Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Merry Christmas

Week # 41

You know you're Hermana Dickson when you try to make friends with a cat sized rat.

Merry Christmas yesterday everyone! I truly hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas. How perfect that it was the Sabbath. We had church with an English ward because most of our branch is gone. Both the Elders and we had investigators that came. We were supposed to have translation, but the branch president forgot his keys so we couldn't get into the office and get the equipment. The meeting consisted of me walking around talking to people in Spanish and reaching across the aisle 15 times to help investigators and members find the right hymns and seats. Even though they didn't understand everything they did feel the spirit and that is what is important. The programs were so wonderful. Lots of music and a couple of speakers. Elder Burke, the senior missionary in our branch, gave a wonderful talk. He was switching back and forth between Spanish and English so that everyone would understand, but he would forget and switch into the wrong one. I understood everything! . . . but not everyone did. It was really cute though and the best part of the meeting. We sang "Mary Did You Know?" in Spanish with Hermana Burke. It's so beautiful in Spanish (well everything is, but I'm a little biased). We got to Skype our families after and then spent the day with Lourdes and some other members. It was a good day. A good Christmas. I was telling my family that this is the best way to spend Christmas, partaking of the Sacrament and being a missionary. It can't get any better.

This week we had exchanges. I went with Sister Bennett. She is amazing (and from St. George). I was in the English area and so it was a little different, but we saw some miracles. We prayed to meet our goals and we met every single one! We also had a good heart to heart (let's be real, that's the real reason we have exchanges). We talked about the work, the area, my companion, me, and Christmas. Exchanges are so needed and inspired. I am so grateful that we have Sister Training Leaders.

We had a little miracle this week. I was really sick halfway through. We both didn't sleep because of it and the next day I just lay on the couch feeling miserable. I had a fever and it was looking like our whole day and night was going to be inside and I was grumpy because of it. It's so hard being sick as a missionary because you just want to be out working, but you can't. I got a blessing that morning, but I was still sick through the whole day. I said a prayer near the end of the day (a grumpy one) and 20 minutes later my fever was gone. We were able to go out and work for the last couple hours of the day and see some more miracles.

We had a missionary Christmas party. We had lunch and a talent show and it was . . . creative . . . I'll just say that there are some "special" talents in this mission. Hermana Hunt and I wrote and sang a little silly song about missionary work to the tune of "Do You Want to Build a Snowman?". Everyone loved it. Maybe I'll attach a recording.

This morning we went to a bird marsh wildlife reserve place. It was actually really cool. My companion loves birds. She was so excited about the Bald Eagles, Canadian Geese (they are really loud!), ducks, etc. I was so excited about the water rats :) Really though! They are so ugly! Remember Princess Bride? The big rat thingys? Yup. Not that big, but a good 20 pound rat that swims. Well I'm sure they have another name, but I like "water rat". One got really close and I tried to be his friend, but Hermana Hunt wouldn't let me. I named him Cornelius. We were going through our pictures from the day and Hermana Hunt has a bunch of pretty birds and I have water rats. Yup, same old me. I did like the birds too though.

I think that's about it. I had a good week and a wonderful Christmas. I wish that I had two in my mission.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson


"Don't Stop Believin'"

Christmas Day Skype

Happy Christmas Call

Christmas Dinner with Sister Carbine

Christmas Day visit with Lourdes

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

True Love, Miracles and Snow

Week #40

You know it's Christmas time when it is normal to stand outside someone's door/window and sing.

We went caroling this weekend! We went around to members and investigators and sang and delivered cookies that we made. Confession. I have never liked caroling . . . Ever. Why? Because I was doing it wrong. Before now I have gone to hang out with friends or because it was a mutual night activity and I was promised a cup of hot cocoa. This time I felt different. I actually enjoyed it. It was freezing cold. At one point I couldn't switch the song on my iPad because my fingers were so cold they wouldn't register. BUT the reason I enjoyed it is because I felt such an amazing love for these people. I was hoping that they would open the door not because I was cold, but because I wanted them to hear the precious words of our hymns and know that they had people who missed them at church and wanted them there. Some of the people I didn't even know because they were the Elders investigators, but I still felt that love for them.

That is one of the amazing blessings of being a missionary. We can meet someone and love them. Really love them. We get to feel a small portion of our Heavenly Father's love for each person individually. I am learning what "true love" is. True love isn't romantic love. True love is our Heavenly Father's love. He loves unconditionally. He loves our strengths and our weaknesses. He loves us. And you know, sometimes it's hard to believe that for ourselves. We can believe it for everyone else, but we don't believe it for ourselves. Even as a missionary I have fallen into that belief. It's not true though! Our Heavenly Father loves us unconditionally and individually. He truly loves us. His love is "true love". 

