a while to come, as it was their first time in a few years. We saw another investigator, as it was her first time there. Then there was Anne Marie once again. In walked another family we worked with for so long to come back and now seems active--with their daughter as she winked at us. Surely enough, there beside her was her friend who has been wanting to learn more for a while, who we will begin teaching this week. 

As Jose passed the sacrament to us, I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with joy. As I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, I had the experience of feeling some pain as the Savior may have felt, but at this time, I received a greater, small taste of how it must be for Him to see others come into His fold. I'm still mesmerized at how our loving Heavenly Father fills in the gaps we cannot fill, as he takes care of each of His sons and daughters--all of us. I was reminded of how we can only see a small portion of His works and miracles that are outside of our limited view. 

Now, for Anne Marie, she's still a rockin' and rollin'. She invited us over to her place again for dinner for the lesson. She makes me feel like I'm in England for a tea party or nice meal--which thrills me since I've never been to England and you know how much I love England. Anywho...we keep telling her she doesn't have to feed us each lesson, but she has been more than happy to offer something in some way. She's very friendly and open, and I'm glad that we can help answer her questions each step of the way. We continued by teaching her the gospel of Jesus Christ, which went very well. She's still progressing and still wants to be baptized--we keep praying for her because of the struggles placed in her path that are preventing her desire from happening sooner than later.

There's many more lessons that took place this week, but I wouldn't want to bore you with everything. :) Sister Patterson and I are trying to work more as a team with the Elders to make sure everyone is covered.

When we don't get much mail, we give mail :)
 Even during these busy times, I'm wanting to try a little better at seeking small and simple things that the Lord would have us do. Someone Sister Patterson and I have become friends with is our mailman Danny, since we've seen how hard he works at his job through all seasons and snowstorms. He has a pure, special spirit and happily greets us when we see him. Before Christmas came, we gave him some of the fudge I made with a note, thanking him for all that he does and how he is making a difference in others' lives. As our friendship has grown in a simple way, he opened up to us a week ago, saying his mom passed recently and his Aunt wasn't doing well--how it's been a hard time for him and all he wanted at the time were prayers for his Aunt.

Danny had been on our minds, and Sister Patterson said it was time to invite him to learn more. She wrote out a beautiful letter. We revised it, then signed it, and stuck it in the mailbox the next morning.

That afternoon, we looked inside the mailbox, and saw a note quickly written on a label. Danny thanked us for the heartwarming letter, and mentioned his Aunt passed away the previous day. 

I don't know if much will come out of it, however, I know that the Lord knew we could help our mailman friend. Sister Patterson was sure in tune to the spirit's prompting to know that he needed that letter right at the time his Aunt passed away. I hope to be able to seek more "small and simple things," whether it be small actions to help out others or small tender mercies from the Lord, as they can enrich our lives, adding more meaning, depth, and joy. 

In Alma 37:6-7 it promises,
"By small and simple things are great things brought to pass...And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth the salvation of many souls."

There are many small and simple things we can do and acknowledge each day. I'm still working on it and am constantly learning from Sister Patterson. I know that the Lord's hand is there and fills in the gaps we cannot, as it's not possible without Him.

Well, there's not much more to say right now. We're going to head to Concord today to check out some sights (we may have to finish up more next week), so I will tell more next time. We're planning on visiting the "Little Women" home, a museum with Paul Revere's lantern, the place where the gunshot was "heard around the world", and more. I am greatly looking forward to it. :)

I will write more next week.

With love,
-Sister Roy

After a snowstorm that dumped 1 1/2 feet of snow

Monday, January 13, 2014

We're Just Flyin' By

Hey everyone!
It's been a great week. My health has been doing a lot better from that one incidence last week. It's actually warm today--about 60 degrees? I mean it when I say one day it feels like Spring and the next the temperature drops to 0° and it dumps a foot of snow. I don't know what's with that...but anywho...
Even though this work can be tough, Sister Patterson and I are bewildered at all the good things happening. We are still working as hard as we can and are still adjusting to the work handed from the Elders, but we are grateful for how busy we are. As Sister Patterson described, we may look like two burnt holes in a blanket when we come home--exhausted beyond words, but feeling the Lord's satisfaction for what we've done in this area. We have our moments of laughter as well (the time to shake usually takes care of that) and I'll admit, I'm proud of what we've been accomplishing here in this ward. :)

