Monday, April 28, 2014

Exchanges, Interviews, and the UnBirthday Party


I never mentioned last Monday that it was Patriots Day, which is New England's holiday to celebrate all that's happened here back when in history. It's also the day that Boston Marathon takes place. Half of our mission had the sweet opportunity to go to the temple in Belmont, since the temple is open on Monday holidays for the missionaries. It was a great privilege once again to go. :) We also carpooled with a couple of Elders from our District , so after the session we decided to head over to the one Chick-Fil-A in Massachusetts.

It was a crazy but fun-filled day as there were people all around the mall wearing "Boston Strong" t-shirts and there were signs throughout the streets of Boston in commemoration and for the incident last year.  It was neat to be able to see how people still show support.

Last Monday at the end of our P-day, we went to the Zeller's to have family home evening with Beth and Amy. Caitlin Zeller (the girl with Down Syndrome who came with us for baptisms at the temple a while back) called Sister Nielson and I up beforehand. We have to have the phone on speaker, as Caitlyn spilled the news to me..."Sister Roy, don't tell Sister Nielson, but we're going to have a cake for her! But don't tell her!!" (It was Sister Nielson's Birthday two weeks ago.) When we arrived at the Zeller's, we enjoyed a feast of left-overs from Easter. When dessert was brought out, including some left over cake from Easter, which was going to be Sister Nielson's Birthday cake as Caitlyn insisted Sister Nielson needed a mini party. Oh man, it was pretty great from that point on! Right as the cake was brought out, Caitlyn's sister pulled up in her car with her boyfriend (they are about 17 or 18.) Caitlyn jumped to the window as she saw their car pull in, exclaimed, "I think they're kissing!!" then burst the front door open and ran without hesitation to the car they were in. From that point on, we all watched as Caitlyn spoke with them, then grabbed their arms and dragged them inside.

We couldn't stop laughing, shocked at Caitlyn's bold move. As soon as Caitlyn's sister saw we had a cake, she asked Sister Nielson, "Is it your Birthday?" as we all said in unison "Two weeks ago!" and sang to Sister Nielson as she had a slice of cake in front of her. She blew out "the invisible candle." Then it was time for Sister Nielson to open her small gift, which was "electric blue" nail polish and a bracelet made out of wooden beads and pipe-cleaner. She told her thank you for the gift. Caitlyn bluntly replied to her gratitude and told her that the gifts she gave were found in her room and she didn't want them, so instead of throwing them away, she chose to give them to her.  The present was placed in a box with pretty red sparkles on it...but Caitlin politely took the box out of my hands and told me she wanted it back and I couldn't have it because it was too pretty.

We all had a fun rest of the night and sure had some good laughs. :)

With Sister Gledhill and Sister Badham after exchanges
On Wednesday, Sister Nielson and I went on exchanges with our Sister Training Leaders--Sister Badham and Sister (Yes, momma) Gledhill. I had the sweet chance to spend a day with Sister Badham. :) Once again, I worked with another positive, joyful soul for exchanges. Through her example I was able to see how to do a better job with member visits, including continuing to uplift and build them. She helped show how to keep the appointments within the allotted time and to fit the commitment in no matter what. She was a superhero at getting out on time, and it was easier than I thought. We had a busy day, and there was one appointment where the member kept telling stories in the middle of the discussion as she knew we had to go. My jaw must have fallen when Sister Badham simply said, "Can we leave you with a closing prayer?" And the member said, "Sure!" As simple as that. It was great day, and during our concluding debrief as both of our companionships met to discuss what we learned, Sister Gledhill and Sister Badham gave advice for our area since it's been a little rocky/ slow lately. We were all able to strengthen and help each other that day.

