Tuesday, June 28, 2016

"Missions Are Hard But So Rewarding"

Week # 14

You know you're a lucky missionary when you get to have two mission presidents during your mission.

President and Sister Samuelain are leaving. I'm so sad!
They are so wonderful and I wish I could have more time with them. They set the tone for my mission. We got to say goodbye to them and President Samuelian said some things to me that I will always remember. He is so close to the Spirit that like Ammon in the Book of Mormon, he knows what is in our hearts and what we need to hear. I wish you all could hear him speak. #futuregeneralauthority

Hopefully in the next couple of weeks we will be meeting our new Mission President. They seem wonderful from what I've been told and I can't wait to meet them!

What even happened this week? I feel like I emailed yesterday.

One of the blessings I have received while on my mission is a love of the Book of Mormon. I have read it before and have a testimony of its truth, but I literally hate closing it. I just want to keep reading and studying because I am learning so much! BUT I have to close it so that I can go out and be a missionary and share what I have learned. I had the opportunity to do that a lot his week. Investigators and members asked me about certain verses and chapters and I was able to help them understand it more. There is such a joy from preaching the Gospel. I'm kind of disappointed in myself from before my mission. I guess I'm learning how to be a member of the church while I'm on my mission :)

We are finding so many prepared people! The other missionaries say that I am getting spoiled in my first area because this isn't normal. In the month of May we had more baptisms than the whole stake/mission year to date. So exciting. We have three investigators on date for July and are hoping for a fourth. We are also finding a lot of prepared people for the other missionaries. We have set two people on date for July for other missionaries and there is another that is so close. I'm sad that we don't get to teach them, but they are hearing and accepting the
Gospel and that is what is important. Passing them off (to other missionaries because they are English speaking) is hard because it's so special to see their progress, but we are called to serve in Spanish so we are supposed to be teaching in Spanish :) AND I'll see them in the Celestial Kingdom someday and we can hang out then.

Missions are hard, but so rewarding. My mission president told me that it's so hard because it is so important and the adversary knows that so he does all he can to discourage us. Some days aren't good. Not going to sugarcoat it. BUT it makes the good days even better. We are reminded constantly that we can't do this alone. We need to kneel everyday and call down the powers of heaven or it will be just that much more difficult. My knees are bruised again and they remind me that I'm doing okay. I'm doing what I am called to do.

I have been told by 4 people now that even though I struggle to speak Spanish, when I sing, it is perfect. I was reading my Patriarchal blessing and it says that I will be a missionary through music and I am seeing that so much here. Sometimes we are prompted to sing in a lesson to bring the spirit and the Holy Ghost helps us know which hymn to choose. Last week a speaker didn't show up in church so they grabbed the missionaries and I was able to sing then as well. It's so much easier to sing than to speak Spanish and so I am going to try to figure out how to help my speaking through music. I'm always trying new things in my language study because I struggle so much with the language, but I am improving. This week I was able to talk to some of the members by myself and it actually didn't go as badly as you would think! Blessings!

I love it so much here in Oregon. It feels like home and I already am planning trips to come back :) We went berry picking again this morning. We got a ton of blue berries and then my companion wanted Marion berries so we went and picked some more. I just ate them...
Really though. I didn't leave with any, but I did leave with a full stomach. Breakfast ✅ - check!

That's all this week. I'm busy :) I'm in the business of creating Celestial Beings!

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

Monday, June 20, 2016

I Love To See the Temple

Week #13

You know you are a lucky missionary when you get to Skype on Father's Day!

I got to Skype yesterday instead of Mother's Day because I wanted to wait a little longer (after arriving in the mission) so I got to talk to my family yesterday. We are definitely blessed to have the technology that we do. It was so nice to see their faces. I hope you all had a wonderful Father's Day and told your dads how much you love them. The time on Skype went so fast! It felt like 15 minutes! But it was good :)

This week we were blessed to be able to serve in the Portland Temple Visitor Center! It's not in our mission, but the Portland Oregon Mission was having a mission conference so they chose four companionships to go and serve and we were chosen. It was so special. I've really missed the temple and even though I didn't actually get to go inside, just being on the temple grounds is amazing. Temple grounds are the most sacred places on the earth. How special is that? While in the Visitor Center I was able to talk to a lot of younger people. We got to talked about the blessings of the temple work that they do. Talking to non-members was my favorite though. They recognized the special spirit that was there and Hermana Coca invited one of them to be baptized and they said
"yes" after only being there for a half hour! It was so amazing!

