Monday, June 12, 2017

A Disciple of Christ, A Child of God

Week # 65

You know you've only been in an area for 3 weeks when you spend most of your exchange lost. I stayed in the area for exchanges with my Sister Trainer Leader and I realized that I do not know this area very well quite yet. Todo está bien though. I'll figure it out.

I think I'm going to keep it kind of short this week. Well, I'll try. 

Hermana Tanuvasa and I are doing awesome. She is already learning that it's totally fine if I start crying. Yesterday in church we had some powerful talks and I teared up a little bit. Our investigator leaned over and started frantically poking Hermana Tanu and said "She's crying!" Hermana Tanu smiled awkwardly and continued listening to the talks. She understands me. I'm touched. 

Finding new investigators. Missionaries are constantly looking for more people to teach even if we have lots that we are already teaching. We try to meet people and if they are interested, we ask for their contact info and set up a time to visit them. "OYMs" (when you approach and talk to someone new, "open your mouth") are often awkward at first. Sometimes we have to be clever. We walked up to a man this week and as we were talking he let us know that he liked to go fishing. Hermana Tanu pipes up "Hey we're fishers too! Fishers of men!. . . " We weren't able to get any contact info from this man . . . Some weeks are better than others.  :)

We did meet another cool family this week! The parents have met with Hermana Tanu before so we went back to visit them. When we were getting ready to leave, one of their sons walked out and started asking us questions. He wanted to know what made us want to serve missions. We talked for a while and he told us that he had actually been listening from his room while we were talking to his parents. He wants to learn more! We set up a return appointment with all three of them and a pizza and we are so excited to start teaching them.

Interviews! Every transfer we get to meet with our mission president and have a short interview. Well, they are supposed to be short. :) Interviews are never what I think that they are going to be. One thing that I can count on every time is that there is always an already half empty tissue box that President slowly pushes across the table about 5 minutes in. I love consistency. :) We talked aobut expectations and disappointments. I think the world, members and non-members alike, have expectations for missionaries. There is a way we are supposed to be. A way we are supposed to speak. A way our day is supposed to go. We have all of these expectations from ourselves, our companions, members. But it rarely goes the way we think. We will not measure up to unrealistic expectations so what do we become? A disappointment. At least in some eyes. What President and I talked about was how we need to make sure that we aren't the ones with the wrong expectations. And then after we personally have made that shift, that we stand up to those around us. "Stop being a doormat", in the words of President Tateoka. I've been a doormat earlier in my mission by believing that I wasn't measuring up. I've even let some people close to me "wipe" their feet on me. Some days I still have to remind myself to make that change. To stop thinking I'm a disappointment and to stop being a doormat.

Now am I saying lower your expectations? No, of course not. We should always be raising our expectations and pushing ourselves. God has very high expectations for all of His children. I think what sometimes needs to happen is that we need to make a little change in our expectations. A little shift in what we see as a missionary, a disciple of Christ, a child of God. A little shift in how we think we, and others, should be. God's expectations may be high, but they are perfect and very realistic. We can all measure up if we ask for His help. 

A quote I heard this week that has been running through my mind a lot is "God doesn't want us to try harder, He wants us to turn to Him sooner". That's what I'm learning, and re-learning. We get this thought that if we just try harder, wait longer, push through it, THEN we will "make it". Then we will be enough. If we just realize that the sooner we let go of our pride (because that is what it is) the sooner we will truly receive the blessings of humility.

Updates on our investigators. We are going to take a little more time teaching so they won't be being baptized next week, but we had some good lessons this week. Something really special is that as we have been reading in the Book of Mormon together every day, multiple times we have been able to use the same scriptures that we read earlier that day in our lessons. 

I think I'll end it here. I really do hope that everyone is doing well and is happy. If we aren't happy we are doing life wrong. That's doctrine. "Be of good cheer". It's a commandment. Hermana Tanu and I are trying to keep that commandment. It's working out. She never fails to make me laugh and has a special way of doing missionary work. "Sé dónde vive, no puede ocultar de nosotras"
Go put that in your google translate. It's a quote from my companion. I'm learning lots from her.