The following day, our zone headed to the Cape for individual interviews with President Packard. Before he began interviewing each of us, he introduced what the Assistants, Zone Leaders, and Sister Training Leaders would train on. Ironically enough, I prayed either the previous night, the night before that, or that morning (I often forget what I pray for each night because I'm so tired when I go to bed) that the Lord would prepare me and my future husband, whoever he would be, to learn what we needed to and become the individuals we would need to become for each other. So that morning He expounded how, out of all things, the Lord revealed to him how many of the companionships in this mission get along and don't fight or disagree on much, but they don't truly love each other. He straight up explained how everything we learn on our mission prepares us for life, especially for our marriage relationships and families. President Packard wants to ensure we learn as much as we can while we're out here as we work within our companionships to constantly build, strengthen, and love one another. He spoke about how sweet his and Sister Packard's relationship is. He also said, "I don't measure my success (to help you) until I meet your kids." That may sound weird to some people, but it brought the spirit in even more, as we all knew how much he cares about how we help how our future will turn out by what we do now. He continued on how we need to be part of a completely united, complimenting, and loving eternal companionship in the future, and that physical contact isn't what brings husbands and wives together--it's through the spiritual uplift and growth, through living the gospel, ministering, communicating and doing all things in unity. It was powerful instruction and we all felt the spirit strongly.

The training was so good as it all focused on how to minister to each other in our companionships, best communicate, and work together in unity in our companionships. I was the last missionary in the mission to be interviewed by President Packard, as he gave great advice for the area. Our discussion started off with a couple of scriptures we could put on our dinner calendar since not many people have been signing up--Alma 8:19 and Alma 58:7. We got a good laugh when he opened the scriptures and had me read them! We also conversed about the Tobi medication---whether to do the 30 minute version or the 2 minute version. As I figured, he wants me to take good care of my health and always put it first. He reminded me how I decided coming out on the mission that my schedule would be different than the white handbook to take care of my health. As he listened and provided ideas, it seemed more that he trusted me to do what's best and it will all work well, which I know it will.  It was once again an uplifting and helpful interview with President Packard, as the whole day was fulfilling.

That's about it for this week. I better get going and want you to all know how much I love you!

Love, Sister Roy

P.S. Brandon is going complete hipster. :)
P.S. number 2: Spring in Utah is looking and sounding beautiful! Next spring I'll be able to go running around up there and go on more hikes! (But don't worry, I'm not trunky.) :)
P.S. number 3: Thank you for your prayers for the McGill's friend with CF. I found out I misheard--he's been in the hospital for 2 or 3 months and was in a medical-induced coma for 2 or 3 weeks and is number one on the lung transplant list at Boston Children's.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Spring is Here!


How was everyone's Easter? I couldn't believe I forgot to mention Easter in my last letter! Ahh oh man some days come up so quickly and I sometimes forget which week it is. :)

It's finally looking and feeling like spring here in Plymouth. :) The weather has had its spurts of being chilly every now and then, but it's finally warming up here. :) 

Last Monday, Sister Nielson and I went to explore Plymouth Plantation. It was a very windy day and I discovered it wasn't the most exciting place, but hey it was alright for the discount we got as residents and we decided to have our own fun. We still spoke with "pilgrims" and "Indians" and found broomsticks that look like the ones in Harry Potter so we took pictures on them. Ha oh was great. :) The rest of the day as some members took us out to eat at a Brazilian Steakhouse (there's not a Brazilian of them around here) which you may know is one of my all-time favorite places to go. Oh be still my soul it was divine! I also didn't dare look at the cost but we gave the members our load of thanks. 

Plimoth Plantation

Be prapuh
Do I look anything like Harry Potter playing Quiddich?


There's been quite a few members moving out, (and yet there's been more moving in. :)) Last week Sister Nielson and I bade a tough goodbye to Brother and Sister Hopkins. 

Saying goodbye to the Hopkins
Although I've only met with them a few times, they are one couple I'll never forget. They are in their 60s-70s and were baptized about 2 1/2 years ago, so we have been helping them with temple prep lessons, and then Sister Hopkins would take us out to eat. There have been people I've met on my mission who are very vocal about their opinions on everything--other people and what they dislike about them, what they dislike about their lives and what's happening in the community. However, although the Hopkins face many challenges, including how Brother Hopkins is paralyzed from the chest down as he is also blind and nearly deaf, they are vocal about the good things happening, the love they have for guests when they arrive, and their love for each other. Brother Hopkins still keeps a sense of humor as I've often seen him smiling (and he really is funny.) Sister Hopkins stays positive as she does everything she possibly can to make sure Brother Hopkins knows she's there for him. I could go on about how she orders him his favorite meals, how she always says "*Brother Hopkins* and I," makes sure he hears what others say and includes him in everything. During all this, they strive to learn more about the gospel and live it. The Hopkins are one strong example of a couple who surely demonstrates pure Christlike love. I've admired their positive outlook and example, as they are an example of how awesome the members are here. 

