Saturday, April 28, 2012

April 27, 2012
This week has been so weird!
We have been in Kirtland since Saturday night. Normally we are up there Monday and half of Tuesday, but since we sang in stake conference (which was SO GOOD by the way!) we had to go up to Kirtland to practice singing, then go back down to the area to take care of appointments and pack, then go back up Sunday night, stay over until Wednesday morning so we could go to Cleveland for the New Missionary Meeting, and then got back late Wednesday night.
Cool highlights:
  • Brother Lasvarti (sp?) came to Kirtland on Sunday night. He is the Church man in charge of all the church history sites in the country. He was incredible! He talked to us about how to make the spirit resonate between you and your companion in harmony, so that it could resonate with the people who come on tour. He also talked about Key Messages (the main points we are supposed to emphasize when giving a tour i.e. Priesthood, Temples, People, Revelation, etc) and integrating them with How to Begin Teaching Points (Preach My Gospel) in a minute or less. Discerning their needs from the beginning and tayloring the entire message to what they need. Whew! There were so many good pointers and I am excited to integrate them into my tours. Then neat thing about Brother L is that he doesn't decide beforehand what he is going to talk about. He takes from the talks he hears right before he talks (Site director, mission president, etc) and just goes from there. He said there really is something to treasuring up in your mind the word of God, and I had the impression he had Preach My Gospel memorized from how well he was able to flip to the correct pages and quote from obscure paragraphs. All of the leaders are so inspiring!
  • Sister Palmer has been so great- she is teaching me SO MUCH as well as reminding me of how I was when I first got out here. I forgot how tiring missionary work is at first :) Having to 'reprove with sharpness' has been difficult for sure! But Heavenly Father has been helping me a lot, which I appreciate! Every day it is more impressed on my mind how there is no way I could be doing this without Him!
  • I have been able to work on my testimony of tours and working at the sites. Some things at the sites I do out of obedience rather than knowing why we do it. That can be difficult sometimes. But Sister Palmer has really helped me to step up and do things I don't want to do with zeal and vigor (cool words, huh?) because I realize that I am not only affecting myself, we have a huge impact on our companions and their attitudes. Better to do something you know is right without holding back or complaining. Pessimism is such a drag!
  • People are so cool. Did you know that? We have had the coolest people on tours! We had a family with four small kids, fifth on the way, and they were so grounded on the gospel! You could just tell with how they treated each other. And then this couple came into the Johnson Farm- they were hilarious! They played off each other so well. I love humor! I want to develop a fun sense of humor, because it makes everything else in life so much easier. I want to hear Jesus' sense of humor, because I am sure he didn't walk around being gloomy! He knew when to be serious, but I am sure he had some humor to get through all that He did.
  • Speaking of the Savior, I have been thinking about the Atonement a lot this week. I watched a Mormon Message by Elder Jeffery R. Holland that was made for Easter. He is talking about the Savior and His last few days of his mortal ministry. At one point, the camera pans through a scene of Christ standing in the midst of all these men who are mocking Him, and Elder Holland talks about how through the last days, His circle of friends gets smaller, and smaller, and smaller... it crushed my heart! I miss you all so much and have felt very alone at times, but I wonder if I have even scratched the surface of how Our Redeemer felt as he was abandoned, betrayed, tormented and eventually killed... and yet the entire time, rather than feeling frustrated or angry, He felt pity for them. How did he do that? I can't get that scene from Elder Holland's talk out of my mind, and I want to read Jesus the Christ ALL THE TIME! I read it whenever I have time before bed or if I finish with lunch early. I want to know Him so badly!
  • The New Missionary Training meeting was great! I love going to those meetings. They always leave me wanting to be better and excited to be a missionary. It is funny that I went to that just 12 weeks ago, but I still learned so many more things. Probably because I had a new perspective of a little experience and being on the other end, as a trainer. My favorite part of it was the very end, when we went to downtown Cleveland to do an hour of contacting (talking to people in the street) We were paired with a different missionary (I was paired with a cute Kirtland Sister named Sister Joseph, who is Sister Christian's trainee) and we were off, talking to everyone. I was a little nervous when I heard we were going to be contacting, since our area seems to be pretty devoid of people walking around. They don't seem to be in their homes when we tract though... so I don't know where Hiram people are! But anyway, we went around and talked to people and it was SO FUN! It was such a blast! I met this homeless man named James, and I was able to share a Book of Mormon