Monday, September 30, 2013

All to Partake of His Goodness

Hello Family and Friends and Followers!

One of us is regretting her decision to mention how flippin' tired she was in last week's email. I didn't mean to make anyone worry. Missionary work is so exhausting. We are strict to the 10:30 - 6:30 schedule, but I still feel tired every single day. As a missionary you are used to always feeling tired. But the miracle/tender mercy of missionary work is that you always are blessed with the energy you need to get through the day. Every day. Missionaries are good at acting not tired. But I'll spill a little secret: we are really tired. Most of the time. But still happy to be here and anxious to work! And I was only sick for a night. I think it was something I ate.

Plus I failed to mention that one reason I was so tired last week was because while I was on exchanges I had to sleep on the floor. Next time I'm bringing a sleeping bag.

Anyway. This week was also full of ups and downs. It was kind of sad. But some good things happened too. So we'll try to focus on those things. I like good things. "I can do anything good . . yeah.  . yeah. . ."

Monday was P-day! Good news is that I got to spend the whole day on the couch writing letters. Sad news is that the elders went hiking without us. They declared that particular p-day "bro day." I'm finally close enough to the mountains to hike and we're not even invited on the first one! We would have gone ourselves but we had no miles on our car. But it's okay. Elder Woolums says we'll try to go next week. We better! I liked the down time though. It's nice to just sit and do some letter catch-up. Because one of us is a little behind. Sorry for the neglect! I still love all y'all I promise!

Monday night we had a fantastic lesson with Patty. She is soooo close! Her husband is a member and he wants this for her so desperately. He pushes a little hard just because he loves her so much. We went over there with another pair of missionaries and taught Patty about personal revelation. It was exactly what the doctor ordered. This whole time she has been expecting a sign. We told her that her answer would come gradually as she puts her faith in Christ and continues on the path He has set before her. Now that she has a better idea of how her answer will come, she is that much closer to being baptized!! We're meeting with her again tonight. Pray for a miracle! She is so flipping close I can almost taste it!!!

Guess what??? I received news like 5 minutes ago that Jeanette, her daughter, and Mattie were baptized on Saturday! I'm so happy for them!!! Exciting stuff!! Sad that I couldn't be there, but it was such a pleasure teaching all of them! I'm so excited for all of them and so proud of them for taking that step. The Church is true!!

Tuesday we did our exchanges with Bristol. This time I got to stay here in Kingsport with Sister Roundy and Sister De Hoyos. It was fun because Sister De Hoyos was also trained by Sister Stone, so we talked a lot about our experiences with her. Sister De Hoyos is a fire cracker; it was so much fun getting to know her and teach with her. We had a lesson with Mary and she really clicked with Sister De Hoyos. Mary is so close. She believes almost everything we do. She just won't come to church because she's afraid of one of the members, who is not very nice to her. It is so sad to see how a member of the church is our biggest road block to baptizing Mary. We're just praying that her heart will change and they can become friends so the work of salvation will proceed! Another lesson on charity. Just love everyone. It makes the process of salvation much smoother for all. Especially for yourself.

We had a lesson about the Priesthood with Debbie this week. She also got to come out with us this week! She is such a solid member of the Church already. We're still praying for her husband Phil. One day he will accept the Gospel; I know it!

Wednesday was a bit rough. We couldn't meet with over half of our investigators this week because everyone was getting sick, cars were breaking down, work was interfering, and all that jazz. It can get pretty frustrating sometimes. These people are so ready; we just can't help them progress because we can't even meet with them! We're just praying and praying we'll get appointments that hold! Anyway. Wednesday we spent most of the day driving around trying to contact people but no one was home. We did meet two more potential investigators though! Their names are Kevin and Nikki. At first it seemed like they were hardened toward the Gospel, but as we talked to them their hearts softened and they opened up. We offered them 2 copies of the Book of Mormon and invited them to Church. Hopefully we will see them progress!

Thursday was a little rough too. We met with a less-active in the ward who is going through some really hard family problems right now. She broke down right in front of us and said she just didn't know what to do. We tried to console her the best we can and invited her to lean on the Gospel. These experiences are so sad to witness, but they strengthen my testimony all the same. Over and over I have seen grown men and women find hope, healing, and consolation through the words spoken by three 20-year-old girls. It strengthens my testimony that we truly are representatives of Jesus Christ, and we can help anyone come unto Him and partake of His love and goodness. More on that in a second.

