Monday, June 30, 2014

More Neat and Exciting Things Happening :)

A pretty view of a local pond
Hello people!

I'm sure looking forward to this Friday!! The Fourth of July is going to rock ;) (sorry, I had to say it) here in Plymouth. It must be a hotspot here for the Fourth... maybe because it's 'Murca's hometown. ;) I didn't realize how big of an event it is here until people started to put up their American flags everywhere about a week or two ago. We are also going to have some of the missionaries from our zone come up here. Our mission says we can attend a fireworks show as long as it's within the stake boundaries and we head home right after. I'm so relieved! :)

May I also announce some other exciting news?? Yes, the news came...all three trial phases of the Vertex pill (or what I call the magic pill) for the DeltaF508 gene mutation were COMPLETED with SUCCESS!!! No, it is not a cure, but the fact that the studies have shown it has significantly improved PFT results and their overall wellbeing is remarkable. Vertex plans on submitting the application for the pill by the end of this year, so that's about all that I know. I would love to hear any further news about it. :)

I don't know if I ever mentioned (I probably didn't) but for the past few months our Stake was working on an event called "Trek to the Temple." The plan was to have a day where the temple would have open sessions and times for each member to come with a family name to "build a Stake in heaven" which probably is not correct because who knows if there are Stakes there but oh well.) So, we lucky missionaries in the stake woke up very early on Saturday morning. Sister Harris and I carpooled with our primary president at 6:30 to be there at 7:30 to help set up for the activities for all the kids at the church across the street from the temple. 

Our mini trek to the temple on Trek to the Temple Day
We set up a craft table, helped the PVC Sisters set up the displays, then hurried to guide the group of kiddos around. We started with 3 but then it grew larger (luckily we had some of the parents to help us out.) It waso crazy but a lot of fun! All of the activities were focused on the temple and learning about our ancestors. We ate snacks our group, then took a mini hike (some were huffing and puffing in the heat) through some woods up to the Boston temple from the church. There they had 2 guides who took us around the grounds to teach them more about the temple. After we came back, there were different stations for the kids. There was a story time, game time, music time, craft time, dancing time, and then they had the opportunity to be pulled in a handcart outside. Afterwards lunch was served as there were people in every crook and cranny where the food was and the food ran out near the end since there were so many people! We were so tired that night and in fact I almost forgot how to sleep. I'm glad though that we were able to help out.

We've still been having a little bit of a difficult time meeting with investigators, so we are working as well as we can to do what we need to according to the Lord's will. One of our focus's has been to work more with those who have been struggling to come to church for a while, but are finally coming back. There have been a few, which is truly a blessing. One that we met with this week was Andrew. He has had quite a past which he has been uncomfortable to open up about, but he opened up with us. He's shared his testimony and is so grateful to focus on the gospel in his life. We have been able to see how he was truly converted, and is again. This work can be hard, frustrating and challenging, but to see and witness a conversion taking place--even, if not especially for--those who reclaim the tender emotions, knowledge, and confirmations they at one point lost. It is remarkable.

Have a great week! It's great being here.

Love always,
Sister Roy

P.S. It's bizarre to think that the one-year mark is this Thursday...

Monday, June 23, 2014

The FH / Linger Longer Event

Hello! How is everyone doing?

The summer is kicking and things are still going well. 

Health-wise, I began Cayston, which is coming along much more smoothly. It's been a little tricky planning in all 3 doses with the hours in between but there have been no serious side effects. :)

