Monday, December 3, 2012

Dec. 3, 2012
Fam Fam! 
This week we went to KIRTLAND! It was zone conference, and it was fabulous. It is so funny how much I love Bowling Green, but how exciting it is to see the Kirtland temple and Kirtland sites when I get to go :) 
I loved getting to see Sister Palmer and the other Kirtland missionaries. Love those sisters :) Also, conference was SO good! Our focus was developing the faith to find, and I felt like I learned so much about faith just by studying for that subject and focusing on finding this past week. President talked about how he has been bombarded with emails stating that more missionaries will be showing up on the coming transfers. That morning he had 19 more missionaries coming! Just that MORNING! The missions are completely getting flooded all over the place- almost like that prophecy about flooding the earth... ;) Pretty neat! Because we were focusing on finding as a mission, for fast Sunday we did a mission fast for finding the elect. The entire mission knelt down at 10:15p Saturday night to open our fast. Yesterday, right after we closed our fast, we got a call from these neat lady we had tracted into, saying she wanted to meet with us! Fasting with a prayer of faith works miracles! It was a very humbling experience.

The baptism we had on Saturday was CRAZY!  Leading up the baptism was super stress-free, which was really weird... what kind of missionaries ever get a stress-free baptism?! I know- it was eerie. But then the night before the baptism, everything EXPLODED! Everyone on the program was calling saying they wouldn't be able to attend the baptism because of choir concerts they had overlooked, or family deaths, etc. So we scrambled to find others to replace them (not so easy when you are working with a ward you don't have the roster for...), so by the time we got to the baptism, we were prepared to give talks, do a musical number, etc to make it all come together. Then we realized that the girl being baptized had forgotten her handmade baptismal dress, so her mom ran back home (which was half an hour away, btw) Anyway, it was insanity for a time, but then, miraculously (after starting half an hour late) everything came together PERFECTLY. The people that ended up filling in actually worked out a lot better than originally planned, Sister Joseph was given time to redo the supply table (the elders tried, she gave them that :), and it was such an amazing night. April was so happy. It is neat how He really is in charge, and we don't need to be worried. Everything will turn out :)

Oh, another thing from zone conference- we were talking about Christmas and how this is a great time of year to serve others and share Christmas messages when President randomly said, "I hope you get homesick this Christmas." I was like WHAT?! Who is this guy? Here I am trying to focus on missionary work and to not think about home, and then he goes and brings that up! The nerve! I couldn't help but think about that a lot this past week. You know what? I absolutely love my family. I really think about you a lot more than I would like to admit (because I should be focusing on those I am serving) and I am absolutely obsessed with you people :) I can't wait to talk to Meg about boys, to see Lex's incredible art, and to see how much Brooke is grown and get to play games with the family. Dad, I love learning and spending time with you and Mom, I miss our talks and your hugs! I think I am totally going to be homesick now... and it is totally my mission president's fault! :) I love and miss you all a lot.

Something else I have been trying to figure out recently is how to identify direction from the spirit. I think one way that he communicates with us is by shocking us (not with lightning). It was President's shocking sentence that made me think about what he said over and over, and the same thing happened at Grandma Mahrt's funeral when the bishop said that her death is sad now, but it would become sweet with time. There are a few scriptures that talk about things 'pressing upon their minds.' I think that is what it was talking about. I had never thought of it that way before. 

I forgot my camera card reader, so pictures will have to wait until next week! 

Sister Mahrt

Nov. 26, 2012
November is almost over!
I ate WAY too much at Thanksgiving! Sister J and I had to go home and digest for hours. It was great :) We went to the Misfit Thanksgiving at the church (their name, not mine. All the people without family in the area) around noon, then ran over to the Savoys at 2p. Wow, that family can cook! Sweet potatoes were there (LOVE sweet potatoes), they had all the traditional food, plus a ham, green onions wrapped in cream cheese and salami slices (fabulous!) and a billion pies. Needless to say, it was a good day. 

We had Kristen's baptism on Saturday! That girl makes me so proud :) She stopped smoking cold turkey, and she has changed a lot of habits in her life so that she could be baptized, and it is so easy to see how much happier she is! I absolutely love that about the Gospel. There is no faking true happiness. 

We get to go to Kirtland tomorrow! Yay! Zone conference. By the way, I have the best zone. I absolutely LOVE working with these missionaries! They are all about working hard and playing hard. I have never seen such a purpose-filled bunch, and it is so neat to be able to learn from their example. So it will be neat to be able to go with them to the Kirtland temple and sites. Plus President Vellinga is incredible, so it just adds to the awesomeness of tomorrow. I can't wait!