Friday we had a fantastic district meeting, followed by an even more fantastic lesson with a new investigator. We found him on Tuesday as we were walking into the Library to volunteer in the archives. He stopped us and asked what our name tags were. We told him we were representatives of Christ and that we teach a special message. He accepted a return visit! We exchanged numbers and he actually called us! For all y'all who haven't served a mission: that never happens. When an investigator calls you, you know you're in business. We taught him with the elders on Friday. He's actually in their area, but it's okay because we're all on the same team trying to baptize the heck out of Kingsport. We taught him the restoration and he soaked it all in! He is so hungry. His name is Jeremy, and he looks like he's probably in his late twenties. He wants to come to church, and he accepted the invitation to be baptized! First lesson! Wooohoo!! Sadly he couldn't make it to church yesterday. Hopefully he'll make it to General Conference this week!

Saturday we went on another exchange with Powell Valley. These sisters are awesome! I got to work with Sister Burr, who is training right now. Turns out she was a Sophomore at Lone Peak while I was a Senior! Small world. We teamed up with Debbie and went to see Loretta, another less-active we're working with. It was interesting to say the least. Sadly we didn't have very many teaching appointments that day, but Sister Burr was a really good sport about it. I was really impressed with her and her love for the work! I just love getting to know these sisters. That's what makes my calling so great.

Saturday night was the Relief Society Broadcast and it was perfectly fantastic. There was a huge emphasis on keeping covenants. President Monson's talk about the power of prayer was also truly inspiring. I love Conference!! It's like Christmas!! I'm so excited!!

Yesterday was so hard. I came home feeling defeated. The ups and downs in missionary work really do resemble a heart monitor. We did find out Ginger and Austin went to church!!! They didn't come to our ward, but they still came!! I was so excited to hear that!! So that was good. The rest of the day wasn't as good. But I learned a lot so I'm gonna talk about it anyway. We teamed up with Sister Lane to go visit Rachel, a less-active YSA. The appointment that followed was one of the most frustrating and sad appointments I have had on my mission thus far. She was very open and honest about her feelings toward the church, and it just made me sad. She was baptized without a testimony, and we're not sure how. She was open about her desire to openly shun religion in her life so she could sow her wild oats and live a "fun and free" lifestyle. Sister Lane bore the most powerful testimony about our Savior's love and the importance of following Him, but it didn't do much good. Some people just aren't ready. Just a couple hours later we met with another less-active who also was very open and honest about what she dislikes about the Church. It's hard to watch people who once made important covenants cling to lies. I felt that no matter what I tried to say, nothing could penetrate their hearts.

Last night I reflected on how easy it is to feel inadequate as a missionary, especially one holding a leadership position. I feel like I have so many people within my realm of influence, including missionaries, yet I can do little to touch them or inspire them to change. Every day I feel like there are so many people to visit and bless and just not enough time to do it all. So many people fall under the radar or refuse to let us help them. It is so hard to love all these people and feel like I can do so little to influence them or change them. But as I was thinking about these things, I received a clear image of Christ feeding the five thousand. There was one among the multitude of five thousand hungry people who had food to offer. His offering was little: five loaves and two fishes. Yet Christ accepted that offering, blessed it, and multiplied it. This parable struck a new chord in me this week. As a Sister Training Leader and a missionary I find myself trying to feed a multitude of five thousand spiritually starving people. My offering is so small. I can offer my talents, my time, and my energy, but that alone is not that much. But as I turn to Christ and offer all that I have to Him, He will take what I have and multiply it. In the words of Alma, "Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things . . . " (Alma 26:12).  On our own we can't do much. But through Christ, we can do all things. Through our seemingly meager efforts He can feed a multitude of spiritually starving people. We just have to trust that He can and trust that He will, and do all that He asks us to.

Today I was reading in 2nd Nephi 26. That chapter talks a lot about how Christ wants all to come unto Him and partake of His goodness. He will deny no one. As disciples of Christ, we should keep that in mind as we try to go out and rescue. One thing that stood out in Stake Conference was to never give up on people or think they are too far beyond the reach of the Savior's healing touch. They may not be ready to receive Him now. But we should do all we can to at least invite. Invite all to partake of His goodness. That is what He wants for His children. He wants to feed them all, and He wants to do it through His instruments. Us!

Well friends and family, that is all for now. Thank you so much for your emails, letters, prayers, support, and love. I feel it every single day. It's tiring, it's hard, it's discouraging, and it's the best and most rewarding thing ever being a missionary. I love it every day. Sometimes you feel nothing but thorns but you look back and see nothing but roses. I love being an instrument in the hands of the Lord. There is no greater work than the work of the Lord. I love you all! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Monday, September 23, 2013

Love and Correction

Family, Friends, and Followers, 

ALOHA!!

I! AM! SO! . . . . tired. So SO tired. I can't even describe how tired. This missionary. Is. I'm just . . tired. I might just . . take a nap. Until February. Except I'm not actually going to do that. Because I have important things to do. Trying . . to stay awake. And focus. Anyway. Here goes nothing. I'm. Really tired.