Last Sunday, Elder Newsome, who used to serve here, visited the branch. Lucky for us, Sister Harris and I happened to bring our list of former investigators! He went through the list and told us of a couple who he has been thinking about and keeping in contact with lately. There was one lady named April who he suggested to visit, so we decided to go over on Tuesday. When we knocked on the door that said to be hers in the record, nobody answered. We started to go back to our car, but I felt this urge to tract the door next to hers. We turned around and did so. The lady who answered said, "Did Donna (Sister Hovey) send you??" It was April! She came outside and we had a sweet visit. She was blown away we stopped by that day--she kept thinking that day how much she missed everyone at "the LDS" and even made a special Facebook status update about it that day. While visiting with her, she told about the fun times her family had when the Elders came over and how much she missed the branch. She began going back to her Methodist church, where she says she feels it's where her heart told her to go back to, but still feels torn. Even her pastor has told her several times (even yesterday) she should go back to this church since he knows how much she loves it. Unfortunately she had her feelings hurt by a member but we're trying to show her it's in the past and that we would still welcome her in. April also loves the Book of Mormon. She loves the doctrine shared and how it "saved her one day." This story may not seem necessary to share but it's just too good! One day she looked out the window and saw six J-dubs on her doorstep. She went to her bedroom, grabbed her Book of Mormon and went to the door, holding it in her arm. At that moment, as soon as the visitors saw it in her arm, they literally ran as fast as they could without saying a word. She smiled and kissed the Book of Mormon in her arm, knowing she loved it even more. :)

After our visit, she said she would love to have us over for dinner on the weekend, so we visited wither her again and had a nice Book of Mormon study with their family. I don't know where this will end up, but we're still keeping in contact with her and there are no coincidences as the Lord is mindful of her. I am so glad I felt the urge to turn back and knock on the other door.

We also taught Chris again this week! To be honest, I was so nervous for our first lesson with him since we could not find a member to join us. We're going to try to do better about planning more in advance, because they all seemed to be at work, out of town, or have other conflicts. So, we did have Danny there on the porch for the lesson, and we did what we could as we planned for the lesson accordingly. It flowed so smoothly as there was Zion in our teaching. We both felt at peace as we taught. Chris is still so intrigued by what we're teaching as it all makes sense, as they are the same to what he's come to know to be true over the past few years. When we began our discussion, Chris brought up how he did more research on Joseph Smith (I thought Oh no...) but he was bewildered with what he read. He couldn't believe so many people tried to persecute Joseph Smith. He said he began to tear up as he read more of his experiences, as they reminded him of what other prophets faced, which increased his testimony of Joseph Smith. During the lesson, he shared more of his personal experiences (it felt ok to have him talk a little more) as he has been through a lot, including, yes--a pulmonary illness (there was a connection as I briefly mentioned my Cystic Fibrosis.) Yet, through it all, he's drawn closer to the Lord as he knows He is leading him along. He is willing to make certain changes in his life if it's the Lord's will. His faith has grown over this time and he knows the Lord is leading him along the right path for him. In fact, he even said at the end of the lesson how he knew it must not have been a coincidence he was on the porch when we were teaching Danny. The spirit continues to touch his open heart and he is paying attention--we even noticed how he brought his cigarette and lighter out with him but didn't light it. 

As we taught and closed up the discussion on the Restoration, Chris gave a very nice compliment to us. He felt the hope that this church had something special, as he could see how much we love it as he said, "You two just seem so happy--you have this glow, as if He were standing right there." We weren't expecting that, as it sure touched us. I hope we can continue to carry a light to draw others to the Lord.

The family history class/ linger longer event came up quickly this week. First off, they ended up taking our picture for the paper event...why exactly, we do not know...last Sunday morning, which we didn't know would happen. We picked up the local paper on Saturday at a 7-Eleven, and surely enough there our exhausted Sunday morning appearance was not in a tiny picture--it was huge! We could not stop laughing! (The worker's face there showed he was missing out on this hysterical moment.) Ha we didn't know how to feel, most likely more awkward than anything, but we were glad that they put the event in there to have more people come.

Besides that, yesterday ended up being a special meeting. Yes, we were a little disappointed as not many visitors came, but we know that members invited. The good thing was there were more less actives who attended--that was awesome! The portable visitors center Sister Missionaries came and set up the display for the Savior: Redeemer of the World out in the foyer. Our Sacrament Meeting attendance also went over the needed amount to be a ward! Sacrament Meeting itself was memorable as it must have been the most reverent Sacrament Meeting I've been to in a while. Everything seemed to stand still as we focused on the sacrament's importance.Afterwards, the talks on revelation brought a feeling of great peace and assurance.