Speaking of people saying "yes" to baptismal dates, we invited one of our investigators to be baptized and she said yes (so we have 3 investigators on date for July) and then her mom who we had just met pretty much asked us to invite her as well. She said yes before we even finished asking the question. She lives outside of our mission
boundaries so we got to call some sister missionaries in the Portland mission and tell them that we had a referral for them and that she was already on date! That doesn't happen. To quote my companion, "They must have been praying for a miracle".

This week our Branch had a Father's Day activity and they didn't have anything planned except the food so we ran to the store and got games for Minute to Win it. You know the one  with the empty tissue box with ping pong balls tied around your waist and you have to shake them out? So imagine a bunch of Hispanic dads doing it. It was so funny! And of course I got it on video :)

Not super long today, sorry. I hope you are all doing well

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

Father's Day Skype family photo!

Portland Oregon Temple "It is SO beautiful! Pictures don't do it justice."

Serving in the Portland Oregon Temple Visitor's Center

Temple constructed with marble and slate from VERMONT! How neat is that?!

Hermana Dickson and Hermana Coca

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Opposition in All Things, Esta Bien

Week #12

You know you're a missionary when you're tired all of the time. Really though. I get way more sleep than I did in the MTC, but it's never enough.

So much has happened this week, but all good things :) well mostly. Opposition in all things. 

The area that I am in right now is growing so quickly. The branch has had 9 baptisms in 3 months and we have 2 more investigators on date for July! It's so amazing to see the change in peoples countenances as they accept the Gospel and grow in their relationships with their Heavenly Father. One of the new converts bore her testimony in church yesterday. It was amazing. She talked about how at first she didn't want anything to do with the missionaries, but she began to read the Book of Mormon every day and praying every day and she wanted to know more. It's so amazing to see her journey and to hear her testimony. She came with us to a couple lessons this week and she was like "there is no excuse, there is always time to read and pray." And "well do you know this is true or not?" Everything we want to say, but we can't because we have to be nice :) Not that she isn't nice, she's just very bold. And it's great. We love her.

We pray every day to be lead to those that are prepared and we are definitely being guided. Yesterday we found someone who said that she is looking for a church that teaches what Christ taught when he lived and that she has been praying for guidance. She said that everything we were saying made so much sense and answered so many of her questions. I love this work.

Not all of the days are easy. Actually none of them are, but like I said, opposition in all things :) Saturday we had a baptism and I'm finding out that those days are the most hectic and stressful. We were making the program and all of the members that were suppose to be coming and were supposed to talk, pray, pick up investigators told us that they either weren't coming for sure or they would see if they could come, so the program had our names on it a lot... We had to do it at a different chapel because there was a different one happening at our building and we went over to start filling up the font, but couldn't find the controls. We finally did, but 30 minutes after turning it on, we realized that we never put the plug in so it was just draining. These fonts usually can take up to a couple of hours to fill and we had 45 minutes until the baptism was suppose to start. We literally prayed that everyone would be late. And they were. Our investigator forgot a towel and a change of clothes and our presiding priesthood holder didn't show up until 45 minutes after we were suppose to start so we improvised with videos (we're getting really good at that). I played piano, Hna Coca lead the music, she said the prayer, we sang a musical number (which we did not practice. I just started singing alto when it sounded good...), and I gave the talk on the Holy Ghost. In Spanish. With little to no preparation. It actually went well and people understood me. #blessingsofbeingamissionary

So pretty much super stressful, but the most important thing is that a daughter of God was able to be baptized by the authority of God. So happy for her.

Funny things this week. I talked to the Book of Mormon. You know when you're watching a scary movie and the girl is walking into the haunted house and you're like "What are you doing? Don't go inside!,"? Well that's how I feel about the people in the Book of Mormon. I was reading about Limhi's people in Mosiah and they are being beaten in war and I literally said out loud "why aren't you praying?!" Now my companion thinks I'm even weirder :) esta bien. 