This week was good! I can't really figure out why it was so tiring. It just was. We spent most of it in the car and I'm still exhausted. And it wasn't all that eventful. I'm just really tired. Anyway. Monday we played volleyball all day. I'm getting better! When I hit the ball, most often than not it actually goes back over the net and stays in the boundaries. That's a step up from the last time I tried to play volleyball. Improvement!

We had to end our p-day a bit early to fix our tire on our car. We took it to a tire place and the owner said he would fix it for free!!! He was so nice! He told us he appreciated what we were doing, and he likes missionaries, so he fixed our tire for free. When we asked him if we could do anything for him, he said, "Just spread the word! . . .Well, you already are, but I mean tell everyone about us; we need business." I liked him. He was a nice man. Blessings for him!

I don't remember what happened Tuesday. We volunteered at the Library and then met lots of people. We found a couple people who were baptized like 20 years ago and haven't been to church since. We have no trace of them on our records. I love finding these lost sheep! It has been happening a lot here. Woohoo!

Wednesday was really good! Sister Bedke went up to Greeneville for the day to work with the sisters there, so Sister Roundy and I continued to work in Kingsport together for the day. It was fun getting to know her even more. She seriously is the cutest/funniest person. She is also really positive all the time; it's good for me when I feel really tired. Like now. Love her lots! Wednesday morning we went to see Debbie, and she is just glowing! She talked about how much she loved her baptism and how good she feels. We talked about Family History and she has already gotten started! She's traced her lines back to the 1700s already. I decided that I want to take up Family History when I get home. Because I have no idea how to do it and it needs to be done. Take note Dad, you're gonna teach me. :) Also, do you work with a Bedke? Sister Bedke says her dad writes the program for family search too. That would be pretty cool.

After Debbie we visited Pam and did a bit of a drop lesson with her. It's hard to drop investigators, and at first I told myself I would never drop one, but sometimes people just aren't ready yet. She hasn't been keeping commitments for months. We told her we have done all we good, we've taught her all we could, but she wouldn't grow or gain a testimony if she didn't put the work into it. Hopefully she'll be ready soon. Until then, there's a seed planted in her heart, and now she just needs to decide whether or not to nurture it.

After Pam we had a fantastic lesson with a less-active named Ginger. She took the lessons years ago but she doesn't really remember a thing. She didn't become a member for the right reasons, but now she wants to turn her life around and take the lessons again. Her boyfriend, who isn't a member, sat in on the lesson with us! He really doesn't like organized religion and was pretty open as to why. We had a really good conversation though and he said he would give it a shot and take the lessons! WOOT! They were also going to come to church, but Ginger called Saturday night and said she had lice. Bummer city.

Wednesday evening we drove up to Greeneville, back to Kingsport, and up to Abingdon, which is a total of about 3 hours in the car. That's the joy of leadership! I loved getting to see the countryside though; we took the scenic route. I've been able to basically tour the entire zone, and it is gorgeous up here! Part of it trickles into Virginia and Kentucky, so I feel like I'm getting quite the cultural experience up here. I need to start taking pictures! It's so lovely. And the trees are slowly turning! Still speckled. I'm so excited when they actually turn!! It's gonna be awesome!

Thursday I spent the day in Abingdon with those sisters while Sister Bedke and Sister Roundy spent the day in Kingsport. It's interesting working with a companionship instead of individual missionaries. It's cool how much you get to learn though, and the people you get to meet. I even got to walk a little on the Appalachian trail! It was pretty cool I guess. We also met a lot of neat, genuine people. Abingdon is lovely; it's up in Virginia, and the people are open and friendly. It was fun being there for a day! Until I got sick. Right about at dinner time. I just started praying that I would be able to make it home. Miraculously I felt better just as my ride showed up. The Church is true and God answers prayers!!

Friday we had a fantastic district meeting and then we had a lesson with a referral named Debbie. To keep the two straight I'll call this one Debbie S. She is fantastic! She has been going to church for 6 months, but she has been going to Powell Valley ward, which is really far from her place. We invited her to come to this ward because it's a lot closer, and she said she would! She's not a member, but her husband is. They've been going to the other ward because her father in law is in that ward. As we were talking, she talked about how she has been meeting with missionaries for a really long time, and the only thing keeping her from being baptized and going to the temple is her smoking problem. One thing about the South: everybody has a smoking problem. It's really sad. Out of all addictions, it's the hardest thing to shake. It's also so inspiring to see how people can shake it though, when they have that determination and that trust in God. We're looking forward to working with her and helping her quit so she can be baptized!!