Ohio has the craziest weather mood swings. Thanksgiving was beautiful (60 degree weather!) and then the next day there were snow flurries. I thought we were going to die. Actually, it was only my life I was that concerned for. Not because I am completely selfish, but because Sister J does not mess around. That sister had on four layers on her legs, who knows how many layers around her torso, and her coat looks like a heavy duty sleeping bag with the bottom cut out for legs. She was not going to go down without a fight, that is for sure. Maybe I should stop thinking that I am invincible and put on some nylons. Or at least gloves would help. You just don't think of that stuff when you are getting dressed in a warm apartment!

We have a problem. We are learning the hard way that Sister Joseph and I are a tad too absent-minded. We have had some close calls with forgetting planners in laundromats and baptismal forms at baptisms. This may be an interesting transfer... 

On Sunday we were supposed to go to Kirtland with Kristen, but it fell through last minute :( We were really disappointed, but it didn't last very long.  The shock that set in when we realized our whole day needed to be replanned was more urgent of an emotion that took over. The neat thing is that Heavenly Father was right there. We ended up being able to plan for some lessons that we set up last minute, and it was our most productive day (numbers-wise) than any other day that week! And that was with 5 hours of church!  It is incredible how close to this work He is. It helped me realize I need to rely on Him a lot more. 

I had a neat realization when I was tracting this week. It was Black Friday, no one was home, and we were tracting in the coldest weather I have ever tracted in (and it was probably in the 20s and 30s! I am not surviving this winter- I'm telling you right now!) and I was thinking, "Sister Mahrt, this really is crazy. You realize that, right? We are walking around a neighborhood that no one is in, and you are going to get frostbite. You are nuts." Then a thought came just as quickly to me, '...yet, there is nothing else you would rather be doing right now.' And it was so true! I wouldn't have traded being a missionary for a fireplace and a cup of hot chocolate, while lounging in a lazy boy. It is so neat to be out here and having these experiences, and I am so grateful for what I am learning and who I have had the opportunity to meet. Ohio is awesome. 

Love you all! 

Nov. 19, 2012
First thing is first- Happy Birthday Mom! I hope your day is awesome, and not completely full of packing and moving boxes :)

I have come to the conclusion that this area is magical. We have been able to tract and find people who are humble and looking for additional truth ALL the TIME, and this transfer we will be have the blessing of two baptisms. I have never had multiple baptisms in the same transfer before! The companion, district, and zone goals that we have set we are regularly meeting, and sometimes even exceeding! It is so neat to see how prepared this area is! It has been very easy to see His hand in the work.

For our next zone conference, we will be going to Kirtland, and having our meeting in the temple and then on sites. We are so excited! President Vellinga has asked us to memorize some scriptures about having the faith to find. Amazingly, it has been so fun to memorize scriptures! I forgot how much I love it! Plus, it is so nice to have those scriptures on instant recall and be able to pull from the truths and principles it teaches in our lessons. I have felt like th spirit can work through me better as I am more prepared with scriptures in mind. Memorizing scriptures is so amazing! (You were totally right Dad, I wish I would have listened to you earlier ;) 

Thanksgiving will be fun. We have a short P-day today, then on Thanksgiving morning we will have P-day schedule until we go eat with members. We have been invited to so many dinners!! I will refrain from any pictures for the next few weeks so you don't have to be too subtle with your fat comments. 

Sister Joseph and I have come to the conclusion that we are very strange, because we are enjoying tracting. Neither of us particularly enjoyed it in our other areas, but here, it is almost fun to get out and meet people! Most of them are very respectful and nice. One lady that we met invited us in and proceeded to tell us about how she was out with a friend for hours, then her friend noticed that she lost her ring. They backtracked for hours trying to find it, to no avail. This lady began praying in heart that they could find it, and then she did! It was in some completely random spot, like under the aisle shelves in Target. Then she testified to her friend that God really does answer prayers. She was so awesome! She was hesitant to take a Book of Mormon, but when I explained how it has come to help direct me in my life (Alma 32- going on a mission) she was very curious about it. By the time we were done sharing how He has helped us in our lives, and left her with prayer, she was crying. There are so many amazing people out there who really are looking for truth, they just don't know where to find it!! I love having the opportunity to get out, meet amazing people, and make a difference in their lives by helping them get to know Christ better. 

We have had the opportunity to get to know a lot more members in our ward since Sister Joseph is new (so I had a good excuse to be able to ask people's names again :) I should know them after three months!) Ohioans are the best! I love the people out here. Even when they deny that they have hick accents and they totally do. 

I love you all so much! Good luck with all the moving. Good thing you have a train car.