During one of our lessons this week I felt a tickle on my neck and the member said something to me in Spanish. I didn't understand what she was saying so I just brushed at it. She was trying to tell me that there was a spider crawling on my neck and when I brushed at it, it fell down my shirt and the investigator we were teaching was a man so... I left it there... until I realized that it's weirder for me to not get it out of my shirt. It's all good. I didn't die. One time this week we were street contacting, just going up to everyone we saw and I starting talking to a man and then I didn't know what to say and I started crying. Awkward. My companion just took over. We went and got Hot Cocoa and they gave it to me for free because I was crying. And they wrote "feel better" on my cup with hearts around it. I cried harder.

I had a lot of training this week. I got my iPad and so had a training on how to use it correctly. I have trainings on teaching and studying every week. Before my mission I thought that missionaries knew what they were doing and that they didn't have temptations. Not true. Ask any missionary and they will tell you they have no idea what they are doing. All of this training is helping me become a better missionary, but I'm realizing that I'm always going to be learning and training, even when I'm training others. There is no such thing as a missionary that has it all figured out. I am slowly figuring out the Spanish though. Understanding more everyday. We were talking to one of our recent converts and she said that she and her family pray every day that I will understand Spanish and that every door that we knock on - that Hispanic people answer, so that I HAVE to learn Spanish. I know I've said this before, but I am so thankful for all of your prayers.

Sorry, this email is pretty much full of ramblings...

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

P.S. I ate ice cream yesterday for the first time in forever. Go eat some ice cream. It'll make you feel better.
P.P.S. Love your dads this week. It's Father's Day on Sunday
P.P.P.S. Well, love them every week, but especially this week

Hermana Coca, me, my STLs Sister Kennelly and Lancaster, and Sister Samuelian (mission president's wife)

Baptism! Her son got to baptize her!

Monday, June 6, 2016

I Am Blessed

Week #11

You know you're a missionary when you smile and say "it was nice to meet you" to someone who just called you deluded and told you that you listen to Satan :)

What have I learned this week? That it is kind of a good thing that I don't understand everything that everyone is saying around me. We went on exchanges this week so I was in an English area (I got to use my English badge). I understood every word and they weren't all nice ones. Hermana Coca and I were talking to a lady and it didn't go very well. We walked back to the car in silence. Hermana Coca handed me an index card from her scriptures and asked me to read it. It was 3rd Nephi 5:13 (the same scripture I chose as my personal mission scripture). We gave each other a hug and moved on. In Spanish I don't get my feelings hurt as easily, but it's fine :) I am growing thicker skin.

We are trying to work with the dads in the families that we are teaching because the families are getting baptized, but the men aren't. So that is one of our goals. Also, we are going to focus on Temple work with our branch because we feel like they need it. I wish that we could attend the Temple. It's not in our mission and we do get to go in October, but I miss it. The MTC spoiled me. I got to go every week. The Temple is such a special place. Even simply standing on the grounds is such a special opportunity.

We had Stake Conference this weekend. Elder Packer of the 70 (President Packer's son) came and spoke as did my Mission President and his wife. My companion translated so we sat in a random classroom for it. It was really uplifting.

I am so blessed! I have only been out on my mission for two transfers and I have been able to listen to three Apostles! And I got to sing in the choir each time. We had a mission wide conference which never happens. I mean never. President Russell M. Nelson came to speak! We all got to shake his hand. When the choir was singing her turned around and joined in with us. It was so cute (is it okay to call an Apostle cute?) He truly is called of God. His words were so powerful. He talked about the Book of Mormon and why we have it. He talked about Repentance "Get over it and get going". He also told us that a good missionary is always joyful (that's why we smile at people when we are being called deluded). One thing that he said after he found a scripture was "these scriptures are working!" I know he meant it as a joke, but it made me think about how scriptures work. They have the answers, we just have to look. He talked about marriage . . . to missionaries . . . not quite what you expect, but it was good advice (I wrote it all down for way later . . .)

I don't know how to really describe the experience other than what I wrote in my notebook right after I shook his hand.
I shook his hand. It was soft. I could tell that his eyes were bluish, greenish, grayish. What I imagine the sea looked like right after Christ calmed them. His face was wrinkled, I'm sure from smiling. He sang along with the choir as we sang "I'll go where you want me to go". He hasn't stopped smiling. Hands that heal. Eyes that calm. A smile of a child. A voice that has talked to God. A servant of God A modern Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. Holding the power and authority of God. Called of God.

I love you all,
Hermana Dickson

No pictures this week . . . sorry.