Saturday was Dylan's baptism! We taught Dylan exactly one lesson, on Alma 32, before we realized that he is actually not in our ward. So we gave him to the elders. He was baptized Saturday!! It was a fantastic service. I had a funny experience there. Out of the corner of my eye I saw someone come in the room and I had to do a double take to realize it was Chelise. Then I just started laughing (quietly to myself because the speaker was talking). Didn't expect that one. You think I would start getting used to this. Once again, it was great to see her! I guess she came because he's in the YSA. Makes sense.

So, this week. I've been thinking a lot about charity. We're reading the Book of Mormon together as a mission again and they wanted us to study one topic. I don't remember if I've mentioned this or not. Anyway, the topic I chose to learn about is charity. How we can develop it, how we can reflect it, what it is, what it means, everything. I've learned a ton about charity this week. I think what I've learned as a missionary and as a SisterTraining Leader can be summed up in this inspired quote by Abraham Lincoln:

"You cannot win a man to your cause unless you convince him first that you are a true friend."

I've been reading a lot in Nephi and just how many times Nephi corrected his brothers. Every time he did, he talked about how sorrowful he was. He never talked about getting angry or vengeful. There are a couple verses, when he corrects them, where the footnote leads to "Family, Love Within" in the topical guide. I've learned as a missionary and as a leader that charity, the pure love of Christ, requires us to correct others out of love. If we truly love someone, we won't just let them walk down destructive paths without first trying to do all we can to help them, as far as the Spirit directs us. As a leader I've learned that the hardest thing for me to do is correct. I really don't like it. But if we want others to reach their potential, we must give direction. And I've learned that the best way to do it is out of pure, unselfish, Christlike love. We must convince them first that we are their friends. We need to establish that trust. We do that through charity, by showing them love, serving them, and praying for them. Once they trust us, they will take direction from us. The same rings true in any relationship. Love must be present for change to occur.

Anyway, I need to close for now. I love you all so much and I appreciate all your letters! I got a bunch this week! It makes me happy on the inside. :) You are all in my thoughts and prayers!! Have a fantastic week!

-Sister Fox


Monday, September 16, 2013

Ups and Downs

Happy Monday Family, Friends, and Followers!

I am at a different library this week that only gives me an hour to write this email. Sad day. So I'm gonna type like a madwoman and see how this email turns out. This week was pretty good! Full of ups and downs. I'm excited to tell y'all about it!

Monday was good. We played volleyball together as a district and whatnot. I learned that I am really terrible at volleyball. But that's what makes it fun.

Tuesday-Wednesday we did our Johnson City exchange. I worked in Johnson City with Sister Boggs and her companion came to work with Sister Bedke for the day. Was it weird driving around ETSU campus? Yes it was. We did a lot of fun service activities. We volunteered to feed the homeless, sing in a nursing home, and clean a recent convert's house. We also got in a pretty good lesson about fasting with a family of investigators. We had to go home a little early, but overall, it was a good exchange. I love exchanges because I get to learn from all the sisters in the zone. We have two this week! Busy stuff!

Wednesday we had our first official lesson with Mary, one of our new investigators. She has been having some health problems and the elders came by last week to give her a blessing. She was so touched by it that she agreed to listen to our message. We went back to teach her the Restoration. It was a good lesson, but a little frustrating. There's a member of the church who lives in her same apartment complex who has managed to offend just about every single person who lives in that entire complex. We've been contacting a lot of referrals there and trying to do a lot of missionary work in that complex, but that has complicated things a whole lot. What's slightly funny is that this apartment complex is actually located in an old high school. All who live there are older retired people. Even after all these years, drama still goes on there. It's so sad to hear so many people complaining about how they've been offended or hurt in some way. All members keep in mind, the greatest sermon you could ever preach is the way you act! People notice our behavior. We need to be recognizable as servants of the Lord. Mary is pretty open though, so hopefully we can help her progress.

Thursday we had Debbie's baptismal interview! Passed with flying colors. She is so solid! It was a crazy night that evening; we had a huge thunderstorm and got caught right in the middle of a Tennessee downpour. It was Sister Roundy's first one and she was really excited about it. I'm starting to get a little tired of them, but Fall is on its way! Which means that the summer rain (hopefully) is done until next summer.