with him and read parts of it with him. He was so cute! My favorite was a man named Robert that was walking past us, and we stopped to give him a card and introduced ourselves. He said, 'oh, you are the Mormons! You have a book.' I said that yes, we did have a book called the Book of Mormon, and asked him if he had a chance to read it. He said, "Yes. I just finished it. I have been reading it this whole last month." ...I know! Right? So after I got over the initial shock of what he had just said, I asked him if he had a chance to pray to know that it is true. He said he did, and he knew it was true. ?!?! He hadn't met any missionaries, so we told him we would fix that and got his contact information for him. Can you believe that?! Heavenly Father is definitely preparing people to hear His word, and you don't know it unless you talk to them.
  • Giang's getting baptized in two days!!! ...not that I am counting down or anything :) Oh, and did I mention Nick, our investigator who was baptized in February, is going to be doing the baptism?! How cool is that? It has been neat to see Nick change, even from the time that he has been baptized, as he grows in the gospel. He has been an incredible fellowshipper for Giang. It is neat to see people helping others out :)
  • We were calling less actives from the ward the other day, and one man I was talking to said, "Oh, so you are the missionaries for the Hiram ward? That is great. ...I am a Jehovah's witness." So... what are you supposed to say to that? Haha! There was a little awkward pause and I said, "...oh. That's great! ...why are you a Jehovah's Witness?" A little abrupt, and not too elequent, but it got the point across. To this day, Sister Palmer will not let me live it down :) He had an interesting story though- he was the YM president, and even a counsler in the bishopric a couple times before he decided he wanted to go elsewhere for his religion. Isn't that crazy? I am learning to ask people out-right questions that I have rather than beating around the bush or asking the ward council about them. Why not just ask, right? Why aren't you coming to church, Brother Ringer?! As easy as that.
  • Yesterday our plan to do service for a member fell through, so we went to do our back-ups. One of the back-ups was to see Kevinna, who we haven't heard back from texts or voicemails for awhile. When we got there we saw that Brother Tiger was there (her uncle that she lives with) and he was so excited to see us! He sat us down and he said he wanted to pray, so he prayed for us and started going off about his difficult week and how discouraged he has been. An hour later, we were talking about all the blessing he had recognized in the midst of the trials and he even was crying. When we got up to leave, he thanked us over and over, because he had been praying and he knew us coming over was an answer to prayer. Isn't that cute?! We got back in the car and humbly thanked the Lord for guiding our steps, because I had initially felt like it wasn't the best logical choice to go see Kevinna. Being an answer to someone's prayer is the most amazing feeling, and I am so glad he was able to share that experience with us.
  • We got a call yesterday from the training sisters (they are like ZL for the Kirtland sisters) and they said they wanted to do exchanges with us. That is exciting! I have never done exchanges before. I get to go with Sister Tokanuga (from Hawaii) and she is the best! I can't wait to learn from her!
  • The rapture is the craziest thing I have ever heard of. I got a talking to when one of our investigators realized we didn't know much about the rapture. It's right there in the Bible! Apparently. I can't find it. Let me know if you do.
  • Last week on P-day, we had a man from Kenya approach us in WalMart who wanted to learn more about what we did as missionaries. Believe me, that NEVER happens! People are normally ducking for cover in aisles as we pass by. He is a really sweet man going to Hiram college to become a nurse, so I hope we get to teach him! We asked him what made him approach us, and he said he hasn't seen people dressed as well and modest as we were in a long time and he was impressed. So I guess there is a reason we wear dresses... and I guess it is a good thing :)
Ugh, I know there is more that I want to tell you, but I can't remember it right now :/ This always seems to happen! It kills me. Oh well, at least I have already talked your ears off. Pick up those ears and move on with your lives! Remember that I love you! Keep being awesome!
April 18, 2012
I am still alive!!! Can you believe it? I can hardly believe it myself. I did NOT think I would survive this week.
I guess that just goes to show everything is possible if He is on your side :)
So, being a trainer. Would you believe me if I said it feels like it is one of the most natural things I have done? Isn't that so weird?! Just further proof that this is HIS work. Last week, I have never felt humbler, and this week I have never felt more confident that the Lord can do all things. I know that it is only with His help that I have been able to do this, especially with the added bonus of feeling like my burden has been made light. So neat! It has been an incredible experience.
