Wednesday, February 29, 2012

February 28th, 2012 Letter

I get to write you one day early! Transfers are tomorrow, so we have our P-day a day early. We have 7 new sisters coming in (that is a ton!) so almost all the companionships will be training. They picked all the trainers and they had a meeting last week and everything was set. Then yesterday, Sister Lee got a call from the Zone Leaders, and guess what? She is being transferred!!! It was really unexpected, because normally you are with your trainer for two transfers. The mission president said he didn't feel good about how they first had companionships, so our companionship was split as a last minute decision. AND Sister Lee is going out of the Kirtland Zone! (full proselyting) It is crazy, and we can't wait until transfer meeting tomorrow. Sister Lee has looked through to see who our new companions might be (it is this weird system that I don't understand) but she thinks she will be put with her companion she had right before me, and I will be put with a sister who has been sick her entire mission. Her previous companion was notorious for not being focused on missionary work, and my companion hasn't been able to do a whole lot of missionary work because she never feels good (she will be getting her gall bladder out in two weeks, so we are hoping that helps her!) It will be a new experience to be the one in charge of Hiram- I don't know what I am doing! When I first heard about the transfer I felt sad I would be leaving Sister, excited for changes, regret for feeling like I did not make the most of my last transfer, calm, and overall happy to know that whatever the change was made for, it was inspired, and Sister Lee and I will be in the places we should be with the companion we should have at the time.
Speaking of regret, isn't that one of the worst feelings EVER?! It just eats at you! This last transfer I feel like I was not the best missionary I could be because I let my weaknesses and justification keep me from being everything I could be through the help of Christ. Regret is tough, but I am glad I feel it so that I can be motivated to change and become better. Always do your best so that you don't have regret!

OK, I really have to go :( I am wearing jeans right now because it is district P-day and we are going bowling. I NEVER thought I would say I feel weird wearing jeans but... there is a first time for everything, right? :) SO WEIRD!
Love you all!
Sister Kimber Mahrt

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

February 22nd, 2012 Letter

I think I am FINALLY feeling like I am getting a hang of things. Whew! That was a rough transition. I know there is still a lot more for me to learn, and changing areas and companions will just bring more transitions, but I feel like I have finally found my role as a missionary. It took way too long :)

On Thursday Sister Lee and I went to the John Johnson Farm to read D&C 76 in the Room of Revelation. It just so happened that February 16th was the 170th anniversary of when the revelation was given to Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdon! It was so neat to read the revelation and then look up and imagine them sitting in front of us, receiving the revelation exactly 170 years ago. It was a great blessing. I love serving here!

On Monday night we had an extra training meeting in Kirtland. We talked about the Church websites, especially Mormon. org, and how we should know them as well as we know the scriptures! I was surprised by that, but as they went over the different ways we can use the website, it is an incredible tool we can use! Especially for chatting. We talked about how technology has advanced so far, and we aren't using them to our best capacity. As visiting center sisters we have every resource given to missionaries at our disposal- internet, phones, referrals, historic sites, theaters and proselyting areas. It is a priviledge to have so many tools, and we need to become proficient in using all of them if we are going to be the best missionaries we can be. It seems like an enormous task, but also so exciting! They talked about how we are the pioneers/guinea pigs who will learn how to use these things, so they can be streamlined for missionary use and eventually be given to all missionaries. Once that happens, the gospel can spread so much quicker. I feel like the gospel is on the verge of flooding the world, and we as latter day saints in these latter days get to experience it first hand!! We are so blessed!

Something that has really surprised me as a missionary is the role of the members. At home, I felt like I wanted to spread the gospel full-time so I could touch lives and bring them happiness. Missionaries definitely do get to do that, but what I didn't realize was what a powerful effect the members of the church have. Full time missionaries facilitate the spirit and invite others to come to Christ, but it is the members who have the driving force and influence to really make a difference! Without the members, missionary work would be slow and, in many cases, ineffective. When members are the ones to reach out to those they meet and those they love, they are in such a better position to help those people than missionaries can do by knocking on doors and passing out Mormon pass along cards. It is a power I didn't realize I had as a member, but from a missionary perspective, it is impossible to miss! The people in the ward I am serving in seem to get that idea pretty well, and they are such a good example to me of how I want to be when I get off my mission.