We had our gospel essentials class in the foyer where the Portable Visitors Center display was, where President Smith led the lesson as we watched and discussed the videos about the Savior and His Atonement. The Spirit was powerful, and we were all near/in tears at certain points. After Gospel Essentials/ the Sunday School classes, everyone (but Primary) met together for the combined lesson using the temple-themed Portable Visitors Center. There was one visitor who saw the event in the paper. The class, (which we weren't sure how it would turn out) focused more on the why we do family history work--why it's so important--and not so much the how part. President Smith was sure trying to figure out how to best fit the lesson for her and for all the members. The lady seemed confused during most of the lesson, but she may have gained some interest by the end and we spoke with her after, asking how she felt, which she said she was feeling well and would love help with her family history work. We're going to keep in contact with her. She left before the lunch, and while everyone was preparing for it, we spoke with Brother Blackwell, who is in the Stake High Council, as well as the PVC Sisters on what we could do better next time as they want to have similar events held at other wards. Overall, it was a great success and a jump start to doing this more in other wards to draw more visitors in and to strengthen members. 

This week I've also been thankful to strive to understand how to receive personal revelation. Lately I've noticed more incidences where certain branch members who come to mind has been just about parallel to Sister McGill's (our RS president)'s and more. Praying earnestly for these answers needed has been a work in progress, but it's definitely been worth it. There have been miracles provided from the Lord while doing so! I'm still seeking ways to be more in tune to small promptings or indications on what to do. I've been thinking a little bit more about and trying to put more effort to receive answers I need to and to be led according to what needs to be done to build up this area. I know it's not all up to me, as Sister Harris is doing a wonderful job as well as the rest of the branch. We're both still figuring out how to adjust to certain changes to our schedule each day, how to help out the branch, and how to best help out one another by following the impressions we receive. It's great. :)

Keep me up to date with your lives! I always look forward to hearing from family and friends back at home. :)

I hope you are all doing well. Stay true to the faith and keep your testimonies growing brighter each day. :)

With love,
Sister Roy

P.S. the Portable Visitors Center Sisters are working on displays for church tours to tell about each hour/class for church. They will have videos on the Ipads/TV's to show what goes on in each classroom at church. It's pretty neat!

Monday, June 9, 2014

Operation: One a Day

Sister Harris and I supporting Grace at her HS Graduation speech (she was Sr Class Pres)

Grace giving her Graduation speech (it reminded me of Brandon)

The beginning of last week was a little slow, since it took a short time to recover from Tobi. Yes, as a little update, I completely quit Tobi. I got a hold of Dr. Cernadas last week, and I told her how the Tobi situation was still persisting with all of the negative side effects. She said my body is apparently no longer accepting it, and that it had inflamed my airways, which was why I was coughing up more gunk. I'm going to switch back to Cayston and see how that goes, and although it's inconvenient since it's 3 times a day, I believe it will work better. I'm a little uneasy that my body is no longer accepting Tobi, but at the same time am relieved to not have to worry about it anymore.

Luckily it only took a few days to recover and I'm feeling pretty good again. :)

After the Pentocostal (seriously though, that's one of the names many of the missionaries and the Packards are using to describe it) meeting with Jeffrey R. Holland a couple of weeks ago, President Packard felt inspired to have mini Zone Conferences throughout the mission. President Packard prayed immensely and yearned for revelation on what the Lord wanted him to share with us. The entire meeting was focused on Chapter 4 in Preach my Gospel on how to recognize and understand the spirit. Holy crumb, the meeting was breathtaking. We learned about every aspect of receiving revelation. We studied scripture stories that demonstrated how to receive and recognize the spirit. We learned how to pray by the spirit as we often do not know what to pray for or how to put our desires into words. We were shown stories through the Book of Mormon on how to have dialogue instead of monologue prayers, and what sincere heartfelt prayers require. President Packard also focused on how more answers can be received as we pray specific questions for people and what the spirit feels like. There was more on how we can receive answers through personal revelation, emotions pressing in on us, and through spiritual gifts we may be blessed with personally and individually to get us where we want to be and how those gifts may be the answers to our questions to enlarge our own capacities to do what we cannot do alone. There was so much shared.  President Packard reminded us how we need to be patient with ourselves as we continually try to develop these principles over time, and to "not let a few mistakes shatter our confidence in the process." It's another meeting I'll never forget.