This week has been weird. It went fast and slow at the same time. Slow because our cars were "grounded" and fast because I don't feel like I worked my hardest. The best feeling is when you get to a Pday and you NEED it because you are completely exhausted from working all week. This week was hard because is snowed and froze. That means grounded cars (and we can't ride our bikes) and when you live outside of your area it makes it harder to get to places. Then when you get there your lessons cancel because no one wants to let you in when there is snow for some reason. We did get Skype approved in our mission, but none of our investigators have Skype so . . . Yeah. We did have some awesome phone lessons though! It's not something that I really have liked before because you don't know if they are actually focused and listening, but it actually went great. 

We also had some miracle lessons at church. We had two families drive through the snow and ice to come to lessons at the church. We thought for sure they would cancel, but they didn't. I know that Heavenly Father is definitely going to bless them for coming. It's so important that people act. That they do something with what they are learning. That is how true conversion happens. The Spirit was so strong in those lessons and I know it is because they exercised their faith by coming despite the weather. And now two of them are on date! I'm so happy to help them progress! 

We did make snow missionaries this week. How could we not? We even put pass along cards in their hands. Hopefully someone picked them up.

I'm so excited for Christmas! It's this week! We are going to combine with one of the English wards for Christmas and it's going to be wonderful. It'll be half in English, half in Spanish. Most of our members are gone for the holidays so it'll most likely just be us and a couple of families, but we will represent! We are going to sing in Spanish and one of the Elders is giving a talk. Everyone is just going to be staring, not understandng, but it's fine 😊  our members will understand.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas. Go caroling, just make sure you do it right.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

Hermanas in the winter

"We are a little cold this week, but don't worry we still passed out pass along cards." 😊

"Did I mention that it snowed?"

Our missionary angel!

"We made cookies with the Elders before caroling. Elders Heiner and Quinlan."

"We had an ugly sweater contest"

Sunday, December 18, 2016

O Christmas Tree

Week #39 - December 12th

You know it's Christmas when someone allows Hermana Dickson to hold a saw.

Really though. I should never have a saw. Especially with my history and luck. . . but it's because we cut a Christmas tree! We just finished decorating it. It is so beautiful. We went out into the woods (well, not really, it was an abandoned part of a tree farm) and cut it down all by ourselves in the snow. It's a little bit bigger than what we planned. . . It bends at the ceiling, but we decided to leave it that way. We are really proud of the tree toppers though. We made them out of a file folder, paper towels and yarn. I had to spend a lot of time coloring my (yarn) hair brown. Speaking of snow though, we had quite a bit this last week and are supposed to get more next week. The freezing rain isn't as fun though. It's so cold!

This week was awesome. We have so many progressing investigators including a family of 8! It's like a Christmas miracle! They have such a strong desire to follow Heavenly Father and the parents want to raise their children well. They are a little wary about organized religion because of past experiences, but they are coming to church with us on Sunday! I will keep y'all updated.

I have seen some tender mercies this week. I have been struggling for a while and I was talking to someone and they used the same words that were said in my setting apart blessing. Heavenly Father does take care of us. I've seen and felt the manifestations of His love.

I don't know what else to write this week. I hope you are doing well. Remember why we have Christmas.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

Hermana Dickson has been so well taken care of by many members in her area. Sister Carbine sent a lovely email to tell me of their "Tree Day". I am including it here for Hermana Dickson to see when she returns from her 18 months of service.

"We had a lot of fun today. I took the girls up just past our home and a friend up there has a huge Christmas tree farm and she let us get off on the side of the road and find a tree for them. She gave it to them. The girls sawed it down and took a video etc; they will send that next week. They loved it, neither have cut down their own tree before. It was a perfect 6' noble. They were in heaven, with the snow and the fresh scent of trees and the sun was out today.

As they brought it out of the forest a car or two would go by and I had them throw it on the ground so the people wouldn't think we were stealing it. Then we all started having a snowball fight until they passed. haha
When we returned to thank J, who lost her dear husband last year, she invited us in and made us hot chocolate. We visited for a whil and we gave her a DVD of Jesus' bible videos and the girls gave her a Plan of Salvation pamphlet. Then they sang most beautifully, "Away in a Manger". They sound soooo good together. J. asked them to come visit more, but it's not their "real area" (assigned area). It was a wonderful experience. Your daughter is adorable.