Nick was confirmed on Sunday! I was able to feel such a powerful and peaceful spirit during his blessing. I felt good at the baptism, but it wasn't until the confirmation that I really felt what a blessing it was to be a part of Nick's life while he made this life-changing decision. The gift of having the spirit with us always to sanctify, comfort, and direct us is a blessing I normally overlook. But I have been so thankful for it as I have had to depend on it as a missionary (because in many instances, I have no idea what I am going to do and I am constantly praying that I can have some idea of what I need to say!) It is so quiet! I can't get over that! It really does feel like your own thoughts or feelings, but in hindsight you can see it was a prompting. So cool! Our president advises us to 'return and report' in your prayers at night, to account for what you did during the day. It is neat to have that time to think about the day and see His hand where I didn't recognize it during the day. He is there all the time! But I think it is easy to overlook when we don't take the time to meditate and thank Him.

Pictures in Snow

Newel K Whitney Store

Pictures at Nick's Baptism

Nick & Brother Watson (Ward Mission Leader)

Drawing of Mission District (by Sister Lee)

February 15th, 2012 Letter

Hello! I am so happy when I get to talk to you!! :) (or I guess write at you would be the technical thing to say)

I am here to tell you that there are multiple ways to cook frozen buffalo wings. I didn't know it was possible. In fact, I would have just looked at the back of the package and cooked the buffalo wings as it said in the instructions. I guess I am one of those people that don't think outside the box.

The other day Sister Lee and I had pizza and buffalo wings at a member's house. I don't know why, but we LOVED it! It tasted so good to us. So good, that on our last P-day Sister Lee bought a package of buffalo wings and as soon as we got home, she ripped open the package and shoved them in the oven. The instructions asked for Aluminum foil, but since we didn't have any, we just cooked them without the foil. They came out and made a really bad mess on the pan that was difficult to scrub off. Well, that was no good! So the next time she decided to fry them. They burned SO fast! So we took them out and scrapped off the outer black parts and started eating them. I tried to be optimistic, but when bit into the chicken and came up with raw meat, I instantly lost my appetite. Undeterred, she stuck the buffalo wings in the microwave. The kitchen ended up smelling like burning bone (not so pleasant, by the way), so she went to bed. The very next day, she found the perfected way to make buffalo wings. She got some tupperware and filled the bottom with water, then stuck it in the microwave. That way, they are boiled to perfection, all the calorie-ridden sauce came off, and the skin and oil was essentially boiled off. All you have to do is drain! Sister Lee is going to have to put those directions on the package now that she has perfected the recipe. Haha, oh man, she is awesome :) I think calling her perseverant is an understatement.

On monday nights Sister Lee and I slept over in Kirtland since we work at sites Mondays and Tuesdays. We woke up to the other sisters in the home (there are two sets of missionaries that live there regularly) telling us that our site director's wife (Sister Edman) had a heart attack at 4am that morning, was in the hospital and no one knew how she was doing. Everyone was so sad! She is so nice, and for many of the sisters here, she has become their 'mom away from their mom.' One of this sisters prayed and initiated our fast for her, and then we were off to the training meeting. This time it was held in the School of the Prophets in the upstairs of the Whitney Store. Everyone was sad and anxious for Sister Edman, and it seemed to bring us closer together. We had a testimony meeting and I think all of us were crying, and these sisters have such amazing testimonies! I can really see God's image in their countenances. Then the training sisters got a call, and we heard that Sister Edman was alright, so we all cried some more! :) Girls are wired so weird! I think we all realized how ridiculous it was that we were all crying all morning, so we were laughing and crying at the same time, and just basking in the spirit of the place. Can I tell you how amazing it is to be here in Ohio? I LOVE IT HERE! Sister Edman is OK for now. They say that one of the first things she asked when she came out of the anesthesia was- Are the sisters OK? You didn't freak them out with the news, did you?!' Haha! She had 4 stints put into her arterteries, and we are waiting to hear if there are any long lasting effects of the heart attack. You wouldn't believe how many cookies, candies, and pink things we received yesterday from all the sisters, and senior couples. I am coming back 30 pounds heavier- there is no way to avoid it at this point! ;)