On Saturday we stopped by the McGill's for dinner. It turned out they also boiled eggs for us to dye Easter eggs, so we joined their family for the event. After we ate quesuhdiluh's for dinner (as in "Come on, Napoleon, just make yourself a dang quesuhdiluh!") we had to hurry so I could get home for treatment (I had an even greater motivation to get home for it after one of their sons spilled the news that their close friend with CF has been in a terrible condition to the point where he's been in a coma for 2 months. It was a little upsetting to hear and made me wonder how two CF patients' lives can contrast so greatly, but it made me more grateful for all the Lord has allowed me to do thus far. I don't know his names but prayers his way would be helpful.) We prepared an Easter message based off of Joseph B. Wirthlin's "Sunday will come" talk on how we "all have our Fridays" but we can look forward to "our glorious Sunday" as we have times where we may feel in our absolute lowest state, but that Christ is "the light that is endless, that can never be darkened." (Mosiah 16:7-9)  The McGill's have been awesome with sharing the gospel, too, so we invited them to think of how they could allow the Atonement to transform their lives, as well as the lives of those they love. Sister McGill then gave Sister Nielson and I a bag of surprises to open on Easter Morning. Sister Nielson and I felt a little extra spoiled. :) We have felt loved and welcomed in their home countless times, and they continue to serve not only us but those they know and meet.

"Now that's what I call red-eye!" - Brother McGill
Church on Easter Morning was wonderful, and Beth and Amy were finally confirmed! Seriously, it was the greatest. The spirit was strong and the blessings given to them were beautiful. At the end of Sacrament Meeting, Beth told us that she and Amy came to church for the first time eight years ago on Easter Sunday. She pointed her finger at us and said, "Even though it took us this long, the seed was planted then, so don't give up as you're planting seeds!" (close words). It was exactly what I needed to hear! Beth and Amy have come a long way since then as they've gained desire at one point, which led to a course of miracles. After church yesterday, Beth approached our Branch President and asked for a temple recommend interview. Last that we heard, she was planning on going today with one of the members (Amy has a couple of months before she can go.) Truly incredible.

To be honest, it's been a little bit of a slower week and Sister Nielson and I have been struggling a little bit to figure out how to best use the time we have. I really don't like not having many teaching appointments set or let along many investigators to teach, but I'm still trying to see things with a new perspective and as we visit media referrals, following up with members, and more. We're still seeking those who are ready. We know that there are many ways in which we can improve, but we are taking things one step at a time and are doing our best. I'm just having to remember to keep a broader outlook on how to hasten the Work of Salvation here. I also won't forget Beth's advice that she gave us yesterday. 

I hope you can all feel the spirit of the Easter season and remember how it all came to be. Being out on the mission has allowed me to ponder and reflect more about our Savior's life and Atonement. Perhaps it's been the progressing years that has allowed me to realize more how precious life is as I hear others' stories (i.e. the McGill's friend in a coma), or it could be my eyes have been opened a little more as a missionary, but either way I've been able to reflect even more this year how precious the Atonement is as it allows us all to live forever and to be forgiven. It can heal our wounds and we do not have to do anything alone. I know that my Redeemer, Savior, and Advocate lives! And I am so grateful for it. :)

With Love, 
Sister Roy 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Aunt Rachel?!

Hi Everyone,

I'm already an Aunt?! Oh man, I don't even know what to say...I'M SO THRILLED!! :) I began to wonder yesterday if Connor was born, it turns out it's now truth. :) I cannot believe how many changes are taking place. Brandon, when will your album be completed? What kind of music have you been recording?