Sister Mahrt

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Nov. 12, 2012 - Changes
Sister Joseph is my new companion! She is really awesome. I love her already. She is diligent, obedient and so funny! She is super good at being healthy (she is like a stick!) so I am hoping she rubs off on me a little ;)
On Sunday we had a speaker who basically talked about having joy in the journey. She talked about living with no regrets, and not letting 'being busy' get in the way of priorities (like family). Her talk really hit me. I have told you that I have been thinking about my mission being a little 'mini-life,' right? Being with Sister Tokunaga solidified that idea in my mind. She is DEFINITELY not looking forward to going home any time soon! She wants to extend her mission for as long as she can, and she doesn't want to back to 'real life.' It reminds me of when people get older and reminisce about the past. And how time goes by so slowly for kids (waiting for your next birthday takes FOREVER!) I noticed that on my mission. Time is going faster :( Instead of wanting the time to slow down or speed up, how many of us take the time to enjoy the moments? Sister Joseph and I found a scripture that we both really like. It is in D&C 59 (forgot the verses, sorry!) and it talks about how Heavenly Father made the earth and the creations for us to rejoice and gladden our hearts. I think that says so much about His character! He has given us so much! When do we take time to step away from the busyness and simply enjoy life? That is something I want to do: notice and enjoy the moment.
We are planning on having two baptisms this transfer, along with Thanksgiving, and three trips to Kirtland, so it is going to be a fun!
I don't have my pictures with me :( Next time.
Love you all so much!!!
Sister Mahrt
Nov. 6, 2012
This is the last full day I will have with Sister Tok :( We learned last night that she will be transferred. Most likely back to Kirtland.

We went to the zoo to celebrate her departure! It was funny, because at first some of us were dragging our feet, saying, "A zoo? Really?" As if we were too old for that sort of thing these days. Then when we get there, we started running around like little kids, giggling excitedly when the orangatan chewed on some sunflower seeds, jumping up and down when the tiger stood up and getting way overexcited about watching the gorillas stretch and look at us from their little nap-buckets. It was so much fun! I love the Toledo zone, and I am SO glad I get to stay at least one more transfer!

This week, we had the opportunity to witness a miracle.

Actually, it wasn't just this past week- it probably goes back a month, but it fully manifested itself on Sunday.

Remember the girl I told you about? The one who was an angry wall when we started teaching her, and then when we invited her to be baptized, she was so happy she almost cried? (I think I told you that story... if I didn't, let me know and I will have more details later)

Well, the other day we were in a lesson, and she was there. This lesson wasn't going well. The recipient is a teenager who has had a rough life, and... we'll just say she wasn't very happy to have been woken up from her nap. We were reading a talk with her, and she was devoutly ignoring and mocking us, and we were at a loss. Amid a particularly long moment of silence and awkwardness, our investigator piped up and said, "Can I share a story?" We gladly accepted, and sat back while she shared an extremely heartfelt and sincere testimony of how, in the last couple weeks, she has come to know that she really is of worth and loved by her Heavenly Father. It was incredible the spirit that she invited into that lesson, and the difference it made. By the end, there were almost no dry eyes in the room, and our frustrating lesson turned into one of the most powerful lessons I have been in on my mission. Then on Sunday, she went up and bore her testimony in sacrament! Very few people in the ward knew who she was, but, yet again, there were many people who were teary-eyed at the end of her testimony. Somehow, it got out to our stake, our zone, and even back to the mission president on how amazing this girl's testimony is.

I don't think I can say it enough- missionary work is incredible. Watching people's lives become happier through the gospel of Christ is one of the most miraculous circumstances to witness. The church is so, so true. I will never be able to deny that.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Oct 29, 2012
So, today we have to be inside our apartment by 1pm because of the hurricane. Have you heard of the Franken-storm? Well, I wouldn't have, except because of the hurricane we are getting some inclement weather (what does inclement mean? I can't use a dictionary, but it just feels like a good word to use here, so I am using it) and we are supposed to stay inside until Wednesday!!! What are missionaries supposed to do if they have to stay home?! I have no idea. We were going to go fishing today, so we are sad our p-day was compromised. The reason I am telling you all this is because I don't have a ton of time, so my email may be short.

This week has been filled with drama, because there is a family that wants to be taught by us rather than the east sisters, for basically no other reason than they know us better (there is a lot more justification surrounding that, but that is what it boils down to). Don't get me wrong- I am so thankful to have an opportunity to teach anyone who wants to hear more about Jesus Christ, but it hit me how much they are limiting their own progress by claiming to be an 'exception to the rule.' That is such a common idea these days. And so selfish! It has been a neat experience to be on a mission, where you have almost no control over your life. You give up where you live, what you will be doing, what you will be thinking about, what your purpose is, everything, and give it up to Heavenly Father. It is funny how many of us want control, but when we are actually able to let go, it is so refreshing! We are put in circumstances that help us to grow and progress in ways we never thought we could. If we try to control and maneuver things to what we want all the time, we are cheating ourselves of experiences or situations that would benefit us so much if we would just see them through. I especially love being with companions I didn't choose (and probably wouldn't have chosen), but that I have grown to love so much! I can't imagine what sort of experiences I would have missed out on if I would have been sucked into thinking I needed to control everything and make things the way I would have preferred. Life is so cool that way.