Friday we had Zone Meeting! It was fantastic. We talked a lot about the Book of Mormon again and how we can show investigators that it contains the fullness of the Gospel. We had some great role plays and we learned a lot! I love Zone Meetings!
Friday night we ran into some mishaps. Sister Roundy got sick so we dropped her off at the Carter's. And then we ran over a nail. But we didn't actually know that. So the tire pressure light came on and we had to drive back to the apartment to figure out which tire was the problem tire. We didn't even have a pressure gage. Luckily, one of our neighbors saw that we needed help and he got his pressure gage. And then he came out with a pump! Tender mercy. He pumped up all our tires and that helped us get around the rest of the night. We checked it for problems but didn't see any. We didn't realize it had a nail in it until Saturday, when we came out of the aforementioned high school and saw a completely flat tire. It had been 5 years since I had changed a tire. Luckily, we actually had the Abingdon Sisters with us. They came early for Stake Conference and decided to proselyte for an hour or so with us. And guess what? One of them happened to grow up on a ranch, and has been changing tires her whole life. She changed it in about 10 minutes which got us to Stake Conference right on time. Coincidence? I think not.

"Who knows? Maybe I'll touch a spider later."

GUESS WHAT. This is a huge accomplishment for me. Yesterday I touched a spider. But I didn't just touch the spider. I held the spider. I held a tarantula yesterday!!! It was awesome!!! And I wasn't even scared!! This is a huge step for me in my life. This is important stuff. We were out proselyting with the elders, and they introduced us to a neighbor who owns two boa constrictors, two poisonous scorpions, and a taratula. I was going to hold the snake but it had mites. I wasn't about to touch the scorpions. Apparently if they sting you, there's no antidote, and you will die. I don't know why he even owns those. They're from Israel. Kinda legit. Anyway. Held a giant bug. Bragging rights.

Saturday was packed with ups and downs. I haven't been thrown through emotional extremes like that in a long time, but I guess a mission will do that to you. Saturday morning we received news that a dear sister missionary of ours, Sister Casper, had passed away due to health complications. She and Elder Casper were one of the senior couples who worked in the office. She was so sweet and so strong. She had had a desire to serve a mission ever since she got married, and she convinced her doctors to let her go. Her whole family got to the hospital just in time to see her pass. She will be greatly missed. We are so blessed to have a knowledge of the Plan of Salvation. We know where she is, and we know that she will continue her mission on the other side. We appreciate everything that she did, and we will miss her.

A few hours after we received news about Sister Capser we had Debbie's baptism. It was a beautiful service. Sister Roundy and I did a special musical number, and that went really well! Our voices blend together really well. We had an amazing talk given by a member of the ward, and then Elder Darrington performed the baptism. It was his first one, so that was a neat thing to see. Even though I haven't known Debbie for very long, I felt just as happy at this baptism as I did at the others. It is so neat having the opportunity to see someone enter into the covenant of baptism. She was glowing as she came out of the water. I am so proud of her! She is so sweet and so solid. I'm excited to keep working with her!

Chelise got to meet her! That was kinda cool. Saturday night at Stake Conference I sat down and when I looked up I had a clear view of the back of Chelise's head. Even though we had run into eachother before, it was still felt a little strange. But it was awesome at the same time! So once again, the "twins" were reunited. It was awesome seeing her again! I got to meet some of the YSA's in her ward, and she got to meet my companions! I saw her again on Sunday for Stake Conference and I introduced her to President and Sister Irion. Sister Irion told me that when she saw Chelise she had to do a double-take. It was kind of weird for her seeing my face with blonde hair. President totally forgot that Chelise was up here when he was doing transfers, but he knows I was called here by inspiration, so he is just going to let it happen. He knows that Chelise and I aren't going to go out of our way to see each other, and he knows I won't get distracted. I really appreciate how much he trusts me. He and Sister Irion are amazing people, and I'm so glad Chelise got to meet them! And I'm excited she got to meet Debbie, and the other missionaries, and basically all my favorite people! It's pretty cool having her in this stake.

Time is running out! Not cool! So, I have a few spiritual thoughts from Stake Conference. There was a huge emphasis on missionary work, which made all of us missionaries particularly happy. Missionary work is made possible through the members. Missionary work without the members is trying to ski without a ski lift. It's just that much more difficult. One thing that really stood out to me is that missionary work takes sacrifice of comfort zone. God asks us to sacrifice our time, our talents, and our comfort zones to do His work. But after all that He has done for us, that is not asking much. It is so difficult, and sometimes uncomfortable, but He promises us that He will be on our right and on our left as we go about doing His work. So I want to encourage all of you to pray for a missionary opportunity this week. I promise you that you will find one. Whether it be a nonmember, less active, or anyone else, you will find a missionary opportunity as you pray for one. Pray for the courage to know what to say, and then open your mouth and see what comes out. I promise you that the Holy Ghost will give you the words to say as you put your trust in God. We have the potential to change eternities. We are changing people's lives forever. Sometimes I don't think we truly understand what that means! Another thing that stood out was the importance of never giving up. Don't be so quick to give up and walk away when someone goes astray. That really hit home for us. Sunday morning we received a text from a dear recent convert that she didn't want to be Mormon anymore. Things like that are heartbreaking. But we can't give up on these people. No matter what road or path they choose to take, they still have so much divine in them. They have so much potential. It is our privilege and obligation to reach out to these people and bring them to the well of living water, lest they keep drawing up empty buckets. They need us. Reach out to someone this week and bless his or her life! Blessings will follow. I promise.