Les quiero, 

Hermana Lauren Dickson

Photos/videos: Exchanges with Sisters Hart and Tedrow! Why am I so short? Also I went to the dentist and they have a furry friend who comes to work every day apparently. Don't worry I made sure they washed their hands before they put their hands in my mouth. Also! The video is Jesus and Barbara! They are so cute. We taught them some English. Sorry for my hyena laugh. Also, my study desk with my DIY Oregon wall still in progress. 

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Scatter Sunshine - Be Not Weary in Well Doing

Week # 64

You know you are only a quarter Hispanic when the 100% Hispanics have no faith in your tortilla making abilities. They literally laughed while the little aubelita mumbled under her breath that I was ruining it. 

This week was filled with service. We were able to help out with a huge community outreach event. We worked at a little boutique where women and girls could come and pick out a free outfit and some jewelry. We got to use our Spanish and it was really fun. They split us up because we were the only ones who spoke Spanish so I got to be with Sister Judd for a few hours while my companion went and talked to people as they arrived. 

It was a really big and special event to be a part of. People could come and get free doctor visits, dentist, eye care, hair cuts and even showers is that was what they needed. Later that day we helped a member finish a service project for hospital patients. She is making little pillows that strap to seat belts so if patients recently had surgery, the seat belt doesn't hurt them. I loved working around so many people who find so many ways to serve. It doesn't have to be something big to serve.

Last week we sang with a family the hymn "Scatter Sunshine". We were able to talk to the kids about service and how when we love people and serve them it is like we are giving them a little piece of sunshine. Others around us have been serving us as well. We have wonderful members here who welcome us into their homes and give us dinner. Yesterday a member brought us dinner because we weren't feeling well. We also have the other Sister missionaries that serve around us. I've personally had a couple of rough days this week and on day we came home to our door decorated with hearts, notes and pictures of Christ. It helped so much and I don't think those sisters know how it helped. One of the notes had a scripture on it that says "But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing". I've thought about that scripture a lot and went back and re-read it in my studies. Don't be weary. Now, does that mean that I am a horrible missionary because I seem to always be tired? At first that is how I interpreted it because we are "well doing", but some days I'm tired enough that members can tell and offer their couches to help me out. What I have learned from that scripture is that we shouldn't get sick of serving others. If we stop serving out of our hearts, then we are losing out on the blessings of service. Without the "love" part of the service, it just becomes work and not very fun work I might add. So yes, it's actually GOOD to be tired if that means that you have been working hard. So get out there and do some "well doing"!

We got to do some planting as well this week as service. Being a sister missionary I really have realized that you can do a lot of things in skirts and there is a reason that we have washers and dryers. We got to plant tomatoes with some members and my hands smelled like home for a few hours. I got right in and started pulling up the weeds and the member said "Hermana, have you done this before?" and I thought of the days when my dad would successfully get us out in the mornings to pull weeds before it got too hot. Sorry for complaining so much Dad. I actually enjoyed it for a little bit.

We met a cute little couple this week on the street. They were walking away from a yard sale and proudly showed us their findings before we started talking about what we were really doing that day, being missionaries (also can I just say that you can literally relate the gospel to any conversation topic even Fransisca's recent find of a practically new Victoria's Secret bag). They were so cute and very willing to let us come visit them. They told us that their son is currently visiting with missionaries, but in English so they are excited that we speak Spanish. The only awkward part was that the little old man shook my hand and then slowly pulled me in to hug him. Oh the struggle of being a missionary. I feel like I will forever feel guilty about hugging a guy even after I get home. :)

I've learned a lot about listening in my studies this week. There is so much we can learn from the people around us if we simply listen to them. People are willing to open up and share their feelings and struggles if we show them that we care enough to listen. I'm also constantly learning the importance of listening to the Spirit. I was driving the other day. Looked right, then left, then right and started pulling out onto the street and heard a distinct thought "look again". So I did, just soon enough to see a car that neither of us saw whip out. It's a good thing we are missionaries and God looks out for us, or I think I would have already gotten into multiple accidents this past year.