Lately Sister Harris and I have realized how desperate we are to find people, we know how much we have to apply these concepts we are striving to better and more fully understand. In fact, the whole mission has been pushing for finding more people. After the Zone Conference, our zone met together and set a goal: "Operation: One a Day"--to give a Book of Mormon out…Every… Day. It's very challenging, but it's so worth it! We've had a couple of neat experiences already. One of them was on the first day of the challenge. The day was coming to a close, and we realized we had not yet given a Book of Mormon out. We brainstormed, and decided to go to Walmart since we were going to get a graduation card for Mike (we made one for Grace). When we arrived, I noticed a sweet older lady who must be in her 80s or so sitting on a bench, greeting people in. We entered Walmart and tried to start conversations at the card stand, asking who they were buying cards for and then telling who we were and that we were teaching two students that were graduating from the local high school. Unfortunately, none of those conversations really led to anything. When we began to leave, my mind once again went back to the sweet, tiny lady at the front of the store. I glanced over at her, feeling somehow she may be lonely in her life and should be acknowledged. I realized right then when my heart was pounding that I must have overall eased out of the habit to talking to everyone while here in Plymouth. I told Sister Harris I could start the conversation off.

We approached her, relying on the Lord, and I said something like, "Excuse me," as she turned to us "I felt so impressed that I need to tell you how you have a Heavenly Father who loves you, and you are not forgotten." She seemed taken aback, surprised, but bore a sweet smile as she told us "Why, thank you." She looked at our name tags carefully and asked what church we are with. Once we told her, she said she had never heard of us, or even "Mormons" before. We continued in conversation, as I was a little nervous that she would think we were being insincere, but she didn't seem to show any hint that she thought so. Then, the point came where she told us she's been looking at religious books lately, so Sister Harris asked if we could share one with her. It was perfect! She accepted! We saw her name and asked if we could meet up to follow up with her, but she said she was very disappointed at first since she lives with her son who does not allow company. However, she still gave us her phone number to meet somewhere in public. We gave her our pass along card with the church's address. We thanked her and closed up with our testimonies. (We've attempted to contact her but will keep trying.)

It was incredible! Sister Harris and I realized afterwards how each step was led by the spirit. As Elder Holland reminded our mission a couple of weeks ago, we need to "Look up" as the Savior commanded "As the field is white, already to harvest." I sure want to work on getting back in the habit with talking to everyone. The incidence with this lady at Walmart reminded me how often we hustle in our daily lives and often forget to seek and acknowledge that someone nearby may need our help--even through kind guided words, letting them know just how much they are appreciated. I truly felt this lady's spirits lifted by us just talking to her and offering one of our most prized possessions to her. Who knows where this will go from this point, but I know what happened wasn't a coincidence as the Lord was mindful of her. If anything, she needed to hear that, and now she has a Book of Mormon she may turn to. I know that although as we open our mouths, people may reject or decline our invitations to learn more about the restored gospel, but there will be miracles that will open up even if they are down the road.

A few other things that are happening to find people:

About a week ago at the Relief Society Presidency meeting, we discussed how there are many "Do not contacts" in the branch list, but we don’t know why they are. The solution? "Manrichment"--where the Elders Quorum and High Priests would meet together one night and visit them, and then the Relief Society would provide dinner afterwards. #genius. We brought up this idea in branch council yesterday, and it was approved! Haha oh it's too good. #everywardandbranchshouldhavemanrichment