As for my cute little baby- haha, just kidding, I don't call her that- Sister Palmer is AWESOME! It is kind of funny that she came to Hiram, because when I first saw the pictures of the incoming missionaries, her picture stood out to me the most. I prayed so much that I would be able to feel His love for her the moment I saw her, and He definitely blessed me with that. She is so perfect for this area, and so far we have gotten together really well. She is different than any other friends I have ever had. She is a very headstrong, free spirit and she has no problem letting her opinions be known. She is so good at explaining things clearly and confidently, but she also has a great balance of listening and using the spirit in teaching. It really doesn't feel like she is a new missionary- this girl knows what she is doing! She is from Provo, UT, and has an adorable family of 6 siblings and a new nephew. She is in the very middle of the family- she has a twin brother- and she is really close to them. She has traveled to many places, including Peru and China, and she has the cutest smile and the most charismatic personality I have ever met. She is great, and I have already learned so much from her.
The bad news- Audrie says she is done with us. It came out of no where! She was doing so well- you could see her progression. She had more fulfillment in her life, and her relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ made a noticable change for the better in her life. On Tuesday she broke up with her boyfriend. Thursday morning she texted us at 1:24am because she was having a crisis and needed help. We rearranged our entire scheule to go out and see her and make sure she was alright. She is pregnant. After talking to her for 45 minutes she seemed a lot better and less anxious. Then she stood up the President for her baptismal interview. We were able to find her a ride to church, but she walked home before sacrament even started, and now she will not answer calls, texts and is never home when we stop by :( It has been difficult. This wouldn't be so hard if I didn't KNOW that she KNOWS it is true. She knows it. She has admitted that to me, she has received answers to her prayers, and she has seen the difference it has made in her life. To have her turn her back on it is excruciating, especially when I know it will make her so happy. I feel like I am dealing with a tempermental teenager who refuses to do what is best for himself/herself, even when they know what they are doing is harming themselves. I have had to resort to taking a step back, being patient and showing our love and support for her. It is tough letting people have agency, because I feel the urge to rush to her and make everything right. But I recognize that she needs to make this decision for herself, and letting her have time to make her own decision is probably the best for her right now. It is nice to have prayers- I feel like that is the best we can do for her. I know Heavenly Father will never give up on her, and that gives me strength to step up rather than step out of the situation. It is sad to feel so discouraged, but it is sort of neat to see how much I really do love her and genuinely want the best for her.
Did I tell you that the mission president went out of his way to help Giang? He emailed all of the stake presidents in the mission to see if there is someone who speaks Vietnamese and English. We found out there is a recent convert in Akron stake who is on fire with the gospel, and he has had the opportunity to Skype with Giang. Also, there is a Vietnamese MTC teacher who will be helping us out with the baptisimal interview questions this coming week, which will be really nice! Giang is getting more chatty and talkative during our visits. Yesterday he was telling us about how his doctor was giving him nutritional advice :) He is a character. Hopefully you get to meet him sometime- he is the sweetest man! We don't know for sure when he will be baptized- he can't wait :) 
It is cute to see how Sister Palmer is so optimistic. We went tracting the other day, and she was DEVESTATED when we went back to visit the people who said we could come back and then they 'flamed us.' (they weren't there) Poor girl :) When we went tracting the first time she was laughing almost the whole time because of how awkward she felt :) It was so funny! She is hilarious. We are working together at being better at contacting (we both want to be more effective with those we introduce to the gospel) I will need to get a picture of us soon so you can put a picture to her name.
On Sister Palmer's first tour in Kirtland, we had the most amazing lady to bring on tour! She was such a sweet woman, and her testimony of the gospel was incredible. The School of the Prophets was especially powerful when she read the testimony of John Murdock's experience of seeing the Savior. The spirit was so strong! You can tell she has/will be touching a lot of lives for good, and it is amazing how attractive someone is just by living the gospel. 
This week has been crazy- and the coming week is going to be even crazier! We are up in Kirtland every other day for stake conference, and missionary meetings. Just a heads up- Next Wednesday is going to be the New Missionary Training meeting all day (and we will be contacting up in Kirtland with the new missionaries!) so P-day isn't going to be until Friday of next week.
Love you all so much! I am glad to hear you are all doing well, and I hope you are excited about the spring Ray! Meg, Lex and Brooke, hang in there at school!
Sister Kimber Mahrt