I love you all! Wish I had more time! Thank you so much for everything! Y'all are the best family/friends/followers anyone could hope for!! Until next week!

-Sister Fox

Monday, September 9, 2013

Can't .. Think .. of a Clever Title



Hello Family and Friends!!
I kept trying to think of a clever title as I tried to compose this email. But there's this little yellow box in the corner of my screen counting down the seconds. And I don't have enough seconds to be clever right now. So that explains the title.
Hello! I felt like I just wrote y'all an email! Cuz. . . I did! And it actually hasn't been that eventful since Wednesday. But I'll try to keep this entertaining. Another reason why I couldn't think of a clever title; I can't think of something in particular that has characterized my week. But anyway.
So, Tennessee gets tons of rain and flash floods a lot. And every time it pours I think, "Wow. Utah just doesn't understand what rain and floods really are." And then I got tons of emails just barely talking about what's going on in Utah. It's crazy to hear about all the flooding! Last year it was fire, this year it's floods. Sounds like baptism backwards. Anyway, Utah will be in my prayers! I hope none of the damage is too extensive.
Do you know what struck me as odd this week? The necessity of rearranging schedules and plans to purposely avoid family members. Having Chelise in the Stake is the funniest thing! I cannot tell you how many narrow misses there have been already. Saturday we did our first exchange with the Watauga Sisters, who cover parts of Johnson City, Elizabethton, and Erwin. Because they're kind of far away we asked them to find members to drive us back to Kingsport Saturday night. They asked their Ward Mission Leader to find someone, and he volunteered himself. But he has to have a female with him due to mission rules. So he said he would love to do it, he would just bring a friend. When he asked who he would be picking up, and Sister Ison told him "Me and Sister Fox." He paused. "You mean Sister Fox . . ? Like . . Chelise's sister? Because . . that's who I was planning on bringing."
We found someone else to drive us back to Kingsport. It's the funniest thing! We're doing our exchange with the Johnson City sisters on Tuesday, and we had to rearrange our schedule so I wouldn't end up going to institute and running into Chelise. It's no inconvenience at all, it just strikes me as funny. What also strikes me as funny is that the common phrase "You're Chelise's sister!" that I used to hear all the time on BYU campus has carried over into the mission field. Now I just get it from missionaries who have run into Chelise.
We are Tennessee now. :)
I told President Irion via email that Chelise is here and that we have already had one accidental encounter. His email back was three words long: "That is crazy!" So . . . I guess he doesn't seem to mind. Which is good, because I certainly don't mind either! =D
Anyway. Long tangent. I s'pose I'll tell y'all about my week! Tuesday, as I mentioned in my last email, was Mission Leadership Conference, and it was fantastic. We discussed how we could increase our effectiveness in our finding efforts, how elders and sisters can work together in unity, how we can better develop Christlike attributes, and how we can influence the missionaries to develop a greater sense of urgency and diligence for the work. I heard a definition of diligence that I've shared before, but I love it so much I'm gonna share it again. Diligence is the ability to do, in our moment of weakness, what we set out to do in our moment of strength. As a missionary I have felt this all the time. In a moment of strength we accepted the call from the Lord. We got on the plane and entered the field. Now, throughout the slow days, the rejection, the disappointment, and the trials, we need to be diligent. When we are feeling exhausted, beaten down, broken, and discouraged, we choose to keep going. I love that diligence is mentioned in Preach My Gospel as a Christlike attribute. He was the perfect example of diligence. During moments of greatest weakness and agony, He still finished the work He set out to do. No matter the difficulty, the temptation, and the trial, He did His Father's will. That's what we are all asked to do.  In our moments of weakness, when it seems almost impossible to do the will of God, we must be diligent. As we choose to move forward, we are promised angels on our right and on our left. I believe that it is not only faith, but diligence also, that precedes the miracle.
We also received a fantastic training on how to use the Book of Mormon in our teaching. It truly is the keystone of our faith. Every claim we make as a Church hinges on whether or not the Book of Mormon is true. That is why we must all develop a sound testimony of the Book of Mormon. Any time that my testimony has been targeted and attacked, I have been able to fall back on the Book of Mormon. If that book is true, than every other piece of doctrine the Church teaches is true. And I know it is true with all my heart. It is the convincing evidence of the divinity of our message. All we are asked is to read it, to ponder it, and to pray about it. With these simple steps, we can know of a truth that is so precious it will bless our lives now and in the eternities. This promised knowledge is an amazing gift! And the way to obtain it is so simple! How blessed we are to have the Book of Mormon!
So here is my challenge I want to issue this week. Take on Moroni's promise and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. You don't have to read the whole book start to finish this week. Just read it and pray about it. If your testimony is shaking in any area, with any doctrine that the church teaches, fall back on the Book of Mormon. If that book is true, that's all that matters. If you already have a testimony of the Book of Mormon, pray about it anyway. Faith has a short shelf life; we must continue to act on it to keep it alive. And I promise you that as you read the Book of Mormon you will draw closer to Jesus Christ. That is one of the primary purposes of the Book of Mormon. 2nd Nephi 25:26 - Christ is the center of our message. I went through and marked all the references to Christ in the Book of Mormon at the beginning of my mission and it was one of the coolest experiences I have ever had. It truly testifies of Christ on almost every page! I know it to be true.
I wasn't actually planning on that tangent, but, y'all know how missionaries are. They love tangents!
Thursday we met a new investigator! Her name is Mary. She was a referral from another member, and when we met her, she spilled her whole story. She is going through a lot right now, and I am impressed with her faith. She asked for a blessing, which she received from the elders on Saturday (sadly I wasn't there because I was in Watauga). She loves the spirit that we bring and she wants to learn more! So we'll be going back to teach her! Woohoo!! The church is true!
Saturday we exchanged with Watauga (as I've said many times). I got to spend the day with Sister Ison, who is a firecracker! I was really impressed with her leadership and her love for her area. I think I learned more from her in that 24 hours than she learned from me. This is the best calling ever; I feel a little spoiled even. I get to meet and learn from so many sisters, and I get to meet all their investigators! We got to work with several incredible people on Saturday. They have several investigators with baptisms coming up in the next few weeks, and their testimonies are so inspiring. I love this work! It is moving forward!!
Speaking of the work moving forward, Debbie is getting baptized this Saturday! She officially went off cigarettes and coffee and she is good to go! She is so solid. I am so proud of her!! I barely know her and yet I love her already. That is the joy of being a missionary.
Last night we got to watch Elder Nelson's broadcast from BYU Hawaii. It was really good; I would like to encourage all the youth to go back and watch it if they haven't seen it already. He asked a really profound question, "What are you doing right now to prepare for your personal interview with the Savior?" That is something we can keep in mind in our daily activities. Are we anxiously engaged in a good cause? Could we be going about doing more good? That is something all of us should ponder and pray about in preparation for this upcoming General Conference. Elder Nelson already hinted at some things that will be addressed, and I have the feeling that each of us could be doing some introspection to see where we are in our personal preparation, and what we could do each day to bring us closer to the Savior. Food for thought!
Well family and friends, that's all I have for this week. I love all y'all so much! You are all in my prayers! Until next week,
-Sister Fox