Sister Harris and I were trying to think of ways to utilize the mission's portable visitor's center in our area. We brought it up in Branch Council, with the response "Well there is Trunk or Treat." But how could we wait until Trunk or Treat? I mean, that's in October! I had the idea about bringing it to an upcoming Linger Longer (branch potluck) and forgot about it, but then it came again. Since then, we brought it up the idea in branch council, and they were all in! President Smith, our branch president, has been fully supportive of this. He came up with the idea of having the linger longer sooner and having the third hour combined, all focused on eternal families and geneology to make it more friendly and inviting for any visitors. He emphasized yesterday at branch council the importance of spreading the word about taking this opportunity to invite nonmembers. He met with the portable visitor's center Sister Missionaries at a large meeting recently, where they coordinated everything for the portable visitor’s center that day and decided to have the gospel essentials class--where there will hopefully be more non-members visiting--all go out in the foyer where the lesson will be to watch the videos and check out the visitors center. The Primary kids will also have the chance to explore it. Sister Harris and I also made invites for members to pick up yesterday and hand out, and many of them were gone after church. Since the Family History conference had a great turnout a few months ago, the Blackwell's gave the idea later on to advertise this event in the local paper, so we are working on it and hope that works out! I'm continually reminded how much I love this branch. The Lord has provided so many ideas lately that He trusts us to carry forward, and they keep coming. I'm grateful to be an instrument in His hands.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! I love you so much.

With love,

Sister Roy

Plymouth sure gets beautiful sunsets!

Monday, June 2, 2014

It's Been Another Good Week :)

To start the week off, Sister Harris and I went to prison. :S

Ok, what happened with that was we got a media referral with a note that the person referred was taking Bible studies and their concerned friend said a paperback Bible would help. Little did we know, until we put the address in the GPS that it led to the prison! Holy crumb Sister Harris and I felt so uneasy--police men everywhere, security cameras, barbed wire fences...not exactly the place where Sister Missionaries should be. We ended up visiting the main office where a few police were, and they said to mail it in to the reverend.

Well, we're not doing that again!

Other than that, this week felt a little extra special. We unfortunately weren't able to meet with Grace or Mike, but we taught Yuri again. :) His English is coming along. Poor guy--we can tell he has so much to say and so much that is going through his mind that he doesn't know how to put into English. At times we wonder if he is really understanding what we teach as his wife Solange helps him out. He's trying so hard! Our lesson this week was a continuation of the Plan of Salvation as we taught up to earth life last week. We used the Plan of Salvation Velcro chart I made a while back to review the 1st half. We took each Velcro piece off and hand him place them back on in the order he remembered. He did well! We continued on with the Atonement and where we go after we die. We ran out of time as Solange's kids started crying so we'll finish it up later this week.

On Saturday, our mission had our first temple baptism day for recent converts, so we brought Beth with us. :) Going with her for her first time was a neat experience. Beth actually had a very rough week beforehand and became very discouraged. We didn't know of all the occurrences that took place, but heard word from her Visiting Teacher and Branch President that a lot happened. When we were on the phone with her on Thursday, talking about going to the temple on Saturday, she shared how it was a rough week and sounded down as she said, "Oh...I don't know to be honest if I can go this week." Right then I knew I had to speak up, so I said something along the lines of "Beth, you know it's been a rough week since the adversary knows you are preparing to go the temple this Saturday. I heard a pause and then she said, "Hmm, I never that of that."

So it all worked out for Saturday. It was the day after Beth's birthday, which was awesome. Also, what made this trip even greater was to see Nuria from my last area come with Joe! Surprisingly, only four of the 15 recent converts in this mission who scheduled to come came, and Beth and Joe were two of them. I couldn't help but feel so grateful that the most recent converts I helped teach from both areas were there at the temple for their first time. It's been wonderful to see Joe and Beth learn, grow spiritually, be baptized, and then come to the temple.

It was so neat to be at the temple; I couldn't help but once again feel its peace and sacredness. Beth seemed to peaceful and has been staying so faithful, and this was a big moment for her. Amazingly enough, a miracle happened for Beth. For a while she was worried about finding a pair of white shoes since she needed them so desperately for her feet to help stabilize her with her feet braces for her physical condition. So there at the temple Sister Hovey, who was with us, was talking to someone about Beth's shoe situation. Right there, a Senior Visa waiter missionary here in the MBM overheard her. It turns out he just bought his pair of white shoes, but he and his wife just got the news their Visa's came in, so he no longer needed them. He offered to Beth to see if they fit, and they were the perfect size! I believe we were all near tears since we knew how much this meant to Beth. The Elder said he would set them on the shelf with the reservation for Beth to pick up when we come with Amy on her 12th Birthday on the next recent convert baptism day next month.