Friday, April 27, 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

to Randy, me, Rachel, Megan, sparkles, Brooke

Dad, thank you SO MUCH for the GPS! I can't believe how quickly I got it- you mean business ;) I appreciate it so much- it will really alleviate some of the stress of this coming week. Being the one in charge and being lost is not fun (been there, done that :) You are awesome.

Well, it hasn't been too long since the last email :) So there isn't a whole lot to share. I think I am more used to the idea of being a trainer. I had Elder Gifford give me a priesthood blessing (he is the one that reminds me of Grandpa Mahrt). He is such an incredible man. He gave me comfort through the scriptures, and then gave me the blessing. I am so overwhelmed with Heavenly Father's love. I have really felt His love and support this week, which has been a HUGE blessing! He really does know how to succor us in our trials. And the priesthood really is the power of God here on Earth. Some of those things in the blessing directly addressed other things I had been thinking about. It is so neat!

Easter was good. We went to dinner with a family who is INSANE! It is so funny to see a family at church and then get to see them at their house. It is a totally different perspective! :) They are a neat family, and very entertaining during dinner. Haha!

You know something really weird? For the last few weeks I have been surrounded by miracles- a companion with whom I have been able to feel unified with, people who have been so kind, and investigators who are keeping their commitments and the blessings are so apparent! But what keeps playing in my mind is how one morning Sister Hatch and I went to the fitness center to work out, and we couldn't get in because they had changed the code (I think they send out the new code in an email, so we don't know when codes have been changed). But that morning there was a woman who just so happened to be coming to the fitness center at the same time as us, who knew the code and was able to help us get in. It happened in a matter of minutes, but the more I think about it, the more powerful that experience has seemed. We rarely see anyone in the morning, much less a woman who is going the same place as us and able to help us on the same day the code changed. I had been stressed that particular week and had resolved to exercise well that morning for some relief. And the more I think of that situation, the more convinced I am that it was a tender mercy of the Lord, and the more powerfully I feel His love. Isn't that amazing? It really is the small simple things that help lead us to Him. I have really been feeling that this week.

Still working on completely losing myself in the work. I probably think about it too much- I just need to let it happen. But I am so excited about it that I can't stop thinking about it! :) It is getting better though.

How is everyone doing?! Dad, I really want to hear how you dealt with the towel situation on your mission- I keep wondering how you were able to stand just one laundry day! Were you able to get some of Gpa's wood working tools? Meg said you got the Durango. Fun stuff :)

Momma, how have you been? Are you and Suzanne still partying? ;)

Ray, I didn't know that you can speak with a British accent! How did you learn that? :) I loved your insight about setting up activities- that it is more about the presentation than about what you are actually doing. So true! I love it.

Meg, you are growing up way too fast by the looks of the prom pictures, and I need you to stop that. Easy on Kelly :)

Lex, don't beat people too badly in tennis. You don't want to completely destroy their self-esteem. And you are forbidden to rub in my face how I am missing the Hunger Games movie, so don't even think about it! We have a woman in the ward who LOVES Twilight and whenever we talk to her, she always tells us how sorry she is that we can't watch it together. She is a little obsessive. Did you like the latest Twilight movie that much?

Brookie, tease Meg and Lexy for me! I know I can count on you ;)

I love you all so much!