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

To Kingsport!!

Hey y'all!!

So, it's Wednesday. And the library is gonna close soon. So I don't actually have that much time to write this email. Apologies if it sounds shortened or scattered! So much has happened and I'm just about to throw it all out on the table. So here goes.

Last Wednesday was transfers!! We went to the meeting and I said a final goodbye to Sister Paxton and Sister Walker. I will miss those two; they are fantastic missionaries. I am so lucky to have two excellent companions now though! Sister Bedke is my fellow Sister Training Leader and she's been out 14 months. She has a really sweet and relaxed personality, and so far we've been getting along splendidly! Our trainee is Sister Roundy. She is the cutest little thing (4'10) and has an excellent personality to match! She is learning really fast and is happy to be out here! This being my third trio, I can tell that we will work together really well. I'm looking forward to this transfer! Since I received news of where I was going and who my companions were going to be, I have had a feeling of excitement. Big things are happening, I can feel it in the air!

So, I'm in Kingsport! I can't tell you how many missionaries came up to me after transfer meeting and said, "Kingsport?? Lucky!!! You're going to the Promised Land!!" So, here I am, in the Promised Land. Oh my heavens. It is so beautiful here!! I loved working down in Knoxville, but the West Hills area was pretty suburban. Up here in Kingsport there are rolling hills, large fields, farms, and trees as far as the eyes can see. I prefer the more rural areas. It is gorgeous up here, and I am so excited for Fall!! It's going to be beautiful!!! Woohoo!!

And most of y'all probably know this, but Kingsport is 30 minutes north of Johnson City. I'll be doing exchanges with the Johnson City sisters, as well as all the other sisters in this Stake. So . . . coincidence? I'll let all y'all finish that one.