Something else that Sister Lee and I have been discussing a lot lately is Satan. It is amazing how subtle he is. He knows what he can to do make you stumble. To fear. To have pride. I felt like I have really felt the power of Satan in these first few weeks of my mission. I didn't realize what it was at the time. Things were just so hard and I didn't feel like I could be happy or even smile. I learned that Satan is powerful, and you have to be careful. But mostly what I learned is how much MORE powerful Heavenly Father and Christ are! Satan can only enter our lives if we allow him to, and everytime we hesitate to do what is right, or our thoughts aren't where they should be, he sees the chink in the armor and attacks you like crazy! I know that talking to everyone out on the street can be super awkward (my inner dialogue the entire time we would talk to someone about the gospel in the parking lot I would be thinking, 'awkward, awkward is AWKWARD!) but I am coming to understand that people come into our path for a reason. If the Lord is blessing us with people who are open to learning about Christ, and we are avoiding those people, how can He trust us? I have been trying to stop thinking about what Kimber is thinking about the situation and instead see them through His eyes. Life is so much easier that way! You love everyone, you aren't annoyed by other's weaknesses, and you see Christ EVERYWHERE! Fear is so stupid! What are we afraid of anyway? I am still working on it, but I have been seeing a little success, and I can't wait until I am successful in completely giving up my wants and desires and aligning them with my Heavenly Fathers wants and desires for me and those around me.

Oh wow, I almost forgot to tell you- one of the people I have been teaching was just baptized! His name is Nick, and he is 20 years old. He is so cool, because at first he was meeting with the missionaries simply because he was curious (his grandmother who he is living with is Mormon, but his Mom and immediate family are very anti-Mormon). That curiousity turned into a desire to follow Christ. And I was able to witness it! The lesson where he accepted the invitation to be baptized was my first lesson here on my mission :) It has been neat to see how even his behavior has changed during the lessons. He used to make a lot of jokes and try to interject humor into the lessons all the time. Now he is really good at listening, is calm, and has even asked us some deep and inspiring questions! :) He quit smoking soon after we told him about the word of Wisdom, and the all the commandments we have taught him recently he has accepted readily by saying, "Ok, that is easy. God said to do it, so of course I am going to do it." What faith! He is such an example to me, especially with his family situation. Even his aunt (who is actually 15... it is complicated) has seen a lot of change in him. She says he is happier and nicer. She was baptized into the church, but is currently inactive. We talked to her about why she thinks there has been such a change, and she didn't give an answer readily, but she eventually admitted it COULD have something to do with meeting with the missionaries and living the gospel :) She is funny. Oh, that is another thing. Something else I have really noticed is agency. We have the freedom to choose, but we cannot choose the consequences. It has been amazing to me to see how much the choices one person makes isn't just affecting our own consequences. Our choices have such an impact on those around us! I am also teaching a mother and her daughter. The mother is having a difficult time accepting the commitments of reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it, but the daughter seems very teachable. However, since they are so close with one another, the daughter seems hesitant to really get into our lessons because it is no secret that her mother can't stand it when we bear our testimonies. The decisions we make are so important, because our examples to others are more far reaching than I think we realize.

I love missionary work. I love the ability to bring happiness to other 24/7, and to have the opportunity to see His hand working in the lives of others, even when they can't see it. I love you all!!!

Sister Kimber Mahrt

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

February 8th, 2012 Letter

This has been the fastest week of being a missionary so far! Other weeks seem to go on forever, but I can't believe it is already time to write home again!

Thank you so much for those of you who have written me! I LOVE getting letters (I totally understand in The Best Two Years now why they were so excited to get mail! :) ) And I have most especially benefited from the testimonies! They are so amazing, and I have thought about and shared many of them with members when they invite us to dinner (which is almost every night- this ward is so good at being involved in missionary work) So thank you thank you so much!

On Thursday Sister Lee and I got a surprise. Elder Edman, the site director at Kirtland, told us about having a special gathering at the John Johnson Farm with all the Sister missionaries in the Kirtland Zone and all the senior missionaries who work at sites on Monday. I thought that sounded like fun. He then informed us that we would be giving the tour.
I couldn't believe it! We had never given a tour in Hiram. In fact, we had never even been GIVEN a tour there! The senior missionaries take over the John Johnson farm in the winter since there aren't many visitors, so the sister missionaries can focus on proselyting in the area. So you better believe the next day (Friday) we MADE time to go get a tour at the Farm! We already had a full schedule, so I was so thankful when everything worked out so that we could have some time to go through the house and learn about the Johnsons. We studied from the John Johnson manual for a lot of our personal studies after that. As the time got closer, I was amazed at how I felt. Calm. Even the night before, when I knew I would be stepping into my doom the next morning, I didn't feel frazzled or like cramming. I had focused and studied every possible chance I had, and I felt like I had the assurance that the Holy Ghost would bring things to my rememberance.
And He did.