For one of our dinners this week, we went over to a family's home and the little 3 year old girl said the prayer. I felt the spirit so strong as she spoke- it was so cute! It is neat how simple the gospel is, that even a 3 year old can understand that she can talk to Heavenly Father and He will listen.

This week has been filled with cupcakes. We helped someone make 100 cupcakes for an activity they signed up for, there were cupcakes at the munch and mingle after singles ward, there were more cupcakes at the baptism we attended, we got some cupcakes door-bell ditched at our door, and we had a cupcake fight in our apartment (I won). I am now officially sick of cupcakes.

We were able to get a lot of members out with us to our lessons. It was a reaffirmation to me about how the members are doing the real missionary work. Every one of those lessons were so much more powerful and effective because they were there. It's amazing how far little actions and words of encouragement will go.

We were able to go to a Coptic Orthodox baptism with our Egyptian investigators. Everyone was so nice! We were in a super small room, and the family of the baby kept pushing us closer to the font to make sure we could see. Then after the baptism they wanted us in their pictures and they were so excited for us to be there. Their church was beautiful! Afterward, they made us our own individual loaf of holy bread. It was so neat! I love learning about other people.

Love you all!

Our holy bread.

Blowing out the smoke alarm since I burned my Macaroni & Cheese (hey, it happens to the best of us!) It looks like I am teaching it the doctrine.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oct 22, 2012
Sliding on Cardboard
This week was crazy! Some investigators were dropped and appointments fell through, so we set our personal records for longest time tracting for both of us. It was actually pretty fun- I got to know Sister Tok on a whole new level. It was so much fun! I love her so much, and I am not looking forward to when she gets transferred the first Wednesday of November (or at least that is what we are assuming will happen). Yesterday was awesome- she locked herself in the bathroom!! She thought I was holding the door, so she was saying stuff like, "Haha, Sister Mahrt, very funny!" Then she would sing Be Still My Soul to calm herself down, then she would pound on the door and say, "Sister, we are losing hours of accountability!!" I was in the kitchen wondering what was going on, until I figured it out and sat on the couch to watch it all unfold. It was great :) Then she finally is able to get out of the bathroom, and, after accosting me, she accepts that she had done it all to herself. I run in the bedroom while laughing my head off so I can record what just happened in my journal so I don't forget. It doesn't take me long to finish, when she puts on her shoe to leave, and SCREAMS... because she finds that I had just put Waldo (the rat we hide around the apt) in the toe of her shoe. So then I had to go BACK in my room to record that incidence as well. All in all, it was an awesome day! I got a pretty good journal entry in for it at least :)

This morning we teamed up with the East sisters to go sledding down Conneaut Hill. It is the ONLY hill, or even slight elevation of ground, for MILES! We found some cardboard boxes to slide down with, and if it worked well, we were going to invite the elders in our zone over for some sledding races, but... it was an epic failure. We had to scoot ourselves down the hill inch by inch. Good ab work-out. Bad P-day activity. Good thing we tested it out first! We walked off the field around 7:55am, and these gathering of runners stood and watched us haul our soggy cardboard sleds to the car. They were probably very confused. 

It has been neat to be a missionary during Romney's campaign. Even if people don't want to change churches, many of them want to know what Romney's beliefs are so that they can make a better decision on how to vote. It also helps when they have the little Romney banners in their yard. Sister Tok LOVES those! I can barely hold her back from sprinting up to their door when she sees them! 

Love you Fam! 
Sister Mahrt

Monday, October 15, 2012

Oct 15, 2012
Guess what? Prayers are answered!! This week has been a week of answered prayers- it has been really neat!

One prayer that was answered was a member's. We went over to dinner at a young couple's home. They both served missions, and both are eager to introduce others to the gospel. The husband was saying he has been praying for a missionary opportunity, but none have presented themselves. We talked about that a bit, then decided that we would all pray for him specifically to have a missionary opportunity. Then next day we were tracting, and knocked on a door of someone who was excited to see us! (that is so rare that Sister Tok and I were completely caught off guard and took a few seconds to compose ourselves :) She immediately said that she knew God sent us to her, because she was just thinking about the campaign and decided she needed to look up what Mormons believed because of Romney. She had just begun when we came to the door! She asked us some questions, and then we asked her about her beliefs and her family. The kids were on a soccer team, and we told her we know a lot of people that play soccer from our congregation. Then it came out that the soccer coach of her kids team was this husband we had dinner with the night before! She said she was happy with her church, but would love to come to church to find out more about what we believe. We were able to call up the husband, and he was very excited be involved in missionary work with this family. It was so neat! The prayer was answered so quickly!