We visited the woman that is working towards getting baptized. "I" is really struggling. She has a lot of hard things happening in her life and when we asked if we could do anything to help her she jokingly said , well can you help me get rid of the headache that I have? We were able to testify of the power of a Priesthood blessing to both help her feel calm and relieve pain. I love being able to tell people of the wonderful opportunity we have to receive blessings. 

We also visited "C" this week. Another woman who is preparing to be baptized. We began teaching her about the Plan of Salvación, but didn't finish it for some reason. I heard myself ending the lesson and inviting her to come to church with us. It was weird, but we really hope that she starts coming to church and can't wait to visit her again. She is a sweet little old lady who is so receptive and has so many questions. 

My companion shared a bit of her culture this week. She made spushi! It has a different name, but I have always called it spushi! It is actually called spam musubi. I call it spushi because it looks like sushi, but it is spam. It's actually really good. We also went to Young Women's this week and Hermana Tanuvasa taught us how to dance "siva samoa". I won't include the video of my attempt because my companion's response to watching me was, " . . . I've seen worse . . ." I guess I'll come home as good dancer as I came out as.

Another notable fact from this week is that I successfully made it 5 days without make up and no one ran away screaming. 

Another weekly email done. I hope you all are seeing the blessings in your lives, because even when there are trials, they are always there. 

Les quiero, 

Hermana Lauren Dickson

Here are some pictures from Pday today. We went to an aviation museum. Service pictures! Also yes, he put his hand in front of my face on purpose both times. Also this is how they make tortillas for real here. The one on the tortilla stove is mine. :)

Monday, May 29, 2017

It is Hard, but it's Supposed to Be

Week #63

You know you are a missionary speaking Spanish when your companion throws out a peace sign to a member and says "Paz out" on accident.

This week . . .Well. I don't know.

I was complaining about losing my tan in this Oregon cloudiness and then Heavenly Father gave me a companion from Hawaii. I will forever be pasty white. I truly believe that Heavenly Father has a sense of humor.

We studied outside in a park and it was wonderful! The weather is beautiful and I forgot how much I miss the sun. We were so pumped after our studies and had more energy for the rest of the day.

A lot of things happened this week. To list a few: fire truck at the church, zip-lining and I think at this point in my mission I have now had 15 people tell me that I have a parasite. It's been eventful.

We have had a lot of opportunities to teach the first lesson about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We invited two more people to be baptized and they said yes! I am so happy to be here though I am still unfamiliar with the city and people. There is so much power in our message. It's unique. We believe in God and we believe that He loves all of His children. Because of that, we know that we have a living prophet. I get so excited to share it! It's something that I know to be true.

We taught a woman that we met this week and it was a really spirit filled lesson, but we ended the lesson and she told us that she wasn't interested in learning more. During the lesson I kept thinking, "she's so receptive! She understands! She's going to be a new mom and this will help her so much", but she told us that she doesn't need us to come back. I felt a little disappointment, but the spirit confirmed to me that there was nothing more that we could have said. If nothing else, we know that she had a positive experience with missionaries this week and one day missionaries will knock on her door again and maybe then she will be ready and feel the need to listen.

I don't get discouraged by people who aren't interested. It makes me sad, but we are called to teach those who will receive us, not those who won't. We can't teach everyone because we aren't meant to teach everyone. We are called to teach those who will receive us.

Part of the reason I don't get discouraged is because I LOVE MY COMPANION!! I need her right now. When I start to get too discouraged she whips out a scripture like Nephi whips out Isaiah and pumps me back up!

We are seeing so many miracles and having so much fun (being obedient to our mission president's instruction). Yesterday we were debating whether we should make our voicemail message a knock knock joke, or sing our names to the tune of "Called to Serve". We'll let you know what the final verdict is.