It was so neat. Don't get the wrong idea- it isn't like I am a professional tour guide, or know everything about the Johnsons now (far from it!) but it was so neat to see His hand so powerfully in my life at that moment. I was able to remember the general stories and facts in each room and give the information in a semi-confident manner. I have been with myself a long time. I am not any good at this sort of thing! And yet, I was able to not feel anxious and give the sisters and senior missionaries a decent tour. Amazing. And now Sister Lee and I are able to give a tour at the Farm! Haha, it was like having a crash course in Early Saint history, and we were able to learn it faster than if we hadn't been under pressure :)

Something that I have realized recently is how the Holy Ghost speaks to us so simply. During the New Missionary Training Meeting, as I would think about what was being said, I would think of little other random things that were somewhat related to what was being taught, but also a little different. One of the things impressed upon my mind was how the Lord's hand is in our life, and by looking out for them we can see them so much better. No one actually talked about that, but it was something I started thinking about. That lead me to think about you, Mom. Remember when you had the idea for each of us to have a journal, and we would come together as a family every night and just write three things we were grateful for, but we couldn't repeat any of them? I thought of that, and how after saying all the obvious answers (family, health, the ability to tease sisters, etc) I was stumped! That is when I would look out during the day for things to write in my journal, and I was able to see so many more things to be grateful for! It evenutally got to the point where I would write down trials that I was having, because I could see how it was the Lord's hand blessing me and how I was growing from it. It was so cool! I have shared this with some of the members during dinners, and they LOVE it! They think it is such a great idea, and I agree :) Thank you so much Mom! You were so good at helping us come closer to Him.

This week also marked my first lesson with children. We are teaching two boys whose parents recently joined the church ( they are 13 and 11 years old). They had a difficult time sitting still for the lesson because they were in a middle of a computer game when we came over and they couldn't wait to return to it :) It cracked me up! Before we were even done asking questions, they would shout out the answer and try to hurry us along. If I didn't know any better, I would have thought they were in physical pain to be sitting there listening to us! :) The other boy is eight, but he has down syndrome. He is so cute! He is non-vocal, so my companion and I are trying to figure out ways that we can make sure he is understanding and getting something out of the lessons. 

Random thoughts: Senior missionaries are AWESOME! I can't wait to be a senior missionary in a few years. I love how missionaries around here are so good at saying what they think- if they think of a compliment, they just say it! Sometimes I think it and forget to tell them personally. It makes a difference to those people you compliment though! Referrals over the phone are HARD! Phones are not my friend. But it is nice to have an opportunity to completely depend on the Lord for something, because if it were completely up to me and my selfish self, phones would be UNinvented! Sister Lee is amazing- so considerate! I made her a comic about our first lesson together (it was a train wreck:) ) and she says it is her treasure. Isn't she cute?! She always says she is so lucky to have me, because it doesn't even seem like I am a greenie. That is super nice of her to consistently say, especially when she should be pulling her hair out in frustration because of how little I know :) I am learning a lot from her. Companionship prayer is awesome! Praying with someone definitely helps unity.

I love you all so much! Thank you for keeping the blog updated- I know you are all so busy, and yet you take the time to do this for me. Thank you!!   