It's been a very eventful but good week. :) On Tuesday Sister Nielson and I headed to Boston for a follow-up  CF Clinic visit. There's no need to worry because I'm doing well, but I've still been getting over the after effects from the cold in February/Tobi Podhaler's side effects. Since I got permission to go onto the Cystic Life website again, I've noticed that the Podhaler has not only affected myself, but many other patients as well. I'm grateful that it hasn't been as bad for me as other patients--I've just had more/thicker gunk and it could be worse. I'm still debating on whether to switch to the 30 minute version of Tobi since it will cut even more time for proselyting and we'll have to be home even earlier each day, so I'm going to talk it over with President Packard more when I next meet with him. However, I also know (and what he'll probably say) is that I have to take care of myself. :/ Aside from that tangent though, the PFT numbers were higher than I expected. :)

On Wednesday Sister Nielson and I headed over to good ol' Weston for an all-day conference for all the Sisters in the mission. It was great! We attended presentations, workshops, heard testimonies born, as well as wise words from President and Sister Packard. It was a little bit of an investment, but I am so glad I bought a recorder a couple of days beforehand to record any bit that stood out, (especially the Packard’s talks because I keep regretting not having them recorded--notes can only do so much!) I will do my best to see if I can send out a copy of the last two talks along with other parts of the day as soon as I get the chance.

Beth and Amy
 Beth and Amy continued to face a lot of opposition this week--to the point that their baptism was almost cancelled. With all of the fasting, prayers, all came together and they were finally baptized! Seriously, though, I've never had any investigator face that much opposition along their journey towards baptism before. Sister Nielson and I have definitely had to use all of our heart, might, mind, and strength to help them all, and we couldn't have done it without Heavenly Father's help.

Robin and all the Missionaries to helped teach her
The other highlight of this week was on Saturday. Sister Nielson and I had the sweet opportunity to join one of our members, Robin, for her big day. She was baptized last year, and has been ecstatic to receive her endowment. Weeks ago she invited all of the missionaries who every helped her---beginning with the missionary discussions and lessons to the temple prep lessons.  We all got permission and came from all over the mission to support Robin for this memorable moment. Her cousin also flew in from Utah, as well as our Relief Society President and Branch Mission Leader, all came as well. In preparation for her endowment, Robin completed a lot of her family history work and brought a stack of names with her. She handed each of us a family member's name, including her mom, dad, baby brother, and grandparents. The whole time, we could all feel Robin's excitement, and there were many times she would not stop beaming. The spirit was so powerful during the entire session, and all of the workers we saw said they had never seen such a sight with all the missionaries who were there for her. After Robin's endowment, we all filed into the sealing room to seal her parents, then she to her parents and baby brother all together for eternity. It was an incredible moment I will never forget.

To top it all off, church on Sunday was incredible, especially fast and testimony meeting. I even fasted that it would turn out right since we were expecting many less actives and non-members to attend. Surely enough, five less actives and nine nom members came--whether they were investigators, one of our investigator's parents, non-members of part-member families, and friends. We were blown away as each person came in. Never before until yesterday in this branch had I seen about every chair taken--they even had to grab more chairs after the sacrament to create another row! Testimony meeting was so powerful that there were some tears shed across the chapel. I won't forget the spirit that was there. The Lord is definitely guiding and preparing those who may be ready to hear more at the right time.

It's definitely been a great and memorable week! I still want to wish Alicia congrats and I cannot believe I'm an Aunt! Beth and Amy are now baptized, as we'll help them continue to progress. Robin received her endowment and is now sealed to her family. I wish I could fully express how fantastic this all is. :)

Sister Roy

P.S. You remember Darryl who I wrote about last week? Well...he cancelled on us for both appointments saying he was overwhelmed with work...and we got a message from him on Saturday (right after we got out of the temple) that he moved to Cape Cod (which was exactly what one of our recent converts Dave did not too long ago. First of all, Sister Nielson and I both agreed Darryl and Dave should become best friends. Second, we wished the absolute best for him and we left him with our testimony of the Book of Mormon, promising that once he decides to read it more, he will feel closer to Heavenly Father and how he'll gain a better sense of how a knowledge of Jesus Christ and what He did when He was on earth can help him overcome addictions and anything else in his life that may be hard, as well as gain a better sense of his purpose in life.