Sister Kimber Mahrt

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The pictures are of the Giffords, one of the senior couples we give tours with at the John Johnson Farm. Elder Gifford kind of became my comfort after Grandpa died- he reminds me a lot of him

The Waroquet family is the one with the two boys and a girl. They are HILARIOUS! He is french, she is from hungary, and their boys are getting lessons to prepare for baptism. They have the greatest sense of humor, and are pretty good at listening to our lessons. :)

Audrie, Okey and the little baby are AWESOME! Okey is less active, but getting ready to receive the priesthood, Olivia is the CUTEST baby who army crawls and almost never cries, and Audrie is planning on being baptized April 22nd. I love them to death! Sister Hatch got all these pictures because she will be leaving, so I am reaping the benefits ;)

April 6, 2012

I don't think I have felt so confident or so humble in one week. Missions are crazy! :)

So, the big news this week is that I will be training a brand new missionary straight from the MTC. Can you believe it?! After you are out on your mission for 12 weeks you are supposed to be ready to train a new missionary, and next week is my 12 week mark. Can I just tell you how unprepared and inadequate I felt? REALLY inadequte! What is interesting is that I felt like I would train probably an entire week before President Sorensen called me. That has been a real tender mercy in my life- I feel like I have been warned when a big 'crisis' is about to happen in my life. Maybe crisis isn't the word... maybe trial? Or hardship? Something that will rock my little Kimber world. But as hard as those times hit, it has always been tempered from the foreknowledge the spirit has given me and helped me to be prepared and cope with it. Isn't that so neat? It isn't a huge feeling, just little inklings of feelings that I probably wouldn't have noticed if I didn't look at them in hindsight. But as much as I 'knew' I would be called as a trainer, I still so over taken by shock when President Sorensen called at 10:30 on Monday night that I chucked the phone at Sister Hatch. She kindly handed it back after answering, and I numbly accepted to be exactly obedient as I trained this new missionary. Then I don't remember what else he said because I was numb at that point :)

Since that time, I have gone through so many emotions that I am not even going to try and describe them all. But I will say that through it all, being on a mission has been so neat, because everyday experiences make you wonder how exactly Jesus Christ felt. It is incredible how alone you can feel. You can be surrounded by people, but if your companion isn't on the same page as you, it seems like there is nowhere to turn other than to God. You can't really go anywhere else for comfort. It makes me realize Jesus Christ must have come to know Heavenly Father so well because no one else was on His level. He was completely and utterly alone His entire life. I realized how much I have leaned on my previous companions as justification for behavior. But if you are leaning on someone who is imperfect, you can easily use their weaknesses as justification for yourself. Only by relying on the Lord can we overcome weaknesses and do things we never thought were possible. Didn't you love that General Conference talk about the Savior seeing the potential in the fishers to become apostles?! I LOVED that part! Mom, I didn't pick up on the end of Elder Holland's talk (The time is short) How exciting! :) When I was first realizing I was going to be called as a trainer, I felt like they were asking me to jump off a cliff- I feel like I have so much more to learn before I can teach someone else! But now I feel excited to run to the edge and do a little pocahontas swan dive off of it, and Heavenly Father can help me out :) Heavenly Father is in charge, right Dad? ;)

Oh, by the way Dad, would you do me a favor? President Sorensen told us it might be a good idea to get a GPS so that we don't have to be wasting the Lord's time, miles and gas trying to find places. With Sister Hatch's GPS, missionary work has been so much better! Plus, these roads are crazy out here :) Would you mind using some of my money and mailing me a GPS? A good one, but one that isn't too expensive? We won't have any time in the next few P-days to go to a store like that, and you are so much better at picking out good stuff like that :) If you can't or don't have time, just let me know and I can make things work out. But I would really appreciate it!

This week has been a little week of miracles. Audrie has successfully stopped smoking, so she is good to be baptized on the 22nd of April! Whoo! She is INCREDIBLE! It is so neat to see her progress from when we first started teaching her until now. She could barely understand one verse of scripture 6 weeks ago, and now she is reading whole chapters, applying them to her life and her confidence and faith have been amazing! She loves to read scriptures with us when we come over, and she is taking really difficult steps in her life. As a missionary, I don't feel like I am doing anything! There hasn't been the heartache of her not keeping commitments and wondering if she will turn on us in our next visit. It is remarkable the change that occurs when you live the gospel. It is funny, because she can't see it, even though it has been such a stark contrast! I guess that is how we feel about ourselves- it is diffcult to see ourselves progressing when it is so gradual. It is neat to be able to see her from the perspective of a missionary. It is such a testimony builder!