Hermana Dickson sent the following video. I was glad for Sister Carbine giving us an explanation of the "stealing". It made us laugh

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Stay Focused on Christ

Week #38

You know you're in Oregon when everything shuts down because of snow. . . Even the tree farms . . . Even when it melts two hours later.

So we planned to get a Christmas tree today, but literally every farm was shut down. Even after all the snow had melted. So next week for sure.

This week went so fast, but I feel like so much happened. It's been a rollercoaster for sure.

Tania got baptized! It was so special! It has been such a bumpy road, but that makes it even better. It was actually really stressful because she had her interview last Sunday and we thought everything was good to go. We found out Thursday that we may have to move her baptism because of lack of communication with our mission President. No one could get ahold of him and he still hadn't given approval for her baptism. Our district leader was trying to call everyone he could, but no one answered. On Friday we were talking about moving it just in case, but we were really nervous because we had moved her baptism multiple times already and we didn't want her to be discouraged. My sweet companion said "I feel that we need to wait until noon. Something is telling me 'just wait until noon'". District meeting had ended just before noon and our district leader received a call the minute the closing prayer ended and it was President Tateoka. I ran out after him and just stood there waiting, straining to hear what President was saying. Elder Thompson gave a nod and then I ran back into the room to tell everyone that we have a baptism tomorrow night and everyone is invited! It was exciting (aka stressful).

We also had another adventure the next day when the font started draining so I had to get in a jumpsuit and go plug it back up 15 minutes before everyone got there. Pictures are included.

Everything literally seemed to be working against us. The font was draining, there was a parade blocking all of the traffic so everyone was late, and the man who was going to baptize Tania texted us and told us he might not be there. I have such a testimony of the Will of God. We had to turn it over to Him. We knew that if it was His will there would be a baptism. And there was. The water was warm (not boiling hot or freezing cold! I finally got it right!) Tania was so happy and I hugged her right after. It was the best hug I have ever received. It was wet, but the light in her eyes made it worth it. Her words of relief, "I'm clean", will never leave my mind. It is so magical to see true conversion change someone. She has changed. The next morning her dad and brother came to church for her confirmation and stayed for all three hours! That was so special and I know they felt the Spirit there.

President and Sister Tateoka came to the baptism and we got to spend some much needed time with them afterwards. He told us that he was looking at the board of the mission and just felt that he needed to be in Forest Grove. I was able to receive a much needed blessing of comfort and counsel and I know that he loves me. More than anything I know that my Heavenly Father loves me. Unfortunately I'm really good at forgetting that. Priesthood blessings are so powerful.

I hope that you were able to watch the Christmas Devotional. It was wonderful.

Running out of time, but I hope that you know that I truly love you. I wish I had time to write to each one of you. Stay focused on Christ this season. He really is the reason.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

Glowing! Look at those smiles.

Keeping the water from draining out.

"I Love This Gospel So Much"

Week # 37 - Sent November 28th

You know you're a sister missionary when you feel weird wearing pants.

So one thing I forgot to write about last email. You know how my last companion had an admirer that offered chocolate and roses? Well, we have been teaching a man for a while and one morning we were in the home with a member talking about the investigator. The member mentioned that he thinks that the investigator may like one of us a little too much. We brushed it off. That night we actually go the chocolates . . . They were yummy. Did I ever mention that I don't like dropping people? It made us laugh, but of course we didn't admit to the member that he was right. :)

It's been what? 4 days? (since her last Pday and email on Thanksgiving) I don't have much time to write. We went to Tillamook today and so we are emailing here and I have about 10 minutes.

Tania is getting baptized!!! Next email you will be getting pictures in white! We are so excited! Her face when she came out of her interview was so sweet. This Gospel brings true happiness.

I love this Gospel so much. Every day the miracles that we see affirm that it is true. We really do have a Heavenly Father who is watching over us.

I love you all,

Hermana Dickson

Note from Mom: Sister Carbine took Hermanas Dickson and Hunt out to Oceanside for Pday. To explain "dropping people": Interest like "chocolate and roses" means the sister missionaries transfer the investigator they have been teaching to the Elders. Or even dropping completely since interest in the sisters is different than interest in the Gospel :) 

She also sent a 7 second video which said: "Love you family. I am at the Tillamook Factory and I have zero time to email. I'm so so sorry and I love you all. Bye." - Every word & photo we get is precious!

Hermana Dickson and Hermana Hunt at Oceanside (P-day pants)

Sister Carbine who lovingly takes such good care of the Hermanas

Tillamook Cheese Factory

Look at all that cheese!

Forest Grove Spanish Branch missionaries:
Elder Quinlan, Elder Peltier, Elder and Sister Burke, Hma Hunt and Hma Dickson