When I walked out of the temple though and received the text, I couldn't help but feel (yes, disappointed as well) completely peaceful as I was able to look at everything with an eternal perspective.

P.P.S.  The house we're helping Habitat for Humanity build is coming together!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Another Awesome General Conference Weekend and other Shazam :)

Hi Everyone,

#postconferenceblues #isitalreadyover ?   Wasn't General Conference amazing? It was another powerful weekend full of bold counsel, uplifting, hope, and encouragement. Once again I had personal questions that I wrote down and prayed about throughout the week, and as they always are during Conference, they were all answered. Some of the answers I received were resolved in unexpected ways, but the Lord knows what is best. I won't go into full detail of the questions and answers provided, but a few of my favorite talks included Russell M. Nelson's, Richard G. Scott's, Dieter F. Uchtdorf's, and David A. Bednar's--only to name a few! It was all incredible. :) I know that President Monson and each of the church leaders were called of God to address us all according to the world's, and our very own personal needs and desires as well.

On April Fools Day, I asked for it--to have more funny moments stand out. Surely enough, that prayer was answered. :) (I think part of it was the joke on how oblivious I was with a miracle that was right there in front of us.) That day was incredible--more teaching opportunities came along my and Sister Nielson's way. We had been so desperate to find more who were yearning for better success, listening hearts and ears, and more chances to share His word. The Lord compensated through His infinite love to show that not although there were some very difficult situations to handle and work out, there were also more good opportunities to come (and maybe a good laugh as well at some irony.)

In my journal at the end of the day, I was describing the best parts of the day. I described those we met and the messages we shared with others in more lengthy detail, even if they weren't interested. After these longer stories, I wrote, "Sister Nielson and I also met a man at the library today, who said we could share more with him!" That's all I wrote. Ha-ha I'll get to that soon. :)

After feeling good after a lot of success on Tuesday, Sister Nielson and I joined a member family for hibachi food at a Japanese restaurant. When we sat down at the U-shaped table around a large cooking setup, our assigned seats were right next to a nice-looking family. I was thinking about how great of a teaching opportunity this could turn into. (Also, my seat was closest to theirs and the family we were with and Sister Nielson couldn't hear our conversation too well.) As the waiters began to bring out the soup and salad, the mom of the family asked us what church we belong to (as they saw the black name tags), which we responded, and they didn't seem to be familiar with who were were. Once the member we were with cleared that we are Mormons, she nodded. Then, she asked what we do as missionaries and what we teach. At that point, so much filled my head that I stumbled over some words, but gave a basic summary of the Restoration. As the mom and I continued conversing, she spilled the news that I almost had to do a double take on...

There I was, teaching a family of Jehovah's Witnesses! (I was wondering if they would be receptive.)

The family really was sweet and considerate. Luckily they weren't aggressive or anything like that. As the mom and I continued our conversation, she began sharing her beliefs and what their church teaches about what they believe God's kingdom to be and what will happen to us all as I continued to listen. They emphasized how " they teach exactly what's in the Bible and stick with the Bible" but it made no sense at all as to what I know to be true from the Bible.
We all enjoyed the cooking show, then I began to tell about Heavenly Father's plan for each of us individually--why we're here, how we lived with our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ before, as he then chose to atone for our sins and transgressions when He would come to earth, the Creation and Fall, our earth life, what happens after we die as we go to the Spirit World, the Resurrection--when our bodies and spirits come together in its perfection before we meet God again, and how we'll be judged and placed into one of the three kingdoms, but how we're all striving for the Celestial Kingdom where God will dwell and our families will be together for all eternity.