We also had a neat experience with Bob. Bob is a man we ran into tracting, but we haven't been able to get a hold of him when we try to contact him. Finally the other day we were able to see him and his wife sitting out on their porch. They were very angry and disgruntled- they were getting kicked out of their apartment- and Sister Hatch and I were feeling a little uneasy about starting a lesson with them because they weren't feeling the spirit at all. Finally, Sister Hatch had the courage to ask if she could pray for them, and they said yes. She said a wonderful, simple prayer, asking Heavenly Father to be mindful of them and to be with them at this time. And they softened right up! We went in, talked about the Book of Mormon, and they both commited to be baptized once they found it to be true. The wife was incredibly prepared! She had been searching for a Book of Mormon ever since her pastor took away one she had ordered from a TV advertisement and has wanted to read one for awhile. She told us she would read half of it that night, because she really wanted to know if it was true. Isn't that neat?! It was SO cool!

And my favorite miracle of the week... is that Giang will be coming to church again! The last few weeks we have really limited our contact with him, because we knew that Giang couldn't progress anymore with just the missionaries. He needed the ward members to be involved for anything to happen. It took so much faith to step down and allow the ward to take over!! I love that man SO MUCH and I knew that not visiting him would throw him in the deep end and he would either sink or swim. We have been trying to get members to invite him to game nights or go over to teach him English, but everyone is really busy. This weekend some members picked him up for general conference. And now he said he wanted to come to church again!! I know it is still going to take a lot of steps to get the entire ward involved. It is amazing how much difference one person can make when they look out for the welfare of others! If the ward can see how vital they are to Giang seeing the truthfulness of the gospel, he is going to do so well. I can't wait to see how things turn out!

I got to give my first John Johnson tour alone yesterday! Ahh! Haha, it actually wasn't very scary. I did really well remembering the facts! I actually impressed myself. But something I left out was my testimony. And you know what? The tour didn't have a whole lot of depth. It was factual, but the spirit didn't have a chance to be there, and it really made a difference. I think I am beginning to understand how crucial it is to do things by the spirit as a missionary. The feelings are what stay with someone, not the facts. I have felt the same with hearing music in public places. It is fun music, but not very fulfilling. The spiritual stuff in this life gives our lives so much more depth than the secular! Kind of cool to be surrounded by spiritual all the time :)

As excited as I am to meet this new sister who will be my companion, I am sad to have Sister Hatch leave :( It is crazy how close you can get with someone in a matter of weeks, when you are with someone constantly! I love that girl. But she won't be leaving until July, and Sister Lee won't leave until August, so I still have time with them. I am so glad Heavenly Father has put them in my path. They are so opposite, but so perfect for the beginning of my mission. I received a letter from Sister Lee the other day- it made me so happy!

Just curious: what exactly do you want to hear from me? Would you rather hear my thoughts? Or about my investigators and their experiences? Is anything boring to hear about? If something is kind of boring to hear, just let me know! It would save me time in typing ;) and I don't know what is good to hear from a missionary since I haven't really been on the receiving end before. Are these too long? I do sort of go on for awhile... :) Anyway, any feedback would be great! And it would be great to hear from you too! I love you all so much! I hope you are all doing well.

The pictures are of the Giffords, one of the senior couples we give tours with at the John Johnson Farm. Elder Gifford kind of became my comfort after Grandpa died- he reminds me a lot of him

The Waroquet family is the one with the two boys and a girl. They are HILARIOUS! He is french, she is from hungary, and their boys are getting lessons to prepare for baptism. They have the greatest sense of humor, and are pretty good at listening to our lessons. :)

Audrie, Okey and the little baby are AWESOME! Okey is less active, but getting ready to receive the priesthood, Olivia is the CUTEST baby who army crawls and almost never cries, and Audrie is planning on being baptized April 22nd. I love them to death! Sister Hatch got all these pictures because she will be leaving, so I am reaping the benefits ;)


Sister Kimber Mahrt

P.S. Ray, I told Sister Hatch a little about our childhood. I thought they were pretty funny stories, but for some reason Sister Hatch feels sorry for you...? I don't really get it :) But just know you have a fan