The other prayer that was answered was my own. There has been a lot of questions coming our way about the lack of historical evidence, or contradictory evidence, for the Book of Mormon. It has been like an avalanche. There has been a lot of questions fired at us, that we have had to truthfully answer, "I don't know," sometimes throughout the entire lesson! We have been teaching about the need for faith, and the need to pray for answers, but the concerns have been very entrenched and not easily dismissed. We have been going through this for about 8 weeks now, and no answer we have seems to be good enough. It came to the point that last week, I was really tired of all the questions that are unanswerable. Why is there so much information and 'factual evidence' going against the Book of Mormon? I know it is true. I know it has helped my relationship with the Savior and I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet called of God to restore His church. So what was going on here?! It turns out the answer was in a place I have read over and over again- the Book of Mormon introduction! We had our district meeting, and the sixth paragraph (the one talking about how the Book of Mormon is the most correct book on Earth and people can grow closer to God by abiding to its precepts) came up for our roleplay. Then it came up again during personal study, and then again later in another roleplay with the young women during mutual. When we went to go see our investigator that night, he brought up his concerns again. They are the same concerns he has always had, but I thought of something I had never thought of before.

We are not mortal beings having a spiritual experience. On the contrary, we are spiritual bodies having a mortal experience.
We are here on Earth to learn and progress. Progressing requires faith.

Isn't there some serious wisdom in having a book that can be read and confirmed spiritually, yet not historically/physically? I am sure Heavenly Father could 'prove it' historically if He really wanted to, but where is the growth and progression from that? The Book of Mormon is designed so that in order to come to know that it is true, people have to come closer to God (just like it says in the introduction.) They have to read His word, pray, receive and recognize revelation.

It is a simple answer I think I already logically 'knew' in a sense, but I have never had to explain it to someone clearly and simply. As I was teaching it, it was reconfirmed to me that what I was teaching was true. Even though he didn't think too much about what I had said, Heavenly Father had led me to find the answer for myself. It was so neat! His concerns don't bother me as much. Heavenly Father knows what He is doing. It is so nice to know that we have someone who is completely perfect to rely on!

Another thing I have noticed- it really is a choice to be happy. We have gone into so many different homes in completely different circumstances and situations, and there is no real predictor of happiness. If it is a really fancy home with a nice car out front, or a trailer. A big family or small. If the people are overweight or skinny. Busy or not much going on. It really doesn't matter. Happiness is a choice. There are people in this world who have the worst luck, and definitely what you would term a 'hard life,' but they are so happy! It is really neat to see.

Missions. Are. Awesome.

Love you all!

Sister Mahrt

P.S. This picture was taken during companion study. The ear muffs were on because she was 'on air' for Music and the Spoken Word. Quote: "The dews from the drops of heaven let me know that I am His child" She is pretty poetic

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Oct 8, 2012

Wasn't conference great?! We watched it at Gma Pat's house. She makes sure that all of the missionaries here know they are an extension of her grandchildren, so she completely spoils us. She is so sweet! I think out of my whole mission, it is at her place this weekend that I felt like a normal person, enjoying conference at grandma's house. So fun :)

Mom and Dad, thank you for the under armor you bought me last Christmas (is that when you got it for me...?) It has been getting colder, and it has been so nice to have them during our morning runs. We are actually getting fall weather! I am in for it ;) And thank you for funding my mission!!! I should thank you more than I do- I am loving it out here and learning so much! Thank you thank you thank you!

This past week, the people we are teaching have been going on roller coaster rides- believing one day that they have found what they have been looking for, the next finding concerns, then they want to drop us, then they come back and say they received an answer, then... it just goes on and on! The tricky thing is that they are all on different roller coasters, with different needs at different times. Mom, is this what your life is like?! It is crazy! Never a dull moment, that is for sure!

We have a family that we have been seeing recently and the lessons we have had in those homes have been utterly insane. Utterly. Insane. We decided to play a game last night with the entire family, and I cannot begin to explain the drama and chaos that ensued. It was two hours of being mocked, loved, yelled at, defended, and trampled, all rolled up into one. I SERIOUSLY have a testimony of building the family on the gospel of Jesus Christ. When we go into homes that are 'crazy,' but they are rooted in the gospel, the crazy is not the same type of crazy, that is for sure. But it is fun to see how much Sister Tok and I love getting to know this family more, and love them more and more as time goes on. Heavenly Father really does love each and everyone of us. No matter how insane we are.

It is neat how conference is so inspired. I thought of the people I am teaching over and over when I listened to the talks. It is neat to be in a position to receive revelation for others. I can't get over how neat that is. I still have an unsatiable desire to read the scriptures. I have always loved reading the scriptures (or at least as far as I remember) but since I was set apart I have felt it even stronger. I thought that the feeling would subside once I got into the whole missionary thing, but it seems like the desire just keeps increasing! Personal study is some of my favorite time- you are so close to the spirit and you can feel its influence before you really start your day. And then it is over! I try to read the scriptures every spare minute I have, but it still doesn't feed the craving. The scriptures are so inspired, and they really do have answers to individual questions and challenges. It is fun to be part of others journey to discover it for themselves!