The mom and 13 year old daughter listened the whole time as I used the small diagram in Preach my Gospel, (and it was one of the only days I carried it with me.) The daughter seemed to take interest about the part of how each of us has a purpose to live with God again when that time comes, and how the plan all centers on the Atonement of Jesus Christ, as it enables us to live with Him again.

Once the mom asked if we believe this because of what's in the Book of Mormon, I explained how the Book of Mormon clarifies what's unclear in the Bible, and how it's another witness of Jesus Christ. As soon as I said that, we all continued to eat, but there was silence from them. Dead silence.
Sister Nielson, the member family, and I all continued to talk and eat. When the family left, we bid friendly goodbyes.

Okay...I thought that was the greatest part of the day, but it wasn't.

Now remember the man I mentioned who "we met at the library, and he said we could share more with him?" On Tuesday Sister Nielson and I were working on Digital Mission online proselyting, and this man named Darryl thought Sister Nielson and I were librarians as he saw us hopping back and forth to read over each other’s comments before posting them. He asked for help with his Excel document, which I was able to help out with since I had a little bit of experience with it at work before the mission. We told him how we were missionaries for our church, and then when I needed to take a break, Sister Nielson was boss at obeying the prompting she received as Heavenly Father urged her to talk to him. She told him how he seemed very nice, and explained more about what we do, as we teach of Christ and provide answers that people cannot find anywhere else. That was when he said he would like to meet. :)

We met with him on Friday, as we hoped for the best, wondering how in the world it would turn out. We based some questions and our discussion off of "How to Begin Teaching" in Preach my Gospel, but knew the Holy Ghost would definitely have to guide it along. As soon as we arrived at the table at the library where he was sitting, he greeted us friendly. We noted immediately the articles right in front of him from Real Life Answers that he found, all marked with notes he made. He had the pass along card Sister Nielson gave to him, a briefcase, planner and more set right there.

We hardly had to say much. Darryl jumped right in. He told us his background, the struggles he's gone through, and how it's sparked an interest about religion in him, which he had never experienced before, as the idea of God strengthened him. We explained how God is not a powerful, almighty idea--but his very loving Eternal Father of his spirit--guiding his life along.

Darryl wanted to continue to heal and not step away again, and he knows he needs religion in his life but has been searching for what's right. He kept saying how open he is at this time. He wanted to know what our church is, where we meet, and what it teaches. He asked what we do as missionaries, wants the lessons, wanted to schedule them out (along with a church tour before he attends church next Sunday). He also offered to have all the lessons taught in a week because he is ready to learn. Right as I was about to mention how he'll want to keep commitments as he learns more, he asked, "What commitments will I need to make?"

I couldn't believe everything was happening as it was right then! Was this real?! I had never experienced anything like this, and it was very difficult to not look like a goon smiling from ear to ear.

He asked about General Conference's times and where to watch it since church wouldn't be held this Sunday. We also gave him a Book of Mormon with an index card that had "Questions of the Soul" (from Preach my Gospel) he could look at and pick which ones stood out, and refer to the scriptures given as answers. However, he wanted to read them all.

I am still bewildered. It would be impossible to express how merciful the Lord is. With all of the discouragement that we faced shortly beforehand, Heavenly Father was watching. He helped turn one of the most difficult times for us into a very memorable moment that may lead to something more incredible.

Honestly, I feel like one of the three Nephites was sent to us to give us a boost.  But I have to be real with myself and know this is a huge blessing from our loving Heavenly Father.
A few other things that happened this week:

I hit my hump-day mark on April 3rd. :) The mission has been going by slowly but very quickly at the same time.

A police officer died for unknown reasons on his motorcycle right in front of our apartment complex. They don't know if it was from a heart attack, brain aneurysm, or what. It's been hard to see and it's affected a lot of people in Plymouth and Boston, but the whole town has come together to show their respect and honor for him.

I found success holding a chicken!!!

We celebrated Sister Nielsen's 21st birthday.  

Sister Nielsen's Birfday.  Now she can driiink...water!
On the way home from Beth and Amy's missionary lesson, we had a flat tire
flat tire

flat tire fixed (thanks to Good Samaritan)

Well I better get going. I love you all very much.
-Sister Roy