To start off...holy bucket, Anne Marie is progressing like wildfire. We've been teaching her, giving her study assignments with reading guides, integrating her more in the ward ,and making sure she understands everything she learns. She continually yearns to learn more. She started reading from page one of the Book of Mormon, and we only assigned her one chapter with reading guide questions. She's now almost done with First Nephi, has been keeping all commitments, is coming to church, will was happy to accept the invite to teach yoga to the young women this Wednesday, and much more. She has also been defending the faith through the testimony she has gained. We are so happy for her progress! She wants to be baptized, but has some personal barriers she needs to get through, so keep her in your prayers if you can.
The family of the two kids we are teaching also came to church yesterday. They are so excited to be baptized and are now asking their mom questions left and right. Sister Patterson and I love teaching them, and we know these next few weeks of preparation will fly by.
One thing Josh will learn is the work can become stressful, but I still remember my friend Cori, who served in Peru's words of advice she wrote..."There are two types of pain as a missionary--the pain of effort, or the pain of regret. Make sure you do your best so when you look back on your mission, you won't have those regrets." That's stayed with me, and it takes practice, time, and patience step by step as we can only do our best. I'm working on trying to turn stress in to faith as the hard work to try to allow all areas of the process of conversion to work together for those we teach.

This last Tuesday, we began a new occurrence for the whole mission--we had our first Webex call--kind of like what we did for the snowstorm, but it was more like a Skype session, and it's going to be held once every month. During this Webex call, President Packard emphasized how we need to become stronger spiritually, which includes needing to do better at becoming a "Book of Mormon Mission." He assigned us to start a new paperback copy of the Book of Mormon, mark every reference to Jesus Christ--names given and times when He or prophets spoke of Him, as well as His attributes. Since then, Sister Patterson and I are seeking ways to use the Book of Mormon more in our teachings, whether it be through simple testimonies to people or at lessons.
 One example that Sister Patterson and I have referred to is the story of the Brother of Jared, as his faith led him to seeing the Lord touch the stones. We built on one of Elder David A. Bednar's talks we watched in the MTC. As He did with the stones in front of the Brother of Jard, the Lord touches lives individually with his own finger. First of all, though, the Brother of Jared put his faith into action and asked the Lord if He could provide light in a way that was never done before. He also, as said in Ether 3:4, prepared the vessels beforehand for the stones. We related this to how we can have faith in the Lord and others. What may seem to be "only rocks" can be influenced and shine, as we show our faith in the Lord for Him to help them. We strive to strengthen our faith and believe the Lord can do miracles and touch lives that may seem impossible to be influenced. And, like the Brother of Jared, we can prepare our vessels, ensure we are ready to accomplish His work, and allow others to shine from what we have prepared.  Well my attention span is dwindling since there's a lot to get done this p-day, so I better go.

 Have an awesome week! 
-Sister Roy

Monday, January 6, 2014

Grounded for a Day

Hey everyone!

Happy 2014!! Here's some news...Sister Patterson and I are 1/3 way through. Crazy? I think so. But who's counting? ;)

One thing is for sure... the weather is crazy here. Last week, as you may know, it was freeeeeezing. The entire mission was actually red dotted (grounded) inside and not allowed to leave. The temp's dropped to 0 degrees, 30 mph winds came in, and gigungus snow storm hit dumped another foot and a half of snow. This resulted in a large change of plans because Transfer meeting was originally scheduled for that day and the departing missionaries' flights were cancelled. To compromise in some way, our beloved Packard's decided to hold the first-ever conference call for our entire mission spread throughout New England. Over 300 missionaries tuned in/muted their phones to hear the transfer changes/assignments announced again, as well as to hear all the departing missionaries bear their testimonies. Sister Patterson and I blasted the heat inside our car as we listened since our phone reception in our apartment decides to drop every minute.