And apparently yesterday Sister Roundy got to sit next to Chelise in institute. Sister Bedke wants to meet Chelise too. She says, "everyone else is doing it." How true that is! Thus far, there has been at least one missionary in every meeting I have been to who has told me that he/she has met Chelise. It's pretty cool. She gets to meet all the fantastic people.

Speaking of fantastic people, this area is doing really well! I remember mentioning last week that I was transferred right as West Hills was picking up. My very wise trainee told me, "Well, they tell you to leave every area better than you found it, right? So . . . wouldn't you want to leave an area right when it's picking up?" Good point. I was nervous I would be put in another slow area, but this one is doing really well! It's pretty much at the same point the West Hills area was. We have 2 investigators with a baptismal date and about 4 progressing investigators total. We've spent the last week meeting with members, investigators, and less actives. It's hard keeping everyone straight when I still have names and faces swimming in my head from my last area, but this adjustment is coming a lot quicker and easier than the first time I was transferred. This is the first area I haven't whitewashed. It feels kinda weird, actually. It's wonderful though! I guess I'll give y'all a rundown of the people we've been working with.

Debbie is our investigator with a baptismal date. She is going to be baptized September 14th! She's awesome. Just this past week she has been able to cut her cigarette usage in half! She is quitting cold turkey this weekend. We are so proud of her! We went over all the baptismal interview questions with her today and she passed with flying colors. We're so excited for her! I just love her already!

Gloria is our other investigator with a baptismal date. We've only met with her once, but I was extremely impressed by her solid testimony. She is a bible scholar and knows it forwards and backwards. She has been reading faithfully out of the Book of Mormon and knows that it's true. She knows God has a plan for her, and she said her life would be empty if the LDS church wasn't a part of it. So, we invited her to be baptized just a few days ago and she accepted!! She is going to be baptized September 28th! It was amazing. We didn't even have to ask her to quit smoking. In the middle of the lesson she said, "Oh, by the way, I'm going to quit smoking tomorrow." She is so inspiring. She knows she can do it. We let her set her own baptismal date and she knows she can be ready by the end of the month. Ah!!! Happy day! We are so excited for her!

Amanda is a new investigator Sister Bedke and Sister Burmingham found a while back. She is looking for a church to go to and she wants something more out of life. We had an excellent lesson with her about the tender mercies of Jesus Christ, and we committed her to come to church. Sadly she didn't feel well Sunday morning, but hopefully she'll come this next week!

And I heard news back from West Hills! Jeanette will be officially baptized on September 28th, and her friend, Amanda, came to church last Sunday! I found this out yesterday when I ran into the West Hills Relief Society Presidency. We traveled down to Farragut yesterday for a Mission Leadership Conference and they provided us with dinner! It was wonderful seeing them again! The meeting itself was really good. All the zone leaders, assistants, and sister training leaders met together and discussed the needs of the missionaries and had several trainings on the importance of the Book of Mormon. It was really fun! A tad long though. The meeting was 5 hours, and Farragut is 2 hours away from where we live, so it took all day. Hooray for travelling! This is the furthest I've actually been from the Mission Office. I love it up here though!
So as a Sister Training Leader I haven't actually done much yet aside from going to leadership training meetings. We'll be starting our exchanges at the end of this week though, and I'm really excited! This will be an excellent opportunity to get to know the sisters and find ways to serve and motivate them. It'll be awesome!

The ward is fantastic. I've made so many friends already! The bishop and his wife are fantastic. They actually drove us up to a park on P-day and we spent the day there with the ward. She's the one who sent Mom the email and pictures. She's so cute! Her son is awesome. He met Chelise a couple times and sent her a couple messages for me. He left for the MTC today! He's going to California to serve a mission. He'll be a great missionary!

That park I was talking about was really fun! Part of it includes a chairlift to a place called Natural Tunnel. It was the closest I have been to a cliff face in a long time. I almost cried. Y'all think I'm kidding. It looked like the best climbing spot ever, but I wasn't about to put that to the test. Maybe after the mission. :)

UMM . . . I don't know what else to write. The first week after transfers is when my brain is at its most scattered, especially trying to adjust to all the changes. I just now that missionary work is the best thing ever. I feel so happy to be here, and the adjustment is going really well. I know that this is where I'm supposed to serve, and I am so excited for the things that lie ahead! I know that this Church is true. I know that God is hastening His work and preparing hearts every day. There is nothing better we can be doing than sharing the love of God and the joy of the Gospel with our friends and those under our stewardship.

Thank y'all so much for your letters and prayers! As always, they mean the world to me. Sorry I can't respond to everyone due to lack of time. Know that your letters are greatly appreciated! Write y'all Monday!!

With love,
Sister Fox