Something I have been discovering with Sister Tok. She is very good at sharing our experiences with others and telling people how she feels. I think I have naturally shied away from that sort of thing, not wanting to step on others toes or get in their way. But sharing stories about your life and sharing your opinions really does help with unity! I don't know where I got the idea that sharing opinions and stories is a burden to other people. It usually isn't! Funny that it has taken me so long to see that :) I am trying to be better at actually having an opinion and thinking of stories I want to share with others. It helps a lot.

I absolutely love talking and hearing from you!!! It was so sad yesterday when the library was closed and I didn't get a chance to hear how you all are doing, or get to tell you how things are over here. I love you all so much!!! I am so glad we are a family!

Hope all is going well- Love and miss you!

Sister Kimber Mahrt

On our way to a corn maze. Sister Tok was excited- she has been waiting so long to go to a corn maze!

Also on Sister Tok's bucket list was to go to Big Boys (for no other reason than she thought the name was cool). She finally convinced the district to go there. She was stoked!
Oct 1, 2012
There were so many amazing things that happened this week! But my favorite was Johnny's baptism. It was the best baptism I have been to according to 'missionary standards.' The spirit was so strong, there was strong support from the ward and the family, almost all of our investigators were there (the number of non-members almost doubled the number of members!), almost all of the missionaries from our zone were able to bring their investigators there as well. Baptisms are awesome to have people to come to because of the spirit (D&C 84:20). Sister Tok and I 'whacked' the Restoration talk (whacked is a Sister Tok word. I think it is synonomous to 'slam dunked' or 'did incredibly well'), even with Ken critiquing us in the audience (he is SO FUNNY! Just wait until you meet him!) Johnny was so ready to be baptized. He was so excited! If he would have had it his way, his invitation would have had flames bordering them, there would have been rockets going off, and a brass marching band going through the chapel! I think 'excited' is an understatement to how that kid was feeling. We were able to help the family's stress level a little, and it was neat to get so close to the family in the process. I am telling you Bowling Green is an incredible place to be. I LOVE IT!!! I can't say it enough!

Ok, I am running out of time--

The first picture is showing how we got attacked by bed bugs! The East sisters found a spare key to our apt and attacked our beds with bed bugs. Sick! 

 The pictures are showing why everyday women do not wear skirts. Especially if they like to ride bikes.

Bonnie's cat is the CRAZIEST cat you have ever met!!! The cat meows at you and wants to be picked up. When you pick him up, he hugs your neck and plays with your ears!!! It is hilarious! When even I pick him up I start laughing just thinking about it! And Bonnie is right next to me. I LOVE her!!! She is so sweet and intelligent- it blows my mind!

                            Johnny's baptism (don't we look like twins?)

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Sept 25, 2012

Sister Tok and I figured neither of us would be transferred this transfer- we just barely got out here, and besides, neither of us want to leave! Bowling Green is awesome! So we thought we had it all figured out. Then, Sister Tok decides to have a dream about being transferred to a triple-up with a Sister Gell and Sister Weaker (random names neither of us have ever heard of) going to Gyrone (a place that is non-existent). It was funny at first, but then we started to psych ourselves out. Maybe she was being prepared to leave! Then the other Bowling Green sisters started to think about it, and decided Sister Carlson has been here 3 transfers- there is a chance she could leave. Since then we have been trying to hold back our anxiousness as transfer info approached. We would discuss it in hurried tones before praying before we went in to an appointment, and we could tell it was on our minds as we drove silently in the car. By the time 10pm rolled around last night, we were FREAKING. OUT. I was sure we were being split up and we were having a anxious breakdown when the news came that... all the Bowling Green sisters are staying put! Whew! What we had expected all along :) How am I going to live normal life without the hype of transfers!?! 

We are SO happy we are staying together, not just because we have really enjoyed this last transfer, but because we have an investigator (who we LOVE) who decided she is too busy to have lessons each week, and asked us not to pass along her name after we get transferred out :( We were crushed! She has the most real intent I have ever seen in someone investigating the church. Her questions are so good- I am always learning when we have lessons because she is inspired as well. She is so kind- every time we go over to her place she has some sort of refreshment for us and she is very real and honest. I absolutely love it! She has been one of my favorite people to teach ever on my mission. So we are happy we have at least 6 weeks to continue to teach her. She came to church on Sunday, and even though it was so painful sitting through sacrament with her (the kids were hitting her chair and screaming all around us) she went around and talked to half the ward to say hi. I LOVE HER!!!! I can't say it enough!

Yesterday we went into one home of a recent convert, right after a visit with one of our investigators. It was so sad to see the stark contrast. The recent convert home was very busy and somewhat stressful, but there was so much hope and love in that home. The other there was so much chaos, frustration and apathy. It was almost tangible how different the two situations were, and Sister Tok and I almost got teary-eyed because it was so depressing how some people live. The recent convert bore her testimony of how real Jesus Christ is because He was able to pull her out of an impossible hole she had dug herself into. It is amazing to know what can happen when we turn to Him, and how sad it can be when we turn our backs :(

We have a baptism coming up on Friday! This kid is nine years old, and he could teach the Sunday school class! He is so smart! And stinkin' cute :) He is so ready for this. He is excited to invite all his friends, teachers, people on the street, ANYONE! It is fun to see his innocence and pure desire. We really do have so much to learn from kids. 