It was a cool opportunity to have a conference call like that, since the whole mission was joined together in it. In his concluding thoughts, President re-stated a quote a departing missionary came up with, "A mission is like training wheels for an unselfish, consecrated life." That stood out to me, as a mission is only practice and preparation to consecrate and devote our lives to the Lord while reaching out to and serving those around us. I now these 18 months will fly by and will one day be let go, and it will be time to apply what's been learned and go by faith and confidence in the Lord while enjoying the ride.

For the rest of that day we were grounded, we planned like crazy and our phone almost died from all the calls we made. Dad, I used the Lion House Roll mix you sent to knead, rise, and bake a batch of divine flaky goodness. They were soooo good. :) The storm lasted about a day and a half, and then the temp's dropped to a whoppin' 8 degrees. Right now, though, it's 60 degrees with rain. Welcome to Massachusetts. That's a missionary's weather forecast for ya.

Sister Patterson and I are working with the new Elders in our ward--Elder Fish and Elder Terry. Our teaching pools have always been combined with the Elders', but now that these Elders are assigned in the office, we are trying to help them out by seeing who we can teach. We will be working more with the Ward Mission Leader to see what we can do with our priorities, since we now have a larger teaching pool. These new Elders seem nice though and I know there will be much good coming from them being here.

Everything is picking up pace. You remember the two kids from the family that hasn't come to church in a long while, who we have been teaching? (They were the family we doorbell ditched after decorating their door with Christmas-light shaped notes.) Well, we set a baptismal date for them for February 8th!  They are precious beyond words and it is such a treat to teach them. :) Sister Patterson and I are so excited for them. 

For other happenings this week, Saturday was a crazy day, as it started by beginning the second lesson at Anne Marie's--the Investigator who showed up at church. She set up an adorable tea-party setting with herbal tea (she heard at church we don't drink tea) and apple cider, as well as healthy blueberry muffins. The lesson went very well, as she didn't feel overwhelmed and wanted to keep learning more. I am blown away at the pace of progression Anne Marie is making. 

Now, the only reason I am about to go into what I'm about to tell about is because of what I learned from it.  During Anne Marie's lesson, though, I was experiencing some immense pain near my stomach (CF digestion problems.) I had to fight through it, and there were moments I fought tears from how painful and uncomfortable it was. The lesson also went a little overtime, so we hurried home afterwards to prepare a few things and I took a med to help settle the pain, we then hurried to the library for another lesson. That lesson got pushed a little behind since no study rooms were open, but once a room was available we began the lesson. During the whole time, the pain continued and I felt dizzy from not eating (we were continually going and I was allowing my medication to settle in), and I missed a few doses of Hyper Sal (the salty medication to breathe in) for the past few days since I ran out and Walgreen's was waiting for the shipment, which caused my lungs to be tight. During all this was taking place, though, I didn't feel there was much of an option but to press through the appointments since they were set; I wanted to fully experience the joy from teaching and the spirit that was felt.  By the time that lesson was finished, it went over time once again. I could have helped direct it better, but I'll be honest--I was feeling pretty weak.  We had another member coming in 10 minutes for our following appointment, but during that short spurt of time, I took a moment, feeling overwhelmed by my physical limitations.

It was there, after taking a moment, when I received a feeling--This is partially how your Savior felt. He gave his absolute all to save everyone. He was desperate because of His immense love and desire for everyone to safely gain Eternal refuge. And yet, as He felt all weight pressing in on Him, He was still rejected by many, mocked at, ignored, scorned at, and turned away. However, during all of this, He chose to endure to the end, because He knew who He was Atoning for. This brought greater hope and assurance. I remembered I am on the Lord's team, and just have to try my best. I have learned from good moments as well, but I became more grateful for the hardships that draw me closer to my beloved friend and Savior, Jesus Christ, and to remember what He's done for us all.

I feel that 2014 is going to be a year of great personal growth here out on the mission. It's so strange, yet exciting how 2014 will be the mission. I'll be out here in Massachusetts for the whole year (unless there are mid-transfers before Christmas...but who knows), still set apart as a representative of my dear friend and Savior, Jesus Christ. It'll be a year of serving, teaching, pushing, striving, and becoming. It's going to be awesome. :)

I love you all so much! Do something fun this week. :)
-Sister Roy