Something I love about my companion is that she is bold. I saw that yesterday when we knocked on a door of a referral. A man answered and didn't let us talk. I don't really remember everything that he was saying, but what I do remember is that Hermana Tanuvasa raised her hand in the air to stop him and said "We are called of God to preach His Gospel. We may be young and not have your age (aka she called him old ha ha), but we have the authority to preach and we know what we share is true". He wasn't interested, but again, I did not feel any disappointment. What I felt was that I am in good hands with a true minister of Christ by my side.

We have seen the power of the Book of Mormon this week. We have put a bigger emphasis on using the scriptures to teach and have had a lot of neat experiences. We went by our investigators' houses on Saturday and they all said something like, "I'm so tired, but I was reading the book" or "look, I was just reading about the Celestial kingdom". The greatest joy is seeing a Book of Mormon on the couch because they were just reading. We decided to read the Book of Mormon together this transfer so that we have moral authority and it is going well! I love the scriptures.

I distinctly remember something that my Branch President in the MTC told me. He said, "Missions are not hard. This is easy, don't trick yourself into thinking that it's hard". I still don't know why he said that. My mission has been hard. I've never been so exhausted physically and spiritually. I've never ached for others as much as I have this past year. I've always cried easily, but my tears before were for myself and for my own trials. I've never cried so many tears for others. This is hard. But I've realized that I haven't really sacrificed anything.

It's often emphasized the "sacrifices" of missionaries. We leave our families yes, but they are still there. We see them after a short time and now we love them more. We leave school yes, but gain more knowledge than a few semesters of university would give us. We leave our worldly possessions and desires yes, but again, they are still there when we get home and we learn to prioritize and those things don't matter much to us anymore anyway. We don't really sacrifice anything. Everything we have is already His and to think that anything we give Him is a sacrifice, means that we don't understand what we have covenanted to do in this life. I think personally, I titled them "sacrifices" at the beginning of my mission because I wanted to feel accomplished.

With the help of my trials and my Savior I have accomplished a lot. I don't think that is prideful to say. I've grown, but not because I sacrificed anything more than my will. For that is truly the only thing that we can give Him. It's the only thing He wants.

But it is so hard. I am stubborn. I am sometimes hard hearted. Every time I read in first Nephi I characterize so well with Laman and Lemuel. They felt that there were many "hard things required" of them, "things hard to understand". I am so weak and forget to remember the angels and miracles I have indeed seen. It is hard, but it is supposed to be.

The words of my first mission president, President Samuelian, have been on my mind frequently. He was staring at me as I cried tears for myself. He said, "It's not easy is it? Well, it's not supposed to be". He then turned towards the camera and smiled for one last picture before I walked away baffled, still crying tears for me.

So it's hard, but we enjoy it. It seems like those words shouldn't be together in one sentence, but it's true. Vale la pena. All of it. Struggles help us depend on Christ, whose name might as well be Joy, for it is in Him that we find joy. Don't we sing that every year? "Joy to the world, the Lord is come!"

I don't think that I have anymore jumbled words to share this week.
Sometimes my emails are more for myself than for others.

Les quiero,
Hermana Dickson

Pictures include the firetruck, me doing some family history and some of the other sisters who serve near where we are serving.

Central America is located in the Middle East right? . . . (A cryptic sentence that obviously is an inside joke as her companion's email stated the same . . . explanation to come maybe?)

Reflection of the firetruck. . . unobtrusive attempt at picture taking? Hma Dickson's reflection too.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bonnie L Oscarson in Mars . . . I mean McMinnville

Week #62

You know you're in Oregon when you see Bonnie L Oscarson at a UFO festival . . . Actually that's not something "you'd know" is it? Not quite a normal occurrence to see the General Young Women President wearing a tin foil hat. 

I have moved from "little Mexico" to "little Mars". We volunteered at the annual UFO festival here in McMinnville. Quite the welcome to a new area. I'm very accustomed to bright colored hair in Oregon, what I'm not quite used to is all of the tinfoil and aliens. We did see some familiar faces from Dr Who and Star Wars so I wasn't completely lost. We are always to told to live in the world, but not of the world. Well how about "out of this world"? Okay I'll stop. It actually went well. I ended the day very content with an 8 inch corn dog in my left hand and my right hand on Bonnie L Oscarson's shoulder. Never thought that I would ever hear a General Auxiliary leader say "if this picture shows up on Facebook I'll kill you". 