Oh, I almost forgot! On Thursday we woke up at 3:45am and headed for Cleveland to see Elder Perkins! He requested a personal interview with me, and I was a little shocked. There were only 12 missionaries out of the mission who he chose. How did he get my name?! But it turned out that the interview was more of a survey and he was just looking for information that could help the mission. Then he asked me if I had any questions for him. Well, I wasn't going to pass that opportunity up! I asked him when he knew that he was converted. He asked me if I had heard that talk Elder Bednar gave about revelation- how sometimes it is like turning on a light switch, and other times it is like the rising sun. I said I had heard it, and he said his was more like a rising sun and he couldn't pin point a certain time that he 'just knew.' Then he shared an experience where he knew Heavenly Father prepared him and he knew His will for him. It was so basic! I don't know what I was expecting. I guess a big experience? But it was really comforting to see how this life is the same for everyone. The big experiences are much less common, and probably shared less, than we would expect. What really helps us to grow in faith and testimony is those small, personal instances. It was a neat learning experience for me.

I learned a lot from Elder Perkins. What stands out the most right now is having 'revelatory experiences.' He said that 'meetings' is a really bad name, because we think we are going there to 'meet.' The real purposes of meetings is to gain answers so that we can change and act. He said we should always come to meetings with questions we have. He had us write down a couple questions. Then at the end, he asked if our questions had been answered. Mine had DEFINITELY been answered! But you know what is neat? Even the questions I didn't write down because I thought they were less important at the time, were also answered! Just the process of thinking what questions I had helped me to gain revelation for those I am teaching, and even my personal life. It was really neat! I am writing questions for every meeting from now on!

We had a movie night on Friday. We watched Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. That is such a powerful movie! I love it. And it was a great success! We had seven people there who had never seen it before, and they were very impressed with Joseph and his life. He is an incredible man! Have you seen the John Tanner movie? Or the Stonecutter? Those are amazing too.

Love you all! You are all in my prayers

Sister Mahrt

Here are the pictures from this last week. This is my district, and Sister Tok with Elder Harris. He is leaving our district :( It is a running joke that together we make Mahrt 'n Harris (his ancestor was Martin Harris) But he is going to marry Sister Tok (she is his 8 cow wife), so I am out of the picture :)

Monday, September 24, 2012

Sept 17, 2012
Not much to report this week. I keep saying that I am LOVING this area, and it is still so true. I. AM. LOVING. THIS.

This morning we had the chance to have a zone p-day. It was one of the elder's birthdays, so the sisters came together to make a pinata for him, full of year old Halloween candy, plastic bed bugs and satin hands lotion. Yep, what gems. It was a hit ;) (do you get it?!) We were able to play basketball, and volleyball. I love this zone!

We got to see Ken again! He intercepted us during tracting. Apparently two Sundays ago he tried to go to church, but no one was there. We tried to tell him that it was stake conference, but he is pretty persistent in telling everyone that the missionaries deserted him to go on vacation :) That guy is so funny!

We found a family to teach!! We are so excited! Tonight we are going on splits- I will be going to the new family, and Sister Tok will be going to Johnny's (our nine year old investigator) FHE. It is going to be fun. I am going to try a game where the family has to pop balloons and go on a scripture chase. We will see how it works out.

Eating at sketch homes is probably some of the funnest (is that a word?) times I have had on my mission! They crack me up!

This transfer is almost over! I can't believe it! Next week my P-day will be on Tuesday.

My mind has been with you all this week (not all the time, just at random moments). How was the funeral? How is everyone? Is the new house coming along? When are you planning on moving in?

I can't remember what happened this week... sorry! We need to go get our grocery shopping done!

Love you all!
Sister Mahrt

Sept 12, 2012
Zoned Out!
How's everything going at home?

Life has been SO good out here! I don't know what it has been lately, but I have just been LOVING the mission! I mean, I have been loving it this whole time, but this last week it was so apparent to me in everything that happened that serving a mission is so neat and I am so happy being here. I am so so glad I decided to serve- I can't believe I almost didn't come out.