Sister Kimber Mahrt

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

First Area Pictures

February 1st, 2012 Letter

This last week has been pretty good. My natural man has been definitely been getting a kick in the pants though. There are so many things I need to work on! It is funny, because I came out on a mission knowing I had certain weaknesses that would be difficult to overcome, but I feel as if I have been blindsided by a bunch of other weaknesses I didn't even realize I had! It has been really good for me, because how can you improve yourself without realizing what you need to improve? But wow! The great thing is that Christ can help qualify us after we give our all, so that is what I am banking on :) He has helped me in so many ways already.
On Friday, all the new missionaries went to the mission office for a New Missionary Training Meeting. It was fantastic! We listened to a few workshops by the APs, and had a few lessons from President Sorenson himself. He is such an amazing man! Mom, can you tell Sister Swallow how incredible he is? He excudes so much knowledge, confidence, and power, and he cries every 5 minutes. You would think the crying would be a tick against his manliness (according to what I hear guys think is manly...) but it is so neat! I love it when guys cry, especially when they are crying because they feel the spirit and aren't afraid to show it. He shared a lot of amazing insights, but what really stood out to me was when he told us how we need to cultivate more love for Christ and the gospel, because then we will have more desire to share. And you know what? That is so true! The best missionaries I have seen so far aren't necessarily the ones who have mastered how to teach, or even those who are scriptorians and know where every verse is. The best missionaries are those who have a passion for the gospel and are excited to share it with others. If the missionary is excited and is sharing the message with love, it seems to transmit directly to the investigator and they seem to realize the truthfulness of the gospel so much faster. It is amazing how little you actually have to know. If you know the church is true, it is enough. That has been a comfort :) Another thing President shared was to be thankful for the difficult days- they are there so that you may better feel the good days. That concept is something I have heard before, but I loved how he worded it and it really hit me hard that day. Those are only a couple of the amazing things I learned at that meeting, but I guess it would get a little long if I shared it all :) I will spare you!
I don't know if I have already mentioned the sad situation in the Hiram ward... the previous bishop had a stroke and was in a coma for a few weeks before opening his eyes. He was showing signs of progress, and the ward was so excited to see that he was beginning to recover. But then on Tuesday he passed away. The funeral was on Monday. Going to the funeral was an interesting experience for me. I never met this man, but I couldn't believe how much I felt like I knew him just because of how much I had learned from him by being in the ward these last two weeks. At just about every members home for dinner, he was mentioned. Everyone spoke so highly of him and how they felt like he was their personal friend. At the funeral, there were so many people that showed up! His family had amazing testimonies that they were glad that he now had a chance to serve a mission (he joined the church when he was 20) and even his youngest son, who came back to Ohio to be at the funeral, decided he wanted to return to his mission and found it a privilege to be serving at the same time as his dad. I couldn't help but feel what a difference one person can make by simply being loving and maginifying his calling. He had touched so many lives! And he had done that not through doing what he wanted to do, but by doing what Heavenly Father would have him do. It made me realize that I don't want to become the best missionary I can be- I want to become the kind of missionary He would have me be. If we are focusing on others and doing His will, we can become so much better than we could become through our own means. It also made me really sad, because he is a month younger than Dad. I can't imagine coming back early from my mission to attend Dad's funeral!! It would be such a difficult time! In fact, I sat there at the funeral and thought about losing each of you individually, and I almost lost it! My family is so important to me, and it made me realize how much I love each one of you. I am glad to know that you are mine forever! (even though that does sound like I am a little possesive... :) )
Sister Lee and I may give our first tour of the John Johnson Farm on Friday. It will be interesting, because neither of us have given a tour there yet (senior missionaries normally give tours there throughout the winter) so there may be a lot of improv! Haha...
Life has been good! This week we have been focusing on preparing one of our investigators for baptism, so we have been meeting with him three times a week to get all the lessons in before Feb. 12th. On Saturday, he ended up cancelling with us, and Sister Lee and I were getting a little worried because we knew we were already on a tight schedule. On Sunday in Missionary Coordination, the Ward Mission Leader listened to our concern, and said the investigator would be coming over to his place later that night, so we should drop by and give him a lesson at his house. It ended up working out so well! Even though we had a full schedule, we were able to fit in his lesson and I felt like we should have a testimony meeting at the end of the lesson. The members of the ward mission leaders family all bore powerful testimonies of how they knew the Book of Mormon and the Church are true, and then the investigator ended with a powerful testimony himself, which he said he really wanted to share in fast and testimony meeting this Sunday! It was so great! Sister Lee and I shouldn't have been so worried about the cancelled appointment- apparently the Lord had it all figured out and made the situation so much better than it could have been on Saturday with the members there to bear their testimonies. It was a neat lesson on how we need to trust in the Lord.
I hope everyone is doing well! I love you all so much!
Sister Kimber Mahrt