Transfers were the worst. It's always hard for me to say goodbye at transfers, but this last one was the worst. Hermana Hunt came and it was so amazing to see her again. She is the first of my companions that I have been able to see after being transferred away and that was such a tender mercy. We've both grown and changed of course, but it was a mini flashback. So many sweet memories came to my mind. I love her so much. What made it so hard was that I had to say goodby and drive away from 2 companions this time. Hermana Karren and Hermana Hunt have both blessed my life in different ways. It was an eye opener though. My testimony of inspired companionships grew. I needed Hermana Hunt in the few months we were companions and I needed Hermana Karren these last few weeks. It was hard to leave. So many memories and I will miss Hermana Karren. We really became the best of friends. The time felt so short, but I am so excited for them to be companions. They are going to see miracles. 

Hermana Tanuvasa is my new companion. She is from Hawaii, a total chola, and is in her last 6 weeks. She is the oldest Hermana in the mission and I am the third oldest. It's super weird to have 2 viejitas together and we definitely didn't expect it.

So, just to give you a heads up on how this transfer is going to go. Every 6 weeks we have an interview with President Tateoka, our Mission President. In Hermana Tanu's last interview he told her to have fun. "You've worked hard, now take lots of pictures and videos and just have fun", not the usual thing to hear from him. She told me that on our first day as companions. Well the next day, President Tateoka called while she was in the restroom. Now, getting a call from your Mission President isn't a usual thing and the last couple of times that I have been on the phone with him recently have been because of problems or drama so I was a little surprised (aka worried). We talked for a little about the area and my mission and then he said, "Hermana Dickson are you excited to be with Hermana Tanuvasa? You make sure to have fun your last 2 transfers". We've both hit some bumps in our missions so this is quite a change. So President literally put the old Hermanas together and said "have fun" . . . I'm excited. 

I've made it back to the hills! I didn't know how much I missed it until we drove up and saw all of the vineyards.

So it's all new again. Even new food. Well technically it is old, but I haven't had it in a while. We have eaten with quite a few English members this week and my stomach is not adjusting well. I'm used to tortillas and we ate BBQ. I'll get there, but I miss my sopes.

So we are doing well. We are exhausted. Our first lesson together we put someone on date for baptism! Great way to start in a new area. My heart has just opened up for the people here in McMinnville. I already love them. I don't remember all of their names the first time, but I do love them. 

Today we visited alpacas. First Pday in McMinnville and we spend it with walking carpets. They were so cute, but not too friendly. No worries, only my pride was hurt. (Sounds like there is a story there.)

The reason Pday wasn't Monday was because we have a mission tour with Elder Arden of the 70. I love the spirit that we can feel when we meet together as a mission. The part that stood out the most to me was when he told us about how the Prophet is doing. He testified that the Prophet is called of God and told us to always remember the way we felt right then if we ever questioned that. 

We are so truly blessed to have a Heavenly Father who loves us so much that He continues to give us guidance in these latter days.

That's all for today . . .

Les Quiero,

Hermana Dickson

Volunteering at McMinnville 18th Annual UFO Festival 

Who's wearing that tin foil hat? . . . General YW President Sister Bonnie Oscarson! 

"Go ye into all the world (out of the world?) and preach the gospel to every creature" Mark 16:15

McMinnville District Volunteers

Elders Ashby, Gordon, Bryson, Beckstead,
Sister Lovell, Hma Tanuvasa, Sister Judd, Hma Dickson


More alpacas

Hermana Tanuvasa and Hermana Dickson

Monday, May 15, 2017

Goodbye Woodburn - Vas Estar Bien

Week #61

You know you really love your district when you attempt to learn "God be with you till we meet again" in Marshallese to sing for Elder Baxter who is going home.

It was really fun. Kind of a flashback to the beginning of my mission when I knew no Spanish and was trying to speak. 