The reason I didn't get a chance to write you on Monday was because it was Zoned Out, which was so fun! Zoned out is when half of the zones of the mission meet together to compete, get to know one another and listen to the mission president. Sister Tok was out here last year when zoned out happened, so she has been so excited for it the last few weeks. When there was a moment of silence between us, she would break the silence by chanting, 'Zoned out, zoned out!' and start quizzing me on dinner etiquette and Preach My Gospel scriptures. She was a little obsessed :) But then I figured out why on Monday. Monday morning we woke up at four and started driving. The elders in the zone (about 16 elders) took the mission van (18 passenger van) and the sisters followed in a mini van. We got to Cleveland and picked up the Lorrain sisters and it was a party getting to know them on the way to... HIRAM!!!! It was SO FUN to be in Hiram again! It felt like I was going home, and I almost freaked out when I saw the Johnson Farm again. I LOVE that place! I got to take turns driving with Sister Smith. When we got there, we split up into zones and rotated going to classrooms where we were competing (Kirtland jeopardy, Preach My Gospel scripture chase and Zarahemla mafia) and then we took a Johnson Farm tour. Seeing the Johnson Farm senior couples was one of the highlights of that day- LOVE those guys! It was fun to be taking a tour of the Johnson Farm rather than giving it. I was loving standing there, soaking in the spirit when the senior elder pulled a fast one on me and asked everyone to vote if they would rather have an 'old geezer' giving them the tour or a 'pretty young lady.' Little trickster. So I helped a little with the tour, but for the most part I was able to listen. Actually, it was fun giving part of the tour- I was surprised by what I remembered and it was fun to give the tour to my zone. But don't you ever tell that to the senior elder I admitted that! My favorite part was when President Vellinga finished up in the Revelation Room and talked about how easy it would be to be good if you only had a 5 second glimpse into the celestial kingdom. That would be all you needed to keep you making the decisions that would help you to go there. Then he said that is what we should be doing for our investigators. I have been seeing how important it is to see the people around you as children of God. When I had my interview with the stake president, he said I should envision all those whom I was teaching in white, because that is where we should see their potential- going to the temple. It is neat when I actually catch that vision of them. It is so much easier to be patient and do anything you can to help them, because you want them right there beside you, happy, in the life to come. Having a vision for yourself and those you are around is so important.

One of my favorite realizations this week has been about change. We had Elder Hallstrom come to our stake conference, and he talked about change. How we never have the excuse of saying, 'that is just the way I am,' because Jesus Christ made change very real and possible. We should be changing for the better constantly, and he challenged us to find a something we should change about ourselves and work on it this coming week. I have come to see that I can really work on reaching out. Zoned Out was so much fun, and I loved playing basketball and learning so much, but I realized that my very favorite part of zoned out was when I went up to a new sister that looked like she was having a hard time and talked to her. We talked for about 20 minutes, and I feel like I love her so much already and I hardly know her! The most fulfilling things in life are with other people, and I want to be better at being aware of others and how I can serve them and help them feel included.

Hearing that Grandma passed away was really sad to me. She was such a neat woman! And she was always reaching out. I think that is really neat. The morning after I heard she had passed away I was really sad, so my companion asked what she could do for me. I had her sing A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief to me, because it reminds me of Grandpa Nelson and Grandma Hanks because they would play/sing it together. I realized when Sister Tok was singing it that it described her life- a life of service. That was really neat to me. That helped me feel a lot better. This week I am going to try to be more like Grandma Hanks and be more inclusive of others. I am excited that she is with Grandpa Hanks now. I hope they recorded their reunion- I want to see it!!

I love you all so much! Good luck with the funeral- you all will be in my prayers- especially you Mom! Love!

Sister Kimber Mahrt

                                               Pictures from Zoned Out.
I designed the shirts! ...and Sister Tok helped :) One picture is of the Toledo Zone,
 ...the other is of the Bowling Green Sisters (me, Sister Tok, Sister Smith (tall) and Sister Carlson (short)) and then Sister Smith and Carlson together.

 Elder Ingersol (tall) is on of our zone leaders and Elder Dransfield (red head) was the AP when I came out

 My favorite of these pictures is the one in the mission van. Elder Laycock had gotten car sick on the way there, so we gave him a plastic bag just in case he needed it. We had to spray the van with Sister Smith's perfume- Sensual Amber- so they could survive the rest of the trip. The elders smelled like sisters, but it worked pretty well!

This is a pictures of our zone on the Johnson Farm steps. The sisters are taking the 'sisters of Kirtland' pose :)

 Sister Tok sleeping on the way to Zoned Out. She is a gnarly sleeper! She was snoring and I think if you look closely, you can catch that she is drooling ;) When she snores at night she will be snoring away, then suddenly pop up and ask in an intense whisper, "Was I snoring?!" It is cree-eepy!

Sister Tok STUFFING her laundry into the washer. There was a case of bed bugs reported in our mission, so now everyone is CRAZY about making sure they don't get bed bugs. Whenever the missionaries find out that there are bed bugs in someones home, they break out metal chairs from their trunk (confiscated from the church) and try to persuade the family to have the lesson outside :) Sister Tok is one of the bed bugs most obsessive opponents. But she just might get us kicked out of the laundromat if she keeps stuffing her entire bed into those machines

Lorrain sisters and BG sisters by the carriage house on the Johnson Farm. LOVE these sisters!