As for the rest of this week, not to be a Debbie Downer, but I was feeling discouraged and nervous for the Tobi med to come in this week. It's not been easy--less sleep, tighter airways, fatigue, lost voice, increased sputum (with the taste of it), deeper cough...I could go on. I needed a lot of strength as I felt a little weak. After we arrived home on Saturday, I ate some lunch, then slept. When I woke up, I was wondering what happened while I was calls? Texts? Appointments made? When I was no longer groggy and regained some energy, I realized Sister Harris had been working on a paper chain. 
Although it wasn't necessary, I was so touched as she wanted to show her support in some way as she knows this isn't easy. I kept telling her how I'm a drama queen, but she heard the coughs and has seen how it can be hard to get out of bed with the alarm going off an hour and a half earlier for meetings. She decided to make a countdown as soon as I said, "Only 27 days to go." (the length of time still had to take the med Tobi). 
Each chain had an uplifting message, scripture, or quote written on it.

The paper chain Sister Harris made...the countdown begins
The following morning on Sunday was rough--pressing the alarm early again and with Tobi kicking in more. I was pretty tired and I knew I needed more air. My voice was going out more which was quickly noticed at Branch Council and during church. I had been considering asking for a blessing, so as soon as I found Brother Blackwell after Sacrament Meeting (I've come close to the Blackwell's) I asked if I could receive one after church. Once the time came, Sister McGill and Sister Blackwell, Sister Harris and I filed into President Smith's office for Sister Blackwell to be set apart for first counselor in Relief Society. When my turn came, I said they could stay. I felt close to them and didn't' see any harm in them being there for the blessing. The mood and feeling in the room shifted gears a little bit once I sat in the chair in the middle of the office, then explained by their request how I had been feeling lately with all of the side effects I dreaded to have come back. When the blessing started, as Brother Blackwell's hands rested on my head, his voice spoke boldly and powerfully. As the blessing flowed out, I could feel Heavenly Father's comfort and counsel speak directly to me. I felt my throat and eyelids quiver--holding back tears as every word was needed. It was so powerful. The Spirit felt could not be refrained. The promises given were strong and comforting, including that I will finish the full-time mission here.

I held back tears most of the time, but as soon as I opened my eyes, I saw how none of our eyes were dry, so then they came. We all sat there and soaked in the special feeling there in that room. Brother Blackwell, Sister Blackwell, Sister McGill, Sister Harris and President Smith shared how they knew everything said was true. They gave such strong compliments to both Sister Harris and I. President Smith shared with me some of his personal, relatable experiences, and reminded me that "it's better to take time to be well" and advised me to not over push. They also offered their help by brainstorming ideas to make things easier, all of which made it even harder to fight the tears that came.

There was an inexpressible amount of Christ-like love in that room. It was powerful, sacred, memorable moment for all of us right there. It was pure and beautiful.

There is so much love that is felt from Sister Harris, from branch members and most of all from my Heavenly Father. Some times are difficult to push through, but I know that there are some of the greatest, purest, most giving hearts around out here. It's inspiring, uplifting, and helps me continue to press on in the ways that my Savior entrusts me to.

I better get going, but I hope you know how much I love you all.

Brandon, I am so proud of your Seminary Graduation, High School Graduation, your new album out, and your Court of Honor coming up. :) Keep living it up!
Alicia, I thought I'd get tired of a lot of pictures, but Connor is an exception for that. :) He is sooo precious and seems to be quite a character.
Dad, I was surprised to hear your calling got changed but I know that your new one as an employment specialist will go well.
Mom, I am glad the changes at home with the move are pulling through. I think about how much I love the 9th ward, but how I've learned even more how each ward or branch has a special feel to it.

Talk to you more next week.

Sister Roy