I won't be writing much today because transfer days are always very busy. Yup transfers. I am moving. McMinnville here I come. It is so hard to leave. I naively thought that there was no way that I could love the people here as much as I love those in Forest Grove. Heavenly Father truly has expanded my heart and my ability to love. 

This week we had a lot of miracles. Amazing lessons and funny moments. I feel we are always laughing. In the last couple of weeks, we have met amazing new people and we have 10 progressing investigators! I am so blessed to have been able to work with these people. One cool thing is that I will have updates on their progress because guess who is coming to Woodburn? Hermana Hunt! I am so excited for Hermanas Karren and Hunt to be companions. I get emails from both of them so I will undoubtedly hear little tidbits of the people that I love so much. That is definitely a tender mercy.

"Vas estar bien" That is what I have been told multiple times recently. I cry so easily. This week we were in a lesson and I was overwhelmed by the spirit and the realization that I am so blessed. So blessed to be able to meet and teach so many wonderful children of our Heavenly Father. We were teaching a cute little abuelita when I started tearing up and she reached across the table and said: "vas estar bien". I quickly explained to her that I was not sad, but so happy and grateful to be a missionary and to visiting her. She is so special and I can't wait to see a picture of her in baptismal clothes. She is also our investigator who when she saw a picture of the prophet Isaiah said in all seriousness, "Wow! que quapo!" My companion promptly laughed and then reached for her water bottle as she tried to act like she was coughing so that abuelita wouldn't be offended. 

We saw the miracles of prayer this week multiple times. One time we got locked out of our apartement and could not open the door no matter how hard we tried. We decided to say a prayer to ask for help or if we could find someone to help us. The next time Hermana Karren tried, the door opened. It is something so small, but because of that experience, we were able to share our strengthened testimonies of prayer with some new investigators just an hour later. Heavenly Father even cares about us getting into our apartment. Maybe He knew that our investigator would need to hear about prayer that night so He held the door closed for a while so we would learn to turn to Him. :)

We tried to stay positive this week as we met quite a few closed doors. Our favorite thing we said this week when an investigator wasn't opening the door (though we knew she was home) "She's taking a long time . . . it's okay, she's probably just changing into her baptismal clothes." We think we are funny.

Transfer calls were fun. We acted like we weren't worried, but we really wanted to stay together. This companionship could only last so long though because we get along so well. Though I am sad, I feel such a sense of peace that this is what needs to happen. I will miss the people and especially Hermana Karren, but I am ready to see the blessings that come from a new area and new people and a new companion.

A piece of wisdom from Hermana Dickson before she leaves Woodburn. If a man knocks on your door at 10 p.m. selling mangos . . . well, at least say "No gracias" through the door. We literally just peeked out the peep hole (which he saw) while he held up a tray of mangos and said "Mangos?" I will forever feel guilty because I know how he feels when people don't answer their doors. 

Les quiero,

Hermana Dickson

Mother's Day Skype

The best Mother's Day gift ever. The "Mom Can" full of happy uplifting thoughts, scriptures and memories

Hermana Karren packing herself to go with Hermana Dickson who is transferring

A quick hello and goodbye to Hermana Hunt who is changing places with Hma Dickson

New companions: Hermana Dickson and Hermana Tanuvasa

Monday, May 8, 2017

"Desperately Listening"

Week # 60

You know you should probably watch out as a missionary when one of your members gets told "voy a pegar a tus mormonas!"

On the very "bright" side of things this week, we had quite a bit of sun. Yay for Vitamin D! A nice refresher for a St. Georgian. The constant clouds and rain have kept me soggy and very very white. I don't look "Quarterican" at all anymore. I honestly feel like I've never been whiter in my life, though my mom will probably tell me differently. "Every girl is Snow White in Oregon" according to the man we do service with every week at the cemetery.

We had zone conference this week which consists of trainings on missionary work; how we can improve our teaching, finding and all around missionarying. I always love meeting with President Tateoka. Each interaction, whether is be a zone conference, interview, phone call or him following the Spirit to come and give me a blessing. I always receive a confirmation of the power of the Priesthood and that he is a Spirit-led man. Zone conferences are also fun because we get to see other missionaries that we have served with in the past. The group of sister missionaries has shrunk so much recently. In just 5 months we went from 10 sisters in the zone to only 4. We are a dying breed, especially the Hermanas. Areas have been closed or replaced by Elders. This zone conference we met with another zone as well asn they have 6 sisters so we didn't feel too small though they've lost sisters as well recently.

This week I experienced a major flash back. One year ago, I entered the mission field. On my first weekend in the field, we had a Mother's Day dinner with the Forest Grove branch. Well, this weekend we had one in Woodburn. Lots of music and we even ate carne asada like last year. The differences were that I actually spoke and understood the members and the food wasn't two hours late. :)

Hermana Karren and I wore our brand new shirts from a member who just got back from Mexico and we felt like Celebrities. Hortencia came to the party! And all of the members were fellow shipping and inviting her to things. It made me so proud of our little branch. We sang and even the Elders sang! Pictures and videos will be included!

Service this week included a machete and an ax. That's not an exercise that I was expecting to do as a sister missionary. Our hands and arms were so sore. Every time I shook hands with an Elder at Zone Conference, I whimpered a bit.

Today for Pday we walked Front Street and I ate Elote and agua de fresas. Found a Mexican dress . . . did not buy it because it is $50 and I'm a missionary.

We had an awesome visit with a member in the branch this weekend. She is progressing so well. She has gone from rarely reading and praying to reading and praying every night. The best part is that she is recognizing the blessings! She got a raise this week and told us that she knew that it was because of the commandments that she is keeping. We read 3rd Nephi 11 with her and it was a lesson where everyone was edified. 

Tender mercy of the week? We walked up to a house, had a 2 minute conversation and walked away with cake. The missionary life though. It turned into the Elders' tender mercy as well because we saw them 30 seconds later and left them with cake.

I read a little in my first journal this week. The journal through the MTC and my first couple of months in the field. I found a lot of differences in myself then and now. My first lesson was a man named Angel. Hermana Coca and I got lost driving to our area because neither of us had a GPS. We pulled off to the side of the road to talk to some construction workers. We met Angel. At first it was going great because. . . we we talking in English :) then my sweet companion asked if he spoke Spanish. . . I understood very little and walked back to the car in a daze. The weeks and even months following that day I was trying so hard to listen. I would try to pick out words, but even key words like familias, profeta, and escrituras that I learned in the MTC didn't help me understand very much. I was disappointed in myself after every lesson and at the end of every night.

This week we did a lot of listening. We met two new women and made plans for their lessons. We ended up listening because that is what they needed. Someone to listen to their heartaches, to their questions, to their testimonies. It is such a different experience than a year ago. A year ago I was desperately listening to understand the words. This week I found myself desperately listening to understand the people. Desperately listening to the Spirit to know what we should share. There is such a difference when you listen to understand the people, not just the words. It made me think and evaluate myself.

How desperately do I listen to the Spirit? And not just in times of strife. We should be "desperately listening" at all times.

Les quiero,

Hermana Lauren Dickson

Cinco de Mayo Companions

Service in the cemetery. That tongue of concentration. So her. 

Tender mercy cake

Hermana in the hacienda

Two zones of sisters:
Williams, Poole, Barnes, ..., ..., Stockett, Call, Warburton, Karren, Dickson

Zone Conference

Feasting on Front Street Elote:
Sister Williams, Hermanas Dickson and Karren

Monday, May 1, 2017

"I Love Being a Missionary Because . . . "

Week #59

You know you have major district unity when your Elders tell you to be at the church 9:30 a.m. sharp. . . and you show up to breakfast! Our Elders made us breakfast including gluten free pancakes for my companion!

I could probably make this email very long, filled with all of the things that went wrong or weird this week, but I won't. I will say that it has been the most roller coaster week SO FAR in my mission. Who knows what the future will bring, though I honestly hope that this week stays as the record.

This week I learned how patient and loving my sweet companion is. I also learned that she does not remember what she says when she is sick and took severe NyQuil. Specifically she does not remember this conversation,

Hna D: *laughing at my delirious companion as I try to push her towards her bed so she can sleep*
Hna K: "Are you crying?"
Hna D: "No"
Hna K: "Oh good, please don't. You cry a lot. . ."

So I still haven't changed in that aspect. She is cien por ciento right. She also told me that the word Gervis sounds like Jimmy so not everything she says under the influence is legitimate. So yes my companion has been sick, but she is a trooper and with every twisted turn this week that every time we more frustrated/didn't feel like wanting to work, we would say "I love being a missionary because. . . " and it definitely helped us and was very needed.

I love being a missionary because we just started teaching two little 11 year old boys. They are gemelos, twins, and are getting ready to be baptized this summer. We taught them about the restoration and when we talked about how Christ died for us one of them started crying! We quickly pulled out a picture of resurrected Jesus and assured him that He is very happy and smiling. They also got very excited at the end when we asked them if they had any questions and they started spewing them out. Questions like "Where are the gold plates now? How old is God?" It was so cute. We are so excited to be able to teach them and they were definitely a tender mercy this week.

One of my questions throughout my mission has been, "what do Elders do in their free time?" Well, I probably should never have asked because we found out that they all try to eat as much hot sauce as they can. They were crying and coughing and . . . other stuff and I do have to say it was brutal. I was suffering for the rest of the day and into the night. That's what I get for trying to fit in with the cool crowd I guess.

Other good things that happened this week is that we got to start the Young Woman program Personal Progress with and investigator. She doesn't seem super pumped about it, but we are hoping that it will help her have a strong foundation and she continues to learn more about the Gospel. We also made prayer rocks with some other young investigators. Some ended up just covered in globs of paint, but hey, if globs of paint remind you to pray then I'm good with that.

Lots and lots of changes have happened here in Woodburn. The Branch president of 9 years, President Pister was released. They decided to end the meeting with the song "God be with you til we meet again". It was so hard. Everyone was a mess. I awkwardly locked eyes with one of the Elders and he was totally crying and he has only been here for 3 weeks. It made me love the people here even more because they really are a family and though change is good, it can be so hard. President Pister is one of the most consecrated men I have met in my life. He truly loves the people here and has helped me to love them as well. He has blessed so many lives. What is really special is that the new Branch President was baptized thanks in part to the work and love that President Pister gave to him and his family. It was just such a testimony builder that the fruits of our labors sometimes come years after and will continue to bless the lives of generations to come.

A life that was blessed this week was our investigator that I talked about last week. The one who was being taught here, but assisting in the Portland mission. Well her name is Hortencia. Why can I tell you her name now? Because she got baptized on Saturday. That was a huge part of the craziness this week. She was literally taught 60% of the lessons, interviews and baptized in 4 days. We definitely didn't expect it to happen the way it did, but we are so happy for her. She is the most prepared person that I have taught my whole mission and I can't wait for her to continue to see the blessings that come as she continues to follow Christ's example. We visited and taught her this week on her birthday and it was so fun. No one can say no to tamales and tres leches.

This email is as scattered as all my other ones, but there was something that really stuck out to me this week. This week we had a lot of people, member, investigators, and random others share a lot of hard things with us. I felt a lot of weight as people shared their trials, pasts, and pains, I feel helpless sometimes because I don't know what to say. What I do know is that Christ suffered for all. No matter what it is, an infinite Atonement can heal all. I don't have to know what to say other than share my testimony of my Savior.

I'll end this email with what Hermana Karren heard me say in my sleep last night.
"What? Yes. No. I don't know. Pray about it!"

Les quiero,
Hermana Lauren Dickson

Pictures include the district, birthday with Hortencia, her baptism! The Paisnito. It's an ice cream place on Front St. My favorite thing to get is the avocado ice cream.

"The Elders made us breakfast this morning. It was super cute."

Birthday with Hortencia. Tamales and Tres Leche.

Hortencia's Baptism!

Favorite ice cream on Front Street